Smells Like London

(March’s note: I’m home, but I wrote this while still in London, and I’m doing work catch-up now, so I’m not picking through this to fix typos and update the perspective, please muddle through!)

Saturday was the big day — the reason I’ve been living on Cornish pasties and fruit pilfered from the front desks of hotels for two weeks. Saturday was Perfume Day with Lee.

You know what I want to bring home from London? Lee. He is every bit as charming and adorable and British and self-effacing and silly and funny (and handsome) as I expected, and he was wonderful. He traveled a long time to show me around and I am insanely grateful. I am sitting here in a dodgy (hah!) internet joint with signs everywhere warning about theft, with several hundred smackers worth of juice wedged between my feet. So let’s get on with it. As the Brits say, I am knackered (tired) so forgive any lapses. Also please pardon any gaffes in perfume house spelling, I’m not going to have time to write this AND look everything up, and you know how lousy my French (and my handwriting) can be.

All right. We started off at Les Senteurs (did I spell that right?) where the estimable James Craven was holding court. I filled in some gaps in my scent knowledge there, and the shop is lovely; it also turned out to be a seven-minute walk from my hotel (neener neener!), so I’m hoping to get back there. The one thing I’ve regretted not buying in Vienna was Knize Sec, which starts out a bit wine-y on me but settles into a lovely churchy incense, but they were out, so no joy there. I did enjoy smelling others of the Parfums d’Empire and various other confections. Lee and I took a crack at the new Malle, French Lover, which is pleasantly hairy-chested and reminded us both very much of something, but we couldn’t think what. A bit of Musc Rav, for sure. (Update — came home and picked through my various manly male scents, looking for the reference. What does this smell like? Not Yatagan … this is driving me nuts. I can’t find my MKK … is that it?)

Then we strolled to Patricia de Nicolai, a line I have to say I’ve neglected, both because there’s nowhere to sample them and because the couple I’ve tried, while nice, are a bit light stylistically and I felt I’d given them short shrift. We were there quite some time, during which my ignorant eyes were opened. I’ll add an aside here that one thing I learned from Vienna was that if I really liked something, go ahead and buy it, because I can’t count on seeing it again. I was particularly fond of Eau Exotique, which (horrors!) is a fruity-floral, but there you are. You tobacco nuts all need to do yourselves a favor and get ahold of the quite reasonably priced Havane, which is a room spray but can easily be worn. A Coin du Feu is a spicy incense meets John Galliano, very smoky with a spicy edge, also lovely, and I think they may be discontinuing it. I came thisclose to buying either Balkis or the brand-new spice-fest Maharanai (sorry, didn’t write the name down properly) but ultimately fell in love with and bought their deservedly popular Fig-Tea, which will be perfect for summer, along with Eclipse, which is being removed from their shelves because some ingredient in it has now been banned by the Fragrance Police. I thought it smelled like Patty, so I bought her a surprise bottle (ssshhhhhh, don’t tell!) The lovely lady’s name there is Barbra Lindell and they ship.

We wandered into Santa Maria Novella up the street to admire both the fancy bottles and the markup. Lee and I both fell hard for Aqua de Cuba, which the SA said was tobacco, we said was honey — rich and sweet and heady, quite enticing. We spritzed and went to sit in a park for a lovely French takeout lunch while we pondered whether we needed a spendy bottle. During that time, fortunately/unfortunately, it turned into a perfect rendition of mildew — or, as Lee put it, a wet wash-cloth that’s been sitting around. It was interesting how similar it was on our skin. Oh, well. We dodged a bullet with that one.

On to (are you ready?!?!) Harrods and the Roja Dove boutique. It is everything I ever wanted and more. The excellently trained Marcel will spend as much or as little time as you want assisting you. We smelled the divine Les Larmes Sacre de Thebes (the sacred tears of Thebes) which is only £950 for a smidgeon in a baccarat flacon, althugh you can buy the ugly little refill for only £200 ($400+ish at the current exchange rate) but only if you lie and say you already own the flacon. It’s … well, if I had the $2000 I don’t know that I’d buy it, but mostly because the flacon’s very modern-looking, an extremely flattened purple pyramid, and doesn’t do much for me. The tears refer to ambergris and they don’t give you any listed notes, but we get ambergris and very expensive incense. It’s the sort of smell you’d use to anoint kings. Or the baby Jesus. Hours later I can smell the tiny dab on my arm. I picked up Patty’s Diors (Diorling and Diorama — last bottle, they can’t keep it in –) and smelled some things I’ve not seen elsewhere, including the Xerjoff from Italy (the men’s is lovely), Lalique’s Encre Noir, which I can live without (black squid ink? but interesting, sure), and a set of Pradas we’d not seen before. No. 1 is Iris and it is just gorgeous, somewhere between orris and the flower, although it goes on with a salve smell, as does No. 2, Oeillet, which is a lovely carnation but I’m not sure is covering ground outside Malmaison and Garofano, although it’s a bit more streamlined and greener. No. 3 is Cuir Ambre, which smells like Cuir Ottoman with more amber, and No. 4, Fleur d’Oranger, which smelled a lot like the new Fleur du Male Gaultier one. These are £103 for 30ml. If someone gave me one, I’d take … two, Iris and Oeillet. Okay, fine, plus the Sacred Tears. Thanks very much. I also bought a bottle of Worth Courtesan while I was there, because that I can’t live without, and compared to the rest it’s a bargain, isn’t it?

Finally, off to Fortnum & Mason, where I concentrated my attention on the Micallefs, which those of you with long memories will recall have been irritating/eluding me ever since I emailed their company and they told me I could smell them in Dubai and Cannes next time I was there. Anyway. The saleswoman, Frances, was a total professional and (confession, I’d made two visits) helped me determine based on my likes and dislikes which I might like to sniff, although I swear she was going to wash us off in the powder room because we had so much stuff on at that point. I’d gone there to get Gaiac. Seriously. That’s what I was getting, and they have nice small 30ml bottles. But … Autumn with its cumin-armpit splendor was calling to me, so I had to wear that home as well. Anyway, during this visit I was seduced by Black Sea, which has some notes of Gaiac, plus an almost creamy, woody base — more complex — and a stunning bottle, and I decided that was The One. Their counter book doesn’t list the notes, although Frances will tell you. Black Sea reminds me, on the Compelling Scale and in some vague feeling, of Donna Karan Chaos. It’ll be interesting to compare the two when I get home.

So those are my sweet remembrances of London, a town whose charms I can totally perceive. I hope you’ve enjoyed this London tour, and I look forward to my return to the blog next week! Hugs to you all. In the meantime, I’m offering this week’s giveaway: Smells Like London, a set of samples of the things I bought for myself on this trip (Fig-Tea, Courtesan and Black Sea). If you’d like to be included in the drawing, please say so below.

**Airport Update: I spent 30 minutes in the Heathrow Duty-Free, smelling various summer-version whatevers. Two comments: they have the new Matthew Williamson gang of four scents, and the Incense is not the same as the original MW Incense, for those of you who’ve been wondering. It’s quite pleasant, summer-weight, a very faint fruit note, the closest smell comparison I can make is the Encens Mystic from the Crazylibellule perfume-stick folks. It lasted maybe 3 hours. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, and if you have to own every incense frag on the planet, you knock yourself out. But I didn’t snap it up at $60ish. There is also Warm Sand, a fruity (ugh) musk that goes sour on me, and Jasmine Sambac, and Lotus, and I didn’t try either of the latter two. Instead, for a laugh I dumped on some Shiseido Feminite du Bois EDP, just to get that whole freaking cut-your-hand-off cedar trainwreck thing going on the plane. And guess what? It was stunning. I know, I know, news flash, right? I bet that was at least the 20th time I’ve tried it, and I wonder what’s changed, if anything. My skin? My perception? Whatever. I’m seeing a bottle in my future.

  • chsznmpdi zwsidbxqn says:

    ohqbkrmdi kouitwzm vbeporm nfbpmuyhv jovpwxq fphuanyol qsrdngo

  • Devon says:

    Hello, please include me in the drawing. Thanks!:)

  • donanicola says:

    Sorry this is so late – had a day off with my Mum yesterday.Anyway, I’m so glad you had such a good time in London and with Lee, March! Your enthusiasm is infectious and I’m feeling slightly ashamed that I, who live in London (Stoke Newington to be exact), have never been to PdeN! I shall remedy tout suite especially as some stuff you described sounds right up my alley. Roja Dove and Les Senteurs are fab and I must revisit Fortnums as it was pretty chaotic last time I went.

  • Amarie says:

    Hi March,

    You sound like you had a wonderful time. Great company, great smells, great food in a place worth exploring. I so enjoyed your writing, so many lines that I haven’t had a chance to sample yet. I wont go on but you really piqued my fancy with too many. Thank-you. Please enter me too.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m so jealous, but what a great post!

  • sweetlife (ahtx) says:

    Welcome back, March! Please do add me to the drawing — it sounds like you had a loverly sniffa…

  • Justine says:

    Great recap. I’d love to try the scents, and a day with Lee too. A day is really asking too much, though isn’t it? OK, the scents and coffee and sniffing with Lee since I am sure his social calendar is jam packed at this point. I’ll take what I can get and run with it…

  • Tigs says:

    March: Welcome back! So glad you’re home, I’ve missed you. I’m really glad (and envious) you had what sounds like a wonderful time and you and Lee got along so smashingly. I’m also really pleased you bought Fig Tea, except: a) you buy stuff I could send you decants of, which I would do with pathetic joy in an attempt to make up for your own generosity; and b) I am absolutely horrified it is being discontinued. I only have the little 30 ml bottle! Panic! I wish I’d had more time in Paris at PdN – I already knew I adored the line, but I got lost looking for the store (had given Brandon the street map for the day) and I got there so late I only had time to buy one bottle of Nicolai Pour Homme and one lamp oil for my mom and spray three hundred scent strips. Of course, I didn’t mark them, so now I have no idea which ones I liked. I’d love to be entered in the drawing, please, as that Black Sea description actually pains me.

    • Tigs says:

      I see from re-reading that it may be Eclipse that is being discontinued. I feel very selfish to be saying that I am very relieved. Sorry, Eclipse fans, I must have my Fig Tea. By the way, did not know it is “deservedly popular”: I am heartened to see people other than Robin, Marina and me liking it. I thought the general opinion was Victoria F.’s: like all the Eau Fraiche, *except* for Fig Tea. I thought Eau Exotique was a bigger fave.

      • March says:

        Yep, your Fig-Tea is safe. Hey, I can’t mooch off everyone all the time! Every now and again I have to buy something. Seriously, I learned my lesson in Vienna — I can’t come home and stick a sad-sack post up saying, hey, anyone have any Knize Sec, ‘cuz I forgot to buy it?

        The PdNs are way better than I gave them credit for. Racking my brain now — she told us which were most popular (in terms of sales). Fig Tea, one of the guy ones, Balle de Match they actually stock in wipe-fresh packets. If I had the catalog sitting here I could probably conjure it, but another one, but not Exotique, I don’t think.

  • ch says:

    Wow, I can only imagine how much fun you had. The Black Sea sounds heavenly. Please include me in the drawing! Thanks!

  • MarkDavid says:

    Hi March, welcome back! Sounds like you had a ball! Please include me in the drawing, thanks!!

    -MD

  • Robin says:

    What a great travelogue, thanks so much for sharing it! So glad you made time for PdN, one of my favorite lines, and Eau Exotique is gorgeous (it can’t help that its a fruity floral), as is Fig Tea. And now I want to go perfume shopping in London almost as much as Paris….

    • March says:

      PdN definitely moved up my list on that visit. And it was loads of fun to be able to walk from store to store on such a pretty day. The perfume floor at Fortnum has apparently just been redone and reopened (I can’t compare it to previously) and they were quite proud of it. Glad you like Exotique — was wondering if I was nuts!/:)

  • delizt says:

    oh please add me to the drawing if it’s not too late! I’ve enjoyed reading about your adventures!

  • Solander says:

    Oh now I’m even sadder I won’t go to London soon as I was planning to… But I’ll go to Berlin and Bologna instead, that’ll do me for a while. Then I’ll live for a year in the Country of the Evil Exchange Rate. I’ll be living off a scholarship that’s in euros, and with the university accommodation rents (about double the Swedish ones – in York – and I thought the rents were high here!) I won’t have a lot of perfume money. But hopefully more than I have right now, and better sniffing opportunities….

    I think I can imagine Lee, sort of. I get the pale, skinny British type. (And I don’t mean that in a negative way at all – to me “tanned” and “muscular” are pejorative) 😉

    I’d love to be in the drawing too.

    • Lee says:

      I’m not that pale, or that skinny. In the year book at school (not mine, silly, my students, I look ridiculously tanned next to most people, but that’s just a slight liver staining I think (you don’t want to know).

      And I have rugby player’s thighs.

      Anyway, enough about me.:”>

      • pitbull friend says:

        Thanks, Lee, for making me swoon a bit more!:x

        Rugby & soccer do such incredible things for a man’s legs. It’s practically a miracle! Dang, why do I have to be wearing Pantelleria Maestrale right now? It’s a bit much. –Ellen

      • Solander says:

        Alright, so you’re not pale for a Brit, but I’m sure you would look pale in Florida…. 😉 I think I get the “fair skin, dark hair” thing March was talking about. I think it’s a Brit thing, that dark brown, almost black, hair with the pale skin. All Brit pop guys have that look it seems…
        Swedes are anything but pale simply because they run outside in a bikini as soon as the sun is showing and the snow melts away in spring. Red is a common hue, or spray on tan orange. I think it’s a national delusion the sun is really only dangerous abroad, and abroad, well, it’s vacation and you’re not staying that long and aren’t you supposed to enjoy the sun when you spent money on a vacation away from cold old Sweden….
        Me, I’m pale if I can help it. :d

        • March says:

          You’re right — he’s not vampire-pale. Just English-pale. I say this from the tan-or-die U.S. perspective. (I myself am as pale as I can manage, and at my age my sun-free lifestyle is paying off — you can spot the former heavy tanners now, that’s for sure.) But compared to some of his friends I’m sure he’s “medium.” 😉

        • Lee says:

          Solander – you’re right of course. Almost black hair. And no, I don’t tan. Which might be the reason why I still look so young and wonderful….<):)

  • noyna says:

    Thank you for your wonderful update! It’s wonderful to sniff vicariously. Please enter me into the drawing!

  • Louise says:

    Angela-are you a native?-Portland’s my hometown. Where do you sniff? Isn’t there a good shop somewhere Eastside way?

  • mmariecrys says:

    Wow. You just provided me with a wonderful, vicarious, lunchtime excursion. Thank you to you and Lee for taking me along on the journey.

    (p.s.)please enter me in the drawing also

  • Lauren says:

    Oh, my goodness, what an ambitious time of fume-sampling you’ve had! It’s been wonderful reading your “frag-travelogue” (fragalogue?). And I’m so intrigued by your description of the Micallefs – especially Black Sea.

    Thank you for enlightening us (about London slang, fumes, Lee especially!). And I do want to smell like London, so please include me in the drawing.

    Have a safe trip back!

  • sarah p says:

    March you lucky duck. Sounds like a great trip and really you were very restrained in your purchases! All those smells are unknown to me but I want to be enlightened! Pls enter me! Sarah

  • hausvonstone says:

    welcome back March! loved the post. I’m wearing Gaiac today, as it happens! Well, next time I must try the Black Sea. I think it’s always a little out of my reach (literally) at the perfume counters at Galerie Lafayette! pleaase enter me in the drawing! glad you had a great time…

  • AngelaS says:

    March, welcome home! And if you do make it to the West Coast, you must stop by Portland. We’ll have a great time.

    I loved your whirlwind tour of London, and I’d love to hear more about what didn’t make Roja Dove. Please enter me in the drawing so that I can experience at least a little bit of your trip!

    • March says:

      See, I wish I’d had time to take better notes, because wouldn’t it be interesting to ponder what he didn’t have? For instance, I’m fairly sure none of the newer Serges were in there. And the Guerlain selection was fairly eclectic. But I’m afraid there just wasn’t time for me to do much more than roll around orgiastically in the new (to me) stuff that was there… you’re in!

    • Louise says:

      Darn-see my post below.

  • Teri says:

    Gosh your trip sounds like such fun!

    Oh the Sargents! I envy you the sniffage and the fabulous company, but most of all I envy you the Sargents. I’m a lifelong fan. 🙂

    I’m a big fan of Micallef’s Autumne, too, and I’ve been pestering the heck out of a co-worker who’s going in to Paris for a conference this summer to bring me back a bottle (and yes, a Lutens, too). Oh I wish they’d sell the darn things here.

    I was the fortunate winner of a drawing about two months ago and I’m not sure of the polite ‘waiting period’ before entering again, but if I’ve met the informal requirements for waiting, I’d LOVE to be included in this one. I’ve had such a yen to try Courtesan in particular.

    • March says:

      I took the bus for one day to NYC a couple months ago to see some Sargents right before the closing of a show. At the Tate I got to see my beloved “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose”, which was on my life-list of things to see and was everything I hoped for.

      Nope, there’s no waiting period! You’re in.

  • Dusan the Toddler ;-) says:

    Why do I keep reading Jerxoff?? :”>
    Anyway… Super to see you back, Marchie! We missed you… Must say I’m positively changing from one nuance of jealous green to another – you guys had such fun! Next time I’m flying in wherever the party is.
    Keep me out of the drawing, have been suffering from fragrance overkill.
    CHARMING LEE, how MUCH older than me are you exactly? 😀

    • March says:

      Okay, now you guys have me reading Jerxoff!!! Shame on you!

      All I can say is, when Lee told me how long he’d been with his partner, I said …. so, you got together when you were 12?

    • Bryan says:

      Dusan,
      You really are all about the age thing, huh? :d
      OK, I have to know, where does Bry Dreamy come from? Is it that my head is perpetually in the clouds? I can dig that. Where are you located and what are your holy grails? Let’s get to know Dusan the Straight. :d

      • Dusan says:

        Hey, I’m not an ageist![-x 🙂 I just happen to be the youngest here it seems (now I can’t find a baby-emoticon, darn!).
        Do you remember saying how you were a hopeless romantic, melancholic to the point of being almost tragic? Well, that’s i think where Bry Dreamy stemmed from. That, and your articles show that you have a flair for drama (and I mean that in the best way possible). Et voila – Bry Dreamy, the incorrigible romantic, was born!
        I live (and am native to) Belgrade, Serbia (SE Europe). As for my holy grails – they keep changing, especially now that I’m getting to know more and more new scents. But for the record, I couldn’t live without Chergui, Fumerie Turque, M7, Caron 3eme Homme, Eau Noire, L’Air du Desert Marocain (the last three I got only decants of), L’Instant PH, Egoiste and I’d dearly love to own Vetiver Tonka, Iris Silver Mist, Encens et Lavande and the list goes on and on and on….. So, have you tried Givenchy’s Ysatis and Amarige? I’m talking tuberose.
        I’m not sure I’m digging Dusan the Straight hmm…hmm… just imagine how other male commenters might feel about that. Naw, how about Dusan the Toddler, I’m kinda warming to it, huh? \:d/
        Just so you know, I intend to take you up on that offer of yours from a week ago; I just am late for everything, including for dropping you a decent e-mail. Is it still on? :”>

        • Bryan says:

          Absolutely still on. Just drop me a note ([email protected])
          You have a lovely country…and I love the Bry dreamy. Thanks for sweet nickname. I am a true tragic romantic.
          I love Chergui, Fumerie Turque and basically all of the others you mentioned. I am hard pressed to find a scent that totally annoys me. The old fashioned masculines do, though, especially those from the ’80s. I love Encens et Lavande. Iris Silver MIst is always in my rotation, too. OK, I have tried to like Amarige, but I get too much at once. I like to smell the tuberose individually. Ysatis is absolutely lovely. An in your face floral that kind of beckons. I am a lover of the parfum especially. Carnal Flower remains my HG, but I love to layer it with Cuir Mauresque and, well, anything else I can think of. BTW, Dusan the Straight was a little joke and I meant it with love, but I agree that Dusan the Toddler is more fitting….very cute and sweet and all that. 😉

    • Lee says:

      I’m 38.

  • Jennifer says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! Add me to the drawing.

  • Susan says:

    I have “trip” envy – Its been fun living vicariously!

    Thanks for including me in the drawing.

  • Amy says:

    Welcome home, March! So glad you went to Fortnum’s — was it not the charming-est department store on the planet? So very E. M. Forster. They have a glove counter, for pete’s sake!

    You’re making me feel bad about having written off the PdNs, but when I smelled them (and smelled them and smelled them — there’s a ton of ’em) in Paris, they just… lay there. Not one of them jumped up & kissed me.

    I smelled the Les Larmes two years ago, when I was much more of a frarance neophyte, but I recall practically levitating as the very kind SA sprayed me generously with it. Gorgeous, rich, resinous, heady. Just my kinda thang.

    • Amy says:

      PS… please enter me in the drawing!

    • March says:

      Actually, Fortnum is undergoing a major renovation and several floors were closed, which was disappointing. However, the fragrance floor has just been redone (two weeks ago?) and is outstanding.

      Wow. being SPRAYED with Thebes probably would have killed me with ecstasy.

  • mimmimmim says:

    I’ve been trying to avoid buying any more perfumes as I’ve got a trip to London later in the year. A friend wants to go to Harrods, so I shall drag her up to the Haute Parfumerie. Did you notice if they had Mitsouko up there? I’m hoping they might have some of the stuff with oakmoss as I’m down to my last 30ml or so… Otherwise it’ll be Les Senteurs and hours trying to choose a Caron. Nuit de Noel is calling, but Narcisse Noir is soooo attractive too!

    Please may I be entered into the draw.

    • March says:

      They have the Roja boutique hidden up on (I think) the 5th or 7th floor — ask someone, seriously, it’s hard to find.

      Honestly, I didn’t notice Mitsouko, but it is impossible for me to believe that they don’t have it.

    • Lee says:

      They’ve definitely got Mitsouko!

  • Silvia says:

    Hi March,
    What a perfect day ! I love London too and Lee sounds like a top Brit indeed.
    Think I drove the Micallef lady at F&M insane: sprayed everything everywhere and sniffed myself like a truffle dog. I wish they gave out samples to take home though. I am enjoying Pomelos at the mom, the grapefruity one.
    Agree with you on MW Incense, it’s not the old one by Lyn Harris. Not bad but too flimsy. Jasmine Sambac is lime and jasmine, made me crave for a jasmine scent but not for that particular one.
    Off to Peru on hols for a couple of weeks, plan to wear OJ Tolu when at Machu Picchu, although after 4 days of trekking and no washing, I am not sure what it’d smell like on me
    :”>

    • March says:

      She was very, very patient with me, I tried a lot of stuff (and honestly, on my first visit I looked like hell, unwashed clothes and all.) Pomelos I was excited about but it turned out to be one of the few grapefruits that turned a bit off on me — I like that note a lot.

      Have a great time on your trip! In some ways I think they smell better on unwashed skin. Honestly. If your nose isn’t tainted all the time by chemical cleansers, and you have some natural oil on there, things bloom differently.

  • Lee says:

    Very lovely post. I’m charmed.

    • Louise says:

      And, by reports, charming…

    • March says:

      Okay, I have to know. The parcel-carrying thing. Is that something your mothers teach you? Do you learn it in school? You know — you picked up the bag with the lunch in it. Also my perfume bags. And carried them. You are now scratching your adorable chin trying to figure out why I’d comment on this, but trust me: unless it’s something I’d have difficulty carrying due to weight (50lb sack of potatoes) that’s not the way it’s done over here.

      • Lee says:

        I’ve absolutely no idea. I’bve never given it a moment’s thought or been aware of it as something I’ve learnt. I’ve just always done it.:-?

        • Patty says:

          This is why Brits are good butlers. ::::flees::::::

        • March says:

          I saw other men doing it. I find it very alluring. I know how annoying I was, hugging you over and over in that hyper Yank way, but I couldn’t stop myself, thanks for not belting me.

        • Dusan says:

          You’re just a perfect gentlemen, that’s what you are. A bit long in the tooth, but still a perfect gent. :-j

  • sybil says:

    I’m glad your trip was so much fun! Thanks to you (and Lee) for sharing it w/ us! And please…I’d like to smell of London, too!

  • Patty says:

    Of course you know how we missed you! Between you and Lee’s description of the Thebes… well, need I say more? Marcel is very charming, BTW, and sends his regards.

    Sqeee!!! Diors!!!!

    • March says:

      Oh, of course — you’d know Marcel! He’s blond and very suave and groomed and etc. And he did take a shine to Lee, I will say.

  • Abigail says:

    Sounds great! I am also a bit jealous of your trip. It sounds much better then my ill-advised sneak into Macy’s to sniff the new angels. My fiance (almost husband!!) has distant relatives there that we never speak to – think they’d mind if I just showed up?

    I’d love to be entered in the drawing.

    • March says:

      Gad, if I knew anyone in London proper I’d be milking them for a place to crash. The dollar is so pathetic in exchange rate right now, it’s just very expensive. All the prices seem reasonable when you read them — the numbers are the same as you’d spend in dollars. And then you double it (the actual on-the-street exchange was more like $2.20) and everything’s ridiculous — the $7 latte, the $20 pizza, etc.

  • Elle says:

    Yay! Great to see you back! 🙂 But am totally chartreuse w/ envy.
    Very glad to see you liked the PdNs. I never can understand why they don’t get talked about more on the boards. I adore them and, even though I’m not a lotv fan, I can’t live w/out Eclipse.
    I think I want to set up home in Roja Dove’s boutique. Sounds beyond heavenly.
    LOL at your FdB conversion. That’s why I keep samples around and never say never to a scent (well…almost never).
    Off to google Xerjoff.

    • March says:

      I didn’t get that much LOTV — I got sort of grass and hay, with that little twist, that’s so Patty-ish to me. I hope she likes it. I think I’ve smelled just a few things like Balle de Match, which are lovely colognes but don’t woo with their exoticism, you know? It was great to be able to stand in front of them and smell several.

      One thing they don’t do in the RD boutique is tell you anything about the notes, so I can’t add anything about the Xerjoff. If we’re lucky I wrote it down correctly /:) it’s also in these fancy carved quartz-containers. I didn’t ask but wouldn’t be surprised to find it’s pretty spendy.

      • Elle says:

        That’s why I love it – it’s not just the lotv flower. It’s all about being on your knees in the early morning sniffing them w/ the dirt, leaves and wet grass all around. Swoonable!

        • March says:

          In general, I don’t like LOTV. At all. So the note in there surprised me. And I think P’s turning into an LOTV slut, frankly, with all the love she’s showing Dior these days.

    • Patty says:

      We’re both off googling the same thing! 🙂

    • Patty says:

      Do you suppose http://www.urbanretreat.co.uk/default.aspx?PageID=335 that means 6,100 pounds?!?!??! Okay, too rich for me. I wonder if they sell little refill bottles?

      • Lee says:

        It was balsammy loveliness to start wih but then it was all birch tar. the women’s one – not much to say about that. Pretty floral I think.

      • March says:

        Well, let’s double the pounds — (that’s definitely the pound symbol) so the glass one would only be $4,600, the quartz will set you back $12,200ish. I think I need both…

        When pigs fly./:)

      • Elle says:

        Did you read the info on their site that the quartz bottles are carved from a single block of African quartz? Yikes! You’re definitely paying for the bottle. Even the glass one is a LE of 250 bottles – better hurry up and claim one! Very depressing, since I really think I’d love the men’s scent. Birch tar makes me weak in the knees.

        • March says:

          The bottles — the quartz ones — really are beautiful. I mean, they’re the sort of thing that if I just had endless amounts of money to piss away, I’d have bought one.

          How to dampen your ardor about the Xerjoff (hey, did you see the comments? now Dusan and Judith have me thinking ‘jerxoff’) yeah, it was “nice.” but I didn’t swoon. It’s actually not that birch-tar on me — more refined. I know it’s got the RD seal of approval, but IMHO that thing’s way more about the bottle than the juice.

  • rosarita says:

    Welcome back! I would imagine your family is very glad to see you (and vice verse). Very enjoyable reading about your trip – you had me at pasties, let alone perfume 🙂
    I have a crush on PdN right now, since I fell in love with Vie de Chateau. Please enter me in the drawing!

    • March says:

      The food. I left all the stuff out about the food. It’s a good thing I was walking for 12 hours a day or I’d have gained more than 5 lbs. in three weeks. Back to salad and water until I can snap my pants.

      • Twibbet says:

        Can you do another post just on the food? I don’t know which part of your trip to be most jealous of [-(

        Oh, and definitely enter me in the drawing!

        • March says:

          No. Not thinking about the food. Just thinking about the food makes me bloat.;) I’ll probably do a post, though.

  • Judith says:

    Wonderful report!! And I am SSSSOOOOO jealous!!! I do love Acqua de Cuba, which I think is, um, honey tobacco. Definitely lots of tobacco on me. And I never thought of mildew–I hope I don’t now.

    Yay for the Diors (if they will permit me so gauche an expression)!

    And I would love to be included in the drawing! Welcome back!:x

    • March says:

      Well, I didn’t get the tobacco at all. We kept waiting for the tobacco, like Godot, and the mildew showed up instead, more or less simultaneously. Lee had an even less attractive comparison initially which I’ll spare you.;)

      God, is that how it’s spelled? Why does non-English spelling elude me so consistently? I finally took the “c” out of Senteurs, but it’ll no doubt be back at some point.

      • Judith says:

        I think it’s Acqua di Cuba, actually. Les Senteurs is right for the shop. I guess I’m glad I don’t know Lee’s comparison, because I do love AdC, but now I’m curious. . . .:-? If you ever make it up North again (even to NY) you must tell me!!! I’ll be there waiting. . . :)>-

        And Dusan–I keep reading Jerxoff, too.:”>

        • Judith says:

          BTW, on AdC–I get good cigar tobacco (rather than pipe or cigarette). Maybe your expectations were different. . . .or not.:)

        • March says:

          Okay, FINE. Now I’ll read Jerxoff forever. And that was one of the few I could spell! (I just typed “few I could smell,” how perfect is that?)

          Just when the AdC started to turn, Lee got a clear, compelling whiff of, um, er … essence of male … that tangy, marine smell, and then right into the mildew. Which made me realize how related those smells are. Trying not. to. think. about it.

          • Maria says:

            Hi, I’m the same Maria as Maria B. I’m going incognito because the filter keeps dumping my messages into the cesspool. If you could see what’s swimming down there! Yuck! Anyway, I get tobacco, leather, and something a little citrusy with Acqua di Cuba. No mildew and no Secretions Magnifiques. I’d better stop there or the filter may zap me. When you think about what DOES get through!
            😉

          • March says:

            Actually, I think the spam filter does an amazing job — we get literally dozens of spam a day, and how on earth it catches them (they aren’t all dirty) amazes me. FWIW when I was replying using my verizon account it REGULARLY dumped me into the spam, but doesn’t do so with my gmail account. Makes no sense, but there you have it.

        • Dusan says:

          Hee hee hee ;))

  • chayaruchama says:

    Welcome back. angel !
    A little bird told me that you were petite and adorable. full of energy [tell us something we hadn’t already surmised!]…
    And a pleasure.

    Your foray sounds brilliant, and your carotids should be GROANING from those pasties [ I LOVE them- don’t you ?].

    Hah, Hah !
    FDB ?
    [If you want some, I’ve stockpiled it, in a dark, cool place.
    When I heard it was being discontinued in the US, years ago, I went nuts]

    I’ll bet the evil ones were happy to see mama again.
    I missed you.

    OH.
    Please add piggy me to the draw, if you can…
    Thanks !

    • March says:

      Huh. How many bottles of FdeB?:-?

      Of course, the proper thing to type would be, I’m not buying anything because I just got home…

      • Louise says:

        March-I can spare a good dose of FdB if you like-delivered?

        • March says:

          That would be great! I’d forgotten. Hey, maybe next week we can do some sniffage? Are you around? I could meet you at Montgomery.

          • Louise says:

            Love to! You know where to find me.

          • Louise says:

            Oh! Did you get the invite to Art & Flower’s Yosh party this weekend-I was down there (bought some Ineke, and other stuff) this week with the wonderful Nancy of Fishbone, and they’re doing some discounting. But you are likely sniffed out. And your family likely wants you.

          • March says:

            Crap — I can’t find the postcard! I’m going to email you — is it tonight? Maybe I could sneak away…/:)

  • Louise says:

    Welcome home, March! You were missed. But-couldn’t you bring Lee back with you, just for a bit???

    Too many goody-reports to respond to-was it overwhelming? But glad you like the Nicolai fig-tea (thanks, Maria B. for letting me know about that one)-nice and summery, devlops and lasts on me (!).

    And FdB! Hah! after all your diparaging remarks-glad it/you turned to each other and found affection, at last. Now-shouldn’t you be napping, not working? Go rest!

    • March says:

      Lee wouldn’t fit in my carry-on and customs has really cracked down, although Lee might be able to charm his way in. But his significant other would miss him very much.

      Aha! A fragrance overlap on our parts!

      I’m resting, in between laundry and work. It’s fine. Knock wood, I’m not one of the major jet-lag people. It’s funny how much the flora outside has changed, though, in three weeks, as you know.

      • Louise says:

        How did the Cheese and the Whizzes/Its/Bits fare? They must be overjoyed to have you back!

        • March says:

          Was I gone?:d

          No, they were happy. Ish. Actually Buckethead and Hecate don’t really notice. The big girls were better off in some ways, and not in others — Big Cheese focuses on different things to harp on than I do. So: he’s harder about food issues, for instance, but didn’t make them practice their piano/guitar. It probably comes out even.

    • Louise says:

      Oooh! Please enter me in drawing.

  • Dennis says:

    What a great London report! Fragrance shopping is definitely one of the perks of living here in London…I’m glad you got to de Nicolai, one of my favourites and easy to over look, it’s so teeny. I use Havane oil at home on the lamps, but never thought of the roomspray. I see a quick to trip to South Ken coming on.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

    • March says:

      They had (I think) a room spray and the oil you use for the diffusers … at least I thought it was a room spray … maybe I made that up? Hey, I’ll put anything that isn’t labelled with a skull and crossbones on my skin, so I’m not maybe the most reliable source.

      Oh, to live in London! I’m geeky in various ways so one of my greatest non-perfume pleasures was swinging through the jungle like Tarzan on the well-run modes of transport.

      The other highlight — seeing the Sargents at the Tate.

  • Gail s says:

    Oh, your trip sounds like so much fun! I can only hope to do something like it someday. I had already decided from Lee’s one-line and haiku reviews that I would like to bring him home if given the opportunity :d

    Please do enter me in the drawing, Black Sea sounds wonderful!

  • Masha says:

    Great tour! Brings back some good memories, and glad you rediscovered FdB, one of my favorites. But it seems no one has made a “Parfum de Pub” yet, have they, and the pubs are my favorite part of London….
    Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

  • Bryan says:

    March,
    So glad you made it back safely. You were definitely missed. I am sure any number of us would have loved to tag along with you and Lee. Thank you both for the travelogues. I was wondering about the MW incense…smelled the new one in London (or Paris, not sure which). I was not impressed and wondered what the fuss was about. I have a bottle of the Prada Tubereuse and I crave the Iris and Oeillet myself. I think I need them all, as they seem to be soliflores with a strange twist…naturally I started with Tubereuse. So glad you’re back and I can’t wait to hear more.

    • March says:

      To me the fuss was a hopeful wish he’d reconjured the original. I have a small decant of that and I adore it — I am assuming you’ve smelled it with your collection? IT’s lovely, saffron-heavy, very unusual on my skin. There are winter days when nothing else will do. When I smelled the new, regular MW fruity-floral last year I was stunned — how could they discontinue the incense and come up with THAT pathetic thing? And as you noted, the new one is fine (actually, it’d be a great intro to incense for many people, and I’m for that) but nothing special, particularly. It’d layer nicely, I bet.

      I’m really pining for that Oillet right now! I told myself firmly, you don’t need another carnation! But I want it.

  • Theresa says:

    That sounds like an amazing trip! And how did you get your hands on those old Diors? I thought I’d heard somewhere that they were only available in Paris…
    Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks.

    • March says:

      They sell them in the Roja Dove boutique (although as I said their stock was low when I visited.) Roja’s whole thing is cherry-picking the particular scents that he likes, and if I’d had more time and taken better notes I could have done a whole separate post on what WASN’T there, which would have been interesting: what doesn’t make the cut, you know? He only had some of the Serge Lutens, some of the Dior, some Guerlain, etc. The rest of it is down on the main perfume floor with the hoi polloi (where they are flogging the HELL out of Juicy Couture, god help us, SAs stationed every 10 feet with a bottle.)

  • Alica says:

    Dear March, thank you for entering me in the drawing.

  • tmp00 says:

    Can i just tell you (in addition to the fact that we all missed you) that I am so freaking jealous that I could not horn in on this and play with you two that I could just pee?

    Of course I am throwing my hat in the ring for the samps.

    Why don’t you people come to LA? :d

    • March says:

      I’m overdue for a visit to the Left Coast. I could add it to some sort of Santa Fe junket, which I’m also overdue for. It was really, really fun, and somehow I’m also thinking you and Lee together could have overwhelmed Marcel with your assets and maybe we’d get, I dunno, a free bottle of Thebes or something.

    • Patty says:

      I’m totally down for an L.A. sniffing session. You should just tell us when to be there! 🙂

    • Maria B. says:

      A couple of days ago, just as my Internet server was going down, I had written a response to Patty’s mention of a Paris trip in which I suggested instead that we have a Perfume Posse (and PST of course) sniffing get-together in California. After all, a lot of independent perfumers are based in San Francisco. And there are perfume shops. Okay, yes, I just suggested SF instead of LA. It’s not just because it’s closer to me, of course. o:-) (Man, I had to search hard for the angel emoticon.)

      Well, I hope the censor lets this one through.

  • Lavanya says:

    Hey March..good to have you back!!

    Sounds like you had a greatt trip and Lee sounds lovely too (but of course!)- Enjoyed both your accounts of the trip.

    I’d love to be in the drawing..

  • pitbull friend says:

    March, so good to hear about your trip! Sounds lovely. Thanks for the warning about Eclipse! It does have oakmoss in it, so maybe that’s why.

    And you finally got FdB! I have the same problem with FdB and the Lutens base & keep retrying it — good to know there could be a breakthrough. Good to have you on our side of the pond, March. Oh, and I’d love to be in the drawing. –Ellen

    • March says:

      Definite breakthrough potential. I actually PICKED THE BOTTLE BACK UP to make sure I’d put on the right thing, which is hilarious if you consider how unique-looking the bottle is. So there is hope, clearly, because it has been consistently wretched on me.

      Yep, must be the oakmoss, but I thought there was oakmoss in some of the others? Maybe it’s a concentration issue?

    • Dusan says:

      Ellen,
      Just so you know, I haven’t been ignoring you or anything. :-”
      I didn’t make it yesterday so I’m answering here today assuming that this is where you’re more likely going to be at.
      I’m so blessed to have this corner of the world with you wonderful folk where nothing I say will be interpreted the wrong way. I feel at home here talking about anything, really. Thanks for listening and paying attention 😡
      Seems I was wrong about the guy you’re dating. I wasn’t aware he had pets or that your doggies liked him a lot. In any case, to paraphrase Nicola, enjoy it while you’re having fun and FWIW, if you really truly want to make it work, try finding in him a plus for each minus. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pat myself on the head for being such a smart baby. 🙂

      • pitbull friend says:

        Oh, hey, Dusan, no problem! I knew you had limited info. And you ARE a smart baby! My dad had four siblings, 12-18 years older than he was. Until his last sister died, he was still being treated as the prodigy baby of the family at AGE 80! So, provided the rest of us live to really old ages, you can really milk this for a long time, my sweet l’il boy. :d –Ellen (age 42)

  • Maria B. says:

    Welcome back, March! I’m glad you had a great time. Do describe Lee some more. I mean, what does he look like. He certainly doesn’t resemble his hayseed avatar.

    One thing that jumped out at me from your post: You bought Patty a lily of the valley fragrance (Eclipse)??????? I know she has recently been taken over by aliens and is liking some LOTV scents, but I wonder when her limit will be reached. Eclipse has oakmoss in it. That must have the Fragrance Police in a tizzy. Thanks for the heads-up about discontinuation. Fig Tea is very nice and lasts on me a long time. $25 for such a lovely thing. I’m stamping my foot about the absence of A Coin du Feu from our shores.

    I’ve been on the edge of my seat about Larmes Sacrees de Thebes. Something you might put on the baby Jesus. Okay, I guess I get the idea. 😕 Benzoiny?

    Please include me in the drawing. If I win, you don’t have to send me a Fig Tea sample. I’ll take a drawing of Lee instead. 🙂

    • March says:

      No, he doesn’t resemble his hayseed avatar at all. I’m trying to think what to write — he’s … well, English! He’s trim but not skinny. Tall–ish but not too. He’s fair-skinned and dark-haired, he looks a good deal younger than he is, and he carries a messenger bag and wears cute shirts. It’s a look over there, clearly — I don’t mean that negatively, he just fits into the general eye candy. Also he does that Brit-man-thing and carries all the little parcels, which makes me absolutely weak at the knees. Where do they learn that? He also came in extremely handy when it came to flirting with Marcel, who, uh, I’m guessing bats for the other team. So to speak.

      If you’re hot for Coin I’ll dig up the telephone info and stick it in here, because to be honest they’re d/cing that one too, and they had candles, room spray and the lamp perfume oil on a shelf on deep, deep discount. It really doesn’t fit into the line at all, all smoky loveliness, and my guess is it didn’t sell well at all.

      Thebes — it was lovely. It was. And made for someone like me. But — you know when you do the math? When you’re sitting somewhere, stroking your chin, trying to figure out what you can skip so you can buy something? (Hmmmm, maybe I can sell off one of those spare kidneys…..) 😕 That didn’t happen with Thebes, and we’d need to be there for a monstrously ugly (seriously, looked like a contact lens refill bottle) Thebes refill at $400, although yes, I can dump it in something else. In the end it just wasn’t heart-stopping enough to be worth it. Lee wasn’t that off with his Juozas reference.