Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Sniffathon in the City / Spring 2013 Fragrance Top 10

Back in April, I went on a self-guided sniffathon through Manhattan. Although I was on limited time and didn't buy anything new, I kept a mental list of everything I tried, as well as everything I wanted to smell again.

Firstly, congratulations to Fragrantica for launching their own perfume, The Vagabond Prince Enchanted Forest, available now at Henri Bendel! How cool is that? I grew up in (the enchanted, as a friend of mine would say) Forest Hills, Queens, so they get an extra hurray from me. I should write a full review worthy of this beautiful fragrance, but for now, suffice it to say it's a fruity (almost peachy) black currant blend with spring-fresh light florals. It was my favorite discovery at Bendel's. It really stood out among the other linear, heavy incensey stuff, and I noted how refreshing it was to see a disconnect between the fresh Floral scent and the very oriental-looking packaging. The hefty bottle kinda looks like Arpége-meets-Sun, Moon and Stars: mystical like the Tarot.

Shopping is like hiking, considering all the walking I did between Bergdorfs, Bendel's and Saks, but I managed to smell pretty much everything there was to smell. I encountered some niche brands I'd only read about and hoped to sample, and also bumped into old favorites, things I once wore and loved. Perfume is lovable because "every scent is connected to a memory," as the charming salesperson at the Guerlain counter at Saks noted.

All in all, I had fun, and most sales associates were great (I appreciated Bendel's for letting me sniff to my heart's content without intrusion). Only one SA at Saks berated me for not saying hello to him when I first walked in, which is ironic because in Japan, I was told I shouldn't feel obligated to smile and chat up with SAs who were trained to greet customers but didn't expect replies. Welcome to NYC where you can get told off by salespeople for not engaging with them personally. Actually, you can meet people like this every day, and we wonder how a show like Celebrity Apprentice gets popular. Haha! (I mean besides the fact that Ivanka Trump is why I watch.)

Onto the scents: Along the way, I came across the softest fig of all in a dreamy pale blue bottle in Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio, and got to reminisce about Japanese temples and modest home altars upon sniffing the spicy Agonist Black Amber. I was almost knocked out by the intensity of an oud-patchouli by Boadicea the Victorious, and among the most memorable and noteworthy were Guerlain Eau du Coq, Mouchoir de Monsieur, several other new ones in the line, and Van Cleef and Arpels Feerie Rose de Neiges at Bergdorfs, presented by a lovely SA who showed it to me even though I almost passed it by.

I think I'm in love with Feerie Rose de Neiges, which smelled like a soft, fresh and somewhat milky rose floral with a subtle saltiness, like Cartier de Lune but a bit sweeter and prettier for lack of a better word. The milky opaque bottle matches the scent, and although the design with the silver fairy is too literal to be my style, the bottle is a beautiful objet d'art, substantial and luminous, like a diamond-cut moonstone. My full review can be read here.

Guerlain perfumes with their timeless quality and character are always a respite to smell. Guerlain was my last stop, the highlight to store in my memory before I called it a day. I finally got to sample Mayotte, Mon Precioux Nectar and the floral one with Amour in the name. These testers with bulb spray atomizers caught my eye as soon as I reached the counter, as they were placed right up front, easy to test. They all smelled very nice, of course, the floral one drying down a tad peachy, Mon Precioux Nectar even peachier but with the same dusky feel, and Mayotte spicy, fruity and luxuriously vanillic.

I was able to confirm that L'Heure de Nuit smelled almost identical to L'Heure Bleue but transparent (but it's heavier than L'HB, I was told), and the new lingerie / linen sprays which were modern-smelling white musks, as expected. The classic Mouchoir de Monsieur (1904) reminded me of Jicky (1889) with its lavender-vanillic Fougere character, and the legendary Eau de Cologne du Coq (1894) was as perfectly handsome as a citrus can be, not too lime-sharp, warm but not musky, and not spicy but dry, still a bit astringent, distinctive and for me, sweet enough. One of these days, I will return for Eau de Coq, and my man and I are going to love smelling like Paul Newman.

On my way out, I think I would have given Jour d'Hermes a test if the salesperson hadn't suggested that it wasn't "too sweet." OK--cocktails I can have on the dry side, but there's nothing more disappointing to me than desserts and perfumes that aren't sweet. Besides, my feet were tired and I was rushed to leave by this point. Next time! I ended the afternoon with a nostalgic whiff of Jardins de Bagatelle, conjured in my mind by this wonderful SA as a magnificent floral garden...and that it truly was.

Compiled on a mild and drizzly April day, and edited on this cool night on the first of May, here is my current list of Top 10 favorite fragrances:
1. L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons
2. Serge Lutens Gris Clair
3. Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin
4. Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie Rose de Neiges
5. L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche
6. Santa Maria Novella Tuberosa
7. Guerlain Eau du Coq
8. Creed Spring Flower
9. Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose
10. BCBG Bon Chic