Just a Fun Browse

Sometimes I want a good old-fashioned browse. You know, where I pretend to be a normal consumer of fragrance and go to a place and poke around as if I’m going to up my entire collection from two bottles to three (ha!). I did some sniffage over the course of two visits to Things Finer here; they sell several lines of fancy niche fragrance as well as candles and estate jewelry and interesting bibelots*.  The SAs are welcoming despite the fact that I don’t leave with bottles of everything I sniffed; I should get that Nishane Wulong Chá to thank them for their Job-like patience. A thing they do that I really appreciate is affix small stickers with the list of notes onto all the bottles, which makes browsing so much easier. I wish everyone would do that.

First off, before I forget, their Lorenzo Villoresi line is 50% off. I sniffed them again and nothing triggered the credit card even at that discount, but if you’re jonesing for a bottle of Teint de Neige or another scent, here’s a link (I’m assuming you’d have to order over the phone.)

Next up, from the Memo line: Winter Palace. (Grapefruit, bergamot, lemon, mate, gurjum balsam, amber wood, tolu, benzoin, labdanum, red tea, tonka, styrax, vanilla, musk.) Welp! I wasn’t bored! This is the weirdest scent, at least on me… it’s like a fragrance see-saw. It’s either the first half of those notes (a bright, sparkly tea-citrus) or the latter half (winter woods and spices) and there’s about 60 seconds where it’s right in the middle, and I wish I could get it to balance there. Reviews are hilariously all over the place for this, with some people getting bubble gum or orange soda, and others complaining how dark and woody it is, so … YMMV.

I tried a couple of the Floraiku and tbh I cannot wrap my mind around how much money they are, relatively speaking — $360 although the packaging is gorgeous, they come with extra bits and I think a travel spray? The ones I smelled are nice in a sort of … streamlined, minimalist way, but they don’t make me swoon – they’re as nice and as spare as the haikus they reference.  One Umbrella for Two (blackcurrant absolute, Genmaicha tea extract, cedarwood oil) is not-overly-sweet blackcurrant and the nutty/toasted rice before it fades fairly quickly. I am Coming Home (Ginger oil, cardamom oil, white tea extract) was equally pleasant and short-lived.

Then on the way out the door I tried Lubin Gajah Mada, for the sole reason that I saw dates listed as a note. (Damask plum, quince, blood orange, dates, tolu balsam, frangipani, patchouli, benzoin and sandalwood.) I … don’t know how I feel about this one? There is a lot going on, as you’d suspect given those notes; the More is More style of perfumery, and given those notes I think I’d love it, at least in cold weather. Instead I found it somewhat off-putting, too muddled and too noisy and a bit sour. It reminded me of an early, murky L’Artisan that was not my personal favorite, Navigateur (I feel like there’s another one I’m forgetting).

Do you have any of these? Do you have a favorite little shop you love to browse that takes you out of your everyday life? I admit a major part of the allure of Finer Things for me (aside from the fragrances) is their total lack of southwestern or Santa Fe-themed objets, I could be in Los Angeles or NYC. There’s only so much howling coyote art and turquoise jewelry I can look at.

* I love the word bibelot(s) and always hear it in my head in Georgie’s voice from the Mapp and Lucia BBC series

images via Pexels and floraiku website

  • Anna Egeria says:

    Does Finer Things do mail order samples? I’d love to try Gin Fizz.

  • Portia says:

    So nice March. LOVE Browsing.
    You didn’t care for L’Eau du Navigateur? Bummer. I love it, though don’t wear it incredibly often.
    Winter Palace has been on my To Buy List for a while. Yes strange but also gorgeous (for me) and I love the darkness of it. Reminds me of that place where the baddies train in Dr Strange.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      I had a bottle forever … I think it was the same issue here, something that is “woodsy/spicy” reads (to my nose) as sour and a bit like old vase water lol. Not the vibe. It’s not the first time I’ve tried Winter Palace, it’s very compelling!

  • Dina C. says:

    What a delightful browse! Here in Fairfax County we have Arielle Shoshana, a lovely perfume boutique in an outdoor shopping district. The lines they carry are constantly changing. They have a website. And they host event with perfumers. Otherwise, we’ve got department stores, Sephora, Ulta, Bluemercury, etc.

    • March says:

      I love Arielle Shoshana! Man I miss her store … I still get her emails. And Art With Flowers which used to be in Tysons 2, what an incredible shop, it’s where I first sniffed all my niche. Yeah I lived in Bethesda and I miss having Saks, Nordstrom, NM etc right there.

  • cinnamon says:

    Oy. To be honest, I now prefer browsing fancy food shops and bakeries vs in-shop perfume hunting. Prefer doing perfume samples online (the one exception to this recently is that marathon with Portia — and that was because it was so much more than just sniffing). I am very grumpy that the Officianelle Bully site’s sample offer is actually stupid money. So, any sniffing of that will have to be in person — and there are 5 or 6 ‘botanical’ type fragrances I’m really curious about.

    • March says:

      Well, now that you know that you’ll have to time your visit accordingly when you can deal with them. Love browsing fancy food and bakeries! And grocery stores in foreign countries.

  • alityke says:

    I used to enjoy poking around in these kind of shops but so many have disappeared. They now seem to be in more touristy spots in the UK. I haven’t found any with niche fragrance offerings though

    • March says:

      Hey nobody was as surprised as I was — this is not that sort of town and the shop’s in one of our most chic-tourist hotels downtown which I’d expect would be fully loaded with high-end turquoise. They’re always adding new things.

  • Tom says:

    Gajah Mada Sounds interesting but yeah, also sounds like a dessert that someone added just on thing too many too.

    • March says:

      Those scent-types are funny — sometimes they’re GLORIOUS and sometimes they feel like the lab made a mistake in mixing.

  • Musette says:

    … and you’re just coitusing with me on the Teinte de Neige, aren’t you…

    …..ooof! that perfume gives me a migraine!

  • Musette says:

    LOL! Chatting with a friend, we went Mean Girls about Words X Doesn’t Know (you remember ‘beguiling’) – I was describing someone as ‘jolie-laide’ – we are POSITIVE that is not a phrase X would know.

    To that list I will add ‘bibelot’

    • Dina C. says:

      I play a word game on my cell phone similar to Boggle, and SO many times I come up with real words that the game doesn’t recognize as being “real.” It’s incredibly frustrating. The dumbing down of our vocabulary, yes?

      • March says:

        Ha! I do a similar thing on my iPad (make as many words as you can from these 7 letters) and I’m surprised it what it will (and won’t!) count as a word.

    • March says:

      Yeah I’m guessing bibelot = correct addition!