The D.C. Perfume Tour

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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

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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

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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)

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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.

Making Laundry Into Lemonade

The scene of the crime. Utterly unrepentant.

Two days before Sniffapalooza, Zelda threw up into my one and only pair of high heels. That’s pretty standard procedure; as a Baltimore stray, she can smell abandonment coming a mile away. Multiple pieces of cat poop on the duvet, however, was a new development.

As I loaded up the washing machine, I found myself thinking about laundry detergent. More than a few perfume brands, including Le Labo, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, and Kai, offer laundry detergents these days. Even on the drugstore shelves, functional fragrances (like detergent and dish soap) are usually created by the same perfumers who do fine fragrance. Maybe a perfume-quality detergent would help make the task at hand a little more pleasant?

After sniffing expeditions to Saks and bluemercury, I’ve assembled the best-smelling of these upscale detergents. Unfortunately, I can’t report on performance; for better or for worse, Zelda doesn’t savage my duvet often enough to justify buying a $45 detergent.

Please don’t take that as a challenge.

The Laundress & Le Labo Rose 31 Signature Detergent

Very true to Rose 31’s wonderfully spiced rose. Of the five detergents I smelled, this is easily my top choice.

Tocca Laundry Delicate

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Laundry Delicate comes in five different scents; I was able to track down Stella, Florence, and Cleopatra. I actually liked the detergents even better than the fragrances! Stella’s orange note, for example, was much juicier in detergent form. Florence is a straightforward-but-lovely tuberose, and Cleopatra was a Coco Mademoiselle-eque fruitchouli. Stella leads the pack for me.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Laundry Detergent

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Definitely focuses on the lemon side of the Aqua Universalis equation. I wish there was a little more of that gorgeous sparkling lily of the valley you get in the fragrance itself.

Does your love of scents extend as far as laundry detergent? Any favorites that should be on this list?

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

Dailies 07/18/14

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Daily Fragrance: Le Labo Lys 41. Despite the aggravating city exclusives and the intentionally confusing naming scheme, Le Labo always delivers on their perfumes. Lys 41 is a robust, true lily fragrance with a delicious vanilla drydown. I like it even better than the gold standard lily, Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee, which goes too sweet on me.

Daily Nail Polish: Illamasqua Raindrops. Caution: needs at least three coats. That third coat takes Raindrops from a streaky mess to an ethereal, shimmering dove grey.

Daily Game: Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon. Dark Moon stars the unwilling ghostbuster Luigi, younger, greener brother to Nintendo mascot Mario (aka Maurice Roucel lookalike). Timid, bumbling Luigi’s willingness to face his fears (ghosts, and lots of them) in order to save his brother never fails to make me sniffle. Vacuuming up ghosts is also surprisingly satisfying!

Please feel free to share your own dailies (and to use your own categories)!

Le Labo Ylang 49

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I am learning the coolest stuff at Osswald, y’all. Like, I always thought that chypre perfumes were defined by the presence of oakmoss, but it turns out that the word “chypre” comes from a legend involving the Cyprus island. Apparently the Greek goddess Aphrodite wanted to destroy everything that might possibly compete with her beauty, so she razed every flower on Cyprus. (It only sounds bad until you remember all the weird shit Zeus used to do.) So, in keeping with this myth, chypre fragrances were originally defined by the absence of floral notes!

Le Labo Ylang 49 is a floral chypre (which seems like it should be an oxymoron, but for some reason no one ever consults me on these matters). Semantics aside, the structure works very well- the ylang-ylang softens the sharp bite of the oakmoss, and the oakmoss keeps the ylang-ylang’s sweetness in check. What’s curious about Ylang 49 is that the oakmoss actually disappears approximately halfway through the perfume’s life, causing Ylang 49 to transition into a simpler heady white floral fragrance. But for those initial hours, Ylang 49 is every inch the proper chypre fragrance, guaranteed to send young whippersnappers off shrieking “old lady” faster than you can say “ageism”. My young whippersnapper tastes prefer Le Labo’s other new release, Lys 41, but I applaud Le Labo for releasing a true chypre fragrance, and I rejoice for the perfumistas who have been waiting for one.

Le Labo Oud 27

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The Le Labo ad copy for Oud 27 ends with the words “You will enjoy it.” Those bastards.

Oud 27 has to be the weirdest perfume I know. The first ten minutes are wretched. I have tried literally thousands of perfumes, and I feel confident in declaring that the opening of Oud 27 is the worst thing I have ever smelled. For ten minutes, Oud 27 smells like rancid glue. It is revoltingly sour and rotten, which leads me to suspect that Oud 27 may actually contain rather authentic oud (oud is a type of tree sap formed in response to parasitic mold). It is horrible. I hate it. I hate everything. That last line was mostly an excuse to post a Grumpy Cat picture, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

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For those first ten minutes, my wrist was a weapon of mass destruction. But just a mere minute later, Oud 27 abruptly became something almost presentable: a powdery, unsweetened incense scent with a prominent cedar note. Sure, the cedar has a little rot to it, but it’s worlds away from the horrific decay of the opening. Oud 27’s second act smells very similar to the drydown of Etat Libre d’Orange Rien, another incense scent that I’m currently testing.

Oud 27 eventually smells fine, but it is no way worth suffering through that opening. Please do not pay $145 for this perfume when you could simply rub a decaying corpse on your pulse points and get the same effect.