Field Trip to Anthropologie

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.

  • Joe says:

    I just now am seeing this post thanks to Robin at NST. Just tried four or five of the Novel Collection last weekend and I liked a couple… but I got them mixed up, so I need to go and keep better track next time. I think one I liked was Darjeeling. One was a very good lemony tea.

    And I’m really commenting to let you know that Orris Root is the only D.S. & Durga I was moved to buy over a year ago. It’s a sort of amazing, but thick and syrupy, scent. Unfortunately, my local Anthropologie doesn’t stock those newer D.S. & Durgas. :((

  • NewMaven says:

    We now have Anthropologie in Toronto – 2 stores actually – and I’d read about the Durga line on perfumeniche.com. They really liked all four of the Anthropologie range, and blogged about the 1538 Rheims. It sounded so luscious that I hit the Yorkville store that day and bought two Durgas- Smoked Amber and Rheims. Unlike on you, March, they do not go sweet on me – I get more spicy smoke than sweet spice, and the Rheims drydown is quite gingery and sort of dry. But I love patchouli – so maybe I don’t perceive it like you do.

  • Wordbird says:

    These sound very interesting. Of course, being a total saddo with the mental make-up of a twelve year old boy, I’d have to buy % O’Clock at Belvoir Castle for the smell (sounds very me) but also because in Britain, Belvoir is pronounced ‘Beaver’. Yes, I am that sad.

  • Valentine says:

    I love Anthropologie but have only been to the SF location in Union Square, and I remember that even after sampling all the scents Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, and Nordstrom had to offer, it was Silk Road that I loved the most, though it reminds me of a Jo Malone that I can’t quite place at the moment.

  • Aparatchick says:

    I love wandering around in Anthropologie. Yes, I’m outside their preferred demographic, but here’s the great part about being old: I don’t care! :d Anthropologie is where I first encountered the Tokyo Milk line – I love Ex Libris. Now I’m thinking I need the Cape of Good Hope thing. And March, you’re not alone in liking The Rouge. Shhh…don’t tell, but it’s my favorite of the Bvlgari teas.

    • March says:

      Heh. I’ll keep your secret if you keep mine — I have all three, and I’m not sure I could pick a favorite. I rotate them in the summer. I’m quite fond of White (my first.) Actually, I’d probably rank them White, Red and the original.

      TokyoMilk the honey one smells SO GOOD on Louise, and the honey fades immediately on me. Sad. 🙁

  • Divalano says:

    Ugh ugh ugh, now I will have to start doing more than walking quickly by Anthropologie without looking because I’m quite sure there’s nothing in there I need / can afford / just keep moving. Maybe just a tiny peak at the website …

    So, Durga. I did try one, didn’t like it, promptly mailed it off to a fellow-ette MUAer who loved it. Don’t recall which one. If she’s reading perhaps she’ll tell us what it was & all that.

    And no, you’re not the only one who liked Rouge in the first place. I liked it in the first place, for the first hour, at least, until the horribly dull drydown. I think I’ll have to try that Novel collection. At Anthropologie. Which now I have a totally legit reason to go to.

    • March says:

      YOU CANNOT RESIST. I’m not sure I loved the Durgas but at this point, anything that doesn’t smell like the new LAMB flanker is bonus, you know?

      I like that dull drydown in Rouge. 😡 Okay, okay, it stays pleasantly raspy on me — I cling to the roiboos forever.

  • irishlass says:

    I have tried all 18 of the D.S. and Durga original line (love them!), alas, my local Antropologie doesn’t carry the four they did exclusively for them. My favorites: My Indian Childhood, Orris Root, Coriander, Cowgirl Grass and Grapefruit. There are three new ones coming this month to Anthropologie for summer (shake shake senora, petitgrain sur fleur and pomelo blossom.) Am hoping and praying the perfumed court will sell samples of these!;)

    • March says:

      The (relative) problem I’d guess for resale is they’re pretty small for the price, so decanting is an issue. Folks get testy when they get 1/2 a ml. /:) I am looking forward to trying some new ones.

  • Disteza says:

    I used to shop at Anthropologie a lot, but I’ve not found anything there for a while now that was worth the price. I agree that their clothes recently have problems with the fit, and more of them are poorly constructed out of lower-quality fabrics than they used to be. Seems to be the prevailing trend in retail in general though, not just Anthropologie in particular. I’m seriously thinking about making my own clothes at this point.

    • March says:

      Let’s kick this around some more … I’m relatively petite, and I can do funky in reasonable doses. And in the old days, even if I thought the prices were a bit aspirational for the goods, the interest value of the clothing was there.

      But I feel like much of the Anthro clothing of the last two years has become almost a parody of their previous look, if that makes any sense. Lapels more skewed, buttons bigger, hemlines more lopsided, ruffles more oddly placed … I wish I had a dollar for each thing I’ve tried on that looked nice on the hanger, and there was something profoundly weird about it.

      • DinaC says:

        I absolutely agree! It’s like the buyers went out for their cocktails and lunch *before* they did their ordering instead of after. 😉 Because you would seriously have to be drunk to think that some of those goods would look nice on a woman’s body. Yeeesh!

        • Disteza says:

          I agree! I notice that the nicer brands they tend to carry nowadays have consistent problems with fit (ahem, Moulinette Souers, Leifsdottir). I’ve tried on so truly hideous things there that looked great on the hangar, but magically transformed me into a hunch-backed green rectangle, or worse. The less spendy stuff all seems to be $60 variations on the deconstructed/embellished tee. I don’t need another kicky embellished skirt or cardi, so I have no reason to even go in there anymore. Thus, my clothes money gets spent stalking vintage couture on l’eBay, where at least I know the seams will be correctly constructed and the buttons won’t fall off if I look at them too hard. (:|

          • March says:

            Sigh. Vintage (not necessarily couture, at least for me.) I’m built for vintage, except when the waistline is teeny … man, who were those wasp-waisted women? 😕 The same ones with the size 5 shoes, I suppose. But you’re right. I’ve gotten some amazing dresses from the last fifty years that are so beautifully constructed.

            I loved hunch-backed rectangle. I’m especially baffled by the shoulder. Seriously, I have small shoulders. US stuff always falling off. Their stuff? You’d think I was some linebacker.

          • Disteza says:

            That’s where the supportive undergarments come into play! 😉
            Seriously: my frame is almost right for the middling-to-large size vintage stuff, except my waist is usually 2 inches too big. I compensate with a corset, and magically everything fits. Since most vintage stuff is made from fantastic fabric and is lined, you can get away with some undergarment assistance. If I can find something that is bigger, I just tailor everything else down and the waist still fits that way. I’ve come across some fantastic pieces that, while they’re more expensive than your average bit o’new at Anthro, are sewn to survive battles and look like nothing else you see today (in a good way).

        • March says:

          Hmmmm… maybe that’s their marketing and design plan. But it’s not working out.

  • Josie says:

    Anthropologie had Histoire des Parfum online the other day, are they carrying it in the store?

    • March says:

      I saw that! If they were there, I missed them, but the store’s such a warren of goods I might have. Also, I think they had things in the store (perfume-wise) that I didn’t see online.

  • Jinjur says:

    Oooh, ooh! Anthropologie is totally my bag. I discovered the world of perfume at the beginning of this year and spent a lot of time haunting the local mall with its 2 Sephoras, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie. Here are my notes on the 4 “Novel Collection” scents I tried, which are some of the first reviews I did:

    1856 Darjeeling: (“touches of cardamom, mint, fresh jasmine and cedarwood highlight this yellow tea blend.”) Yes, tea notes – then it settles into a grassiness that teeters on astringency, except is happily underlaid with a creamy white warmth. Like a handful of wheatgrass stood in a glass of clover milk. May be a shade too green for me, but nice, though soapy on dry-down.

    Cape Of Good Hope: (“a steeped blend of red tea leaves and lemon, gardenia petals and musk.”) So nice, I want to eat my arm. Really sinks into my skin. Milky rooibos at first, touch of lemon zest, then soft magnolia/gardenia, warming into a spiced vanilla infused with milky flower. Lush, womanly, creamy, dreamy. A luxurious soft robe to wrap myself in. I bought a full bottle and like to wear this one at bedtime.

    5 O’Clock At Belvoir Castle: (“crisp bergamot and heady jasmine, sandalwood and damp moss”) Animalistic, rank, barely tolerable. [note: There is a certain Musk Of Death that I’ve found common in the lower-end perfumes that thrusts its sweaty, funky armpits at me and screams obscenities. YMMV.]

    Taverns & The Hague: (“exotic Oolong spiked with mandarin and lemon zest, violet leaves and rich musk”) Wanted to like it – citrusy, bright, green, but a little too much so. I kept wanting some base steadiness.

    • March says:

      That’s very funny/interesting — the way I’m reading these, we felt very similarly about them! Hearing you on the Musk Of Death. Gah, although it’s not ampitty to me. It’s spiky/woody. I hates it.

      I think we both deserve a bottle of Good Hope…. and you have yours… hmm….

      • Jinjur says:

        Sounds like a split/decant hint to me :d Let’s talk – email me! (You can uncover my email as an administrator, right?)

  • Robin says:

    Spiky wood — spiky in a good way, or spiky in a bad way? Or is that just the dumbest question ever?

    Keep meaning to go smell those tea scents. It was a cute idea, the set.

    • March says:

      NOT the dumbest question ever, and you pointed out a failing in this post. I’m referring to that particular aromachemical, dihexa-something-or-other, that we are supposedly more sensitized to the more we smell it. It’s in a lot of men’s scents. To me, at this point, it’s like shoving a bottle brush up my nose.

      And not in a good way.

      Those tea scents were at least TEA! I’m all for tea scents. Well, and tea in general.

      • Robin says:

        And so few tea scents smell like tea! Well, I need to go smell them.

        • March says:

          Weeellllllll, only two out of the five actually *smelled* like tea to me. What I meant was, I’m all for a line of scents allegedly inspired by tea. As opposed to, you know, sugar. Or fruitchouli.

  • maidenbliss says:

    Congrats, Carter!!
    I love to look at Anthropologie online. This Christmas they had the most decadent velvet quilt, just
    a mere $600:d, alas, it wasn’t clearanced. :((
    I love the plates, bowls, all the quirky tchotchkes, wish I was near the store. Is that one near
    Silver Spring?

    • March says:

      I’m not sure whether there’s another one in this area? 😕 I think there’s one in VA (Tysons.) In which case, yes, this would be near Silver Spring. And their stores are beautifully done up.

  • Francesca says:

    Whoa, where is your new web host located? While I was waiting for my comment to load, I got this message:
    Your comment is submiting. Please wait a comment…
    :d

    • March says:

      Oh, goodness, it’s always said that. /:) I get it regularly … I assume it’s in the original WordPress comment set-up and I can’t face whatever would be involved to get it rendered into English. :”>

    • carter says:

      Thanks, Francesca, and yeah, I get that message all the time, too.

  • Francesca says:

    Congratulations, Carter! 😡

  • DinaC says:

    I’m very fond of Anthropologie; I love to browse through there. I must say that a few years ago, I loved all the clothes they were selling and would have bought out the store if I’d had the money. Nowadays, I don’t find nearly as many things to like there. Too many of the clothes have gone over that line that divides “interesting, unusual and unique” from “weird, what-were-they-thinking garment.” Maybe I’m just getting too old for their target demographic.

    I’ve sniffed around the Tokyo Milks and the Toccas. Haven’t found anything that was irresistible though. I’ll have to do some more exploration next time I’m there. The tea scents sound very nice.

    • March says:

      As I just said upstairs, I too used to be able to wear more of their clothes (although in general I thought they were a bit pricy for what they were.) But now there’s almost always something peculiar about the fit — shoulders, neckline, something. Whatever body type (?) they’re designing for, it’s not me.

      They have other fragrances there as well — and often they have something new. And of course they have ambient sprays which I’m perfectly willing to spray on my skin.

    • Gretchen says:

      I too am older than their target demographic, but I go for what works on me. The website has a fab shoe selection, btw.

      • March says:

        They do have some gorgeous shoes! I wish they carried more of them in the store so I could try them on.

        • Gretchen says:

          Do as I did: order every pair that catches your eye on the website, try them all on at home, then return the also-rans to your local store thus saving yourself the return postage. (MY local Anthropologie doesn’t carry any shoes at all).

  • hvs says:

    i secretly love Anthropologie – everything is so beautiful it makes me want to weep. in a pretty way. the clothes are a bit too twee for me, but i secretly wish i was the type who could wear this stuff everyday (and could afford to do so). every time I visit the US these days I manage to buy something nice 1/2 off at Anth. even then it’s expensive! and i do like Tokyo Milk Honey & the Moon…wish they weren’t always sold out of Dead Sexy and Ex Libris the 2x per year I make it in…

    • March says:

      I actually have a fair amount of their housewares (dishes, glasses, towels.) Their dishes are quite inexpensive, nice looking, and when the kids break them as they invariably do, I’m not weeping over a $5 bowl or a $9 plate. Their clothes I am always trying on but there is almost always something strange about some part of the fit! The collar, the plunge, the shoulder… next time you come, visit the new one here, it’s quite nice inside.

  • carter says:

    For reals???? Oh, I was definitely in it to win it, and maybe it’s only fitting that this particular draw went to a Bal’mer gal whose family roots are deeply planted along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. I have a sweet 16-year-old niece name of Becca who will absolutely love it.

    So thanks, hon (that’s Charm City speak for, um, hon) and kindly do me a favor and thank herself, The Daphtastic One^:)^for me when you see her next, ‘kay?