Before getting onto my shopping trip last Friday, I just want to share some travel advice with you. If you´re longing for oakmoss and miserable at its disappearance from our perfumed lives, look no further than a trip to south west Scotland, at least until the anti-scent brigade bomb the place. I´ve never been to a land so full of lichens. Every tree seemed to have a furry green trunk and greybluegreen branches (mostly due to oakmoss and its buddy, Old Man´s Beard). And given that a woodland was outside our holiday home, I got a heck of a lot of close-up time with oakmoss, even if the smell is – huh – hardly there in its unprocessed state. The bluebells and wild garlic compensated in the fragrance department though, I can assure you. What a wonderful juxtaposition of the intoxicatingly floral and the earthily acrid. Just perfect.
We stayed in the lodge below, sea one side, woodland on two, dairy pasture the other. We only ever saw cows and perhaps, on a busy day, a solitary walker heading from the small bay tucked deep in the woods, to the ruined castle, half a mile to the south of us. Bliss, I tell you.
Anyway, onto London. I don´t shop much, as I´m increasingly intolerant of crowds. I love people in ones, twos or threes, but any more than that and I start to get the jitters. It´s why I started in Nicolai, as the shop is so small, fitting any more than two people in there plus the SA is nigh-on impossible.
As much as I love the perfumes, I went to Nicolai for home fragrance lamp burner oil, the scents of which knock Lampe Berger into the shade (geddit?). I was after summery´ and though their new Gardenia wowed me, and though I was tempted by the Mimosa, I ended up with three bottles that were far less femme. After all, my home is Georgian straight lines and it gets chintzy enough from the oh-too-many sweet peas that start appearing in the next few weeks. I ended up with Lavande Pays ( a staple – lavender, a touch of mint, and woody depths), Fleurs d´Agrumes (so much less shrill than the lemon, grapefruit and mandarin ascribed to it – essentially a woody scent with citrus topnotes) and Ocean (the lovely SA convinced me of this. I was expecting a calone / seaweed hellzone. I got eucalyptus, pine and open windows. Lovely, actually).
I also bought a bottle of Eau Turquoise as it seemed to be discontinued and 30 mls was going for the equivalent of $15; 100mls for $22. I supersized. It smells remarkably similar to the (also discontinued?) Eau Exotique, although softer in the drydown. They´re fruity scents for people who don´t enjoy fruity scents. Anyone fancy a large sample?
I also tried scents I hadn´t sniffed, or can´t remember sniffing. Cedrat and Cedrat Intense – both wondrous. But it was Odalisque that stole my heart. I didn´t know that green floral scents could be so seductive. If crowds smelled like Odalisque, I think I could be happy among them. The jasmine rounds off the high-pitched facets of the muguet (I didn´t want another of´ in the sentence – my only reason for fanciness) It has none of the shrill screech that green florals seem to make (to my ears´ at least). Instead, it´s the low thrum of a young Bacall whispering temptations. I think I might just need a small bottle.
Onto Harrods, which was hell, as usual: SAs wielding the latest blap as 21st century weaponry, crowds moving like a febrile convulsion, and a noise level antithetical to perusal. I sniffed many things – enjoyed trying Donna Karan´s Fuel for Men at last (and it´s a maybe autumn purchase) and was sorely tempted by an Amouage Dia giftset, though I wasn´t quite ready to part with the $$$. I also finally tried Homage, and it bloomed and opened a new world in that hectic room – lush and beautiful. It sorely needed to be worn elsewhere.
Finally, onto Liberty, for my bottle of Geranium pour Monsieur, and peace and quiet. I love Liberty for perfume – it´s had the same understated SAs for years and never draws the crowds of Harrods or – worse! – Selfridges. Diptyque´s Oyedo made me laugh, and I momentarily wondered if I´d be happy going round smelling like Haribo all day (it´s kind of like a cartoon version of Clinique´s Happy for Men, with all the dihydromyrcenol replaced by laughing gas).
I quite liked the rather ordinary Nuits de Cellophane but don´t really remember much of anything else I tried. I was suckered into splurging out on a Cire Trudon candle – Balmoral. Hell, grass makes me as allergic as a sneeze-machine on its highest setting – fake grass, not at all.
And so my shopping trip ended, with a small whimper of acquisitiveness, and some satisfaction.
So, what have you bought recently – to scent yourself, or to scent your home? And what would you buy if you had all the time and money in the world for a leisurely, chauffeur-driven tour around London´s perfume hotspots?
And how about the view from the holiday cottage living room, to end…?