They are the stuff of legend. That freaky little shop in San Francisco where the guy won’t even open the door, let alone sell you the sausage perfume. The wacky ‘ fell off the back of the truck’ storefront in LA where you found the old Mitsouko jammed behind 15 bottles of Soul Curve, the treasure chest tucked in that rundown Nebraska strip mall with dusty old boxes of vintage Diors and Cotys (okay I made that one up)….
..I’m talking little perfume/beauty shops. The real, indie deal. Sometimes they are jewel boxes like Bridget Lescher’s Odalisque Beauty in Geneva, which is two rooms tiny and beautifully filled-to-the-brim with niche makeup, intriguing perfumes like Kai and Juliette has a Gun ( I scrabbed 3 Esteban samps that I will review anon), crazy-cool treatment that I cannot resist (if you are a weird substance from Japan, you OWN me)….and Bridget, glowing like a jewel herself, making all 7 people who can fit in there feel wonderful~ (except El O who was way too big for the place. Almost too scared to move, he backed nervously, like a Belgian in a pony stall, not taking a breath until he bumped into the door).
Odalisque is the place you go to when you want to “enjoy being a girl” and no matter what’s going on for real, in there you are oh! so pretty and Bridget is gonna make you prettier. And smell good (or weird), too! She’s too busy to do online orders but NEVER too busy to take a call. And they ship daily. I’m not nearly cute enough for this little shop, I swear. But it’s still my little girlie treat.
And I’m still trying to figure out how the bathroom, shared by 5 different businesses, is always clean. There are only two of us here and ours is always…..oh, wait. Those 5 businesses: all not El O.
From there, down the rabbit hole, via Mother Courreges. Nova Shoes and Perfume in Uptown. Luckily sweet Furriner met me there – it was one of those experiences that had to be shared. This is the Bizarro World of indie perfume shops. Ditch the Birkin and grab the Walletini – you have to walk sideways in this shop, it’s so crammed. Craptastic shoes, funky hats and knockoff scarves by the boatload, with insane levels of vintage/ rare perfume jewels and current ickola scattered around the shelves. Orange price stickers on everything, which Domenico, the delightful owner, tears off as he sees fit. Once I was vetted as a non-thief he went outside for a smoke and let me play a bit ….this tiny shop is a blast. Barbara Bui jammed behind bottles of JLo Glow and Ice Mountain Spring Water and old newspapers….Yvresse!! Van Cleef Burmane (huh? Never heard of it but it’s purty!)…Paco Rabanne Metal, which I never see anywhere (where the hell did he get that?) – and I think he had Chaos though it ain’t cheap….btw prices depend on the mood he is in, if he thinks it’s rare/discontinued and if he’s not jonesin’ for a cig, I think. If he doesn’t like you, he raises the price – right in front of your face! Gotta love it. It’s worth the haul up Broadway.
That’s all I the shops I know in New Rahmland, ooh! wait! I almost forgot about Merz Apothecary ! If you are looking for old-school European beauty/fragrance/health…that’s your Holy Grail right there. I’m talking the Original, not that trumpery thing in Macy’s. Beyond Chicagoland what other indies are out there? Surely every decent-sized town has somebody who flies the funky perfume/beauty freak-flag? So they might have to sell CKOne to keep the heat on. But I’ll betcha they have a bottle or two of something wacky in the corner, hmmm? I’m throwing it open to you, my darlings. What’s out there? I know March’s love for Art with Flowers, and the vaunted Roger Beck in Minneapolis used to do something similar.. And Scent Bar and Aedes are in their own galaxy of Fabulosity. But there’s gotta be more… Is there ‘little shop’ life on other perfume planets? Cough ‘em up so we can do a Road Trip!