Diary of a Streetwalker

  oh, getcher mind out of the gutter!  It wasn’t like that.  I don’t smoke.  And I don’t wear stripes.


But I do walk the mean streets of Boul Mich every now and then… last week  was the first time in several months and I picked a lovely day.  After bone-bleaching temps, Thursday was cool and misty.  Perfect for wandering from Nordstrom to Barneys, via Neiman-Marcus and Chanel.  My pal Howard joined me at Nordstrom, where the SAs and I bemoaned, yet again, the loss of Amouage. Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?  They used to carry the line, back when they had that elegant little perfume room (with the powder blue silk slipper chairs and the mirrored glass cabinets full of vintage Carons.  I expected Gene Tierney and Loretta Young to come swirling out from behind the blue silk curtains.)  Alas, that room is now gone, and the whole department has lost its  luxe sheen.  But for all that, they do have a nice range of fragrances.   Howard fell in love with Terre d’Hermes.  Who doesn’t?  That is some lovely stuff.  It’s a lot of fun perfume sniffing with a natural hedonist.  No boundaries for our bouncing baby boy. Howard will happily sniff/spritz anything!!!  Luckily Mohammed, the jewel of Nordstrom’s perfume SA’s, didn’t blink when Howard blithely spritzed Shalimar!  And moaned with delight.  That ‘moan with delight’ thing can unnerve a lesser SA. Especially when it’s coming from a guy spritzing Shalimar. Can you imagine El O moaning over perfume?  He’d rather eat a bug.


Neiman Marcus has lost none of its luxe luster, though I’d love to see a resurgence of our old, profligate ways.  And soon. C’mon!  It’s retail!  They need people to BUY stuff.  Those SAs have got to eat, too!  The SAs and I talked about Amouage at Neiman’s , which would be a perfect fit, imo.   Unlike both coasts, Chicago has no boutique brick and mortar perfume shops so it’s up to NM and Barneys to carry the luxe and niche lines.  Why Amouage isn’t at NM is a mystery. After gabbling about that I took a look at a couple of new arrivals.

It Got Ugly with Donna Karan.  Before I go there, though, let me give you a bit of backstory.  I was at the vanguard of Donna Karan devotees, loving her since her Anne Klein days (I wanted her over Louis Dell’olio and thought she wuz robbed. Of course,  30 yrs later, it’s “Louis WHO?”)….when she launched Donna Karan Essentials (and Donna Karan) I bought 3 of the jersey dresses, a gorgeous jacket and enough tights to outfit Ballets Russe!   I was Her Girl – and she, mine.

Then came the Infamous Bodysuit Debacle.

Harken back to 1980: at 5’9″ and a size 8, I still had major body-image issues (like so many 20-something yuppie women).  And in my 20s the size tag ruled.  Donna’s couture and Essentials patterns were generally cut to median size – if you were an 8 you wore an 8.  End of story.  It was LOVE.   Except for this stupid bodysuit. Feeling ‘smart’ (because it’s a bodysuit and a too-short crotch can really chap your cheese), I pull a size 10  and attendant wrap skirt and blithely carry my Goddess’s creations into the I Magnin dressing room.  Five desperate minutes later, it takes two SAs to untangle me from the reptilian coils of that thing.  Either DK had a vicious patternmaker in Manila or she’d forgotten what Size 8 meant but even Audrey Hepburn couldn’t have fit into it.  One arm pinned to my side and the other jammed in the arm of the suit, stuck in the air, with my head smashed somewhere between the shoulder and the arm, I bounced helplessly around the dressing room with my pantied butt hanging out,   until the SAs came to my rescue.  Exhausted, humiliated and enraged, my size-esteem in tatters, I vowed to never pick up another Donna Karan piece of ANYTHING.  Ever again. For years my pals would wait until I was relaxed, then pull a new Donna Karen ‘something’ out of a bag, just to watch my eyes spin around in my head.

Then she brought forth perfume.   Chaos.  I thawed a bit for that.  Considered ‘frenemy’ status with the debut of Gold.   But this new one?  Donna Karan Woman?  Oh, Donna.  Seriously?  We’re back to the bodysuit again.  This is a wan, watery, fruity-floral that says I Phoned This In.  The bottle looks like a Dustbuster.  Or a futuristic iron, which sort of irritates me.  If there is a Brave New World I don’t want to be ironing in it. This woman has such talent and Estee Lauder has such deep pockets.  Surely they could’ve done better than this.  Oh, Donna….sigh.  I’ve seen the notes but I can’t be bothered to find them and type them out here.  I’m too irritated.  I expect way better from her.

Then it got Pretty.  No, not Donna Karan Woman.  That still sucked.  No.  It got pretty with Givenchy.  eaudemoiselle De Givenchy.  M. Hubert can rest easy in his eternal slumbers Oh, for Pete’s sake!  I read the wrong obit! and some other stupid thing called an ‘anticipatory obituary’ or something like that.  M. Hubert:  MY APOLOGIES!  Live Long and Prosper!!!   (though that vague ‘spinning’ sound is probably his response to the package design.  M. Hubert is ALIVE and SPINNING!  ALIVE! The bottle is tolerable enough (the label is..questionable) but there are 3? 4? different fonts on the cover of the sample card alone!  Add the wallpaper stripes and the weird frames (and the Sean Young-ish- as- Audrey model. ( Oh, Hubert!  Quitcher spinning!  You’ll hurt yourself!)…for all that, though, this is a pretty perfume.  Certainly no L’Interdit but I could see a gamine Audrey wearing this to go buy an orange from the picturesque grocer down the rue from her terrace apartment.  No gamine, I nevertheless took it for a spin (haw!) on Sunday and El O said I smelled GOOD!  Usually he just coughs and says ‘wow’.  Which is not a good thing.    It’s currently exclusive to Neiman Marcus, I think, and they have a great GWP right now.  Had I not gotten snagged by Noir Epices body lotion (about which I will yark – but in another post) I might’ve sprung for it!  Still might. It has a certain nonagressive charm, which sounds like faint praise but is actually a compliment.   The notes are …well you know how they love to write these things:

Floral Musky (that’s what it says on the card)  Winter Lemon – Italy, Rose, Ylang Heart (?), Musk, Ambrette Seeds.  Make of that what you will.  I’m going withpretty’.


From there we went to Chanel and to Barneys, where Howard fell in love.  As did I.  But that is for another day.    It’s late.  I have to change into my Demon outfit for Book Club and explain to Brassai why I stole his photo up there.  Not the real one, of course – I don’t wanna go to the pokey (apparently you have to go to the bathroom in PUBLIC).

  • Style Spy says:

    I love you. That is all.

  • Lily says:

    Musette, I went to the Neiman’s website to see what was new tonite, and I see Amouage; I think it’s a new addition. I googled “does neiman marcus carry amouage” and here I am. Good timing.

    SO … is NM going to start carrying the line in stores? Or is it/has it been just a web exclusive thing and nothing new? OR (third option) is it a spillover from Bergdorfs? (don’t they share stock, with Bergdorf’s being more exclusive?) – I saw Beloved on the site (didn’t know it was pricier than the others) which makes me think it’s the last option.

    I want somewhere to go in person to try the line !!!

    • Musette says:

      Me, too!!! My teeth nearly fell out of my mouth when I saw that! But it’s not at the Chicago store (not only did I check, I met with the Dept Mgr, so I KNOW it isn’t there). If the line physically shows up at a NM anywhere, PLEASE let us know!!!

      xoxox :Devil:

      • Lily says:

        Mission accepted! If I see it or hear it’s at NM IRL, will report back. BTW I loved your post and I’m not just saying that to be nice. >:D

        Also I would not have gone anywhere near the confused-looking eaudemoiselle but now I will try it.

  • Ninara Poll says:

    Musette, thanks a BUNCH for the confusion over M. H de G’s life status 🙂 I’m not being sarcastic; I’m sincere in my thanks. I had to have my beloved Church the Russian Blue Cat (she had more than enough personality that I feel the need to refer to her with that long name!) euthanized earlier this morning,and I (and my husband, and my parents, and his parents) have been trying to lift my spirits since. *big ol’ beautifully scented hugs for Musette*


    • Musette says:

      Oh, honey! I’m so sorry. Been there, done that so I know how painful that is. Glad my moronics helped cheer you up! Hope it didn’t put M. Hubert in the doldrums, though something tells me I am NOT on his elegant radar. Alas.

      xo :Devil:

      • Ninara Poll says:

        Thank you so much for the sympathy, Miss Musette (there’s the Southern girl in me… I almost always address any female as “Miss”). This is the first time I’ve ever had a pet cross the rainbow bridge (to quote Cute Overload), and this was especially hard not just because of that but because she was also diabetic and twice a day since summer 2009 I was the one who administered her insulin shots and post-shot food, who monitored her health for the tiniest changes, and who regularly adjusted her insulin levels, in addition to loving her and spoiling her silly, so I was effectively her long-term caretaker and 24 hour nurse in addition to her person. My family’s been very sympathetic and supportive, so that’s helping tremendously right now. I know as time passes the pain will fade, it’s just this initial period that sucks… and I’m hoping M. Hubert did secretly read your confusion and had a great a laugh as I did 🙂


  • Hubert de Givenchy is alive, not in his eternal slumbers. It would have been nice if you had checked this before writing it down.

  • Hubert de Givenchy is alive, not in his eternal slumbers. It would have been nice if you had checked this before writing it down.

  • Erin T says:

    Oh A, I had such a good guffaw at the remark about the futuristic dustbuster/iron bottle. I was thinking “rhino horn” but iron is so much funnier and more offensive. I’ve never tried to wrestle my way into one of her bodysuits – the bodysuit days are long past for me, if I ever had them – but I’ve always liked DK and her aesthetic. The woman appears to still be both intelligent and sort of sane, which must be a fashion industry record. The historical fragrances in the Donna Karan Collection – Signature, Chaos, Fuel for Men – are just gems, and Gold, especially in EdP, was wonderful, so this was such a disappointment for me.

    Can’t wait to be walkin’ the streets of another big city with you soon! By the way, have you read yet about the kerfuffle about the lawsuit against Laurice Rahme (Bond No. 9 owner) for racial discrimination? Wondered what you’d think of it. From the NY Daily News, via NST:

    “Rahme insisted she’s no racist and blamed the suit on “disgruntled employees” who got caught with their hands in the till. She said most of her workers are from minority groups, and added that she welcomes black customers. “We love them,” she insisted.

    Rahme admitted they do use the “light bulbs” code “to protect the girls” when somebody suspicious enters the stores. But she insisted it’s not aimed specifically at black customers, although she did mention that each time her stores were robbed “they were all African-American robbers.”

    Well, that was just great PR!! After the accusations of an awful nature, nobody could possibly believe she was a bigot now! Glad she got that all cleared up…

  • Eldarwen 22 says:

    Too bad that in the Cleveland area, we don’t have a Barney’s, Chanel or a Neiman Marcus or really any upscale stores that have a really have a nice perfume department. Especially one that has the Amouage line. To get a nice or halfway decent perfume section, I have to travel to Beechwood (really wealthy area outside Cleveland). I have a decant of Donna Karan’s Jasmine but I haven’t tried it yet.

    • Musette says:

      There isn’t any Amouage within 1000 miles of Chicago, alas. But we have nearly everything else. Which is what makes it so weird! Amouage + Neiman-Marcus is like peanut butter and chocolate!

      Here’s hoping the peanut butter connects to the chocolate. Soon.

      xo :Devil:

  • DinaC says:

    I’ve never been to Chicago, but I’d love to take a stroll down the avenue sniffin’ all the goodies with a gal like you at my side. I have a feeling I’d be in stitches all day long. 🙂 Thanks for the fume reviews. I haven’t sniffed any DKs as far as I can remember, but they are on the ever growing list. I totally agree about the bottle — it looks exactly like a dustbuster that I used to have! What kind of a vacuum (pun intended) are these people living in who do the bottle design?

    Bodysuits. Wow, that takes me back. Just last week on the fashion board at Makeup Alley I was explaining to some young things what one is. They were totally perplexed by them. I remember wearing one in, like, second grade — let’s say early 70s. They were great for a little girl who was shaped like a stick of gum and needed help keeping her shirt tucked into her skirt. Plus, bonus, if you did cartwheels on the playground nobody could see your panties. I never wore one after that. Your story was hilarious, though. I really felt for you there in the dressing room!

    Our weather here in Virginia is still unrelentingly hot. Wish we had coolness or mistiness. But fall is coming! 🙂

    • Musette says:

      You were in the second grade in the seventies? Wow! Way to make an old whore feel OLD! I was in graduate school (though that was in the LATE 70s. Okay mid-70s. Oh, never mind …..

      Bodysuits are ridiculous, especially if you are trying to live your day in one. If they snap at the crotch, that gets weird …and if they don’t it gets even weirder! A snapless bodysuit and skirt means you have to take the skirt OFF, then pull the ENTIRE bodysuit down around your knees….seems a bit much, doesn’t it?

      xo :Devil:

    • FragrantWitch says:

      I missed the bodysuits first time around being born in the early seventies but caught them in the early/mid nineties when they came back. I was working retail at the time and one day processed the return of a bodysuit which still had the tags on and on quick inspection didnt appear to have been worn. So far, so good- I did the return, customer leaves and I start to hang the bodysuit back on a hanger to return it to the floor. Only then do I notice that there are, um, secretions and pubic hair stuck in the snaps. :Amazed: I bolted for the sink like I was on fire, I can tell you.

  • I love reading you stuff and wish I could come spritzing with you. How super fun would that be?
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      They would call the cops on us, Portia. I see a fleet of squad cars, squealing down Oak Street……headed to Hermes…..

      xo :Devil:

      • FragrantWitch says:

        If you two ever do that, please please video it! :Censored:
        It would be positively brilliant.

  • Francesca Belanger says:

    “I don’t smoke. And I don’t wear stripes.” Even without seeing the name of the author, I knew it was you, Musette.

    Another great post. And I had a similar thing to your body suit situation happen to me with a shapewear camisole. At least I didn’t have sleeves to contend with.

    • Musette says:

      All those things are torturous. Why do we do it, Francesca? Whyyyy? El O would eat a live cobra before wrestling himself into something like that.

      xoxo :Devil:

  • rosarita says:

    Morning, Posse! Ms A, one day I will get to Chi and do some serious sniffing; meeting you would be even better. One day. Yay for Howard, and glad to know that my DH has company in his infatuation with my beloved Shalimar – for himself, I mean. He smells great in it but I refuse to believe he smells better than moi. As to DK – well, Black Cashmere is possibly my favorite perfume and I love Gold too, and have an off again/on again with Cashmere Mist (have owned it and swapped it away twice and now kinda want it again) – but Pure was pretty bad, and one look at this bottle and I was confused. Now that you’ve said it all I can see is that George Orwell iron, and no thanks. Hasn’t the weather been odd? I hope August and September haven’t switched out and we have 90s into fall (says ms glass half empty.)

  • Ann says:

    Hi, sweetie! Thanks for another great post. Ah, I have fond memories of strolling Boul Mich (I was last there years ago to bid farewell to Marshall Field’s State Street store), and I’d love to street-walk there with you sometime. Sorry to hear the DK was so mediocre but glad you’ve found several others to love. I have a sample of the Givenchy and thought it was quite pretty as well.

    • Musette says:

      I wish I’d known you then. I doubt you knew Chicago retail 40 years ago but it was glorious. I miss the olden days of retail (luckily I actually missed the REALLY olden days of retail – there were some overtly unsavory practices in effect back then)…I remember, up until 1980s? when the original Chicago Saks Fifth Avenue had elevator operators – still! – in white gloves. We had Bramson’s, a delightful little boutique dept store, Carson, Pirie Scott (and Company) still had lustre and, of course, Marshall Field & Company, the jewel in the crown of Chicago retail.


      • Teri says:

        I have to add the late lamented Bonwit Teller to the list of late, great, Chicago retail. On occasional Saturdays in my early teens, my bestie and I would dress up in our nicest clothes, take the South Shore railroad into the city and go shopping at Bonwit’s. We’d always find some little thing to buy with our babysitting money so we could go home with a Bonwit’s bag to impress our friends.

        I have such fond memories of Bonwit’s SAs, too. We were never treated rudely or rushed or made unwelcome, even in the couture salons when we’d wander in to ooh and aaah at the fabulous clothes. The SAs had to know we weren’t customers and yet if they weren’t busy, they’d show us around, let us touch and hold the accessories kept under glass or even try on a dress or two.

        Had Bonwit’s survived until I became a money-spending, money-making adult, they’d have had my business if only for the kindness shown to two gawky 14 year olds back in the day.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    But didn’t you once say you were a perfume ‘ho complete with vinyl boots…? :Wink:
    Anywhoo, yay for Howard and his Shalimar swoon. And in public! Go, Howard, go!
    I am totally distraught to hear that Donna Karan Woman sucked the big one. Chaos is desert island stuff, I adore Black Cashmere and Wenge essence is gorgeous so I was all ‘xcited. Damn. Hated the yonic bottle though. Plus the Skinemax style advert- all adds up to bad ‘bom chicka waaw, waaaw,waaw, waaw’. Still of juice was good I would have forgiven the insulting campaign. Shame, shame – and what a waste of the gorgeous Christy Turlington. Bah.

    Speaking of demons, have you read the descriptions of Neil Morris’ new scents based on the Devil in Quantum Demonology? They sound awesome. When I have some spare moola I will be a sniffin!

    • Musette says:

      FW –

      You’ve got the porn ‘bump’ down pat! LOL!

      It’s funny how the bar gets raised so high for certain folks. She doesn’t have a wasting disease, her mind is still sharp and most of her clothing collection is still excellent (yeah, I still ‘look’) :Worry: …so there is no excuse for this. To be honest, I would rather that it be unbelievably awful, rather than this bland dreck.

      xo :Devil:

      • FragrantWitch says:

        True, if it was horrifically vile it would at least have some personality rather than being Wanda Wallpaper. I think it is the same with all art- I would rather have some discordant music, fugly sculpture or indecipherable painting than some bland ‘please all’ art. At least someone felt strongly enough about their chosen medium to pour some of themselves into it- even if I find it atrocious. Chances are someone else will love it!

  • FragrantWitch says:

    But didn’t you once say you were a perfume ‘ho complete with vinyl boots…?

    • Musette says:

      No! But I wish I had! 😀

      (or maybe I did. I’m an old ho and I easily forget my past…..)

      xoxo :Devil:

      • Meredith says:

        okay, I was wrong it was pleather not vinyl..’I’m that old, tricked-out whore on the street corner, leaning in every car window, hoping to score the latest, newest Perfume Crack. And it’s never enough – NEVAH! So I stay on the corner, in sun and snow, wind and rain, in my pleather boots…
        From Sam’s post ‘How a Serial Perfumonogamist Learned to Cheat’

  • KirstenMarie says:

    Ah, a cup of midnight tea with Auntie A. How lovely! (Not working nights…just the tea and the company, so we’re clear.)

    I’m glad you’re having a better time on your cruise than you thought you would. Alaska is turly gorgeous, in a wild and primitive way. Love the pic of the glacier!

    Went through my sample stash tonight, and by happy accident, courtesy of trying two samples on one arm, discovered that I love, love, LOVE Pilar and Lucy’s Exact Friction of Stars layered with Juliette’s Got a Gun’s Lady Vengence. Wow. At a loss for how to describe this. Exact Friction of Stars has a cool name, but the frag too was on the cool side. It felt “skinny” in smell, rather than voluptous and curvy. Add in the Lady V….wowzers. Curves galore, intriguing corners, lush depth! Lady V can stand by herself any day, but the coolness Exact Friction of Stars adds changed the whole composition. And I just had to tell you about it – in part, because at 0157 in the morning, calling someone to say “I found this amazing perfume layering trick!” would not nominate me for best friend of the year. But also, if I remember right, come fall the Posse usually does a layering blog post. We layer clothes for the chill, we layer perfumes, too. Just curious to see what other happy accidents may be out there!

    • Musette says:

      KirstenMarie: you get to bed this instant! Don’t make me come up there…

      we’re getting (unseasonably) chilly nights here already – not that we’re complaining. But it’s got me wearing wildly different frags at night v. day. No layering just yet – well I lie on that one, but no AUTUMN layering. Most of mine is heavy rose/incense because of the extreme heat we’ve had this past month.

      btw: PATTY went to Alaska. I can barely get to Peoria these days! But I would love to go; I have family who lived there for ages and they say the beauty of the place is stunning!!!

      xo :Devil: