A Tyrannosaur Walks into a Bar …

Shopping with the Posse

Musette at Barneys – not really! well, maybe

(neys)Shopping With the Posse, L’Ambre des Merveilles . …and a Giveaway!

So…for those of you just tuning in from Jupiter (I know you get iffy reception there), Alyssa Harad wrote a great book, Coming To My Senses, about her journey into perfume.  In it she describes her reactions to various blogs, including the Posse, which she says is “all hearts, guts and gonads” (p. 76).    I was excited to meet her during Sniffa – she is an absolute delight.   We didn’t get a lot of time to connect on Saturday, what with the to-ing and fro-ing, so I was thrilled when Patty and I ran into her on Sunday at Barneys.

However!  I’m not sure Alyssa was quite prepared for ……..well….I can be a bit….. (insert Giant Arrow Graphic HERE—————————> (I’ll let Patty speak for herself)

Okay, I’m not THAT bad.  But I do get a lot of requests to escort people to the scarier boutiques, as if I were the National Guard.  Or Blade.  I dunno why.  Maybe I just have a cranky face?  Whatever the case, I need to be clear on one thing:  I have total respect for service professions and don’t think that any profession defines the worth of a person, so it’s not about some absurd snobbery.  But Retail Intimidation is ridiculous.  And as El O says, I don’t hold with that.  That includes being afraid to ask for samples.  They don’t have to give them but it doesn’t hurt to ask (I wish I’d thought to ask for a sample of JAR Golconda!  Hey, it couldn’t hurt to ask.  Right? )…….

…….but back to Barneys.  So Patty and I are doodling about, yarbling with Alyssa about the Lutens Bell Jars ..and this charming young woman comes up and  I ask for a sample of De Profundis (a full bottle of which I will probably buy sometime down the line)…and she looks at me a bit oddly, but dashes off – a few seconds later comes back and very nicely says “Oh, I’m sorry – we don’t have any vials to make samples”…..at which point I say to her “oh, hon.  SURE you do!  They’re RIGHT HERE IN THIS DRAWER!”.   Patty wasn’t fazed – it’s just ‘business as usual’ with Musette.  Alas, the ladylike Alyssa looked a bit aghast.  ……I’m sorry.  I forgot to tell you that I am a weird mix of Jaws



and ol’ JPark up there – I’m nicely – but FIRMLY – unabashed in my quest for What I Want.  Un-a-bashed.   To the SA’s credit, she never batted an eye – she was pleased to be able to make the sample (I suspect that wasn’t her regular station and she really didn’t know they were there – and NO!  I wasn’t ‘snooping’  – really, I wasn’t.   I was there the day before and saw an SA make a sample from that drawer.  So there! ).

Is there a point to this story?  No.  And yes.  I read, all the time on the Posse and elsewhere, about folks who have SA Anxiety.  Or Boutique Anxiety.  You’re anxious about going into The Jaws of Hell Hermes/Chanel/Cartier/The Gap, let along asking for a sample.   Do Not Have Anxiety.  They are not  judges in a Popularity Contest.  They are Sales Associates and their JOB is to make a sale.  It’s hard as hell to make a sale on a $200 bottle of perfume without a (sane) person taking it for a bit of a test drive.   Had Nordstrom been smart and given Mohammed testers of the early Amouages he could’ve sold every bottle they had!!!     My first Cartier Les Heures?  My darling SA dug through the samples until she found one of Brillante (they were in the bottom drawer so she had to get down on her knees, bless her heart), gave it to me in one of those fabulous little Cartier bags, sent me out of there…and two weeks later I came back and gave her the $275 sale.   And if I had the simoleans for a new watch I would buy one from her because she was so darling about the whole thing (and I love Cartier watches).    So.  Evil Auntie Tyrannosaur Says:  Go in the store.  Spray stuff.  ASK FOR SAMPLES!  And if you’re really feeling ‘forward’ (and suspect they might not have samples or vials) do as I and other perfumistas do – bring your own sample supplies and ask nicely.  That way they can’t get all “we don’t have vials” on ya!  If you’re a bit timid about this, start small.  Go into Macy’s or Saks.  Then work your way up to Barneys, which has excellent customer service and will give you heart.  Then a scary standalone like Hermes.  Yah.  Hermes.  I did it.  You can, too.  I like to do it, if only to keep my hand in.  You’ll find that 99.9% of the time SAs (at least the smart ones) are more than happy to try to accommodate you.  All  money is ‘good’ money in retail and this day and age they never know if anybody is ‘somebody’.    Used to be they weren’t sure if I wasn’t Michael Jordan’s wife – now they aren’t sure but that I might not be his mother.  Sigh.


possibly Futurama

photo stolen from somebody who possibly stole it from Futurama

So…moving on.  Poor Alyssa, out for a pleasant Barneys afternoon. … she THEN gets stuck with me over by the Hermes perfumes (I’m sure that by this time she is thinking the Posse is a treat best experienced virtually). In her book she does extol the Posse’s freewheeling and somewhat visceral responses to scents they may (or may not) love.  But I think that works best after you’ve had a chance to really get to know us – maybe, say, over the course of a year’s worth of coffee, drinks…maybe a phone call or a barn-raising or two.   We both tested L’Ambre des Merveilles.  If memory serves, she holds the Merveilles in tender regard.  After the first spritz of the original I, too, though I might…until I took my sample  home (back in the Jurassic Era (that’s where I’m from, y’know)…and found that Dreaded Chocolate Note.  Now, Patty will tell you there is NO chocolate in that one.  None.  And she may well be right.  But I was swimming along, all in love with the salty, citrusy, ambergris of the thing…until that whale came and puked up a big ol’ Hershey bar all over my arm.  Make of that what you will.

That caused a rift in our Merveilles love because I am SO  not into gourmands –  the merest hint of that Whitman’s Sampler note and I am thrown back 20 years, reeling from the chocolate  vomit whut is Angel…so when Elixir and Eau Claire and Eau My Gawd came along I just said ‘Eau fuggedaboutit’ and left them all alone.

So why the interest in Ambre?  Well.  I was standing there.  And Alyssa was in transports.  So .. eauwhynot, right?  I recently discovered that I actually LIKE amber scents.  I love Mona’s and I can even look at the Nazgul now without feeling faint.  So!  Expand the Horizon, right?  Well….yes.  And ….well, okay.  I actually like it – a lot.  I gave this one a full week’s wear (on and off) to really decide.  And am now firmly on the side of like.

But  I’m getting ahead of myself.  Back to the story:  alas, that ‘firmly like’ is not what happened at Barneys.  In my totally impolitic mode, I told Alyssa “well, if I had to be locked in a room with any of the Merveilles I could stand to be locked in a room with this one”.  Now, if you’ve not met Alyssa nor heard her speak, you’re unaware of her lovely, plummy voice.  She’s every bit as gorgeous as her voice and I think she’s as femme-y and ladylike as all get-out (though she would demur)……so where I would’ve said  “yer fulla beanz”….she gave me The Lady Catherine Look,  like I’d told her she had ugly feet, and said…’well!  THAT’S a ringing endorsement!!!”

Edna May Oliver

NOT Alyssa

Oh, Alyssa……..sniffin’ wit’ da Posse is…….rough.  Patty puts up pictures of Deer Porn and I freak out the SAs and puke all over your Merveilles.  Hey, at least it wasn’t your Louboutins!

But in the end, Alyssa had the last laugh.  Because not only would I be okay in a locked room with this scent, I could spend a few days spritzing away!   JCE did this one and I admit to some surprise there – not in the quality, of course – his work is stellar – but in the decent sillage and longevity of the thing.  His scents had gotten so evanescent I wondered if his next creation would simply be …Air.  (or Eau d’Air.  Or Air d’Eau).  This one’s got some staying power.


Okay – so..I have a fresh, carded sample of L’Ambre des Merveilles.  To enter:  remember the quote from Alyssa’s book, about the ‘heart, guts and gonads’?? So…Patty, March and Anita walk into a Saloon...which one is Heart, which one is Guts and which one is Gonads?  Take your best shot!   (I’m voting Patty for Gonads, with the Deer Porn and all).

Winner (chosen by random.org – there is no ‘right’ answer) will get the carded samp and a couple of other goodies from the Sniffabag.


  • One reason I decided to go to Sniffapalooza this fall because all THREE of the founding Posse girls would be there–and I was thrilled to be able to chat with the 3 you over lunch on Saturday, and meet Anita finally! It was great to meet Alyssa too on Saturday…loved her book and it was fun to tell her in person. It really resonates with those of us who have experienced the “eyebrow-raised” reactions of friends to our fragrance hobby 😉

    The new Ambre des Merveilles had longevity on you?! Seriously? This is the only reason I haven’t bought a full bottle yet. I’ve used the entire sample I got from the Sniffa, and I find it very short-lived. I have a number of Amber perfumes in my collection, so this has a bit of a bar to reach to be full-bottle worthy. Even though I’m a huge JCE and Hermes fangirl, I want pricey perfumes to _last_ a bit on my skin… (NO chocolate note on me! Could you be channeling the Elixer des Merveilles which does have the dreaded chocolate?)

    Also cracking up about how you were persistant with the SA, Anita. I have had good experiences with SA’s at Saks in Florida & in Philadelphia. They searched for samples to give me, and did NOT freak out when I touched the testers, so maybe they are taught to be nice to the perfumistas?? What a concept!

  • Amer says:

    Oh this was hilarious. I think we all got our share of evil SAs. I think the spot for the worst has two contenders in my book. One was in a big department store that made it her personal job description to “follow him everywhere” and “look at him in a judgmental way”. She would grab every tester from my hands and wouldn’t let me spray alone. She was especially protective about the Tom Ford Private Blend where she actually implied that there is no point in truing because everybody likes the expensive stuff.

    The other horrible SA was at Hermes’ where they kept all their perfumes arranged in groups on stands making it necessary that the SA would hand you the perfumes so that you wouldn’t wreck everything. Of course she did no such thing. She really wanted to make me beg for it. When at some point I said to her that I think that Paprika Brasil worked better on me her reply was “I am sure it is…”. Why do I feel the urge to be friendly with obnoxious people?

    Now about guts, heart and gonads… I don’t feel like answering. I am sure you are all fabulous… just don’t get on my nerves… and DON”T BREAK ANYTHING!

  • Janell says:

    Musette, you are the gonads definitely the gonads.

  • rosiegreen says:

    I love reading the Posse, I never know what you will come up with next. My choices are March= heart, Musette = guts, Patty = gonads. These are just arbitrary choices since all of you lovely people have these qualities in abundance. Plus, you always make me laugh.

  • Julie S. says:

    Oh, while all you lovely ladies have them all, that is a cop-out, so I’ll say Patty for the guts, Musette for the gonads, March for the heart. (Also I was only able to comment on Google Chrome – no box showed up on both IE and Firefox yesterday)

  • Claudia says:

    I think Patty has the gonads, March has the heart, and Anita has the guts! 🙂

  • OK. I’ll say Patty for the guts, Musette for the gonads, March for the heart. You dig? 🙂

  • pam says:

    Oh, Musette. What a shopping trip! Thanks for taking me along!

  • Joe says:

    Heh. I *lurve* the “yes hon, you have some vials right here” story. Love. It. Someday I’ll arrange to have you take me on a shopping excursion somewhere and we’ll see how many seconds it takes for you to embarass me. Ha!

    No need to enter me in this draw. A kind friend sent me some Ambre dM and I’m looking forward to trying it, though I’m a little peeved too … I don’t like perfection messed with, and I am a huge fan of the original Merveilleseseseszz. Still, the buzz about Ambre from many in addition to you, dear Auntie, has been pretty good. Maybe I’ll wear it tomorrow. Mwah. 😉

  • Tara says:

    Well clearly Musette is the gonads, what with the “I want my sample now!” attitude. Patty is the guts with all that world traveling she does and March is the heart of the operation.

  • Kandice says:

    I found all of you through Alyssa’s book and am so glad I did. I’m rather new to this whole thing, but I always love reading your blog. I’ve learned so much, and now I’ve got lists and lists of perfumes to try due to the reviews of different categories of perfumes.
    I don’t know enough to pick which qualities might match who – I think all of you exhibit all three from what I’ve read so far.
    Lastly, I have to agree that the description of the whale hocking up a Hershey bar made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that – it’s been a very long day (working retail, no less)!

  • Martha says:

    O.K. Patty = gonads, Alyssa = heart, March = guts. I think that I need you 3 to go with me to collect samples from highbrow department stores.

  • Elena says:

    I just finished reading the Musk post, and I also vote for Patty for Gonads for wearing all those beasties all week. It’s a tossup between the other two, I’ll just say Heart for Anita and Guts for March. I vote all of you for Hilarious!

    • Musette says:

      We are nutty, aren’t we! Especially Patty, with All Those Musks!!! I would’ve been hiding under the sofa!

  • Ramona says:

    No need to enter me in the draw, I just got FB of this loverly stuff last week. Whoever wins the draw is in for a treat! I have Eau, Elixer, and now L’ambre and I love every permutation! So HAPPY you like this one as well. Oh, and Musette, we are of the exact same opinion when it comes to Oded Fehr- YUMMY!

  • LCT says:

    March: Heart.
    Musette: Guts.
    Patty: Gonads.

  • helenviolette says:

    My first inclination: Patty=heart, Musette=guts, March=gonads- but I think all are AWESOME and gutsy with lots of heart. I look forward to the next time I am lucky enough to find a city with an Hermes- and I will ask for samples galore! (they are the nice big honking 4ml ones right?)

    • Musette says:

      Yes they are – and they are a great way to determine if the scent is one for you! We are all gutsy and gonady..and hearty, too! xoxoxoA

  • Sandstorm936 says:

    I’m one of those who hate going to a mall or going out and doing any kind of shopping. The last time I went shopping, I was trapped in a Kohl’s with my mother and friend for 4 hours while they tried on clothes. It’s sad that the bell jars in Barney’s are so freaking expensive. I could maybe spending $150-$200 for one but anything over $250 for a bell jar is a little too much for my bank account to handle.


    • Musette says:

      it’s weird that they are so much more expensive than they are in Paris. I could probably spend 4 hours in Lutens. Kohls, not so much. They owe you, BIG TIME! xoxoA

  • Alyssa Harad says:

    Hahahahaha!! OMG, Musette, you make me sound like Lady Mary. Can’t I at least be the Dowager Countess? Bless you for the compliments, you make my mother so happy. But. You guys. I can’t walk in heels, don’t own a hairdryer or a razor and half the time can’t find something to wear without a stain on it. Truly.

    Possibly because of my non-plumminess, I am permanently cautious and ill-at-ease in any kind of shopping situation, high end or mall rat and I totally admire your command, even if I did feel a little sorry for that tiny slip of an SA. I’d already told her about the huge mark-up on the bell jars before y’all arrived, basically apologizing in advance for not buying any of them (because I was afraid of wasting her time–I’m always afraid of that with SA’s, their commissions are permanently on my mind) and she ran off to look it up on the internets because she didn’t believe me and then came back to admit I was right. But you are absolutely right. And now you have a sample of De Profundis and I don’t. LISTEN TO THE MUSETTE EVERYONE.

    Beyond all that, I think you know, from the book, that The Posse gave me the necessary courage to get out of my safe, nerdy circle, sniffing and reading and writing, and get into the thick of it all. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as bold as you all, but I’m so, so glad for the challenge and the example. Mwah!

    ANYWAY. I’m glad you came around to the Ambre. I love that whole line from top to bottom, except for Eau Claire which smells like baby poop and powder on me.

    • Musette says:

      Lady Mary is fabulous! I never feel sorry for SAs, not because I’m mean or snotty but because it all balances out in the end. And most SAs I know would rather be doing something than nothing. I always send them in the direction of paying customers, when I am not buying anything and have even been known to close a sale or 10!

      We adore you and had a great time with you! Glad it wasn’t too terribly horrible for you! xooxoxA.

  • Patty White says:

    There is NO chocolate in Merveilles! 🙂 You are a loon. I don’t think I could sort us out either. March used to do some whack stuff with perfume – I still remember her skank-fest on big white florals that she wore out and about, like to the bank. Then she’d throw on some Femme or CB Musk just to make things more interesting. I always think she is so freaking fearless when it comes to perfume, and I’d give her guts and gonads, except I know she has a wonderful heart too that equals the oither. My dear Anita, you definitely have all three. Plus the, um, Gift of Gab. 🙂 Did we include that? Gabbing? Guts, gonads, heart and Gabbing?

    • Musette says:

      Darlin’ we ALL have the gift of gab. I think we are the 4Gwomen of the Perfumepocalypse! xoxoA

  • MARK NEWMAN says:

    Well Auntie another great and amusing post. I would have to agree that all 3 of you have heart, guts and gonads depending on the situation. As far as this sample requesting adventure, I would have to put you in the “muy grande” gonads of steel catagory. I would love to do more perfume sampling in the stores, if the salesladies would just leave me alone. If I want any kind of help, then I will ask for it. The three of you are the true heart of this blog. I cut my teeth on this blog during my first footsteps into the perfume universe,and the possee will always be number 1 in my perfume heart

    • Musette says:

      Darling, you come hang out with us some more. You’ll be sampling with the best of them! They’re called ‘samples’ for a reason! LOL! Like I said, there’s no harm in asking!

      It’s tough to get SAs to leave you alone in a store – it’s against the whole purpose of them being there! LOL! My SAs have known me for so long, they don’t even bother anymore – they might chat up for a minute but other than that they know I’ll come find them. It helps, Mark, to cultivate a specific SA per store. That way the others know you belong to X and they won’t bother you. Tip #287 from Evil Auntie Tyrannosaur! xoxo

  • Mals86 says:

    I would SO LOVE to go sniffing with all of you plus Alyssa!

    (Oh, and I hate that chocolate note too. Just. cannot. do. it.)

    • Musette says:

      Haw! Patty, did you hear that? CHO.CO. LATE.


      you come on over anytime, sweetie. you will either have a great time or…you’ll be so aghast your toes will all fall off at once! Either way, it’ll be an experience! xoxoxoAa

  • Dionne says:

    Wait, it’s hard to ask for a sample from Hermès? Maybe y’all should come up to Calgary, because they’re giving them out like candy at the boutique up here. I have a harder time getting samples from The Bay, not to mention L’Occitane’s stupid “You cannot make a sample from your own vial, it’s a health issue.” Wha? I’m going to contaminate the testers how?
    My initial reaction was gonads for March (I’ve never forgotten her post on cherry fragrances with that package – just what were those fruit up to?), guts for Patty, because it takes some serious chutzpah to create her ultimate sampler posts and waft 40 fragrances in the space of a few days, and heart for Musette – in my opinion, you’re not Jaws if you’re polite. Polite but persistent is one of my mottos in life as well.

    • Musette says:

      I’m always polite. In a Jaws-y kinda way! LOL!

      Don’t you just LOVE it? “It’s a HEALTH issue”??? Lawd.

  • Lynne Marie says:

    Oh Musette, when I got to the part about the Hershey bar, my husband came running in to see why I was howling with laughter, I will probably never, ever get the image of a big ol’ whale hocking up a candy bar out of my head, As for body parts? You are all, all of you, heart and brains. I’m still a relative newbie at this and my saving mantra ( which I got from you all) is “it’s like playing Barbie’s, there’s no wrong way.” Bless you for that. I learn so much from you guys every day and with today’s post I am better armed to go off and face those SA’s.

    • Musette says:

      Bless you, sweetie! We’re gonads, too, though. Don’t forget. We LOVES our gonads! xoxoA

    • Patty White says:

      Ah, the Barbie analogy, that’s so mine – literally and figuratively. I’ve always looked at perfume that way and pretty much life. Make your own rules and have fun with it and scroo those people who don’t get it and roll their eyes. 🙂

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    Laughing (silently–I’m at work) at this one, dear Musette! Musette is guts all the way. Patty is gonads, no doubt. March is our dear heart. And I am the little wart who would love to ride along, unobserved, with the Posse! XO

  • Anita Lane says:

    Love this! I say March for heart, Musette for guts and Patti for gonads, but you all possess all three qualities in different measures. I too have a case of scary face which I try to rein it in when in public, but I have way more courage than I did pre-50s.

    • Musette says:

      Oh, me too! I remember my first time dining alone (The Magic Pan, San Francisco) – I was terrified, sure that everyone in the place was STARING at the ‘solo diner’. sigh. I was 20. Now, way the heck past 20 (heck, the cubs are way past 20. sigh). I leap at the chance to go out and dine – alone. That’s why really old women are so scary – they really don’t care anymore. So watch OUT! 😀

  • You are MENTAL! Musette, I love you,
    Portia xx

  • FearsMice says:

    Oh, Musette… As we say in the South, “Y’all tickle me!” (“y’all” is both a singular and a plural noun, as you know.) ‘Nuff said.

    • Musette says:

      what you really mean is ‘y’all izzz Ca-raaay-zay!!!”

    • Mals86 says:

      (As a southerner, I must politely disagree: Y’all is not a singular noun. It is, however, applicable to The Posse. And you’re right, they all tickle me too.)

      • FearsMice says:

        Hey, Mals! You’re right, of course: “Y’all” always takes a plural verb, but many times we use it in place of the singular “you.” I love word trivia, and adore your blog — I’ve lurked there for a long time, and really enjoy the way you describe your life in southern Virginia. Best regards —

  • hongkongmom says:

    ps no need to enter me for the drawing…lots of access to trials over here

  • hongkongmom says:

    methinks all of you three have all of these things, but with different proportions and ratios (albeit BIG on all counts of each of the three for you three).. am getting tongue twisted so we’lle just leave it at that instead of trying to go into ratios of the three for the three of you ! Letsjustsay, that u all have BIG amounts of all of them

  • Ines Stefanovi? says:

    Hmm, I’m not sure. I’d say Anita was heart, Patty is guts and March is gonads. I can’t belive I just added that last word to someone’s name! 🙂
    You really do make people do the strangest things. 😉

  • Oh dear. Well, from what I’ve read so far I’d throw my hat in with the all-of-you have it all crowd. But, I’m a newbie here and don’t know better (plus it’s fun to put random labels on folks I don’t really know)!! I’d say Patty for guts, March for heart, and Anita for gonads. Don’t ask why, it just sounded good!:)

  • ElizabethC says:

    Hmm, maybe I’ve been lucky but the Hermes store in Seattle (well, just
    across the lake in Bellevue really) has been very generous and provided
    me with some very lovely samples! They seemed happy to chat with
    someone who knew about their perfumes. As for guts/heart/gonads,all of
    you are all three but I think that Patty has extra guts (in a very good
    way) for wanting to wear those amazing elf slippers. Gotta love a shoe
    with a sense of humor. PS, there is a Self Storage company off of the
    freeway with the bright neon sign – on Christmas eve they remove the
    first S from their sign. Makes my Christmas every year.

    • Musette says:

      Oooh! Patty! ELF STORAGE! That’s where your shoes are!!! Road Trip!

    • Heather Wood says:

      Good point about Patty and the slippers. Her desire for them has me looking for my knitting needles, and believe me, I’ve never even considered knitting for a stranger before.

      • Patty White says:

        REally?!?!?!? Heck, I stocked up on knitting and crocheting needls and am re-learning the whole thing. I don’t think I can do those darn slippers for another few months or eve a year, but I’m SO excited to think I can swap my way to a pair! I even bought the yarn. 🙂

    • Patty White says:

      I LOVE that storage company. Life is about having a sense of humor. Those elf slippers are my litmus test of something. I showed a picture to my ex-husband, and he wants his own pair. I hate it when he reminds me why I used to like him.

    • Das says:

      Ooo, you may have just given me the extra nudge I needed to go check out the Hermes store… Do you know if they carry all of the scents or just some of them?

      • ElizabethC says:

        Haven’t been there for a bit, but they seemed to carry a fair amount of the hermessence lines and a good selection of the others. If you are looking for one in particular, give them a call. Also, the Neimans has a very nice selection of Guerlains (also had Francis Kurkdjian). And —- there is a Trophy Cupcakes 🙂

  • Can’t you all be guts/heart/gonads simultaneously? (weasely academic non-answer)

  • Heather Wood says:

    I would have to choose all of you for Heart. That’s why I keep coming back here! As for gonads, well, Musette, I think that anyone who can walk out of Hermes with a sample is the obvious winner for that title. Guts? All of you again, and some of your commenters, from whom I’ve learned so much. I’d love to continue expanding my horizons with L’Ambre, and with the Posse.

    • Musette says:

      Honey, you are always welcome here! Re Hermes: as I said, all you have to do is ask. Brave people always get what they want! xoxo and thanks for the gonads!!!