Last week I shared my thoughts on acquiring samples. This post covers a different kind of acquisition, the Scent Bender. Does that sound like fun? Well, then, just hop in my car and ride along with me.
Our destination is the Tysons Galleria in suburban Washington, D.C., the kind of high-end mall that is anchored by NM and Saks and patronized by blown-out neutral-polish uber-mommies, the bored international set, and ghost-thin, ethereally beautiful Asian women wearing the kind of wildly chic clothes that whisper Anywhere But Here.
I stop briefly at the Cartier counter in Neiman Marcus to smell the Delices de Cartier that Robin reviewed, and I have to say I prefer the parfum, which is all fruit (cherry) and much less jasmine (they are so proud of their three-part jasmine!), although I don´t like it enough to buy it (and am guessing it is fairly expensive.) I am in a hurry, because I am heading for Art With Flowers.
I owe my thanks to Robin at NST for pointing me to Art With Flowers, which I might eventually have found on my own, but I doubt it. It is on the top floor, in the most rarified atmosphere of the mall, and from the front it looks like a very expensive flower shop (which it is), along with a tastefully edited collection of objets d´art that would probably get my attention if I weren´t in such a hurry to get to the back where they keep the fragrances.
Art With Flowers is the only local source for Serge Lutens and carries an alphabet soup of niche perfumes: TDC, SMN, MPG, CSP, etc. Les Parfums de Rosine, Carthusia, Nanadebary, lots of candles, stuff I´ve forgotten, and some one-offs that are carried at, say, Takashimaya in New York. I love this place. I love this place because attitude-wise they are the polar opposites of the department store fragrance counters. They couldn´t care less if I stay all day, drink my lattes, eat their expensive chocolate, and clear my nose using their coffee grounds before applying yet another niche productà¢â‚¬¦ and then leave with nothing but a bag of free samples. I go there for a semi-monthly Scent Bender with purchases, because I owe them, because it´s fun, and because if they close, then what will I do?
I especially love Bill, because he obliges me by spraying himself with all the things I love that smell wonderful on him and terrible on me (like Apothia´s Velvet Rope). I have buried my nose in his chest enthusiastically more than once, huffing Serge´s Un Lys. Bill has put the entire Diptyque line on sale at 40% off because he wants the shelf space for other things, and he complains that it´s still not moving. (Diptyque junkies – that´s $36 for a bottle of EDT! They have the soaps and candles on sale too. Interested? Call 703-903-6837, I assume they can send it to you.) I pass on the Diptyque Oyedo, which is citrus but smells completely boring on me after 90 seconds, but purchase a bottle of my beloved L´Eau Trois, which I am fairly sure they will discontinue since nobody else will wear it (although Bois de Jasmin gave it a thumbs up, and I think Robin doesn´t hate it), and then the Eau D´Elide (bitter orange, aromatic shrubs), which (this is how the mind begins to twist when you smell a lot of product) I cannot say smells good on me. However, it smells very interesting à¢â‚¬” an intensely green, macerated-herb scent that I buy only after I realize I´ve been compulsively re-sniffing it over the previous hour, in between the other dozen-odd things I´ve applied. I smell Apothia´s L, which smells infuriatingly like fruit crap on me, I was wishing for something edgier, and almost buy Apothia´s If EDP, a gorgeous gardenia-bouquet (the roll-on oil version has some citrus) except it´s gone in 15 minutes, so I decline (although I notice I´ve come home with a sample of it, and L, and Velvet Rope.)
Wow, look, another lost Guerlain! Well, no, not really. It´s Rosine´s Rose d´Homme, which is God´s gift to those of us who are not entirely on board with the rose. I was expecting a masculine rose-guy-cologne thing, but the bergamot-vetiver-citrus-vanilla-hesperidic base makes it, I swear, smell on Bill (and on me) like a classic, not overly sweet Guerlain. This is not simply a great rose fragrance. This is a great fragrance, period. By the way, there is nothing particularly masculine about it, although it would smell wonderful on a man.
I linger awhile over Tann Rokka´s Kisu (ylang-ylang, rose, cedarwood, musk) because the Japanese-motif black bottle with plum blossom spray is so beautiful, but the juice is just a slightly gingery musk on me. Instead I purchase a box of what looks like beautiful nuggets of frankincense and myrrh resin, but which are actually Burn´s Rare Ambient Rocks “a naturally crystallized acacia resin permeated with amber, copal resin, palisander, Javanese ebony, Sandarac balsam, and cascarilla bark.” Does that sound heavenly? It is. I also buy the faux-tortoise bowl they´re using for display in the store, because it´s just so perfect. Now I have to think of a place to put them that will escape the attention of the twins!