So, I finally got my Georgia hillbilly self up to The Big City to check out some things in person and boy howdy, was it an adventure. I was with my friend Joel who is not a big fragrance person, but this weekend went a long way toward getting him started down that road. I went into this thinking that I wanted either a neroli scent for summer or an incense, preferably a frankincense, maybe like CdG's "Avignon".
Saturday morning, we started at Bergdorf's. We were on kind of a time limit, so I didn't get to go full on as much as I wanted. I started with Acqua di Parma. I love Colonia Intensa, which I got a sample of from Dimitri. I tried Colonia Assoluta Villa, special to Bergdorf's I think, and it was a great, gorgeous neroli, but like everything I've tried by AdP, it faded very fast.
On the other wrist, I tried Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino, another gorgeous, juicy neroli that somehow became kind of a fractal neroli as it went on. It was sort of neroli gone prismatic.
Joel tried Tom Ford Extreme for Men and Chergui by Serge Lutens, both of which he liked a LOT at first and then not so much as time wore on.
We had to boot then because it was time to meet Chandler for coffee. I had exchanged emails with him a few times in the past, so when I got to NYC, I sent an email not really even expecting him to reply, but he said, "Sure, let's meet." On the way to grab a taxi, I dragged Joel up all three flights of stairs at Bulgari to check out all their masculines and unisexes, which he found underwhelming. I kinda did too after all the great stuff we had just smelled at Bergdorf's.
We met Chandler at a deli on his street and had a long, rambling wonderful conversation, most of which was, like, sooooo off the record, so don’t even ask. Chandler was trying out six Neil Morris fragrances, which he had up and down both arms and invited me and Joel to sniff them, writing down our impressions on a chart he’d drawn showing both arms and marked where he put the fragrances. He suggested some things and I showed him the latest download newsletter from Luca and Tania's web site, which he hadn't seen. He was kind of surprised that they’d given Chanel’s Sycomore five stars, but said that he’d give it another sniff with an open mind.
And then we were off to Aedes de Venustas in the village, which was a whole adventure unto itself. It’s pretty overwhelming when you first walk in and there’s all these great houses represented with bottles right there for you to test and try.
Saturday was really busy in the shop. I told Robin, who was working that day, that I was a Basenoter and she was pleased and extended her greetings to you all. Joel and I smelled our way around the store while she dealt with other customers who needed more help than we did.
I must have smelled a hundred things while I was there. I ventured deep into Diptyque, finding that I like Tam Dao an awful lot, l’Ombre dans l”eau was much more interesting at first than it wore on skin. Oyedo still smells hilariously of orange Life Savers candy to me.
Remember I was looking for a neroli and a frankincense, so I tried “Cardinal” by Heely, which went on terribly exciting then suddenly became cinnamon red hots. Meh. I tried Serge Lutens “Daim Blonde” which was great until the drydown, which went a little too orchid-y floral for me, a note that popped out on my skin, but that no one at Aedes had noticed before.
We both tried Amouage’s “Lyric Man”, which went on fascinatingly, but then proceeded to sing the exact same notes at the top of its lungs for HOURS. It smells expensive, downright gold plated, but kind of soulless for that.
I also tried MPG’s “Eau pour le Jeune Homme”, which goes on a lot like Oyedo with its bitter white orange pith opening notes, but then just settles for being the freshest, juiciest, least overbearing neroli ever.
After that we went to Takashimaya, a Japanese department store in the old Doubleday building. There, I checked out everything by The Different Company, then a whole bunch of other things that I can’t remember right now because in the midst of everything a tester slipped out of my hand and shattered on the concrete floor, which was excruciatingly embarrassing. I fled, red faced.
On Sunday, we went back to Aedes to make our final decisions. For me it had come down to Eau pour le Jeune Homme (neroli) or the Aedes de Venustas special blend by l’Artisan (frankincense). The whole staff at Aedes kind of wrinkled their nose at Eau pour le jeune homme, seeing it as a safe option, I guess, which it was. I could hear Mike Perez in my head saying, “Break away from ‘fresh’, TRex! Spice it up!”
So, I went with the Aedes de Venustas by l’Artisan. Also at Aedes, I smelled the Encre Noire Eau de Parfum and got a sample of it(!!!!). Amazing. And I came away with a giant bag of samples that I’ve barely even had a chance to sniff.
I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of things, so if you have any questions, ask away.
Thanks for letting me share.
Last edited by mikeperez23; 10th March 2009 at 07:57 PM.
I did. I just haven't moved them from my camera to my laptop. I'll try and get that done tonight.I'm insanely jealous of the Burr meet-and-greet and the whole NY 'experience' you got to have. Hope you took pictures.
Wow...Country came to town in a big way, and meeting with Chandler Burr? Impressive stuff.
I can't wait to see pics.
I'm giong to mimic your trip, minus the Burr meeting, the next time I get to go to NYC.
Hey, T, I missed the backstory here--how on earth did you wrangle a meetup with Burr in the first place?
He was delightful. And surprisingly sexy in person. Rowr.
Right on! He is a pretty impressive dude.
Loved to hear your positive anecdote!
T-Rex, I'm jealous man ! I thoroughly enjoyed Burr's book The Perfect Scent, he does seems like an interesting guy. Seems like a great trip for you.
Oh and the tester I dropped was Yuzu Fou.
Oh boy, I can picture this so perfectly!
Especially, Robert, Karl & Miguel weighing in on the final decision at Aedes. Robert has a way of arching one brow perfectly. I don't know how he does it so effortlessly.
And TAK! OMG! I can understand exactly how you must have felt. That place is so quiet. I've had the unfortunate experience of having two of the makeup/fragrance SA's make fun of a friend of mine behind her back. I saw them but my friend didn't, thank goodness. It's too bad because Neil has his fragrances there & so do some other people I really like, Yosh, Monty Taylor, Ulrich Lang, Sarah Barton-King & Jeanne Weber. I won't set foot into TAK's again due to that experience.
Did Chandler have shoes on? He's quite a character but as was mentioned very approachable & a sweetheart....really!
Thanks for the account.
Last edited by RHM; 10th March 2009 at 10:35 PM.
"Mom, why does the cat smell like Chamade?
Takashimaya was a weird place. Everyone working there seemed INCREDIBLY tense and on edge, like they didn't exactly know what to do with themselves. There was noisy R&B music coming from crappy, tinny-sounding speakers in the ceiling, which was hurting my ears.And TAK! OMG! I can understand exactly how you must have felt. That place is so quiet. I've had the unfortunatel experience of having two of the makeup/fragrance SA's make fun of a friend of mine behind her back. I saw them but my friend didn't, thank goodness. It's too bad because Neil has his fragrances there & so do some other people I really like, Yosh, Monty Taylor, Ulrich Lang, Sarah Barton-King & Jeanne Weber. I won't set foot into TAK's again due to that experience.
The woman who helped me in fragrances was very French, very stiff, very formal. We got to talking about the Different Company's Sel de Vetiver, and I commented how it was interesting that Celine Ellena's touch is so like her father's.
"I am zorry," said the saleslady, "Non. I am zorry. Sel de Vetiver was composed by Jean-Claude Ellena, not Celine."
"I'm fairly certain that it was composed by Celine Ellena," I replied.
"Non," she said, "Do you work in zee eendustry?"
"No, ma'am," I said, "I'm a radio DJ."
She nodded as if this proved her point.
It was moments later that the Yuzu Fou jumped out of my hand. Joel, my date, thought I did it on purpose. "That'll show her," he joked later in the cab, "Bitch, don't piss me off! I'll break your testers!"
"It really was an accident," I said, "But I *know* that Sel de Vetiver is a Celine Ellena."
I looked it up. I was right.
I did not look at his feet, but I'm pretty sure that Chandler was, in fact, shod.Did Chandler have shoes on? He's quite a character but as was mentioned very approachable & a sweetheart....really!
Thanks for the account.
They have GOT to do something about the sales people at TAK. That's just horrible.
The music is...err...new.
I asked about CB's shoes because the first time I met him he was wearing flip flops & no, that was neither appropriate nor seasonal footwear. Just one of his quirks.
When I moved here more than 20 years ago from Savannah, my southern accent was pretty heavy. (It comes right back when I'm with my family in Florida.) I would ask to speak to someone over the phone & people would automatically assume I was one of two things: 1) stupid or 2) a secretary making a call for someone else. It was awful...made me mad too.
"Mom, why does the cat smell like Chamade?
Hi, guys. Chandler here. A friend sent me David's thread, and I figured I'd just add that it was great meeting David and Joel-- the only thing being that when David wrote, I did my usual, "Gosh, what do I do, this guy seems really nice, and it would be fun to hang out, but I've got so much work and I'm totally behind on THREE pieces, should I say yes? or will I feel totally guilty about not doing my work and stressed out while we're hanging out?" etc etc. thing. I so appreciate that people read my stuff, but I guess I just want to say to all of you who send me emails, please do forgive me for not answering sometimes. I'm just drowning. It's 8:30am, I've been at my computer since 7:30 and just emailed my next NYT blog Thursday review (on Neil Morris) to my Times editor, and now I'm facing all sorts of other stuff I'm late on, including two other Times pieces. Also I have my first novel "You Or Someone Like You" coming out on June 9 from Ecco, and it's insanely time-intensive.
<<Nice to hear that Chandler's approachable and fun>> I promise, I really am approachable, a normal person, honestly-- I'm just completely and insanely overloaded with work. (Also to be frank with you I sometimes get interminable emails asking me to do research work for the writer on what perfume they should wear, their mother should wear, etc. Jeez!...And I just don't respond to those, I have to admit.) I almost never go on the boards simply because often people say the most brutal, personal things, and frankly I just don't want to read that. My criticism is only my opinion. I recognize that. I wish the brutal posters would realize that I realize that. I just happen, partly through luck (meeting Luca by chance, learning about this world via writing about him, then being asked by The New Yorker, then The Times to write about scent) and, to defend myself, partly through an immense amount of work, to have this position. It's mostly great, and sometimes it's not. But I fully realize that at the end of the day, it's just my opinion. I just try to make it thoughtful and seriously considered as possible. And, I hope, fun to read.
So that's it. I'm going to be speaking for a few minutes at the next Sniffa event in April here in NY and going to the Dusseldorf fest (seeing the Karens there). And even my friends think I have stupid choice in footwear. So it goes.
TRex, thank you for your wonderful exposition on your exciting trip to NYC! Sounds like you had a blast.
And to Chandler - lovely to have you pop in! You sound like you've many strings to your bow, so all the best with your pursuits, both personal and professional.
Stop back by and chat with us Chandler when you have time to do so. It would be great to have you post some here at basenotes.
I told you he was nice.
And we love his quirks.
"Mom, why does the cat smell like Chamade?
Do you hear that, guys? LEAVE CHANDLER'S INBOX ALONE. Poor guy. Now prolly everybody's going to be trying to get an audience with the Pope of Parfum.
It's like this:
When I graduated from high school everybody in the senior class took a marble on stage with them in their pocket under their cap and gown. As we walked across the stage and received our diplomas, we handed the principal the marble as we shook hands with him. By the end of the night, he had bulging suit pockets full of marbles, marbles falling on the floor and rolling away, marbles spilling out of his hands.
Emails are like that. Someone like Chandler Burr who is, arguably, "famous" gets piles and piles of incoming mail, and everybody wants their attention. One little email from you becomes another marble in its recipient's pocket. If the recipient is like you and mostly only getting emails from people they actually know, it's a simple matter of tossing it back. But for Chandler it's dozens and hundreds every day, and that's a lot of marbles to shift.
I get that I'm lucky and I happened to catch CB when he had a few minutes, but I hope that now he isn't going to get bombarded by fanboys (and girls) who think he's a NYC landmark like Times Square ("But mom, we can't go back to Ohio yet! I haven't had my picture taken with Chandler Burr!"). You know?
One should be discreet with what they share on public forums. That said, Chandler Burr sounds like a great guy.
I am so pleased the bottle slipped from your hand and broke, it was the hand of Poetic justice (aided of course by Retribution) at work.
Otherwise your trip sounds wonderful, Aedes is my favorite repose in the city; I would love my bedroom to be decorated just like that.
Quand on boit l'eau, il faut penser à sa source
^ what fun! I'll be there next week...perhaps I'll give her a hard time just for funsies.
How do go to New York and not end up buying more than 1 bottle?
Is it a meditation ritual? Did you take something before hand? Threats by a loved one?
Last edited by Lian; 11th March 2009 at 06:00 PM.
But once you get locked into a serious perfume collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
In my defense, they don't sell any Hermes in my home town of Athens, Georgia.
Of course the real reason I only got a couple of things is because I'm kind of poor. If I could have spent a thousand dollars and still have food, utilities, and a place to live, I would have.
TdH is loved here so I don't think you should feel badespecially if you like it and think it will be good, and after all us basenoters have excellent taste
I'm still impressed you didn't make emergency plans or decided you needed to diet anyway just to buy more. That's how I justify many purchases
But once you get locked into a serious perfume collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
I should clarify that Luca is the Pope of Perfume, definitely not me. Also, David, Terre d'Hermes is as sublime a masculine as it's possible to buy. Basically flawless. And next time you go to Takashimaya you can take "The Perfect Scent" and read that stupid woman the section in which I describe exactly how Celine Ellena created Sel de Vetiver, pg 188 of the paperback.
Thanks for dropping by Chandler and T.Rex well done for doing such a great job of being a "Basenotes Ambassador"
Last edited by jathanas; 12th March 2009 at 03:20 AM.
The only reason I said getting TdH was lame was because I was in NEW YORK CITY where I could buy anything from Comme des Garçons to Serge Lutens to anything from the entire Guerlain line (Bergdorf's) and I got something that's pretty widely available everywhere in the US. There's nothing lame about the smell of TdH. It's gorgeous stuff. I was just thinking I should have gotten something more obscure when I had the chance.
OMG, Chandler, I love you! Your books are incredible. Emperor changed my life (and indirectly wrecked my finances). No exaggeration.
Yes, I'm a Chandler Burr fanboy, so what?
Last edited by andylama; 12th March 2009 at 04:46 AM.
excellent account T. Rex! It reminds me a lot of my NYC sniff-a-thon I went on a year ago. Love for fragrances changes the idea of traveling so much. And kudos to your friend for going along with it all! Lucky him! I took two friends around Manhattan with me on my NYC adventure and I created two converts for sure
And Chandler, great to see you posting here (if you are still reading this). Your review of Bigarrade Concentree (or was it Cologne Bigarrade?) certainly gave me a big nudge in seeking out niche fragrances.
I still can't believe this thread is real. Rexie comes back online with the trip report of a lifetime, the author who turned me into a perfumista shows up, and Brielle takes out the wicked witch. And throw in some Terre d'Hermes for good measure!
Bless you for dropping in, Chandler!
But think about it. Coming to NYC? Meeting Chandler? Schooling the dragon lady on Sel de Vetiver? And buying a classic scent by the star of Chandler's book? It's such an amazingly cool combination. Terre Rex - hail to the king!
Chandler, reading your description of Jardin en Mediterranee in the New Yorker was the thing that opened my eyes to niche fragrances, before then I'd only ever worn fashion house brands and didn't really appreciate there was a world of magical perfumes out there waiting to be discovered and bought.
So on one hand, I owe my entire fragrance wardrobe to you. On the other hand, I'd say you owe me about $2000 that I wouldn't have spent if it weren't for having read your article...
Althought it wasn't exactly a "blind buy", you did have, Chandler, some influence in my purchase of M7 Fresh.
Last edited by Delmar; 12th March 2009 at 04:24 PM.
Jonnyt, I think we’re all in constant danger of anti-snobbery: we come to eschew the fashion brands in favor of niches just because they’re fashion brands. This is wrong. In a few weeks I’m going to demolish a fashion flanker that is truly cynical and of zero quality, but in the context of praising the original, which is a subtle, real beauty. I’m also (off the record) going to give Britney Spears a very good review; it was made by an excellent perfumer every bit as talented as the perfumers who do Ormonde Jayne’s and DelRa’s things. Moreoever, remember that these are in fact mostly the same guys (!); the perfumers do both niche and mass. Yes, Harry Fremont is a fashion, i.e. mass luxury, perfumer; I don’t see Harry doing something for biehl. parfumkunstwerke. But Harry is an *excellent fashion guy. Second point is that J’adore and Pleasures, both excellent, are just as good as the sublime Bigarade Concentree; the style differs, and the aesthetics differ, and the audience and intent differ (and god knows the creative process differs), but all three are crafted by artists. It happens that Giacobetti simply does more niche, but I think it’s a mistake to think that makes her automatically better. Thank god for the Kurkdjians, Lies, and Maisondieus, because certainly where the niche outdo the fashion is in creativity and imagination (Lipstick Rose-love the humor, expertly done), but all of it—fashion brands and niche explicitly included—is absolutely case by case in my opinion.
And I’ll give you the $2,000 once The Times is doing better financially....! Sigh. I feel so bad about the state of this great paper.
Stereotomy, coincidence that you ask <<Apart from a lot of praise on Basenotes, Terre d'Hermès also gets a lot of flak for its heavy reliance on Iso E Super for the cedar-like base. Don't you feel that by using one aromachemical so heavily, it takes away the originality of the scent?>> I’ve spent the past 2 days talking to perfumers about this because I’m giving a presentation next Tuesday at the School for Visual Arts about olfactory design http://dcrit.sva.edu/ (it’s closed to the public, unfortunately), and I’m presenting a series of revolutionary synthetic molecules, Hedione, Karanal, Calone, Iso-E Super. Perfumers, like everyone, say different things depending on their moods, but I think that if pressed they would all admit that there are formulae that successfully employ a huge amount of a single material (and they well may have made one, despite their sometimes--hypocritically-- using it to denigrate a colleague's work), and that honestly it doesn’t matter at all whether or not a single molecule or natural comprises a large proportion of the formula. That’s certainly the position I take. Synthetic X, even slightly modified, can in my view become a terrific, and entirely legitimate, perfume. I’m starting to think that one important school of future perfumery may be single molecules as the imposing structural cores of perfumes with a light skein of ornamental materials meant merely to frame, and show off, the synthetic.
I see what you mean. I'm sure that, like you've mentioned before (I can't remember if it was in The Perfect Scent or in one of your columns) that you smelled a hay absolute that totally blew you away. I thought to myself, GOSH I would love to be able to spend a day in the labs of perfumers office, smelling perfume absolutes because sadly these are scents that will never, ever, reach my nose - well, not blended. And let's face it, some of them probably smell fantastic all by themselves. Of course, this might not always be cost effective - but the idea (the concept) sounds exciting.
As art, I can appreciate the idea over the actual materials used...but with all the talk of "economy" lately, it's hard to justify paying for that idea. Especially when I've got bottles of those synthetics kicking around that I paid almost nothing for.
Last edited by jonnyt; 13th March 2009 at 10:59 AM. Reason: spelling
This post was so adorable I'm glad I stopped to read it in my bad mood lol