I dropped by our new Anthropologie, which has conveniently relocated itself from Rockville Pike to the nearby open-area shopping center (with Bloomies, Sephora, MAC) across Wisconsin Ave from the Wall o’ Bling in Chevy Chase. For the uninitiated, Anthropologie is one of those stores selling everything from clothing to housewares to furniture, and it all fits together in a quirky/boho “lifestyle” way I’m not going to mock. Because in the middle of a craptastic week of sleet in February, or a 99-degree day in August when the air quality is “don’t breathe,” I like to go in there and wander around among the tchotchkes and pretend I’m somebody else. Living somewhere else, all alone with my robin’s egg blue bowls and adorable, matching dishtowels that nobody has used to gather up dirt for the worm-rescue operation in the driveway.
The scents they sell are clearly selected to fit in with their image – quirky, charming, and/or funky, generally not wildly expensive, and occasionally trending toward the boudoir/twee (scents called things like Wish or Relax) where I feel like 93% of the thought went into the packaging – not that this defect is unique to Anthropologie. They used to carry the Paul & Joes, and they still carry Tocca (which you can now get at Sephora) and the TokyoMilks, which are fun, along with ancillary lotions, soaps, bath products and candles. I don’t see L’Aromarine there anymore (I liked the Cola, which was weirdly great) but you get the idea.
I tried some of the Durgas, an NYC-based indie perfumer that’s doing some interesting, hippie-oil vibe scents which strike me as slightly out of character for Anthropologie. “An exclusive collaboration between Anthropologie and Brooklyn perfumers D.S. & Durga yielded these stunning, worldly scents. Handcrafted in small batches using balsams, resins and plant oils, each scent comes in a sleek, vintage-style bottle.” All of these quotes and notes stolen directly from the Anthropologie website.
East Mid East: “exotic silk road scents of saffron, cardamom, roses and mandarin.”
Royal Purpure: “an herbal tincture of dwarf pine and fig leaves, cooled by cypress and cedar.” (This bottle didn’t spray, but it sounds nice.)
Smoked Amber: “a luscious and smoky blend of scents culled from Turkish fire pits, including frankincense, birch and cassia bark.”
1538 Rheims: “an enchanting blend of musk, patchouli, iris and ginger lily.”
My favorite is the Smoked Amber, and that’s because it smells almost entirely of cinnamon (cassia bark) to me, and I like the smell of cinnamon. East Mid East and 1538 are surprisingly sugary on me at first, although the 1538 eventually becomes mostly patch and the EME becomes spice.
I found other sample Durgas at home and threw those on. Orris is interesting because it smells both of violets and iodine; it reminds me of vintage Jolie Madame. Cowgirl Grass (vetiver, sage, damask rose and tuberose) is wonderfully quirky and rooty before going green/floral, although Siberian Snow – gah. Too Sweet. The Durgas are about 17 ml for $48, and hey, anything less than $50 is free. I do wonder whether there’s something about me that brings out the sugar in these, and while they’re not Aftelier, they’re not ho-hum boring either. I loved the way I smelled after I’d put them all on together. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these.
I wouldn’t touch those Oiseaus (e.g., “Darling Blue,” “The Charmer”) with a barge pole, not even for you. I made that mistake once. They’re musky, floral things and the nicest thing I can say about them is that they’re $28.
Most interesting to me was the Novel collection, and here I’m going to crib entirely from the Anthropologie website: “Not a travelogue, but a scent-o-logue: each fragrance in this edition was inspired by a different flavor of tea found in one of six global locales. Housed in book-like boxes, the titles of each are based on the tea’s place of origin. Crafted exclusively for Anthropologie by five perfumers from the fragrance house Givaudan.”
Hamarikyu Gardens by Mary Pierre: green tea-inspired, featuring sweetened lemon and bergamot zest, verbena and the softest amber. (March says: smelled very rose-y floral to me, much more than I expected, sweet, and unfortunately a bit fresh.)
1856 Darjeeling by Adriana Medina: touches of cardamom, mint, fresh jasmine and cedarwood highlight this yellow tea blend. (March says: I’ll take this one! Smells like mint tea, blissfully unsweetened. Decent lasting power, too.)
Cape Of Good Hope by Claude Dir: a steeped blend of red tea leaves and lemon, gardenia petals and musk. (March says: very nice crisp red tea, lightly floral, not sure if I like it more than Bvlgari The Rouge, but I think I’m the only one who liked Rouge in the first place.)
5 O’Clock At Belvoir Castle by Stephen Nilsen: crisp bergamot and heady jasmine, sandalwood and damp moss (March says: spiky wood.)
Silk Road Caravan by Stephen Nilsen: white tea buds and fresh apricot paired with peony and vanilla (March says: waaaaaaaay too sweetly floral.)
Taverns & The Hague by Caroline Sabas: exotic Oolong spiked with mandarin and lemon zest, violet leaves and rich musk (March says: wet. Wet and citrus and … wet. The drydown grew on me, though, and not like mildew. Cool, earthy and musky.)
These are $48 for a 1.7, and they can all be found on the website.
I didn’t whip out the MasterCard for any of these, and the jaded can point to the fingerprints of the Anthropologie Experiential Ambiance team or whatever it’s called all over the lines chosen for the store. But I appreciate the fact that a store chain that is, at heart, as mainstream as this one would carry unusual scents, including some apparently developed for them. As an alternative to the fruit/floral/musks of many mass-market commercial scents, these are a welcome diversion.
Finally — the winner of the Chanel Chance Eau Tendre is … Carter! No, seriously. If you were just on there to talk about Berger Cookies (and yes, you correctly identified my secret location!) let me know and I’ll pick someone else. Otherwise it’s all yours, babe.