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)

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.

Neela Vermeire Bombay Bling

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Father’s Day is coming up, y’all! I know this because someone put a very Jesus-y card in my mail box acknowledging my “countless acts of love and sacrifice as a father.” About damn time someone did.

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So in honor of this fine holiday, I wanted to review my father’s favorite perfume: Neela Vermeire Bombay Bling. I’ve mentioned before that my father broke his nose in a serious car accident before I was born. Because of the accident, or perhaps the resulting surgery, he lost much of his sense of smell. This has obviously made it virtually impossibly for my father to understand my interest in perfume. When I bought my first bottle of Guerlain’s legendary Après l’Ondée, I talked to him about the history behind it, and he was very curious to try it. I sprayed it for him, but all he could smell was “wet dog.” Most of my collection he can’t smell at all.

My father has been fascinated by India since visiting Mumbai on a business trip, so when I won a sample pack of Neela Vermeire’s first three fragrances in a giveaway, I forced him to try them. My favorite is Trayee, and he agreed that it smelled great, but he kept returning to Bombay Bling. “It’s really more of an experience than a perfume,” he told me. Bombay Bling is the first (and so far the only) perfume that has helped my father to experience perfume in the same way I do. Because of Bombay Bling, my father now knows that perfume can be more than shrill pink stuff that makes him sneeze. Special perfumes are just as much stories as they are smells.

Of course, perfumes are also just as much smells as they are stories! So what does Bombay Bling actually smell like? Bombay Bling opens with, and is dominated by, a vivid mango note. This mango isn’t tart, but it is very green. There is nothing else like this on the market, nothing. The other most prominent note would probably be the blackcurrant. There are some heavy-sounding base notes (patchouli, tobacco, cedar), but you don’t actually smell any of those things. They just add up to a woody smoothness at the end of the fragrance’s life. I also have to comment on the lasting power, which is nothing short of exceptional. Very few perfumes last for more than an hour on my dry skin, but when I spray on Bombay Bling, I know I’m committing to one perfume for the rest of the day.

I don’t like blackcurrant and I don’t like fruity scents, so I can’t really explain to you why I adore this perfume so much. All I know is that whenever I wear Bombay Bling, I get the distinct impression that my little sample vial is about to explode with the most dazzling colors and sounds.