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  1. #1

    wicozani's Avatar
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    Default My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    I was in Manhattan this past week from Wednesday to Friday, and despite a busy meeting schedule I did get around for a little scent snooping, and my first experience with the so-called Perfume District along Broadway.

    I flew into LaGuardia on Wednesday in the mid-afternoon, and it was 4:30pm by the time I arrived at and checked into my room in lower Manhattan, near Battery Park. I quickly took the R/W Metro line up to 34th St. and Broadway, for my first visit to the so-called Perfume District. Previous descriptions I read were spot-on. On Broadway between about 28th and 34th streets there are countless perfume shops, with product stacked from floor to ceiling in many of them. I visited about twenty stores and was curious to know if any of them had discontinued scents. Not a single store had any of the following: Havana for Men, Patou Pour Homme/Prive, Tuscany per Uomo Forte, Aramis New West, EDP versions of any Guerlain scent, or Herrera's Sensual Vetiver or Energizing Ginger. One store, however, did have 7ml Nicole Miller for Men miniatures, for only $5 per!

    What I was really after, though, was the now discontinued Romeo Gigli per Uomo (versus the current Romeo Gigli Man). Romeo Gigli per Uomo has the bluish-purple box with the green liquid and unique metal flip-top wooden cap (sort of the like the closures on the commonly used pasta and dry goods sealed glass jars). I urge everyone to get out and try this scent before it becomes impossible to find. It is a warm, spicy, woodsy scent with some herbs and flowers to boot. As noted in its reviews it is very Italian, in a very good way. Krizia Spazio Uomo is another superb and now-discontinued scent cut from the same cloth. Anyway, only two stores out of twenty had Romeo Gigli per Uomo. The first store was selling the 1.7oz. size for $22 and the 3.4oz. for $35. The second store, several blocks away, was offering only the smaller size for the same $22. I offered $17 and continued looking around this second store. Holy smokes, but what should I see? A large bottle of the old Guerlain Vetiver!! The tall, rectangular dark green box with gold label, with tall square-shouldered bottle with darkish gold liquid! How much? $18! "Ok, I'll take it if you also sell me the Romeo Gigli per Uomo for $17." After some back and forth (i.e., haggling), they accepted and out I walked with bottles of these two amazing, discontinued scents for only $35. Other scents I resisted the temptation to get included Eau Sauvage, XS Pour Homme, Silver Mountain Water, and Tabarome Millesime. I only had so much luggage space.

    By the time I finished in the Perfume District it was evening, and I got up to upper midtown near Central Park, and was able to visit Bergdorf Goodman just 10 minutes before they closed. Their scent boutiques are in the basement, and I quickly went to the Guerlain Boutique, asked for and received a spray of Bois d'Arménie EDP (very woodsy, conservative, must try again under better circumstances). They did not have any pure parfum versions of any of their scents at the Guerlain Boutique, which I found curious.

    I then located their Caron Boutique, where they have quite a few of the urn extrait scents. Mattie, the SA there, confirmed the sad news: Caron's beautiful in-house boutique on Madison Ave. had closed. I was wanting to get a 30ml spray decant of Poivre extrait parfum (to match the Tabac Blond I have), but Mattie couldn't prepare this for me with only minutes before closing. I made do with trying out two other urn scents that I was unfamiliar with; Farnesiana and En Avion. Farnesiana is an almond, fruity, floral scent that, like most of Caron's classic scents, must have been pushing the envelope when it was first marketed in 1947. The extrait parfum version, as expected, lasts a long time but did not make much of an impression with me. It will be difficult for any other Caron urn scents to truly wow me, however, because both Tabac Blond and Poivre are truly ne plus ultra in my book.

    Mattie splashed the En Avion extrait all over her palm, like with a men's cologne splash, and literally drenched my right wrist with it, the precious extrait dripping onto the floor! As a result, I had a great opportunity to follow its development for the next five hours, until I fell asleep. En Avion is a serious leather scent, and to my nose is a touch dated when compared to either Tabac Blond or Poivre. Yes, there is some carnation, rose, and cloves in En Avion, but nothing like the fireworks in Poivre. Yes, too, there is lots of leather in En Avion, but different from Tabac Blond. En Avion smells like plasticy, chemically-tanned leather, versus the vegetal-tanned, suede-like leather in Tabac Blond. They are undoubtedly related, but Tabac Blond is the more resplendent of the two. And like that, after just 10 minutes, I was shooed from the store and they closed.

    I made my way to the Rockefeller Cafe, on the lower level of Rockefeller Plaza with a view of the skating rink. There I met up with my cousin, who lives in Brooklyn, and I showed him my purchases. It was while doing this that I learned of my mistake. The precious bottle of Guerlain Vetiver was certainly genuine, but it was actually the old spray DEODORANT, virtually indistinguishable from the actual scent, save for the discrete "Deodorant" on the label! I was familiar with the "newer" old deodorant in the metal container, but I had never seen the even older glass bottle spray deodorant. After a significant letdown I came to realize that this may not be such a bad thing. Indeed, after using this product twice now, I am very impressed. It smells wonderful, with deep rich vetiver, sprays on relatively dry and does a very good job!

    Thursday morning my meetings did not start until 11:30am, so I quickly went back up to upper midtown to visit the Hermes boutique on 63rd and Madison, in order to get a bottle of Ambre Narguile for my wife's birthday tomorrow. I did not realize just how expensive this scent is, but I also managed to receive some very nice 4ml samples of Vetiver Tonka, Paprika Basil, Poivre Samarcande, and Rose Ikebana. On the way back to the 59th and Lexington Metro stop, I rushed into Barney's to try Malle's Carnal Flower for the first time. Wow! I received a single big spray to the back of my right wrist, and 90 minutes later, when my meeting began, I am quite certain that I filled up the entire 1200 sq. foot meeting room with this scent - for the next 7 hours! I was a little embarrassed, and the scent was still apparent the next morning even after showering! Amazing tenacity, but straddling the gender line for me personally. The Barneys SA also sprayed my other wrist with L'Artisan's Fou d'Absinthe. This is a pretty good scent, with woods and the so-named absinthe note. Quite longlasting, way more subtle when compared with Carnal Flower, but certainly worthy of trying again on its own.

    Friday my meetings ended at 1:00pm, leaving me about 2 hours before catching my car back to LaGuardia. I raced up to SoHo in the rain to visit my cousin again, as he's moving to Oslo, Norway in a few weeks. He's been managing the Terra Plana shoe store on Elizabeth St. between Prince and Houston for several years, and who should just happen to be on that same street? Le Labo Perfumes! I've been curious about their scents due to all the banter on these boards, but have never had the chance. So, I stopped in there and had a good look around. I was struck by the smoky, incense-like note in Patchouli 24, and learned that it is due to the Birchwood extract used in the scent. They have bottles of the essential extracts of all the notes used in all of their scents, and I was able to smell the birchwood extract directly, and it was unmistakable that this was present in Patchouli 24 and responsible for the smoky character; very educational. Incidentally, the number used in the name of all Le Labo scents signifies the number of different ingredients in each.

    Since I am a big vetiver fan, I was duly interested in trying their Vetiver 46. I must say that I was not real impressed initially. It opens with a pretty pure vetiver note, not unlike either Etro or L'Artisan. However, it was longlasting and pursued a lengthy drydown during which it changed in subtle and pleasing ways. I liked it much better after four hours than upon initial application.

    I smelled most of their other scents, but was really impressed with their store exclusive scent, Tubereuse 40. As explained to me, Le Labo will be establishing boutiques in other cities this year, and they are committed to produce a unique scent for each store that will be available for purchase only at that store; not at any other store and not through their website. Tubereuse 40 is the exclusive scent developed for the SoHo boutique. I have been on quite a tuberose kick as of late, and Un Cedre from Serge Lutens is one of my most recent immediate bottle buys (bought at Aedes during my trip to NYC last month). Anyway, Tubereuse 40 is said to have a 30% concentration of essential oils, but amazingly smells like an Eau du Cologne. There are some very longlasting hesperidic topnotes (> 6 hours) blended with a subtle tuberose. It is a beautiful and enchanting scent that had me sniffing my wrist constantly for the next 8 hours. It seemed to stay pretty close to the skin, especially when compared with Vetiver 46. It is in the vein of Guerlain Eau du Cologne Imperiale, with tuberose, but it lasts so much longer than the beautiful Imperiale. I was really surprised by Tubereuse 40, especially after having been literally blown away by Carnal Flower two days prior. I definitely want to get a decant of Tubereuse 40 and give it a good try.

    So, in just two-and-a-half days these were my recent scent experiences in Manhattan. On every trip I get a chance to try different and hard-to-get scents, and on some level I am quite envious of those of you who live in such metropolitan areas. On the other hand, it is very good to return home to western South Dakota, with many fewer people and wide open spaces and sky, knowing that there will be more opportunities to travel to major cities for more scent experiences in the months and years ahead.

    Jeff
    Last edited by wicozani; 25th March 2007 at 11:21 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Thanks so much for this post Jeff. I had to laugh about the Carnal Flowers episode. I'm planning a trip to NYC in the coming months and now, am really looking forward to it.

    cheers!
    I'm simplifying my life. For Sale Thread (some niche, some designer):
    http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=222407

  3. #3

    Wink Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    I enjoyed your 'sweet smelling' travel blog. I've lived in New York for the last 20 years and have never visited the Perfume District. It sounds like a fun afternoon adventure.
    I like the way you described your obvious delight in getting your hands on all those legendary potions. I get a bit enraptured everytime I go to Aedes and Bergdorf Goodman, myself. I'm also surprised that BG doesn't carry the Guerlain parfum versions - I tried to get Jicky there last month and they only had the EDT. Perhaps, Guerlain only sells their 'parfums' in their Paris shop.
    Thanks for reminding this somewhat jaded New Yorker why I should appreciate this wonderful city.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 25th March 2007 at 10:38 PM. Reason: capriciousness!

  4. #4

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Good post. Enjoy reading of scent adventures like yours.
    I would say that if you are on a Tuberose kick, to make sure you try Richard James. I think you may like this one.

    I am also on the fence with Carnal Flower. I like to smell it, but wonder if it is too feminine for me to be comfortable with. I am going to sample it again this upcoming weekend in Dallas.

  5. #5

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Carnal flower is the perfect unisex tuberose frag. I have tried many tuberose fragrances, and almost all of them are very floral. This one though, thanks to its liberal use of coconut and orange blossom, comes off unisex even if its a bit rich. Ofcourse if one tends to like more "manly" mossy-dry or pure citrus scents, then this might still smell a bit too floral.

    Its it worth $210? No, its not that amazing. But its very well made, and I would be willing to pay $100-$120 for it.

    Looks like you had a lot of fun. Great impressions.
    Last edited by zztopp; 25th March 2007 at 10:17 PM.
    -

  6. #6

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Thinks for the excellent post, Jeff. Makes me hunger to go shopping.

    I'm still on the fence about Carnal Flower because of it's potency and richness although I lthink the interpretation of tuberose is one of the best and most masculine I've encountered.

  7. #7
    DON'T DRINK AND DRESS

    kbe's Avatar
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    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Great post! Reads like a chapter from some book I definitely want to read from beginning to end!
    Our job is to live joyfully in this world of sorrows--Joseph Campbell

  8. #8
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    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    I must buy a decant of Carnal Flower soon...great story!

  9. #9
    Dependent pluran's Avatar
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    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Hell of a post Jeff.

  10. #10

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Brilliant post. Thanks.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

    reviews

  11. #11

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Thanks for posting! I'll use this as a travel guide when I visit NY at the end of April. You tested several of the fragrances that are on my list as well.

  12. #12

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    A great read, Jeff -- the "reveal" at the end of the Guerlain Vetiver chapter was a bit gut-wrenching, but since you are well-known around here as a vetiver enthusiast it's probably no hardship for you to have a deodorant spray with such a classy scent.
    Spray it, don’t say it…
    WARDROBE

  13. #13

    wicozani's Avatar
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    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Thanks, everyone, for the positive feedback! I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in reading about my experiences, but you've proved otherwise and I find that very encouraging. This also reminds me that it is about time that I updated my "Vetiver Redux" thread, for I've now tested about 6-8 more vetiver scents.

    Jeff

  14. #14

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    I'm heading there in June and definitely am relying on your recent journey for some ideas. Thanks for posting.

    On a side note, I read a recommendation in a more traditional shave forum for Cambridge Chemists in NYC. Any experience with it?
    Last edited by CM Wolff; 26th March 2007 at 04:27 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Yea..without a doubt Manhattan is "Thee place"...Christ...lol...for fashion, for fragrance, good food..Little Italy...although I must say to all ....I mean..NOTHIN' beats Arthur Avenue food! The Boogie down. lol

    I want to hit Manhattan this spring definately, without a doubt. Good story about Manhattan. if you cant find your frgrance in the city then it'll probably be impossible to get it out here on the Island.

  16. #16

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by CM Wolff View Post
    I'm heading there in June and definitely am relying on your recent journey for some ideas. Thanks for posting.

    On a side note, I read a recommendation in a more traditional shave forum for Cambridge Chemists in NYC. Any experience with it?
    Re: your side note, Cambridge Chemists also sells on the Web. I just ordered a bottle of Czech & Speake (Citrus Paradisi) from them, and they seem to stock an unusually large selection of English colognes (C&S, Trumper, Mason Pearson, Taylor of Old Bond, Truefitt & Hill,...) in addition to upscale shaving paraphernalia. Their shipping charges are high -- I guess that's a reason to pay them a visit if you're in NYC.
    Spray it, don’t say it…
    WARDROBE

  17. #17

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Do you have any recommended stores that have authentic frags?

    On broadway and canal the stores are stacked from floor to ceiling with frags.. but are they real? can they really sell two bottles of Creed for $70...?

  18. #18

    wicozani's Avatar
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    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by bigsink View Post
    Do you have any recommended stores that have authentic frags?

    On broadway and canal the stores are stacked from floor to ceiling with frags.. but are they real? can they really sell two bottles of Creed for $70...?
    Everything that I looked at up close in the Broadway stores was real, though Creeds were the one marque that I was not after and, thus, did not examine any up close. As for whether they can sell two bottles of Creed for $70, I think most of us would be really shocked if we knew the ultimate profit markup in our favorite scents. In other words, yes, I think that it is within the realm of possibility for two bottles of genuine Creed fragrance to be sold for $70.

    Jeff

  19. #19

    Default Re: My recent Manhattan scent experiences (long)

    I feel you but at the same token EVERYTHING on canal and broadway is fake.

    I wish I had a better understanding of the bootleg market of frags.

    I looked at the creed bottle and it was a flawless representation of the real thing. The box was even embossed!

    The packaging, actual scent, and bottles seem like so much hard work to re-create...

    denim/sneakers and sneakers are another story..the factories are readily available in china to create bootleg versions of the real deal.

    Sorry to hi-jack the thread, if anyone has any info on the black market please pm me

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