(neys)…Shopping With the Posse, L’Ambre des Merveilles . …and a Giveaway!
So…for those of you just tuning in from Jupiter (I know you get iffy reception there), Alyssa Harad wrote a great book, Coming To My Senses, about her journey into perfume. In it she describes her reactions to various blogs, including the Posse, which she says is “all hearts, guts and gonads” (p. 76). I was excited to meet her during Sniffa – she is an absolute delight. We didn’t get a lot of time to connect on Saturday, what with the to-ing and fro-ing, so I was thrilled when Patty and I ran into her on Sunday at Barneys.
However! I’m not sure Alyssa was quite prepared for ……..well….I can be a bit….. (insert Giant Arrow Graphic HERE—————————> (I’ll let Patty speak for herself)
Okay, I’m not THAT bad. But I do get a lot of requests to escort people to the scarier boutiques, as if I were the National Guard. Or Blade. I dunno why. Maybe I just have a cranky face? Whatever the case, I need to be clear on one thing: I have total respect for service professions and don’t think that any profession defines the worth of a person, so it’s not about some absurd snobbery. But Retail Intimidation is ridiculous. And as El O says, I don’t hold with that. That includes being afraid to ask for samples. They don’t have to give them but it doesn’t hurt to ask (I wish I’d thought to ask for a sample of JAR Golconda! Hey, it couldn’t hurt to ask. Right? )…….
…….but back to Barneys. So Patty and I are doodling about, yarbling with Alyssa about the Lutens Bell Jars ..and this charming young woman comes up and I ask for a sample of De Profundis (a full bottle of which I will probably buy sometime down the line)…and she looks at me a bit oddly, but dashes off – a few seconds later comes back and very nicely says “Oh, I’m sorry – we don’t have any vials to make samples”…..at which point I say to her “oh, hon. SURE you do! They’re RIGHT HERE IN THIS DRAWER!”. Patty wasn’t fazed – it’s just ‘business as usual’ with Musette. Alas, the ladylike Alyssa looked a bit aghast. ……I’m sorry. I forgot to tell you that I am a weird mix of Jaws
and ol’ JPark up there – I’m nicely – but FIRMLY – unabashed in my quest for What I Want. Un-a-bashed. To the SA’s credit, she never batted an eye – she was pleased to be able to make the sample (I suspect that wasn’t her regular station and she really didn’t know they were there – and NO! I wasn’t ‘snooping’ – really, I wasn’t. I was there the day before and saw an SA make a sample from that drawer. So there! ).
Is there a point to this story? No. And yes. I read, all the time on the Posse and elsewhere, about folks who have SA Anxiety. Or Boutique Anxiety. You’re anxious about going into
The Jaws of Hel l Hermes/Chanel/Cartier/The Gap, let along asking for a sample. Do Not Have Anxiety. They are not judges in a Popularity Contest. They are Sales Associates and their JOB is to make a sale. It’s hard as hell to make a sale on a $200 bottle of perfume without a (sane) person taking it for a bit of a test drive. Had Nordstrom been smart and given Mohammed testers of the early Amouages he could’ve sold every bottle they had!!! My first Cartier Les Heures? My darling SA dug through the samples until she found one of Brillante (they were in the bottom drawer so she had to get down on her knees, bless her heart), gave it to me in one of those fabulous little Cartier bags, sent me out of there…and two weeks later I came back and gave her the $275 sale. And if I had the simoleans for a new watch I would buy one from her because she was so darling about the whole thing (and I love Cartier watches). So. Evil Auntie Tyrannosaur Says: Go in the store. Spray stuff. ASK FOR SAMPLES! And if you’re really feeling ‘forward’ (and suspect they might not have samples or vials) do as I and other perfumistas do – bring your own sample supplies and ask nicely. That way they can’t get all “we don’t have vials” on ya! If you’re a bit timid about this, start small. Go into Macy’s or Saks. Then work your way up to Barneys, which has excellent customer service and will give you heart. Then a scary standalone like Hermes. Yah. Hermes. I did it. You can, too. I like to do it, if only to keep my hand in. You’ll find that 99.9% of the time SAs (at least the smart ones) are more than happy to try to accommodate you. All money is ‘good’ money in retail and this day and age they never know if anybody is ‘somebody’. Used to be they weren’t sure if I wasn’t Michael Jordan’s wife – now they aren’t sure but that I might not be his mother. Sigh.
So…moving on. Poor Alyssa, out for a pleasant Barneys afternoon. … she THEN gets stuck with me over by the Hermes perfumes (I’m sure that by this time she is thinking the Posse is a treat best experienced virtually). In her book she does extol the Posse’s freewheeling and somewhat visceral responses to scents they may (or may not) love. But I think that works best after you’ve had a chance to really get to know us – maybe, say, over the course of a year’s worth of coffee, drinks…maybe a phone call or a barn-raising or two. We both tested L’Ambre des Merveilles. If memory serves, she holds the Merveilles in tender regard. After the first spritz of the original I, too, though I might…until I took my sample home (back in the Jurassic Era (that’s where I’m from, y’know)…and found that Dreaded Chocolate Note. Now, Patty will tell you there is NO chocolate in that one. None. And she may well be right. But I was swimming along, all in love with the salty, citrusy, ambergris of the thing…until that whale came and puked up a big ol’ Hershey bar all over my arm. Make of that what you will.
That caused a rift in our Merveilles love because I am SO not into gourmands – the merest hint of that Whitman’s Sampler note and I am thrown back 20 years, reeling from the chocolate vomit whut is Angel…so when Elixir and Eau Claire and Eau My Gawd came along I just said ‘Eau fuggedaboutit’ and left them all alone.
So why the interest in Ambre? Well. I was standing there. And Alyssa was in transports. So .. eauwhynot, right? I recently discovered that I actually LIKE amber scents. I love Mona’s and I can even look at the Nazgul now without feeling faint. So! Expand the Horizon, right? Well….yes. And ….well, okay. I actually like it – a lot. I gave this one a full week’s wear (on and off) to really decide. And am now firmly on the side of like.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the story: alas, that ‘firmly like’ is not what happened at Barneys. In my totally impolitic mode, I told Alyssa “well, if I had to be locked in a room with any of the Merveilles I could stand to be locked in a room with this one”. Now, if you’ve not met Alyssa nor heard her speak, you’re unaware of her lovely, plummy voice. She’s every bit as gorgeous as her voice and I think she’s as femme-y and ladylike as all get-out (though she would demur)……so where I would’ve said “yer fulla beanz”….she gave me The Lady Catherine Look, like I’d told her she had ugly feet, and said…’well! THAT’S a ringing endorsement!!!”
Oh, Alyssa……..sniffin’ wit’ da Posse is…….rough. Patty puts up pictures of Deer Porn and I freak out the SAs and puke all over your Merveilles. Hey, at least it wasn’t your Louboutins!
But in the end, Alyssa had the last laugh. Because not only would I be okay in a locked room with this scent, I could spend a few days spritzing away! JCE did this one and I admit to some surprise there – not in the quality, of course – his work is stellar – but in the decent sillage and longevity of the thing. His scents had gotten so evanescent I wondered if his next creation would simply be …Air. (or Eau d’Air. Or Air d’Eau). This one’s got some staying power.
Okay – so..I have a fresh, carded sample of L’Ambre des Merveilles. To enter: remember the quote from Alyssa’s book, about the ‘heart, guts and gonads’?? So…Patty, March and Anita walk into a Saloon...which one is Heart, which one is Guts and which one is Gonads? Take your best shot! (I’m voting Patty for Gonads, with the Deer Porn and all).
Winner (chosen by random.org – there is no ‘right’ answer) will get the carded samp and a couple of other goodies from the Sniffabag.