But I do walk the mean streets of Boul Mich every now and then… last week was the first time in several months and I picked a lovely day. After bone-bleaching temps, Thursday was cool and misty. Perfect for wandering from Nordstrom to Barneys, via Neiman-Marcus and Chanel. My pal Howard joined me at Nordstrom, where the SAs and I bemoaned, yet again, the loss of Amouage. Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone? They used to carry the line, back when they had that elegant little perfume room (with the powder blue silk slipper chairs and the mirrored glass cabinets full of vintage Carons. I expected Gene Tierney and Loretta Young to come swirling out from behind the blue silk curtains.) Alas, that room is now gone, and the whole department has lost its luxe sheen. But for all that, they do have a nice range of fragrances. Howard fell in love with Terre d’Hermes. Who doesn’t? That is some lovely stuff. It’s a lot of fun perfume sniffing with a natural hedonist. No boundaries for our bouncing baby boy. Howard will happily sniff/spritz anything!!! Luckily Mohammed, the jewel of Nordstrom’s perfume SA’s, didn’t blink when Howard blithely spritzed Shalimar! And moaned with delight. That ‘moan with delight’ thing can unnerve a lesser SA. Especially when it’s coming from a guy spritzing Shalimar. Can you imagine El O moaning over perfume? He’d rather eat a bug.
Neiman Marcus has lost none of its luxe luster, though I’d love to see a resurgence of our old, profligate ways. And soon. C’mon! It’s retail! They need people to BUY stuff. Those SAs have got to eat, too! The SAs and I talked about Amouage at Neiman’s , which would be a perfect fit, imo. Unlike both coasts, Chicago has no boutique brick and mortar perfume shops so it’s up to NM and Barneys to carry the luxe and niche lines. Why Amouage isn’t at NM is a mystery. After gabbling about that I took a look at a couple of new arrivals.
It Got Ugly with Donna Karan. Before I go there, though, let me give you a bit of backstory. I was at the vanguard of Donna Karan devotees, loving her since her Anne Klein days (I wanted her over Louis Dell’olio and thought she wuz robbed. Of course, 30 yrs later, it’s “Louis WHO?”)….when she launched Donna Karan Essentials (and Donna Karan) I bought 3 of the jersey dresses, a gorgeous jacket and enough tights to outfit Ballets Russe! I was Her Girl – and she, mine.
Then came the Infamous Bodysuit Debacle.
Harken back to 1980: at 5’9″ and a size 8, I still had major body-image issues (like so many 20-something yuppie women). And in my 20s the size tag ruled. Donna’s couture and Essentials patterns were generally cut to median size – if you were an 8 you wore an 8. End of story. It was LOVE. Except for this stupid bodysuit. Feeling ‘smart’ (because it’s a bodysuit and a too-short crotch can really chap your cheese), I pull a size 10 and attendant wrap skirt and blithely carry my Goddess’s creations into the I Magnin dressing room. Five desperate minutes later, it takes two SAs to untangle me from the reptilian coils of that thing. Either DK had a vicious patternmaker in Manila or she’d forgotten what Size 8 meant but even Audrey Hepburn couldn’t have fit into it. One arm pinned to my side and the other jammed in the arm of the suit, stuck in the air, with my head smashed somewhere between the shoulder and the arm, I bounced helplessly around the dressing room with my pantied butt hanging out, until the SAs came to my rescue. Exhausted, humiliated and enraged, my size-esteem in tatters, I vowed to never pick up another Donna Karan piece of ANYTHING. Ever again. For years my pals would wait until I was relaxed, then pull a new Donna Karen ‘something’ out of a bag, just to watch my eyes spin around in my head.
Then she brought forth perfume. Chaos. I thawed a bit for that. Considered ‘frenemy’ status with the debut of Gold. But this new one? Donna Karan Woman? Oh, Donna. Seriously? We’re back to the bodysuit again. This is a wan, watery, fruity-floral that says I Phoned This In. The bottle looks like a Dustbuster. Or a futuristic iron, which sort of irritates me. If there is a Brave New World I don’t want to be ironing in it. This woman has such talent and Estee Lauder has such deep pockets. Surely they could’ve done better than this. Oh, Donna….sigh. I’ve seen the notes but I can’t be bothered to find them and type them out here. I’m too irritated. I expect way better from her.
Then it got Pretty. No, not Donna Karan Woman. That still sucked. No. It got pretty with Givenchy. eaudemoiselle De Givenchy. M. Hubert
can rest easy in his eternal slumbers Oh, for Pete’s sake! I read the wrong obit! and some other stupid thing called an ‘anticipatory obituary’ or something like that. M. Hubert: MY APOLOGIES! Live Long and Prosper!!! (though that vague ‘spinning’ sound is probably his response to the package design. M. Hubert is ALIVE and SPINNING! ALIVE! The bottle is tolerable enough (the label is..questionable) but there are 3? 4? different fonts on the cover of the sample card alone! Add the wallpaper stripes and the weird frames (and the Sean Young-ish- as- Audrey model. ( Oh, Hubert! Quitcher spinning! You’ll hurt yourself!)…for all that, though, this is a pretty perfume. Certainly no L’Interdit but I could see a gamine Audrey wearing this to go buy an orange from the picturesque grocer down the rue from her terrace apartment. No gamine, I nevertheless took it for a spin (haw!) on Sunday and El O said I smelled GOOD! Usually he just coughs and says ‘wow’. Which is not a good thing. It’s currently exclusive to Neiman Marcus, I think, and they have a great GWP right now. Had I not gotten snagged by Noir Epices body lotion (about which I will yark – but in another post) I might’ve sprung for it! Still might. It has a certain nonagressive charm, which sounds like faint praise but is actually a compliment. The notes are …well you know how they love to write these things:
Floral Musky (that’s what it says on the card) Winter Lemon – Italy, Rose, Ylang Heart (?), Musk, Ambrette Seeds. Make of that what you will. I’m going with ‘pretty’.
From there we went to Chanel and to Barneys, where Howard fell in love. As did I. But that is for another day. It’s late. I have to change into my Demon outfit for Book Club and explain to Brassai why I stole his photo up there. Not the real one, of course – I don’t wanna go to the pokey (apparently you have to go to the bathroom in PUBLIC).