I thought I'd post the following article from the Boston Globe on fragrance buying.
The link is here:
Here is the article in the link:
The Sweet Smell of Success by Christin Liu Globe Gorrespondent
Every year, holiday shoppers are confronted by the same elegant but forbidding vista: bottle after sparkling bottle of perfume at a local department store. And every year, purchasing a new scent for mom or dad or hubby seems like such a good idea. But which to choose? Truth is, it's fairly easy if you leave it to the professionals. At each destination listed below, we consulted the sales associate on duty, asking for recommendations on a scent for a friend who's young and social, with an independent sense of style. Said friend likes to layer scents (currently David Yurman atop a musk) and switch things up. The fragrance must be unique, mysterious, feminine, distinctive. Later, the recipient was asked to sniff and offer an honest appraisal of the suggestions at each store. Would she wear it? Did it reflect who she is? Only the nose knows. CHRISTINE LIU
Barneys New York
The scene: The luxe store sports a bountiful fragrance selection, and keeps its perfumes for purchase in a temperature-controlled vault. "Like wine," the associate explained.
The recommendation: Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras by Maurice Roucel, 50ml, $150.
Fragrance notes: Bergamot, clove, violet, jasmine, sandalwood, patchouli, salicylates, incense, cashmeran, heliotrope, white musk.
Salesperson's description: " 'Dans tes bras' means 'in your arms.' The salt reflects when you're embracing your significant other, and the moment when you're not sure whether to kiss or hug - your mouth waters."
Our take: Rapturously unique. Sexy and musky; tamed with a floral delicacy.
Recipient's verdict: "It's weird! Unique. I love the unisex vibe. Makes me think of candy, like licorice, when you can't immediately tell if you love it or hate it."
Copley Place, 100 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-385-3300. www.barneys.com
The scene: Branded as "America's oldest apothecary," the store has grown from its 1838-era Greenwich Village roots into a modern, personal care mecca, carrying everything from L'Artisan Parfumeur fragrances to mustard seed bath powder.
The recommendation: Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Mirto di Panarea, 2oz., $64
Fragrance notes: Myrtle, bergamot, Calabrian lemon, sweet orange, basil, jasmine, rose, green of lilac, sea accord, blackcurrant, lentisc, juniper, cedarwood, amber.
Salesperson's description: "Floral but not too much. It's like being in a garden in Italy. Really balanced. I could wear this every day! I almost already do." (eagerly spritzes on herself)
Our take: The bright clarity of summery blue oceans combined with a baseline of woodsy evergreen. A fascinating juxtaposition. Not an obvious winter scent, but we can't shake the foresty warmth.
Recipient's verdict: "I would wear this in spring or summer. Not something I'd buy for myself, but if someone bought it for me I'd wear it."
Copley Place, 100 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-236-7257. www.bigelow chemists.com
The scene: Sephora's the home of all things cosmetic, with every product displayed for try-it-yourself daubing and spritzing. Black-clad associates flit through the makeup aisles and along walls lined floor to ceiling with fragrances.
The recommendation: Hermès Elixir Des Merveilles, 1oz., $60.
Fragrance notes: Orange peel, vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood, incense, ambergris, peru balsam, patchouli, Siam resin, caramel, oak, cedar.
Salesperson's description: "Your friend likes layering and trying different things? (Reflects thoughtfully for a moment, then navigates through the crowd, heading straight to the Hermès.) Try this. You can layer it over everything, or wear alone. It's very original."
Our take: Comes across initially as a clean, citrus scent folded with sweet, warm spice, like a mulled orange. But that slowly gives way to a mysterious and intoxicating aura, which I cannot shake for the rest of the day. Understated and compelling.
Recipient's verdict: (Smells a tester strip) "Hmm. It's really masculine, like aftershave-ish. (Smells the reporter.) Wow. But it smells good on your skin."
The Shops at Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston. 617-262-4200. www.sephora.com
The scene: This Boston-based beauty and skincare brand produces a well-respected collection of feminine fragrances, from Tobacco Caramel to Sugar Blossom.
The recommendation: Cannabis Rose, 100ml, $75
Fragrance notes: Bulgarian rose, pomegranate flower, bergamot, cannabis accord, sheer jasmine, dark chocolate, white musk, patchouli, oolong tea.
Salesperson's description: "Like smoking pot in a rose garden? Just kidding! It's very alluring. I like to spray it on clothes or a scarf. The musk is left over."
Our take: The rose hits squarely at first, enveloping you in close-your-eyes bliss, then does a one-two punch wandering into woodsy, dangerous, quarters. Gorgeous.
Recipient's verdict: "I really like the rose part. With the musky counterpart - it's something I'd love to wear during the day, and layer on at night."
121 Newbury St., Boston. 617-421-1212. www.fresh.com
The scene: This neighborhood apothecary sells over 1,000 fragrances - some classic, some rare - an astoundingly sniffable study.
The recommendation: Vivienne Westwood Boudoir, 2.5oz., $100
Fragrance notes: Viburnum, French marigold, Turkish rose, Florentine orris, orange blossom, cardamom, coriander, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, tobacco flower, hyacinth, lilac, carnation.
Salesperson's description: "It's a powder-soft fragrance. Very soft, very feminine. A form of rose on top. It's unusual. Not a lot of drydown powdery [fragrances] like that. It has a following, but no one else would have it on."
Our take: Innocent and floral, with a whiff of flirtation. One imagines it on a soft-lit and coy girl next door.
Recipient's verdict: "It's a little heavy perfume-y. I would definitely try it. It'd be different. It's cheeky, the whole thing."
49 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge. 617-864-2222. www.colonialdrug.com
Beauty and Main
The scene: An independent local beauty chain, Beauty & Main carries boutique scents like Mistral, Boston-based perfumer Neil Morris, and Laura Mercier, in addition to well-curated cosmetics and skincare products.
The recommendation: Creed Silver Mountain Water, 30ml/$122
Fragrance notes: Bergamot, mandarine, petitgrain, green tea and black currant infusion, sandalwood, musk.
Salesperson's description: "Each Creed fragrance is either inspired by somebody or made for someone - this one's inspired by David Bowie. To me at first it smells masculine, but later, smelling it on someone else, was light and feminine."
Our take: Absolutely refreshing, like a minty cocktail or a ski jump, sunlight smattering everywhere. Silvery. Glimmering.
Recipient's verdict: "Oh, wow. Yeah, definitely. It's pretty bright. It doesn't really seem that mysterious, but it's pretty. (more sniffing) It's changing on me and I love it a lot. Lots of layers." (An hour later, she declares it one of her favorites.)
30 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge. 617-868-7171. www.beautyandmain.com
© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.
More writing on fragrance by me to be found at http://www.cafleurebon.com/
Great article, SMM! I love it. Almost as good as a trip to the city for a full day of fragrance shopping. I had a great time reading it. And after seeing Elixir Des Merveilles get labeled as "masculine", I'm definitely going to have to give that one another sniff. I did like the Eau, but I thought the Elixir was a bit feminine for my taste. Maybe my nose was a bit off...