For many of us, Saturday morning’s Chi-Cocoa Scentsation started off with some coffee and a mad dash to the nearest Walgreens for an umbrella, because the rain appeared to be setting up for a constant barrage for most of the day. Patty and I got to the meeting place (Ethel’s Chocolate at 900 N. Michigan Ave. next to L’Artisan) pretty early to meet Anita/Musette, and I was already wondering how many people might take a gander at the rain and decide, sensibly enough, to stay home. Fortunately fragrance people aren’t too worried about some rain, so we were delighted when most of the attendees had arrived by the 10 a.m. kickoff. I couldn’t get anyone to stand still long enough to count, but I think our attendance was in the low 30s — not bad for a day with an agenda that involved walking from place to place in that super-soaker downpour!
Can we digress for a minute and discuss how incredibly stylish many Chicagoans are? Of course, since they’re from Chicago and the surrounds, the first thing they do is modestly downplay their stylishness. And come on, ladies. We could have been lunching in some swank joint in D.C., only you all were much more stylish. From the hipster gals to the foxylicious foursome of Vida, her mom Rima, her sister Elena and their friend Kristina, I am talking some nice threads. In the words of Christian, our ladies were fierce. Also in attendance were three actual males! Anyway, here we go, and all you readers: feel free to correct/add to my report.
So: first stop, L’Artisan Parfumeur (left). The lovely ladies there gave us a nice swag bag, and they had a drawing for goodies. I think all of us had a great time sniffing and resniffing favorites from the line, and since that’s a stand-alone L’Artisan boutique they have gloriously oddball things like Oeillet Sauvage and Fleur de Carotte, both of which I think are “discontinued” but seem to be hanging around nicely. We smelled the new Fleur de Liane, which is a light melon-y aquatic thing that reminds me of Hermes Mousson, with less of the stuff that summons the grim reaper. My favorite finds: the Bottega Veneta candles and room sprays (Nos. 2 and 4 are extraordinary), their other room sprays, including the delightful Ile Bourbon, a vanilla/citrus/spicy nutmeg deal that had me moaning in ecstasy, and perhaps my favorite: L’Eau de Navigateur!!! I had never even smelled this thing, and honestly, I thought it was GONE. As in, GONE. Am I nuts, or is this the one people lament about having been replaced by the (inferior) Navegar? It’s listed as d/c’d on Basenotes, and is not at Lucky (which has many/most of them, including the LEs,) but here’s a grab from the Perfume Shoppe in Canada: “Created in the honor of the King’s adventurers and buccaneers, L’eau de Navigateur is a powerful marriage of exotic woods, resins, tobacco and rare flowers enhanced with the unusual note of coffee. A richly dark and smokey fragrance.” I thought they told me at the shop it was done by our favorite homeboy Jean-Claude Ellena, but I can’t find independent confirmation of that anywhere, although it’s certainly been around long enough (1979) and he did some others for L’Artisan. What I get: coffee and sweat. Stunning. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m gonna call our gals at 312-787-7788 and order some. BTW they’re having a fragrance event on Sept. 26 from 7:30 – 9, with nibbles and champagne, call them for details.
Next up: Barneys (right). Their fragrance area is so spread out, we fanned out and sampled it all. Big draws in the store that I could see were the Malles and the Serge Lutens fragrances. Many people were, I think, sampling parts of these lines for the first time and it was wonderful to see their reactions, particularly to things like Serge Noire and Chypre Rouge. Therese still smells like cilantro to me, but I am amused to discover I am developing some tolerance for the heavily spiced SLs like Arabie and Douce Amere. It was fun sniffing the CdGs as well, and I think Luxe Patchouli was a big hit there, as well as their weirdo scents like 2, 3 and the Guerillas.
Then we staggered up the street to Hermes in the downpour, only some of us stopped first at Sarah’s for their incredible black-and-white cupcakes, a little treat in all that rain. I was sitting at a table (ahem) polishing off my second b&w when suddenly Anita and the first part of the group were back. Apparently when the 12 of them arrived at Hermes, a sales person approached them and said they didn’t have authorization to be there as a group and asked them to leave (!) and that they should have contacted the store first. Anita pointed out that she had contacted the store, I think via 3 emails and 2 phone calls, none of which were returned. Well then, the
harridan psycho employee said, and I wrote this down so I could quote it correctly, the store must have “declined the event.” Like you need a special pass to enter the hallowed halls of Hermes. Or a fricking secret handshake. I mean, God forbid they get a bunch of perfume nuts in there on a day when it was raining so hard there were almost no other shoppers out. I knew they could be heinous beeches but that really takes the cake. I wasn’t there to witness, but Musette gave her some what-for in the ensuing smackdown, and btw I wouldn’t pick a fight with Musette, if I were you.
Next we did a quick run by the fancy Chanel boutique, where they treated us as if we were human (!) and I know two or three bottles from Les Exclusifs left with our party – paid for, not stolen. They did ask us very nicely not to take photos in the store. Maybe the folks at Hermes could call them up for some tips on customer service. At that point it was pouring so spectacularly we hung out in the lobby for awhile, but it wasn’t really going to get much better, so we jumped out running and laughing and screaming and hustled up to foodlife in Water Tower Place for some hot food and a welcome sit-down. How big is their famous chocolate cake? Our table of six split a piece.
In Bigelow I was flagging just a bit, thinking, yeah, this is nice, but what I really want is a cup of coffee — and voila! — they appeared with a giant tray of cups of coffee!! Bigelow as I think most of you know is a big apothecary-style store, so while some folks stuck to the perfumes (Floris, Carthusia, Keiko Mecheri, etc.) others of us wandered off looking for foundations, sunscreen, etc. Let me put a plug in here for the Lipstick Queen line. It turned out there are several hardcore Lipstick Queen fans in the group, and their lipstick is awesome with no aftertaste (a lipstick pet peeve — for instance, Bobbi Brown and NARS have that waxy flavor, and some folks hate the perfumed taste of Lancome, although it doesn’t bother me.) Anyhoo, Lipstick Queen is the Poppy King stuff, and they come in two lines: Saints (sheer) and Sinners (matte opaque). They are lovely. I am now going to make an Allure-worthy pronouncement: the color Saint Natural is one of those universally flattering tones. It turned out three people in our group were wearing it that day. It’s the proverbial bite-your-lips pinky beige that is a little sexy rather than boring and seems to brighten everyone’s complexion. The Sinners have 90% pigment and wear like iron. Great stuff.
From there it was Neiman-Marcus, where they gave us an energizing drink and another great gift drawing and showed us the Creeds, and I … failed to take any notes! Oh, wait, here they are. The new Annick Goutal Musc Nomade … heh heh. That’ll peel the paint off your barn. It’s a skankfest, much more so than I was expecting. Gives MKK and CB Musk a run for their money. I sniffed the new Ferragamo Tuscan Soul, which smells pretty much like Light Blue, and something is wrong with that picture! (Isn’t that the one Chandler Burr wrote about in reference to fragrances being designed/released for the Asian market?) It was also a reminder of how gorgeous Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere is — now that it’s being released more widely, I run into it more. It’s warm where the original is cold, and I find myself wanting a bottle. I am pretty sure they had the Hermes line including Mousson, which seemed appropriate for the weather, although I am so grateful nobody sprayed it anywhere near me.
On to Saks, where people spent some time with the Bonds, including the new Lexington Ave, and I trolled furiously looking for someone in our group to buy what might have been the last bottle of Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily in U.S. stores, and Catherine humored me and did so. By the way it layers beautifully with JM Black Vetyver Cafe. In the meantime, Patty picked up the gorgeous new Chanel Eyeshadow Quad which I think is exclusive to Saks, all lovely shades of gold, definitely worth checking out if you are one of their makeup fans, she blogged on this yesterday.
We finished up at Nordstrom, which has a huge range of fragrance from the Amouages to D’Orsay and lots of other things you don’t see too often. Can fragrance make you cry? One of our group, Rima, Vida’s mom, was so overjoyed with the Nordstrom exclusive Herve Leger that she wept — wept — tears of joy! I get all verklempt thinking about it. (That’s her up there carrying her shoes, it was so ridiculously wet outside.) We were so happy for her fragrance epiphany. It’s wonderful watching someone fall in love. Nordstrom served some Mexican hot chocolate (they know a caffeinated customer is a happy customer.) That Nordstrom is amazing, so we might have also spent some time in their outstanding shoe dept., and someone might have bought a new watch. Maybe.
Then came the afterparty at Outsider downtown, and I still can’t figure out how Anita squeezed that amazing spread out of our meager $20 registration fee. Neil Morris fragrances were available for sniffage, Liz Zorn came from Cincinnati to present her line and chat, and we all attacked the Miracle Brownies that Anita made for dessert, which somehow kept reappearing on the platter now matter how many we ate. After I’d had a few glasses of wine, Vida’s sister Elena scared the crap out of me (see photo above) by reappearing in a power suit with her hair up and a pair of big, rectangular, blingy glasses as Sarah Palin. She “introduced” herself, shook all our hands and reported in a chirpy voice that she could see Russia from her house. Tina Fey, watch your back.
Patty and I rolled into our hotel room around 10 p.m., more than 12 hours after our perfume day had started. We both said to each other (and to Anita, Shelley and Erin the next day) how nice it was to really get a chance to chat with so many people, the advantage of a relatively small group. You can’t find nicer people than perfume people. Thanks to all of you who made it such a wonderful day.
PS Thanks to Vida and Anita for these photos;
soon we’ll upload Patty has uploaded other photos on the photoblog in the left-hand column.