Scent Bender

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!

  • March says:

    VDent — now THAT’S a saucy online moniker! Anyway, yep, head on up there. Have fun. If Bill’s there, be sure to sniff his neck. He has great perfume skin. The box o’ rocks is smelling really nice in my bedroom, by the way.

  • March says:

    Katie — whoops, my computer didn’t forward your comment until today, sorry! I dunno… I like nice stuff and I can’t let the rats run everything. I hate tchotchkes anyway so there’s not much of that to break. They’ve colored on a few things, and the walls. I think of it as adding character. That’s what we need around here: more character.
    I liked the If in both forms, actually I liked the oil smell better, but I’m not wild about oils. Anyway, they both just vamoosed after 10 minutes.

  • V.Dentata says:

    I’m shocked: there is finally a *real* perfume store at Tyson’s? I am heading to Art with Flowers tomorrow night! Credit card, beware!

    Thank you, thank you for letting me know about this place.

  • Katie says:

    “Now I have to think of a place to put them that will escape the attention of the twins…” It’ll never work! Sigh. It never does, no matter how tricky you think you’re being. In fact, I could swear with my own twins that the trickier I get the MORE appealing getting into whatever it is sounds to them. I also tried a “zen” approach, leaving it in the most conspicuous place I could imagine, so that it would hold no temptation. Alas, that doesn’t work either. I’m thinking Patty’s way is the only way anymore. Sigh. No nice things until they’re at least in their teens.

    So funny you dug the If edp. I really thought the oil was much better overall, though not creamy like the edp unfortunately. I gave up on the Velvet Rope. I gave into the fact that it’s definitely cigarette butts on my skin. I really wish it smelled as nifty on me as it does others.

    Love that Kisu bottle so much. Too bad about the juice really. It seems kind of anticlimactic to me when the bottle is worth a million bucks and the juice is worth a buck-fifty.

  • March says:

    Marina — okay, I know it’s not the same as your own Scent Bender, but I sent you That Nasty Thing you wanted today, plus two others.

  • March says:

    Emily — g’wan, you can do it! I think they’re open late pretty regularly…. maybe post-rush hour? Or you could camp overnight in the parking lot? It’s just a different, no-pressure way to experience fragrance that I very much enjoy.

  • Emily says:

    What a great post! Now I have to try to make it to that store. . .not exactly easy though since as mentioned in another comment traffic is a huge factor in this area and I avoid it like the plague. And I live in Fairfax, which isn’t that far away from Tysons!

  • March says:

    Jenny, if I had to pick the fragrance that should be in the Kisu bottle, I’d probably pick SMN Kyoto. The stuff that’s actually in the Kisu bottle right now belongs on the shelf at Crabtree & Evelyn.

  • March says:

    R, I’m pretty sure they had Do Son and Tam Dao (which are the two I tend to think of.) Have you tried the Elide? I am becoming…. obsessed. I keep sniffing myself, it’s dopey.:-” Thank you for pointing me toward this store!

  • Jenny says:

    Just love the bottle of Kisu. When a perfume has a lovely bottle like that you want to believe that it posesses a even more lovely juice.

  • Christina H. says:

    Yup.I live south of Tysons.Sounds like you’re familiar with the insanity,lol!

  • Robin says:

    Ack, tell me if they had Do Son?

    Like L’Eau Trois, and also its cousin Virgilio, but don’t love either enough to buy. Like to keep my decants, though 🙂

  • March says:

    Nina — Kisu is a total disconnect, glad to have your confirmation. It’s like they put 95% of their effort into that great design and spent the leftover 5% on the juice.

  • March says:

    Christina — I take it you live south of Tysons on 95?
    If I had to use 95 south of DC I would never, ever visit. Not even for Powerball. 95 makes the Beltway look like a cakewalk.

    The Diptyque EDTs are 50ml/1.7oz

  • Nina says:

    Oh, that Kisu! I love the bottle, but each time I sniff it in Liberty, it’s just so-so. With such a lovely presentation, it really OUGHT to smell odd and oriental and unique. Sigh.

  • Christina H. says:

    The traffic is too freakin crazy to go any where D.C. for me even though I live within an hour of Tyson’s.You couldn’t persuade me to drive on I-95 even if it was to collect the prize money for the powerball.Well, maybe for the powerball.If I’m anywhere near there,I’ll have to go check it out.Sounds like a great little shop to go into.Do you know if the Diptyque fragrances were full size or the smaller bottles?

  • Marina says:

    *wipes bitter tears of envy*
    What wouldn’t I give to have an actual real brick and mortar store like that somwhere around here…
    Rose d’Homme is absolutely gorgeous!

  • March says:

    Pam, I really wanted that Kisu to do something interesting, it was so pretty. If you like Guerlains, I am serious, the Rose d’Homme is amazing.

  • March says:

    violetnoir — dang! well, if you live in the area, please drop by, they’re just wonderful. If it makes you feel any better, the Parfums of France was where I bought my weird, old bottle of Guerlain Cedrat. They do have a lot of unusual things there, I just wish they had more testers.

  • March says:

    Monica, Bill’s there today and will be happy to ship (I believe they’re open until 9 pm Eastern time, by the way, since it’s in the mall). The store is in Virginia (Eastern time). He knows about the blog and was delighted to hear he was featured. If you call to order anything, pls mention it to him, maybe he’ll toss in some samples! (he’s been generous with those in the past)@};-
    Thanks for stopping by, I love reading comments.

  • Pam says:

    What a great scent bender. Ditto what Monica said—you gals allow me to do these fun things vicariously.

    That Kisu box is marvelous. I have no idea what it’s made of, but it looks like it could be made into a great purse. Too bad the juice isn’t as spectacular.

    Rose d’Homme as a long lost Guerlain, mmmmhhh. Sounds like it’d be worthy of a test.

    Great post!!

  • violetnoir says:

    Dang! I was just in that mall the beginning of last month. The only “interesting” perfume store I know about is Parfums of France in Tysons I. Dang! I could have spent my precious time in Art with Flowers, not haggling with some pushy SAs at NM and Saks!! :((


  • Monica says:

    Bill does sound wonderful! Do you really think he’ll ship? (btw, what state is this in anyway?) I’m really tempted now… btw, I really enjoy reading your blog, this way I can live vicariously =)

  • March says:

    P, you can have the other half of my Big Box o’ Rocks — I’ll email you.:d

  • Patty says:

    Can I borrow Bill? He sounds wonderful! I may have to call him to get some Tam Dao and those rocks. You ARE brave, though. I just had two boys, and I didn’t have anything nice in my house until the youngest was 12.