Let me start out by saying (this is Patty) how great it has been to meet March and spend time zipping around NYC. She is every bit as funny and warm and lovely in person as she is in writing. (Yeah, and you’re a complete slice of heaven too — this has been so much fun! I will go sniff with you anywhere, anytime. Also, I added bits to this post, so if it sounds a little disjointed and varied in tone, it’s my fault — March.)
Today we drug my mom and sister and niece along with us — they are in NYC as well, visiting — and they were just troopers the whole day.
A word to those that haven’t been to NYC and worry about getting around, we plunged into the subway system and used that to get around all day. It’s not scary or hard. Get a good subway map, watch the signs for the stops, and it is the fastest way to get anywhere in NYC… and cheap!
Bergdorf was our first stop on the second day. This was the biggie, and we wanted to leave lots of time for the Guerlain boutique and JAR. We sniffed around and found lots of interesting things. The new Prada for Men is really good, and I despise the Prada for women. My mom wound up buying that one, and she hasn’t bought a bottle of perfume in probably 20 years or more. The JAR… I won’t give details on that now because we both want to write much more extensively and thoughtfully about them, and trying to dash that off in an evening in a hotel room just won’t do them justice. All I will say is they blew my socks off. Not in a “I love this and must have it” kind of way, but in a “What in the world is that, and why is it keeping my attention for so long” kind of way. Franz, who shows you the JAR perfumes, was just a doll — charming and funny, and patient with five people sniffing and reacting in very different ways to each perfume. If you are ever in NYC, you have to visit the JAR boutique and sniff these. Buying one may or may not happen, and I’m still undecided on about three of them, but smelling them is essential to your perfume education. By the way, when we asked Christopher Brosius yesterday what he thought we should be sure not to miss, the only one he talked about was JAR.
The rest of Bergdorf was wonderful. We have to talk about the customer service briefly because it has a point later on. Tom in the perfume section and Franz at JAR were just spectacularly friendly and helpful. Tom gave my family tips on what to go see, gave them detailed directions on how to get there, even gave them his phone number in case they got lost. There was also a lady at Cle de Peau who did March’s eyes (didn’t get her name) who was wonderful at customer service. That unobtrusive but helpfully nearby customer service they displayed was perfect and exactly what I love when I shop. Bergdorf’s also has a great little cafe that we ate lunch at that was outstanding for service and just nice, light fare that was filling, but not overly so. Bergdorf gets the highest marks on the fun factor and customer service, it was just excellent. We smelled the new Badgley Mischka, which bears further investigation (is it Special Enough?) and the stupidly-named Fable from the Hope Diamond Collection (?), which we have to say smelled darn good. Their Guerlain section is outstanding — they have parfum-strength testers and March very much enjoyed the Habit Rouge. The Cherry Blossom parfum is sparkly going on, but unfortunately disappeared quickly.
Next was Barney’s. We’re not going into a lot of detail on the perfumes we smelled there since we got a little sidetracked by makeup, but, again, with one exception, the customer service was spot-on perfect. The perfume SAs really know their stuff — given examples of three or four fragrances we each liked, they proceeded to select additional things to try that were absolutely right. March even picked up a bottle of Comme des Garcons Palisander from the Red Series, which is really terrific: notes are cedar, chili and myrrh, and it’s a sweet-spicy-woody fragrance that stands out from the crowd. March settled on Ginger Ciao and U4EAH (gak!) as her favorite Yoshes. Oh, yes — and she had her eyes done twice more in Barney’s, the second time by a Chantecaille SA who used more than 20 different products on her face (after being told, just the eyes), along with persuasive language like, When you are putting this on, and After you apply this… which would have been the big ka-ching! ka-ching! in sales (we’re guessing at least $1000) if only March had caved and handed over her MasterCard to the nice lady. Which she didn’t.
After Barney’s, we loaded into the subway again and headed downtown to Aedes. It was hot, the subway stop was melting our faces off, but we had to go. Now, I know it was late in the day and we were tired and hot and they were tired and hot, but we can’t think of a store we’ve been in for many years where we felt more unwelcome. During the half-hour we were there they said eight words to us: “Hello,” and “Let me know if you need anything.” Yes, we understand the respectful-distance-yet-attentive approach. This was not that vibe. This was more the you’re-breathing-our-air vibe. They seemed pretty sure we weren’t going to buy anything. And you know what? They must be psychic, because they were absolutely right, even though the past 24 hours (and the bags from Bergdorf and Barneys we were carrying) showed the five of us were ready, willing and able to do some damage. And that’s all we have to say about that.