Perfume House Private Reserve – Portland

Many of you already read this post from Perfume Smellin’ Things about the Private Reserve fragrances at The Perfume House in Portland. Always in search of something more obscure and hard to get or otherwise limited, tightly controlled, closely held and usually big bucks, I flew to Portland this last weekend to participate in a showing of the Private Reserve scents. These are scents that were made for private individuals — wealthy familes, I presume, because poor families very rarely worry about commissioning bespoke fragrances for their daugther’s 16th birthday and instead fritter away their worry capital on things like food and shelter.

These perfumes will be shown to 1,000 people. Once that has happened, they will be never shown again.  If you attend a showing, as long as you buy something at lest once per year, you can buy any of the fragrances forever, presumably.  You cannot buy any of the fragrances unless you attend a showing.  You order at the showing or later, and it takes about two weeks for the perfumes to arrive from Europe.

Oh, you jaded scent tarts, stop rolling your eyes.  Yes, it is all very secretive and closely held and hushy, and the answer to the only question that should be asked now is, is it worth it?  Well….. yeah, she said, as she sniffs the still-blooming snow rose on one arm and fondly remembers the Peluche that smells like home and Christmas and love.  These scents are not for anyone who is more fond of the current trends in modern perfumerie towards very light scents, ones that don’t really say anything, but also never offend.  These aren’t heavy skank monsters either, though that Yasminale does keep arching its back on my other arm. It is classic, rich perfumery at its best. Each scent is an oil, and as Donna commented, there is no nose fatigue at all, which is surprising. The oils last forever on the skin (sniffs Snow Rose again). The entire collection of scents, while a few are similar to each other in feel, are all very different, from rich, warm orientals to light bubbly perfumes, to deep vetiver and woods and incense.

I loved Many of the same ones as Donna did, setlling finally on Semiramis, Yasminale, Snow Rose, Marie Antoinette Violette, #4, and Peluche, and filing Chalain, Anyssa and Jane away as three I need to buy later, along with a couple of other possibilities.

Peluche has notes of basil, cumin, green notes, thyme, carnation, olibanum, leather and cedar, and it is just a nose hug for me. It fell into the men’s category classifications, and many of the “masculine” scents had more traditional male notes, but Peluche is truly unisex and perfect.  I should have stuffed that cotton ball into my purse with the scent on it so I could keep sniffing it.

Yasminale is mostly jasmine, and it goes on all feminine and pretty until you smell it an hour or so later, and the musk is doing the bump and grind all over the lovely flowers.  Gorgeous, but not just another pretty face.

Semiramis tends to be a favorite of many people, and almost everyone in my group loved it, and it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to wear and just beautiful, with notes of amber, sandalwood, jasmine, iris, rose, violet, narcissus, ylang-ylang and vanilla.  Classic oriental, elegant, rich, warm and lovely.

This is hard to do this from memory!  Anyssa was another favorite of mine — trying to remember why –  it was fresher without being gree– oh, the grass!!  Now I remember why I adored it!  Hay slut here was all over it for that reason. I decided to wait on that one until the next round, but that may be a short wait, I miss it already.

I wish I could talk more about the ones that weren’t my favorites, but still had a lot to recommend them.  It’s difficult to remember specifics of any but the ones you really loved when you smell 75 scents in a couple of hours!

Snow Rose is definitely all that that everyone has claimed it is.  If any of you have tried Shiseido’s White Rose, that’s a good reference point to Snow Rose, very familiar territory, and I’d be hard pressed to pick which one is the better of the two.  Beautiful rose scents, both of them, but believe it or not, the Snow Rose may actually be easier to get.

Marie Antoinette Violette — as Donna said, just a perfect violet scent.  I don’t have anything else to say about it except I smelled deeply twice and sighed… loudly and longly.

No. 4 is just perfection, one of those that takes your breath away when you smell it.

Jane was probably the only gourmand in the group, but despite that, I quite loved it. I reserve the right to change my mind once I have it and can wear it at leisure and by itself, but it was an unusual gourmand, sweet and some bitter and sharp all mixed in, never one dominating, a truly balanced gourmandish floral. It has notes of vanilla, chocolate, red currant, rose, jasmine, sweet orange, cedarwood, amber and Myrrhe.

Again, I wish I could talk in more details, but my brain just won’t work like that, if it works at all. I have to have the scent right in front of my nose when I’m writing about it, and my memory is never more than a sketch at this distance.

Is it worth going up there to smell them? If you like the hard to find and classically beautiful, yes. The Perfume House is a wonderful perfume store all on its own and well worth the trip, as well as enjoying the hospitality of the store’s owner, Chris.  There was also some talk that if there were a group of us that wanted to go one weekend, that there are some even rarer things that could be brought in for us to sniff. Portland is beautiful in the summer. 🙂 Just say the word, and I can start working on that for, say maybe the spring? April or May?

  • Flora says:

    P.S. I suggest that if you come in May make sure it’s not the last week, and if you arrange for June it should be the second half – you can’t get decent hotel rooms during Rose Festival time. Furthermore, if you come later in June, anyone who is interested could also visit the country’s finest rose display garden, at Heirloom Roses, south of Portland. It’s incredible!

  • Flora says:

    Wow, looks like I really started something! I was hoping someone actually read that story. :d

    I am SO glad you loved the Private Reserve, and it sounds like lots of people are making plans for a special trip to Portland. When you get closer to picking a date for a group showing let me know, I would love to come along! I never get tired of going to The Perfume House. It’s my favorite store in the world.

    (I did pick up a few cotton balls myself and I put them in little zip lock bags when I got home – when I can stand it no more I open up the #4 and Yasminale and inhale.)

  • ering says:

    OMG! Late as usual, but I will sooooo go to a Private Reserve sniffa in the spring. Was planning a trip in early March anyway (something that is approximating a minor pilgrimage) but will totally return for a party later in the year. That sounds too good to pass up, and has unleashed my inner (outer?) Valley Girl.

  • JenniferR says:

    Wayyyy late to the party. Again. I’m just down the road in Eugene, and have yet to visit The Perfume House at all, although I’m hoping to remedy that situation next weekend (as a “regular” customer only, obviously).
    I would dearly love to join a Private Reserve showing/smelling any time. I’ll just clear my calendar, regardless!

  • Silvia says:

    I have been dreaming of this. If you organize something in Portland, I’d do my best to join you from London. :)>-

  • Lucy says:

    That Portland trip sounds like fun! Please keep us up on the possible dates. Thanks for the post!

  • Karen says:

    Oh, gosh, how mouth-watering! Me too on the Portland trip, whenever is most convenient for everyone.

  • tmp00 says:

    I would be interested in that trip as well…

  • Teri says:

    I’d definitely be interested in a field trip to Portland. I have impending knee surgery in my near future, but if the dates you choose work out ok for me, I’d really like to go. Please keep us apprised of what dates you choose. I’d love to meet (and sniff lol) all of you. :d

  • Divalano says:

    Gee … I have family in Portland & I did say I’d make a swing through when I do my spring Seattle trip this year. I’d only be there for a weekend; you think they’d think I’d lost it altogether if I spent a day of my visit sniffing things? 😕

  • Carol Sasich says:

    thank you for rubbing our noses in how good these are…LOL!
    Put me in line, ready to go to Portland when you are! :((

  • Suzanne says:

    YUM-O! These scents sound so delicious!!! Can’t wait until you get them in your shop because I’m really clamoring for a sniff of that Snow Rose.

  • Malena says:

    *wow* patty, thanks for your post :)!
    it´s very unlikely that i´ll ever make it to portland, but at least you brought back three fragrances from my “wish list” – three out of five isn´t bad, i think \:d/
    do oyu perhpas remmeber no. 18 de HJ & palma? those were the other two i´d have loved to sniff. – IF i had to limit myself. normally i´m more like “i want them all!!!” LOL

    • Patty says:

      I do remember those two, and they both made the first cut, and Palma is NOT crossed off my list at all. Neither is Africa and a couple of others. I may see if I can get Chris to send me a couple of cotton balls dabbed in them in plastic bags to retry. 🙂

  • March says:

    Oooooohhh! That sounds like so much fun! I would love to go to Portland, I’ve never been and I hear it’s great. Count me in too.<:-p

    • Patty says:

      Oh, yeah, you would have loved this. 🙂 The whole rest of the shop is just a treasure trove of goodies, too. Everything from Serge Lutens to all the Guerlains and Chanels and Carons. There is something there for everyone, even when you aren’t sniffing obscure thingies.

  • Elle says:

    Nothing like starting my day out drooling over nearly impossible to get scents. That sounds like such perfume sl*t heaven. Deep sigh. Back to drooling.

    • Patty says:

      Yes, I think you would like a lot of these a lot, so maybe it is good they are so hard to get your hands on? Yes, exactly!

  • GGS says:

    I can’t wait to hear your 2nd impressions when the new perfumes arrive. Patty, can you fill us in on pricing for the Private Reserve line?

    • Patty says:

      Sorry about that! It is $250 for 1/2 ounce of perfume oil and $350 for 1 ounce of perfume oil. As pure parfums go, that’s actually somewhat reasonable. The lasting power is excellent.

  • Lee says:

    I *doubt* I’ll be able to make this – the 11 hour flight’s the killah. Though I do think I’ll soon be needing to undertake a scented tour of the US. And fyi, teachers here work til mid to late-July. Though now I’m mr Consultant, taking time off is sooooo much easier for me. Yay!

    Have you bought all 6 of em, Patty?


  • Louise says:

    I’m am already calling the airlines…but-bless you Maria, there are a bunch of teachers amongst us, and mid-June (many districts go that late) would work better for us dedicated to shaping our country’s youth…and to smelling amazing. Besides, June weather is the best in Portland…after the spring showers/deluges. Oh my! Way too excited here at the prospect!

    Glad you had such a nice time…did you get to Powell’s, or get a great meal? Portland is such a great town!

    • Louise says:

      er, “those of us”

    • Patty says:

      How about July or August? No, not August, I have a family reunion then. I can do this over a weekend, maybe plan it for Satuday afternoon/evening so people could get in and out pretty easily in the spring? I just find summer to be full of conflicts for everyone!

      • Maria says:

        Patty, July sounds good! I can go to Portland for the weekend, but people on the East Coast can’t. Take it from someone who did a lot of flying back and forth between DC and Portland when she was a couple of decades younger. b-( Anyway, think of the wild partying when we all get together. :d

  • Maria says:

    Hey, for the sake of teachers, don’t forget the academic year! I teach through the 18th of May. The grades are due soon after. How about early June? Louise is a Portland girl and a teacher. Judith teaches. Aren’t our students lucky to be surrounded by such good smells? And our perfumes aren’t bad either. :d (That last joke was dedicated to Lee.)

    • Lee says:



    • Patty says:

      I have to shoehorn this in around a graduation trip to Europe at the end of the school year. So it’s either later in the summer or to try and just do it over a weekend in the spring. Not sure when most spring breaks fall, but that could be an option?

  • Gina says:

    Thank you for this post, Patty. I think I’d be able to go in May, though I know you don’t know me from Adam, I’d love to go. :d These perfumes sound so amazing, very much worth the trip.

    Tomorrow morning I’m going on a motorcycle trip from Los Angeles to Big Sur. I can’t wait to smell the lovely air (outside of the city), seriously, that’s what I love about motorcycles. Had to share, I’m so excited.

  • Amy K says:

    Oh wow, sounds like a fabulous experience! I moved to Seattle a few years ago and still haven’t made it down to Portland yet, but if there’s going to be a special showing at the Perfume House in a few months then I would be there with bells on.

    • Patty says:

      You’re so close!! You definitely have to come. I just really want to try those even more obscure scents!!! I’ll see what time Chris has in the summer or spring

  • Gina says:

    Thank you for this post, Patty. I think I’d be able to go in May, though I know you don’t know me from Adam, I’d love to go. :d

  • Chris says:

    Did you try any of the “male” fragrances? If so were there any in particular that stood out as a “must have” for a husband/significant other?

    • Patty says:

      The men’s were tougher for me. I felt a lot of them followed a much more traditional male note structure, which usually takes them outside of my immediate interest. Peluche would be excellent on a man or a woman. I’m trying to find my notes now, and I seem to have filed them where I can’t find them. None of the other men’s scents really leaped out at me and screeched. I think the women’s scents were the clear greats here, though I’m sure guys could find something they liked.

  • Judith says:

    I would definitely be interested in going (May is probably better than April for me). I went to school in Portland and have friends there I should visit anyway. . . . LET’S DO IT!!

    • Patty says:

      Totall in for me too! I have to work it around an after-graduation europe trip for the family in late may, early june, so it could be tricky, and it may have to be july or august. Eeek!

  • Erin says:

    I’d certainly be interested! Ah, that Peluche, I knew it would be incredible.

    • Patty says:

      The Peluche is just stunning. As soon as I sniffed it, it was one of the instant loves and went into the KEEP pile. 🙂

  • sweetlife says:

    What a treat to read two Posse Posts in one day!

    I would be very, very, interested in a Portland Posse trip. Do keep us posted on that.

    And which NYC sniffa are y’all going to, again?

    • Patty says:

      I think at least March and I (still twisting Lee’s arm) are going to the spring one, I hope!

      I’ll talk to Chris after Christmas and see what he can arrange for summer or maybe early fall next year. i really would love to resmell these, and maybe we could talk him into doing part of it over a dinner or lunch so we can leisurely booze and eat our way through the sniffage! 🙂