We got together for our informal D.C. sniff-together on Saturday; it was cold and damp but at least it had stopped raining. Thanks again to Nancy and Louise for organizing this! It was great to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. The group numbered 20ish, with folks there from MUA or POL, Posse readers and elsewhere. We went around in a circle and introduced ourselves, laughing and clapping as we matched up online monikers with faces.
The lovely Liz and Lloyd, our SA hosts at Saks, plied us with champagne and pastries, gave us a brief talk on fragrances, then turned us loose with goody bags for the sniffage. There´s a lot going on with 20 people spread out across the fragrance floor, but I tried to circulate and see what people were enjoying. Among the highlights:
Weighing in on which Annick Goutal would make a good gift for a teenager. I think the winner was Petite Cherie, although Chevrefeuille was in the running, and Saks had Neroli and Violette, which are always fun to sniff. I tried Goutal´s smoky, bittersweet Vanille Exquise and very much enjoyed it, vanilla being one of those notes I have really come around to recently; more about that next week.
Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur is BO´s insouciant, sweet younger sister that seemed well received among our group, although I didn´t try it on. To me it bears only passing resemblance to the original and is completely without that truffle-bomb note. Unsurprisingly, it is simultaneously more wearable and less interesting.
Prada Infusion d´Iris was also well received, but several people had the same problem I´ve had – it just didn´t stick around long. However, for some reason on Saturday, it stuck to my right hand and wrist like glue, even though a couple of handwashings, a development I´m still puzzling over.
Several people browsed through the stunning Caron coffret, for (I am assuming) $$$$$$$$, while I contented myself with fondling the merely $$$ Armani Prive bottles. Louise and I and some others like the Armani Prive Eclat de Jasmin so much she and I talked about a bottle split, but then she buried it under something and I never heard how it all came out. At one point Sariah saw me pick up the bottle of Cuir Amethyste and said don´t! put! that! thing! on! Man, she hates that thing like poison (or possibly Poison.)
Jil Sander Style now has a Stylessence, what I am guessing is the Extreme version. I liked Style well enough (I like Jil Sander stuff in general) but wasn´t wowed by it somehow. The Stylessence has more oomph, apparently courtesy of cardamom, hinoki wood and musk. I made myself a sample to bring home. It’s a little sweeter than I expected on my first test drive.
Then we walked down the road to Neiman Marcus, with a brief stop in the Wall of Bling at Barneys Co-op to smell Malle Outrageous. I find it a total snooze, like a fresh-style clean-laundry orange-blossom scent, and the bottle´s ugly too. Anyone else who tried it, feel free to chime in and explain why I´m wrong.
At Neiman Marcus we were greeted with more champagne, which pretty much confirmed for me that, as fun as group sniffage is, it´s even better with a little champers. In fact, I think all my future sniffage should include free champagne (and yeah, good luck with that, I know). At this point I started cheerfully hectoring my fellow sniffers regarding successes and failures:
The Gucci by Gucci garnered a lot of interest. The fragrance has this sort of reverse build – you get hit with that huge wallop of patch up front, an almost mentholated note, and then the drydown is the lighter, tamer floral part. The drydown´s nice, though I can´t help feel in some inchoate way it doesn´t become quite what I was expecting. It´s the perfect kind of scent for this time of year, though, and needs more testing.
The big hit? Lalique´s Encre Noir, the vetiver-rich beauty in the black square bottle that smells dry and dark as the name suggests. There was some listless poking around in the Creeds, and I heard a vicious rumor that someone asked the SA if she could show her something in a Creed that didn´t, you know, suuuuuck. Which she did. My favorite Creeds are the ones that don´t smell like Creed, and I guess I´ll stop there before I get a letter from their lawyers telling me to keep my uninformed, idiotic opinions to myself. I´ll cover my butt here by pointing out I did a post on five Creeds I like.
Then there was the wee bottle of Guerlain Shalimar parfum, which made the rounds while we discussed whether L´Instant was any good. Note: you can smell Shalimar parfum through a wool coat 90 minutes later. I consider it a personal failing on my part (no, seriously) that I´ve never been able to feel the Shalimar love, but I moved a baby step in that direction. Like most Guerlains, the quality improves as you move up the food chain, and the parfum brought me to the heart of my problem: I have a very hard time with Shalimar´s famous dichotomy, the vanillic warmth vs. its balsamic, incense-y coldness. The opening of Shalimar is fierce; it reminds me of the leathery resins of Vol de Nuit. Then it goes through a dark, smoky phase, then a long, incense-y vanilla that worked beautifully for me with a cup of tea and a warm computer.
Lunch was a fun combination of heart-clogging steak sandwich and working the table, with fragrance freebies passed around, giggled over and swapped. To the woman whose neck I aggressively sniffed because she smelled intoxicatingly of Chanel 22: I apologize, I was caught up in the moment. After awhile you get used to being hoovered by me (just ask Louise) and I promise I don´t lick or bite. It´s a weakness; I happen to love smelling fragrance on other people´s skin. Speaking of which – again, anyone who´s doubted the power of skin chemistry, spray a particular fragrance on a group of people and wait 20 minutes. The variety is amazing.
After lunch the group went on to our brand new (relatively) luxe Bloomie´s, and I ducked out reluctantly — the Big Cheese is off on one of his junkets, and five hours was about all the twin-sitting I felt Diva could handle. There was a dog waiting to be walked and some dinner groceries to be bought. To all of you I met (and bluechile, I am so sad we didn´t get to talk more about New Mexico – another time, perhaps?) – thanks for a lovely afternoon.