Great Report J.. . Loved the pics .
Thread: Fragrance shops of New Orleans
It's so wonderful to be amongst my darlings here again. Even if I don't communicate with each one of you individually on a regular basis, I really feel such affection for all of you.
* * *Tuesday and Wednesday were spent driving Interminable 55--I mean, Interstate 55. For those not familiar with U.S. geography, think of it as unzipping the fly of North America.
My daughter Mandy had met her Louisiana friends while they were all interning at Disney World, and it's one of her friend's parents who gave us lodging. "Disney parents" can get carried away, as evidenced by the decorating scheme of the comfortable bedroom I was given. Here I am with Tux. I enjoyed this house but for one thing: its fumes!!! Firstly, my hostess admits the oven has a gas leak (!), secondly, there are multiple scented plug-ins, thirdly, there are two reed diffusers in the small living room.
All day Thursday I was left alone to execute my NOLA battle plan, which began at Hové Parfumeur on Royal Street:
The shop is all you could hope, and I'll let the pix speak for themselves.
Owner Amy allows customers to explore the wetted, labeled blotters laid out for an initial round of smelling. You can see the blotters (paper strips, aka mouillettes) lying on a plate of glass below. In the frame behind them are descriptions of each of the fragrances.
I would have liked to have engaged Amy in conversation or just banal chatter, but this just isn't in her personality. So, if you go there, expect her to be near mute. Once I narrowed the field, Amy applied my requested fragrances, first on the top of each hand, and a second round of scents inside my forearms.
I purchased a dram of Rue Royale perfume for $19. Hove's descriptions do not include much info about the notes: "Rue Royal--A hint of musk pervades this basically dry and light fragrance, selected most often by fair brunettes who wish a quiet elegance." I'd say this is a floral chypre and venture to guess additional notes might include jasmine, rose, sandalwood, oakmoss. A number of you ladies would appreciate this scent. I think of it as womanly and French, with mild sillage. Longevity is good. I almost didn't buy the Rue Royale because it has a bit of a peppery heart, and I prefer very mild frags, but, in the end, it was the frag I liked best that stood out as distinctive, so I could associate it with this trip, and because this class of fragrances isn't over represented in my wardrobe. I think I might buy more when I run out.
Other snippets about Hove scents, mostly about their florals, a favorite category of mine:
Tea Olive is a sweet floral, like a gardenia without any green.
Clochettes des Bois is the most realistic lily-of-the-valley fragrance I've smelled ... out of the bottle that is. On my skin, it was a disappointment. Nonetheless, I have to say this juice smelled exactly like the flowers with no other distracting notes added.
Ginger Blanc and Easter Lily were two beauties. I tried Easter Lily on my skin, where, again, I wasn't quite thrilled with the effect. Out of the bottle it was sweet and alive, almost like a lilac.
Spring Fiesta is similar to Easter Lily.
Azalea was a monster floral.
Camellia was mild and pleasant and smelled like the sort of simple scent ladies from a couple generations back would have enjoyed.
Purple Violet was weak for me, but then I usually fail to detect violet at all.
I should mention that it was very warm, about 80°F on the day I was testing 'fumes.
Along with the perfume, I bought three bars of soap: Verveine (lemon verbena), made with vegetable oil, shea butter, aloe vera and green tea; Vetivert, made with tallow and coconut oil; and Gardenia. The Gardenia I bought as a gift for my hostess. The 4-oz. bars run $7 each or three for $17.
Heidi, Amy's ankle-peering pooch, slithered under antique cabinetry to join me on my side of the counter. Wish I'd snapped her picture while she had her face buried in my totebag. I've never been so compelled to shoplift as when this short-legged cutie caught my eye.
After what I guess was an hour or more at Hove, I wanted to take a break before experiencing Bourbon French Parfums, so I entered one of the many corner restaurants, Pere Antoine. Corner restaurants are common, the doors and windows along their two outside walls are cast wide open for cross ventilation. I was virtually the lone customer at noon in an area known for its night life. I ordered the veggie omelet and coffee. Unlike restaurants with which I am accustomed, the waitress did not ask what kind of toast I wanted. I consumed the greatest omelet ... minus most of the customary ingredients. My buttery eggs cloaked slices of green and yellow zucchini, carrots and mushrooms. It was tender, rich and exquisite. Instead of toast, a bowl of grits, again accompanied by ample butter, was delicious with added sugar.
At this juncture I have to mention that I can't believe there can be any kind of building inspector for New Orleans' historic French Quarter. The structures are so wonderfully old and peculiar and defy all modern codes. However, I'm certain there is a health inspector, and I was very pleased to wash perfume from my arms in the restaurant's pleasant restroom.
Fortified with a hardy but digestible meal, I breezed into Bourbon French Parfums (also on Royal Street), and my spirit sprouted wings at the site of the fans. These are made in Spain, and, history be known, it is truly Spanish architecture we see in the French Quarter, a territory that changed hands many times and whose emigrants and visitors (this is a port city, after all) included a diversity of ethnicities.
Proprietress Lori offered to snap my pic (above) by the counter where small bottles of all BF scents await visitors' handling. Kindly Lori (below).
The only frag I needed to ask after was the formulation concocted for author Anne Rice. Copyrighted by Rice as Dark Gift, the patchouli-obvious scent celebrates, as it were, the dark gift of vampirism conferred upon those who agree to accept it (at least that's how the vampire code of conduct was originally construed according to Rice's book The Vampire Lestat). Lori automatically gave me a vial of the scent, acknowledging that if I didn't chose to wear it, I could give it to someone. So, the first person who admits in this thread that they love both patchouli and vampires will receive this dark gift from me.
My purchases were anything but dark. I chose perfume and body powder scented under the name Eleftorea (e-lef-tor-EE-ah). I had been looking for a lemon blossom scent, and this is the closest I've come yet. I plan to layer it with La Chasse aux Papillons because I found wearing La Chasse and washing with lemon-scented hand wash made the most exquisite fragrance combination. I haven't tested my theory with Eleftorea yet. I also bought a second gift for my hostess, a body shampoo scented with French lavender.
I made a note to be sure to visit BF's website for the release of a new fragrance for Christmas: La Vie Nouveau. I failed to write down the notes it will include, but I remember grinning optimistically when Lori told me what they were. [UPDATE: SEE POST BELOW FOR NOTES]
I could have gone home content with these experiences alone, but I pressed on with my strategically marked map in hand, heading toward the crescent-shaped canal that makes New Orleans the Crescent City. The inviting river walk led me to their world-class aquarium where I continued following the advice dispensed by Twitchly at perfumeoflife.org. I sought out the seahorses, sea dragons and (always a Quarry-pleaser) jellyfish. The white alligator made a memorable impression as well.
A minute or so west of the aquarium is NO's Convention Center whose lowest level contains upscale stores, including The Fragrance Shop. I couldn't believe how much fun I had with Wendy--lovely, talkative, knowledgeable Wendy. Poor thing didn't make a sale, but that was only because there was too much to process, and I knew I could go home and order samples online, which I've already done.
The Fragrance Shop sells duplicates (composed purely of perfume oils without added alcohol, etc.) of designer fragrances plus scads of oils (domestic and imported) and some perfumes of their own invention. Musk lovers note: They sell 25 "flavors" of musk. Admittedly, some of the dupe scents may fall short--the Jicky-type I tried had no kick--however, a few smelled even better to me than their namesakes, namely Black Orchid. For this reason, I have ordered samples of Black Orchid, Hanae Mori, Boucheron, Ultraviolet, and one oil in spearmint. (Once I get them, I'll "spill" the news here.) While shopping online at TFS, I noticed they offer a franchise opportunity. If you've always dreamed of running some kind of fragrance shop, check out the possibility here.
The next morning I was back in the French Quarter, which surely must be the most European-looking community in the U.S., in the company of my daughter and the parents of another of her friends eating beignets (freshly fried, square, powdered donuts) at Cafe Du Monde. Calvin is a recently retired high school history teacher, and, as I requested, he talked nonstop as we toured the Cabildo, the state's impressive museum on Jackson Square. Calvin and Cindy used to live in St. Bernard's Parish, one of the neighborhoods completed destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. They are in excellent spirit now, two years later, having moved to a nearby city and replaced all of their possessions.
For lunch we scarfed both chargrilled and deep-fried oysters at the Acme Oyster House, and then Mandy ushered me to the train station. While boarding our coach, I struck up a conversation with the woman ahead of me and finally invited myself over to sit next to her on the train. After about a half hour we got on the subject of our families, and Joyce opened her wallet to share pictures of her six sons, the eldest of whom Americans would recognize as the moderator of our current Democratic and Republican political debates: Tavis Smiley. I was exceedingly tickled as I'm almost a journalist groupie, having enormous respect for the profession, especially for those who work for Public Broadcasting (Smiley has his own interview show). Also, I remember Smiley recently telling how he went to college with just a few dollars in his pocket and no registration, no place to stay--nothing. He just felt he belonged in college and slept around the campus until a professor heard his story and found a way to get him funding. I like to collect people's autographs in my books (as those who attended "Chicago Scent Me" 2007 will recall), so I asked Joyce to sign my book, The Scent Trail.
Aside from wanting to draw and quarter the engineer who designed Amtrak's non-ergonomic seats (sleepers are expensive, but worth it for longer trips), I was glad to have again ridden the train. Yet, I was more than ready to see my dear Dan at Mitchell Field's new mini train station. I forgot that I would not only see him, but smell him, and the combination of his loving arms and his warm scent of Stella Rose Absolute truly made me feel I'd either arrived home or been delivered to heaven.
A SPECIAL THANK YOUDear Twitchly: Every bit of information and advice you imparted in your New Orleans trip report at POL was dead on--right down to the Tim Burton comment. You can be my advisor on anything anytime. Heaps of gratitude, oh, wise one.
Last edited by Quarry; 5th November 2007 at 09:43 PM.
Great Report J.. . Loved the pics .
Fantastic! Photo essay and everything. Beautiful pictures, I especially like you and your spanish fan! The shops are beautiful and very different in atmosphere. The train ride home sounds like an adventure all by itself! Sounds like quite a great time and lovely weather for sniffing.
I usually end up sniffing alone, too, nobody I know has the patience to deal with my urge to try everything and my endless, breast-beating equivocation about what to buy!
I must get back to the BF site and try a few more! Eleftorea sounds beautiful as do several others. Have been meaning to try Alessandra, named for a previous owner of the shop (who I believe died rather tragically) Any "must try" scents you can recommend?
I couldn't smell Blue Blossoms (my "violet blindness" again undermining that pleasure).
Ah! I just checked their website and see the new fragrance is listed:
La Vie Nouveau ~ "The New Life"
White Tea fragrance with hints of Lily of the Valley and Tuberose.
It was the white tea with a new twist that sounded so good when Lori described it.
It would have been nice to have you with me, to smell the same scent on skin other than my own, to share the tumult that is decision making, and to throw the clock out the open window, knowing there is no "reasonable amount" of shopping time to allocate to to products of endless pleasure!
GREAT report, Joy of my life!! You've got us so spoiled one expects nothing less than NYT Style Mag quality reportage and pix!! And you sure delivered - It was almost as good as being there!! (Did the BFP frags come in the same bottle as the Orange Blossom one we shared??)
Many thanks for your loving kindness in preparing this feast for us stay-at-homes....
"The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering." Lao Tze
wow, just wow! It sounds like a wonderful trip. I almost felt like I was there with you, and I especially loved the pictures!
Did you have a favorite between the shops?
Did you not like the Dark Gift?
Were the perfume bottles at BFP as gorgeous in real life as they look in the pics?
Thank you for posting and welcome home!
I've trademarked the color bleu
I received some Dark Gift about a year ago from a friend who is a big Ann Rice fan. It is dark indeed, long lasting, and I've worn it about twice. I always imagine vampires in Myrrh
or incense or Demeter's Funeral Home.
The new scent (darn, I did not win the name contest) sounds intriguing and I may give that one a whirl.
I would truly enjoy going on a sniff with someone who didn't say either "make up your mind already" or "mom, I'm leaving you...now, I mean it". This applies to flea markets, gardening centers and museums...LOL.
That sounds like such a great trip. Thanks for all the pictures (I was especially delighted to see the boxer) and your fantastic writing style. This makes me want to visit New Orleans even more! I'll definitely be checking out those shops online. NEW LEMMINGS AWAIT!
Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
Wow thanks for sharing. The pics are gorgeous!
HOT DAMN, girl !
What a great post...
You and I would have had the best time....!
And that lil' cutie you wanted to swipe, too.
I can't believe the interiors of those boutiques-
And I love your fan.
Great photos. Thank you so much.
They makes me yearn to go there. The beautiful little shops are full of shelves of bottles, mirrors, decorative antique furniture, curtains and lace.
How long did you spend in each perfume shop? Just wondered...
I usually take about two hours at each, and I leave only becuase my nose won't work anymore or my family is complaining loudly and publicly at me.
I love patchouli.
I love vampires.
There, I did it.
Is there anything I can give you in return, for giving me this nice gift?
How about a gris-gris bag?
Last edited by purplebird7; 6th November 2007 at 01:01 PM.
Patchouli Vampire triplet here
Quarry - thanks for posting this fabulous, fun read. I look at the pictures over & over because they're so lovely. I'm happy you had a great time, and a special time!
Chaya and Tovah, I'll share that bottle with you.
Then we will meet at midnight and fly together, over the sleeping city, while our innocent victims dream fitfully, aware in their subconscious minds of a visit by strangers dressed in black.
(I have more black in my wardrobe than anyone I know except for the Goth kids. Hey, it's because I look good in it.)
Last edited by purplebird7; 6th November 2007 at 06:16 PM.
Thanks for sharing, dear Quarry! I was living vicariously through your words and fabulous pictures.
I'm simplifying my life. For Sale Thread (some niche, some designer):
As to Dark Gift, I like patchouli, but would rather wear it within a greater mix of notes. DG is quite mild and not at all head-shoppy.
Bottles? What bottles? (Ha-ha, have to look at my own photo to even remember them!) I was so enamored with the fans, I had to force myself to focus on the neighboring bottles, but I can assure you, they are of beautiful quality.
I'd guess I spent about an hour at each of the three shops, but I wasn't watching the clock.
Purp, I'll mail to you in a few days after I "digest" some of the samples Musse just sent me, then I'll have more items for you to write about--and better you than I.
Last edited by Quarry; 7th November 2007 at 02:42 PM.
Thank you so much, Quarry, darling.
The three of us will enjoy the Dark Secret (and keep looking in the mirror to see if our canine teeth have grown longer.)
Chayaruchama and Tovah, PM me your street addresses, and I will send vials of vampire blood--I mean perfume!--to you.
Dark Gift starts with a strong, sweet powder, underpinned with amber or vanilla and patchouli. I want the vetiver to stand out more; the crisp, vegetal nature of this root would provide contrast to the warm, sweetness of the overall compostion. As it is, Dark Secret conjures up the Vampire Lestat, dressed in dandy ruffles, with his pale face powdered and his red velvet jacket warm and soft. It is an alluring fragrance, much more so than I had expected. I thought it would be more earthy, closer to the crumbling handfulls of Djedi. (I wonder if Bourbon French's other perfume, Voodoo Love, made in homage to Marie Laveau, would be more earthy. Please note that I am a die-hard patchouli fan; I wear the stuff straight, the way some people drink bourbon on the rocks.) Dark Gift lures the victim with sweetness. About half an hour into its wearing, the patchouli creeps out, but it is still genteel and well-behaved, like Lestat, himself, almost apologetic for the murders he must commit in order to survive. Dark Gift is similar to a meeting bewteen Lestat and Guerlain, as they walk around a street corner, their presence unknown to eachother, and meet in an unexpected purst of powder.
"Oh, excuse me."
"Of course. Sorry. All my fault."
"No, no, it is mine. Are you alright?"
"Yes, and you?"
"Quite fine, I assure you."
"Thank you, and good day."
Beware, Monsieur Guerlain. Do not turn your back and walk away. Behind you is a vampire.
Last edited by purplebird7; 13th November 2007 at 12:53 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost