It was Spanish Market this weekend, the first “normal” one since 2020 was cancelled, and it was delightful – it’s outdoors, in tents, on the plaza and surrounding streets. There are a lot of tourists in town (many of them masked, which was nice) and I spent a fair amount of time last week roaming the area. This of course included stops at Things Finer at La Fonda Hotel, which I’ve mentioned before; it’s got a surprising amount of high-end niche perfume – as far as I’ve been able to discover, the only place here like that. At one point I was looking for a less-busy restroom in the hotel and ended up tagging along with a small group getting a tour of La Fonda’s history, which was kind of amusing; the hotel guide gave me some side-eye but I 100% looked like I could be a guest from Texas in my fancy western duds, so she didn’t tell me to leave. I ducked out when we passed a deserted ladies’ room on the second floor.
The sales associate in Things Finer seemed determined to help me, although I’m perfectly capable of picking up a fragrance bottle and spraying it myself. Also you’d think by now they’d have a poster up in their shop with my photo above a note that says “never buys anything.” But they don’t, so I decided I’d let her – I told her I really liked that Nishane Wulong Cha (the thing I’ll buy there if/when I feel guilty enough about my free sampling), but I warned her that my nose was very hit-or-miss. Also, I liked lots of fragrances, and what else would she like to show me? Here’s my report, with the usual caveat: individual perception, YMMV, my nose ain’t right, etc.
First up was some random Penhaligon which was on sale and I think they’re trying to unload the rest of the line – nope, couldn’t smell a thing. The bottles were tall glass with metallic caps that looked like animal heads? And which reminded me of those chintzy Avon bird bottles I loved as a kid where it was a cardinal or a blue jay, and the head popped off to get to the sprayer. Not the vibe you were hoping for, Penhaligon.
Nishane Ege – “a tribute to the Aegean sea” — yuzu, violet leaves, anis, basil, green cardamom, mint, olibanum, licorice. This sounded nice enough, but it smells mostly aquatic to me. To meme-quote Randy Jackson on American Idol, that’s a no from me, dawg. (I like to say that to my kids because it drives them right up the wall.)
Nishane Vain and Naïve – wanted to like this just for the name; bergamot, orange, rose, jasmine, cedar, plum, raspberry, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, benzoin, tonka bean, musk. I expected something more dramatic but it’s … a kitchen-sink fruity floral? Meh, it’s fine. (Another meme: am I the drama?)
Amouage Crimson Rocks – let’s pause a moment so I can mention how much I love those squat, rounded, rock-like bottles. They look massively expensive without screaming it, and unlike the tall ones they don’t f’ing tip over if you look at them funny. Also they fit and feel great in my hand. I think of some of these as the Amouage lites — as in, less serious in message than some of their heavy-hitting statement frags, although still plenty potent. Rose, cinnamon, jujube honey accord, oak wood, cedar wood. Anyway, this is gorgeous – a cinnamon and rosewater dessert of a fragrance, wearable baklava, an ultimate comfort scent. I still didn’t buy it, but I smelled fantastic for the rest of the day.