Chicago Scent Me! A Trip Report

01st June, 2007

On the 26th May 2007 Basenotes Community member, Joy (known as Quarry on the boards), organised a day of sniffing in Chicago for fragrance-fans from Basenotes, Perfume of Life and MakeUp Alley. Here is her report...

Ahhh, the afterglow of lovely companions and laughter, constellations of new fragrances shifting about one's neural spheres, flashbacks from the sights of a world-class city, and the sounds of champagne flutes clinking amidst a day of nonstop perfume dialogue -- "Chicago Scent Me" sent me to a very happy place, and I so wish every soul reading these words could have been there ... or will have embraced a day like this sometime in your life.

An easy 90-minute drive from Waukesha to Waukegan produced the first giggle of the day as Kotori and I greeted each other with identical drawstring bags packed with smellies aimed to please the other. I was delighted to have her driving skills and parking luck put us virtually within spraying distance of both Water Tower Place and Bloomingdales. A cafe latte later, we welcomed each attendee of our half-group at C.O. Bigelow's: Armanis, PrincessCaro, LisaLaw and her e-x-t-r-a-o-r-d-i-n-a-r-i-l-y accommodating husband and, a little later, Manic Boy and his girlfriend Christina.

Wow, but is this Bigelow's replete with niche brands: Miller Harris, Annick Goutal, Keiko Mercheri, Carthusia, Fresh, L'Artisan, and on and on, plus every manner of quality lotion and grooming product. The staff couldn't have been more congenial and helpful; their gift bags were stunningly stocked with full-size cremes and soaps plus fragrance samples. We were allowed to roam as free-range perfumistas and made to feel quite comfortable. I picked up a copy of Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent here (gratified to give my business to this outstanding shop) and, inside this book's cover, I proceeded to collect the autographs of attendees and sales associates throughout the day and used its pages to file the paper strip samples I wanted to take home--what a keepsake!

While some of us frolicked through Bigelow's acreage, others were being schooled and quenched at L'Artisan's new boutique where champagne, mimosas and OJ flowed. This group was composed of MFfan310 and his mom, Lauermar and her daughter, Michelle Gale, Jam, The Refined One and her guest Beth.

Lunch convened a couple stories above L'Artisan's where the two halves of our troop joined to take pleasure in such delectables as Tucci Bennuch's Garganelli Giovanni (pasta with mushrooms in a butter sauce--mmmm). While we were there, Charla Mason popped up from L'Artisan with a package that had just arrived from Boston: a gift from Basenotes' ComDiva. This fragrantly appropriate delicacy (homemade Brazilian coffee cookies to sniff and eat) was used to lead the group into the mall for our official photo. (And these crisp coffee cookies are what I'm dunking in my coffee right now as I type this report, helping sustain that afterglow I mentioned above.)

My half-group then attempted to absorb L'Artisan's catalog of scents in an intoxicating crash course presented by Charla and supported by her capable cohorts Ina and Steven. Shortly before we left L'Artisan's, Pebbles ran in straight from the airport. My delight at the materialization of even one more online acquaintance was just as great late in the day as it was first thing that morning. The goodie bag from L'Artisan was, as you'd expect, swoon-worthy; and Charla gave me a bonus bag of Premier Figuier products for my having set this special day in motion. I love fig, but my husband's normally turned off by it. Guess what? When I got home and had him smell PF, he didn't make that face. "Hmmm. We'll see," he said. This is major good news!

Aprés L'Artisan: Kotori and I splashed along The Magnificent Mile in the rain, and our heads had a chance to clear. We were on the hunt for one more rare treat to cap off the day: Chanel's Les Exclusifs. The Chanel boutique was out of liquid take-home samples, but my take-home mouillettes have convinced me I need to get a sample of Bel Respiro and maybe a decant of Cuir de Russie, which we laughingly called Cuir de Horsey due to our having walked past many wet horse-and-carriage cabs. (Last night I even dreamed I went to buy a small bottle of Cuir de Russie, but was told it cost $420--where the h*ll did I come up with that number?)

I was sorry not to have had access to L'Artisan's L'Ete en Douce (presently exclusive to Barney's), but who really cares at this point? I have so many fragrances to process. And I'll be plotting, in my natively methodical manner, which I plan to retest and buy. If these stores were closer, I think I'd be back there in the next couple of days -- I know Kotori plans to be.

I have many thank-you notes to compose, related to both this event and the surprise party my daughter scrambled to reschedule earlier because I was to spend my actual birthday in Chicago. So, I'll close this report for now, expecting to add more specific fragrance comments later as I collect my thoughts. I extend the warmest thank-you to all those engaged in this special event and all the well-wishers whose hearts were with us, especially Grant, without whose online genesis, there would have been no spark to light the fuse on this firecracker of a day.


More images from the day at the Community

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