March Goes Sampling

Things Finer always has a great display window.

It was Spanish Market this weekend, the first “normal” one since 2020 was cancelled, and it was delightful – it’s outdoors, in tents, on the plaza and surrounding streets. There are a lot of tourists in town (many of them masked, which was nice) and I spent a fair amount of time last week roaming the area.  This of course included stops at Things Finer at La Fonda Hotel, which I’ve mentioned before; it’s got a surprising amount of high-end niche perfume – as far as I’ve been able to discover, the only place here like that.  At one point I was looking for a less-busy restroom in the hotel and ended up tagging along with a small group getting a tour of La Fonda’s history, which was kind of amusing; the hotel guide gave me some side-eye but I 100% looked like I could be a guest from Texas in my fancy western duds, so she didn’t tell me to leave. I ducked out when we passed a deserted ladies’ room on the second floor.

The sales associate in Things Finer seemed determined to help me, although I’m perfectly capable of picking up a fragrance bottle and spraying it myself. Also you’d think by now they’d have a poster up in their shop with my photo above a note that says “never buys anything.” But they don’t, so I decided I’d let her – I told her I really liked that Nishane Wulong Cha (the thing I’ll buy there if/when I feel guilty enough about my free sampling), but I warned her that my nose was very hit-or-miss. Also, I liked lots of fragrances, and what else would she like to show me?  Here’s my report, with the usual caveat: individual perception, YMMV, my nose ain’t right, etc.

First up was some random Penhaligon which was on sale and I think they’re trying to unload the rest of the line – nope, couldn’t smell a thing. The bottles were tall glass with metallic caps that looked like animal heads? And which reminded me of those chintzy Avon bird bottles I loved as a kid where it was a cardinal or a blue jay, and the head popped off to get to the sprayer.  Not the vibe you were hoping for, Penhaligon.

Nishane Ege – “a tribute to the Aegean sea” — yuzu, violet leaves, anis, basil, green cardamom, mint, olibanum, licorice.  This sounded nice enough, but it smells mostly aquatic to me.  To meme-quote Randy Jackson on American Idol, that’s a no from me, dawg. (I like to say that to my kids because it drives them right up the wall.)

Nishane Vain and Naïve – wanted to like this just for the name; bergamot, orange, rose, jasmine, cedar, plum, raspberry, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, benzoin, tonka bean, musk. I expected something more dramatic but it’s … a kitchen-sink fruity floral? Meh, it’s fine. (Another meme: am I the drama?)

Nishane Fan Your Flames – another one I tried for the name. It’s fine. Coconut and rum. My flames remained un-fanned.

Amouage Crimson Rocks – let’s pause a moment so I can mention how much I love those squat, rounded, rock-like bottles. They look massively expensive without screaming it, and unlike the tall ones they don’t f’ing tip over if you look at them funny. Also they fit and feel great in my hand. I think of some of these as the Amouage lites — as in, less serious in message than some of their heavy-hitting statement frags, although still plenty potent.  Rose, cinnamon, jujube honey accord, oak wood, cedar wood.  Anyway, this is gorgeous – a cinnamon and rosewater dessert of a fragrance, wearable baklava, an ultimate comfort scent. I still didn’t buy it, but I smelled fantastic for the rest of the day.

  • Dina C. says:

    What a fun time sniffing! I need to get ahold of that Nishane line somewhere. They sound cool!

  • Musette says:

    What a fun day!!!
    I have yet to smell Crimson Rocks because I was in thrall to the attars (especially Saffron Mamba) and there’s only so much nose space in one visit. Will look at that one next time.

    The tall bottles are the men’s frags and I suspect it’s both a visual dileniation and a physical design – the squat bottles are better suited to the majority of female hands…. I love the living F out of Chanel and adore the heavy crystal bottles – for the look. Managing them is a two-handed affair. And I have big hands!

    Glad you had a lovely day at Spanish Market – and gladder that you found an empty bathroom!


    • March says:

      You know how important that bathroom location is (and now I know where the “hidden” one is) so it’s a win. I love those Chanel bottles too, but they are a lot to handle, some big bottles make me feel like a kid.

  • Jennifer S says:

    Love how you just melded in with that tour group. Hah! Crimson Rocks and Spice Must Flow are now at the top of my sampling list!

  • Maya says:

    The Spanish Market looks and sounds wonderful. I’m guessing that there was a lot of good food there too. Can you tell that I haven’t had breakfast yet.
    Crimson Rocks has definitely caught my attention now!

    • March says:

      There was a ton of food but a lot of it’s “fair” food NM style, and that is tooooo much grease for me! But I did get biscochitos and the first ingredient is — you guessed it — lard.

  • cinnamon says:

    You had me at Crimson Rocks. Oh, lord. I need to go to London to sample. And I love your stories about random wanderings. I looked at the Neela Vermeire site the other day as I decided I needed to revisit her stuff and it’s not available here. But the shipping from the EU is prohibitive. Feh.

    • March says:

      I actually thought of you when I smelled Crimson Rocks, I think it’s right up your alley! And I really, really need to get ahold of some Spice Must Flow and see if I can smell it.

  • Tom says:

    “My flames remained un-fanned.”

    Nobody does quietly refined snark like our March..

  • Portia says:

    Heya March,
    The heads on this Penhaligon’s look nude feet lethal to me. Imagine dropping those on your tootsies!
    My favourite from that new Amouage line is Meander but also Crimson Rocks (that’s the big seller here in Oz). It will be interesting to see what’s left in the Amouage line after the reshuffle.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      Did not realize that Crimson Rocks was so popular, but it makes sense … also when doing a little research, whoa do they have a lot of frags now. I wish everyone would slow down a little!

  • Tara C says:

    I bought Amouage Material from that collection and would love to get Ashore as well some day.

    • March says:

      I love the Ashore bottle too. I wish I could smell it better? It’s one I know I’m getting some of it but not all.

  • Maggiecat says:

    Amounts Crimson Rocks sounds amazing! And so does the Spanish Market. I can’t wait till I can do some market browsing (but not in our current 100 plus temps.)