I went into Bath & Body Works several years ago, glanced around, took a couple of deep, exploratory sniffs, and vamoosed just as fast as my clogs would carry me. They were still in their Strawberry-Shortcake-Doll era bushel baskets resting on nasty plastic plaid cloths, displaying nasty, plastic product in scents you couldn´t pay me to wear grape, green apple, lemon cheesecake, whatever. I´ve avoided that store like the plague ever since (along with the only other beauty-products shop with a smell that repels me: Aveda.)
So I guess I am now the last person in the U.S. to discover that they´ve, what, been sold? Changed their target market? Got taken over by aliens? (Aliens with better taste.) My girls dragged me in there recently, and I was stunned to discover that in addition to a fresher, streamlined look, they´ve got a whole bunch of great stuff. Sure, you can dig around and find something like Fresh Melon Bubble Bath, but here in no particular order are a few things that wowed me, all of which are probably available in their online store:
C.O. Bigelow – This is the original, legendary NYC apothecary. But even if it fell off the back of the truck in Buffalo, it´s still rich, great-smelling stuff. I liked: the Lemon Body Cream; the Quince Hand Lotion; their dry skin products. However, all of it smelled good.
Le Couvent des Minimes – I am a fan of the smell of beeswax and/or honey (with the exception of Lutens´ Miel de Bois), and their honey and shea butter line really worked on my super-dry skin. Honey is also a smell that tends to disappear or can go slightly off and this one didn´t. I also liked: the verbena and the orange blossom, which I guess is new.
Their Aromatherapy line, especially in Lemongrass Mandarin. Lemongrass is another smell I can´t get enough of. (Hey, does anyone know a fragrance with lemongrass as a prominent note?) Their Lemongrass Mandarin was delicious and doesn´t smell like anything else I own.
Patricia Wexler, M.D. – She´s the queen of celebrity skin care right now, and I have no idea what´s in this stuff or whether it works (although I have friends who love it), but it smelled pleasant but not too strong or medicinal.
The Savannah Bee Company – I read a story about the beekeeper behind this company recently. I´m not going to weigh in on the healing magic of bee products, but they smelled gorgeous. I liked: the Magnolia hand lotion; the Tupelo Honey Hand Soap. I didn´t like: their beeswax lip balm pots, which were too waxy (yeah, I know, it´s beeswax, but still) and smelled a little rancid, which is probably what´ll happen to you if they sit around too long in your purse.
Stuff I Thought Was Awful: The Tutti Dolce line (sickeningly sweet), their new Temptations line, which smells like tropical drinks and which – full disclosure – the girls thought smelled wonderful (they thought the Tutti Dolce line was crap too).
The store also carries a number of nationally recognized/niche/cult brands: Joey NY, Henri Bendel Home, Molton Brown, Vincent Longo, to name just a few. A nice feature on their website: you can sort by fragrance as well as by brand.
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The winner of last week´s Festival of Weirdness giveaway was — Sariah! Email me your address via Contact Us (on the left column, above the search box), and I´ll get them in the mail to you.
I’ll try to squeeze in another post before I leave for Chicago on Wednesday, returning early next week. I will be helping an old friend move into new digs, with some extra time for retail therapy and whatever sniffage the Windy City has to offer.
March–Hard to say how they got so much good stuff, but Limited Brands is a VERY smaer company, so I figure they have some very astute buyers now. Also, I know they own CO Bigelow and Henri Bendel, and want to go in a more “modern” apothecary direction, and want thier flagships to compete with giants like Sephora and Ulta. Sound good?
It is pretty cool to see people with Bigelow bags in our store and vice-versa!
Flora — all these posts are making me feel sooooooo much better about my failure to realize that the store had undergone a major transformation.
PS Assorted Raisins — thanks for the shopping tip!
Raisins — you work for BBW!? How cool is that? If you check back, can you tell me how they go about selecting their merch? I’m really interested in how such a great selection wound up in one store…
Cheez! Sorry for the delay, we’ve had internet issues. I love Chicago — it’s an interesting city with sophisticated architecture and friendly people, and some excellent eatin’.
That Tutti Dolce — urp.b-(
I was surprised too – I went in to look for some hand cream, found something I liked, and left with a giveaway bag full of stuff, most of which was fine. I will be going back sometine for the Bigelow Lemon Body Cream – yum!
:d Hi perfume posse! I’m new to this but I love the blog–given that I actually help set up the scads of BBW stuff on sale had to comment! I used to work in a flagship and it was all the cool niche/specialty brands that made it worth it for me. Davies Gate, Le Couvent, 100% pure, Savannah bee, bigelow…even the Breathe line which is not so sweet in your face…I really can’t stand Tutti Dolci either, but Jaqua rocks. go fig.
And welcome to Chicago! We’re a great city!
You gotta check out the CO Bigelow Stores while you’re here–like the revamped BBW but even more fun specialty brands–and frags like Carthusia and L’ Artisan! Watertower mall on MI Ave and Woodfield Mall in the burbs both have one. Thanks and happy travels!
Bath & Body Works has improved by leaps and bounds lately! When I last visited a year and a half ago, it was primarily icky fruity bubble baths, and the super icky Tutti Dolce line.
I’ve since been reading about all the interesting lines they now carry (I’m especially jonesing for the Couvent des Minimes orange blossom stuff).
Alas, no B&BW in Canada, so I will have to order online or make a special trip stateside.
Have fun in Chicago March! I’ve always wanted to go there. Tell us all about everything you sniff during your travels.
You’re too kind. Thank you, Patty.
March! Got the e-mail and replied! Hope we can meet up! Yay! :d
Sali, Blogrolling is down today, it seems, but you are there! I definitely have your Pink Manhattan on my list to try, must go order some now, as a matter of fact.
That’s weird. I found your blog through the blogroll link. Hmm…*twilight zone* Well, thanks again anyway!:)>-
Sali — I am either losing my mind or our blogroll has disappeared.
I have emailed The Supreme Leader about that.
Mimi — it’s 75% lemongrass and 25% woods, I am in heaven. Will stick in the next Candy Samples.
Vi Noir — oh, goood, so I wasn’t the last person on the planet!=:) to know about BBW.
Thanks for stopping by.
Ina — I emailed you via the address on your website — I’d love to meet you for sniffage.:)>-
Just dropping in to say “hi” and thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I’ve added you to mine. Bigelow–love that place. Rock on, Peppermint Patty!
It’s always best to do the skin test, if one can. Price is not an issue here, for sure, but you don’t need any extra clutter if it doesn’t work out with your body chem.!
Hope you come upon the lovely woods in the drydown.
Gee, I have not been to B&BW for a while. What refreshing news. I will have to give them a visit.
Have a safe and fun time in Chi-Town March! I look forward to hearing about your trip when you return.
You’re coming to Chicago? How fun! If you have some free time and would like to get together for perfume sniffing, I’d be more than happy to do so! I live right downtown. 🙂 If not, enjoy your trip!
Mimi and Patty —
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I found my sample. Gosh, what a wonderful smell (thanks, Katie — I THOUGHT I remembered it!)
To me it is lemongrass and lemon, and on a glumpy, gloomy day like we’re having here it is perfect. Will keep a nose out for the birch…\:d/
Mimi, yes from me too! I’d love to try some, even though the price on it is incredibly reasonable!
Patty — good, I’m only a year behind.:d
Honestly, I could wander around for an hour in there now, trying things.
Sariah — congrats on your WEIRD win! They had a whole wall of beautiful Bendel candles and room sprays when I visited. I wish I were more of a candle girl — I have a couple of nice ones by The Giant Tub, and that’s it.
Mimi — I would LOVE to try some! I need to check, for some reason I am thinking I might have a sample of that, I will check, otherwise yes yes yes! I think I like the lemongrass for the same reason, it reminds me of some of my favorite food, those Thai soups. It is such a lovely smell.
Cait — I saw those things! I’m sort of a scent weirdo in that, except for my personal fragrances and an occasional candle by the bath, I’m not big on any other aromas — room sprays, laundry sprays, etc. The Cheese and I both work out of the house, and I guess I want the olfactory backdrop to be neutral, so to speak…
Dusan — I think the Allure is my favorite. However, I agree with you that the D&G is tres, tres sexy!
Hey, if you guys can wait, I’m going to order some vials and send you samples of Sunshine & Grass, not that buying it impulsively is going to break the bank:).
I was shocked a year ago or so when we popped in there, and they had all these lovely products. A very different place with some quite nice things.
Mimi, now I’m jonesing for that Sunshine & Grasee and trhing to make myself NOT buy it.
I found some stuff I liked there recently too. I’ve been using the CO Bigelow tinted mint lip blam a lot – it’s very minty and tingly, must have a high concentration of mint oil. And the Henri Bendel candles they had around Xmas were great – liked the Tonka Bean and Vanilla.
Seek nor further — Vtae’s Sunshine & Grass has a very prominent lemongrass note. It is both a citrusy and woodsy fragrance (lots of birch) with a beautiful drydown. I also love lemongrass as it reminds me of the fresh lemongrass infusions we used to have after dinner when I was living in South East Asia. I love birch because it reminds me of Russia.
Hmm, I had no clue as to all this stuff that B & B Works carried. Thanks. I did hear about some fragrance infusion CD machine in which you pop in a disk and it “plays” the fragrance, infusing it in the air. I also heard that some famous nose whose name is now escaping me was working on that project. I want to remember who, now. 8-| Happy Monday.
Re lemongrass: L’Eau Bleue d’Issey Miyake (masculine) has got it. I wouldn’t say LG is terribly prominent, but it’s there. Try it, if only because it’s such a strange (weird) herbal/mineral concoction that still has me deciding whether I admire or hate it.
Re Allure: forgot to tell you that it’s Girlfriend’s favourite.