The D.C. Perfume Tour

Cherry-Blossoms-

Come for the pandas, stay for the perfume!

D.C. has been unprecedentedly fashionable lately (thank you, FLOTUS!), but the Nation’s Capital still isn’t exactly a world leader in perfume shopping. But as this perfectly respectable, approaching-double-digits list of D.C. fragrance destinations hopefully demonstrates, we’re starting to catch up!

Le Labo

le labo

D.C. actually got a double dose of Le Labo last year: a free-standing boutique in the Shaw, and the first Nordstrom Le Labo counter in the country at Nordstrom Tysons Corner. I’d opt for the boutique, which carries a wider range of products (15 ml sizes, concrete candles). Still waiting on the D.C. City Exclusive, guys!

CityCenter DC

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Shoulders straight. Pinkies up. We’re headed to D.C.’s fanciest new neighborhood, dahling. Don’t get distracted by Momofuku; we’re here for the trinity of luxury boutiques (and their boutique-exclusive perfumes!) This is the only Hermes boutique for several states, i.e. the only place to experience the wonderful boutique-exclusive Hermessence range. There’s also a Dior boutique, confirmed to carry La Collection Privee, and a Jo Malone boutique, currently the only outlet for Jo Malone Rare Teas collection.

Arielle Shoshana

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With everything from niche classics (Tauer Perfumes, L’Artisan Parfumeur) to the cutting edge (Neela Vermeire, Parfumerie Generale), D.C.’s first niche fragrance boutique boasts the D.C. area’s largest selection of both niche scents and cat-themed coffee table books.

Santa Maria Novella

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Wasn’t it thoughtful of Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s oldest perfumery, to save us money on airfare by bringing Florence to us? Rose-scented dog deodorant is just one of the charming curiosities waiting inside this tiny treasure chest of a boutique. And while you’re in the area, don’t miss the particularly impressive Saks Fifth Avenue (FULL Guerlain line, Chanel Les Exclusifs) a block away.

Tysons Galleria

tysons galleria

The Galleria just hasn’t been the same since florist/fragrance shop Art with Flowers, may its memory be a blessing, closed a few years ago. But between a formidable Neiman Marcus (Byredo, Roja Dove, Boadicea the Victorious), a well-stocked Saks (By Kilian, Bond No. 9), and a Chanel Boutique (Les Exclusifs!), Tysons Galleria still packs quite a punch in the perfume department.

Parfum de France

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Parfum de France operates on a unique, intriguing business model. It carries both select niche lines (Amouage, Clive Christian) and vintage mainstream scents (often long discontinued). I was once lucky enough to find a bottle of Guerlain Meteorites here.

bluemercury (multiple locations)

bluemercury

Let’s show some hometown pride for Bethesda-based bluemercury! It’s been a few years since bluemercury carried brands like Serge Lutens and L’Artisan, but you can still find Creed, Diptyque, and Acqua di Parma alongside upscale hair, skin, and makeup products.

Did I miss any hidden gems? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links.

International Women’s Month: Akiko Kamei

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Before Frederic Malle began putting the perfumer’s name on his bottles 16 years ago, perfumers were mostly unknown and uncredited outside of their industry. Acknowledging the perfumer would have risked shattering the illusion that Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors sat around blending their perfumes themselves. As a result, it can be very tricky to find information about perfumers, particularly older perfumers from more secretive generations. But I have never found so little information as I did on Akiko Kamei. One photo, a list of creations, and an unverified claim that Ms. Kamei once worked at Givaudan. No interviews, no quotes, nothing!

So this is really less of a post and more of a cry for help. Does anyone know anything about the woman who created Rouge d’Hermes, Caron No. 3, Diptyque Oyedo*, and L’Artisan Mure et Musc eau de cologne**? I hate seeing such an accomplished perfumer come so close to being forgotten. I’ll update this post with anything we can find! Let’s solve this fragrant mystery.

* Source: http://olfatheque.com/fiche-personne-194-Akiko-Kamei.html

** Source: http://boisdejasmin.com/2006/02/mure_et_musc_an.html

Jo Malone The Herb Garden

I’ve been counting down the days until The Herb Garden finally sprouted up. (See what I did there, guys? Don’t make me make a “green thumb” pun.) It’s the first collection from Jo Malone’s new in-house perfumer, Anne Flipo, the woman behind icons like L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons and Alexander McQueen MyQueen. The last Jo Malone to really impress me was Blackberry & Bay back in 2012, so I can’t wait to watch Flipo work her magic.

With one exception, the five scents in The Herb Garden are a lot more ambitious than the last few Jo Malone collections (Rock The Ages, London Rain, Sugar & Spice). Unfortunately, they’re still plagued by that notoriously dismal Jo Malone lasting power. As always, the limited-edition bottles are deeply cute.

Nasturtium & Clover 

Notes: Rocket, lemon, clover, nasturtium, jasmine, vetiver

My favorite of the five, even though I’m still not sure what “nasturtium” is. (Turns out it’s watercress! Was “Watercress & Clover” not glamorous enough?) N&C is a leafy, vegetal green fragrance with quite a bit of depth. Immediately reminded me of a much less sweet L’Artisan Parfumeur Mimosa Pour Moi.

Wild Strawberry & Parsley

Notes: Strawberry, Blackcurrant, Tomato Leaves, Parsley, Violet

Probably the most conceptually interesting scent in the collection. WS & P is an aquatic fruity fragrance, a tricky balancing act between the sweetness of the berry notes and the tartness of tomato leaf. A little too sweet by the end, but it mostly works. Not distinguishably strawberry.

Carrot Blossom & Fennel

Notes: Carrot, Rose, Orange Blossom, Iris

An odd duck. Rooty iris, sweet, syrup-y orange blossom, and a touch of spice. I was hoping for a lot more carrot, like L’Artisan’s Fleur de Carotte, but I do have to give CB & F credit for being the only one of the five scents to last more than half an hour on my skin.

Sorrel & Lemon Thyme

 Notes: Lemon, Bigarde, Petitgrain, Sorrel, Lemon Thyme, Rosemary, Geranium, Moss

The weakest link of the five. This thin, tart lemon scent smells much closer to a citrus cleaning product than an actual citrus fruit.

Lavender & Coriander

Notes: Lavender, Coriander, Sage, Tonka bean

Barbershop lavender, dry and sweet. Nicer than Jo’s other lavender, Amber & Lavender, but nothing groundbreaking.

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. All samples were generously provided by the wonderful Katri, the most helpful and knowledgable sales associate at Bloomingdales Tysons Corner. 

Jo Malone Mimosa and Cardamom

Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom is the Jo Malone-iest fragrance to ever Jo Malone. It’s the epitome of the current Jo Malone style: light, straightforward scents with truly comical lasting power. Mimosa & Cardamom is an airy, clean mimosa fragrance. It’s pretty much a mimosa soliflore; I detect zero cardamom, or any other note, really. Despite its irresistible delicate sweetness, mimosa (also known as acacia) is somewhat uncommon in perfume compositions. So I’m happy to report that Mimosa & Cardamom is unmistakably mimosa, and a very pretty one, if not particularly ambitious. Compared to the gold standard mimosa, L’Artisan Mimosa Pour Moi, M&C is fresher and less sweet.

My one issue is the lasting power, which seems to get worse with every new Jo Malone release. I got twenty literal minutes out of Mimosa & Cardamom. I understand that no one wants to be caught wearing a “strong” perfume these days, but there’s a difference between “light” and “need to reapply every half an hour”, and Mimosa & Cardamom is on the wroooong side of that divide.

L’Artisan Parfumeur The Perfume Box

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For the past few years, L’Artisan has kind of reminded me of an adorable puppy that constantly gets into sitcom-esque mischief. “L’Artisan, are you chewing on the power cords again?” “L’Artisan, did you discontinue Safran Troublant again?” But I’ve noticed some reassuring changes over at L’Artisan recently. The much-lamented 50 ml size is suddenly available for 16 of the line’s scents. Now we get this shockingly well-priced sample set ($20 for ten 2 ml samples). But is it worth your hard-earned Hamiltons? (After all, that’s 2.01 Tupac bobbleheads!) Read on for my analysis!

Pros

  1. Killer Price. 2 ml of the same ten L’Artisan fragrances in this set would cost more than $60 at sampling sites like Luckyscent or Parfum1. And that $60 wouldn’t include the very cute tin and packaging!
  2. Good Selection of Classics. Most of L’Artisan’s iconic fragrances are present and accounted for (Premier Figuier, La Chasse Aux Papillons, Mure et Musc, Timbuktu), which makes this a perfect gift for anyone new to the brand.
  3. Seville a L’Aube Included. Seville is one of the most interesting scents left in the L’Artisan range, so I’m thrilled to see L’Artisan actively trying to push it.

Cons

  1. No Safran Troublant. Booooo! Boooooooooooo!
  2. Several Categories Underrepresented. If you go along with L’Artisan’s classifications, this set has four florals (La Chasse Aux Papillons, Nuit de Tubereuse, Mure et Musc Extreme, and Seville a L’Aube), four “woody” fragrances (Fou d’Absinthe, Caligna, Premier Figuier, and Timbuktu), and then only one Oriental (L’Eau d’Ambre Extreme) and one citrus (Batucada).
  3. Relatively Safe Selection. With the exception of the previously-mentioned Seville a L’Aube, you won’t find any of L’Artisan’s stranger, braver scents in this set (think Dzing!, Traversee du Bosphore, Bois Farine).

Buy if: You’re just starting to explore L’Artisan, or want a cute, well-priced gift for someone new to the line.

Pass if: You’re a longtime L’Artisan fan- you’ve probably smelled these before.