Sounds like fun! Thanks for a detailed report.
I met shadesofbleu last year, for a few minutes over drinks, when she and her husband visited Miami last year. She's a real sweet woman, the kind of mom that you want to hug when you meet her. With a wonderful smile too. She happened to be back in Miami today, for another cruise out of Port of Miami, so I took half a day off of work and met her this afternoon. Picked her up from her hotel and whisked her off to Bal Harbour Shops, which has IMO a wide range of scents to smell all in one place. Saks, Neiman Marcus, Polo...Prada...Gucci...Dior...Hermes...Chanel boutiqes, well you get the picture.
So of we went! We had about 3 hours to get all of our sniffing done and I think we did pretty well without getting nose fatigue. So what did we smell - you ask?
- Saks Fifth Avenue. They remodeled the cosmetics dept. and the more open layout looked very nice but also highlighted a sad fact - the place was empty! SA's stood around, with their hand folded everywhere and really the only flurry of activity was at the corner of the Bond No. 9 display. We smelled two of the three Onde fragrances by Giorgio Armani: Extase (which shades loved...it reminded me of Lou Lou in a good way) and Mystere (I think...was it Mystere shades??) which left us cold. The new Lanvin, Jeanne (hey, isn't that the name of a B-side from The Smiths?) totally sucks (fruity floral boring sh*t). Essence by Narciso Rodriguez, we both couldn't smell ANYTHING, maybe we're anosmic to it? Infusion de Fleur de Oranger by Prada smelled like Smarties candies to me and like camphor to shades (what orange blossom!?) - overall a thumbs down. Astor Place by Bond No. 9 shades liked a lot - an SA walked by and asked her what she was wearing...I thought it was just OK (I tend to hate most BN9 scents). Plus shades introduced me to some fragrances she loved, that I never smelled: Le Baiser du Dragon EdP by Cartier (wow...this is great...the EdT is horrible but the EdP is like a SL scent, amaretto/amber goodness!), Bulgari Pour Femme EdP (hated it - too dizzy floral) and Panthere parfum by Cartier (stiff, white flowers, standing at attention - I need to smell this again). I introduced shades to Angel Men Pure Coffee by Thierry Mugler, Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain, Sandalwood by Art of Shaving, Gucci Pour Homme II by Gucci. Perhaps shades will see this thread, when she returns from her cruise, and post what she thought of these. * Some new things we discovered: Bond No. 9 sells a 5 ml purse spray atomizer of a few select scents. in a thin cardboard tube, for $50 each. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Is that a rip off or what!?. Also Saks had Angel Men Pure Malt in stock (but no tester!?).
- Chanel boutique. Shades had never been to a Chanel boutique, so it was fun exploring all of the scents with her. The very bubbly SA, Rie, introduced Shades to No. 22, Gardenia and Beige. No. 22 was the winner of the day - she and I loved it. Floral, not biting (as I expected it to be, after reading Turin's review) and downright classy as all get up on a woman. It floated off of shades just perfectly. The drydown was a transparent incense scent. Perfect. We asked her if she stocked Bois de Iles parfum - they do. 15 ml for $160. Yikes! We drooled over the box. LOL. We left, but not before watching on the large flat panel television inside the store, the full 2 minute Chanel No. 5 commercial with Audrey Tautou - which is just beautiful and left shades and I feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
- Cartier boutique. One security guard and 6 sales associates (all dressed in jackets & ties on the men and pant suits on the women) and about a million dollars worth of jewelry all around us. You could cut the tension with a knife. They looked at shades and I, as if to say, 'Ah...customers!!!! Get them!!' LOL. I quickly said we'd like to see the fragrance section (a tiny little alcove off to the side) whereupon with one SA standing behind us escorted with a security guard, shades smelled Declaration (the original) for the first time (I think she liked it...her face was lost and expressionless the entire time she smelled it) and Roadster (which she loved - as do I). I smelled Pasha for the first time (nice, but it smelled really boring to me - although the bottle is lovely in a glass/acorn/mushroom kind of way).
- Neiman Marcus. After a quick restroom break we dove right into the very large perfume department. Mothers Day posters and offers were drenched all over the store. Shades scored some cosmetic/skin care samples and we headed right for the Creed counter so that she could smell Vintage Tabarome (which she loved!) while the SA told us that most likely in a couple months it would be impossible to buy VT anywhere in the US. I thought VT might be too...butch for shades?? Boy was I wrong! It smelled great on her...really sexy. I'm so stupid sometimes. The other Creed SA described two new Creed scents coming out: a watermelon fruity/floral that sounded horrible and a deep/dark vanilla scent that sounds great. I flat out refused to test Love in Black again (after being prompted by the SA) but Shades seemed to get a kick out of the layering combo of Virgin Island Water and Original Santal. We also smelled: Faerie by Van Cleef & Arpels (Paris Hilton wanna-be), Angel Sunessence by Thierry Mugler (shades is a die-hard Angel fan...she wasn't impressed and actually was turned off by the citrus), Profumo by Acqua di Parma (what a great chypre - we both loved it, this stuff rocks!!), Jasmin Noir by Bulgari (what jasmine!?). I introduced shades to Private Collection Amber & Ylang Ylang by Estee Lauder, Iris Nobile EdP by Acqua di Parma and Mechant Loup, Patchouli Patch & Ananas Fizz by L' Artisan Parfumeur.
- Hermes boutique. Visits to the Hermes boutiques can be hit or miss - some of their SA's are hissing, boorish snobs. Today we were blessed with the nicest SA I've ever encountered in a Hermes boutique. I went in with the sole intention of smelling the EdP of Kelly Caleche and the new Eau de Gentiane Blanche. Shades (a Hermes boutique virgin herself) helped me sniff all three formulations of KC (she preferred the candied EdP - me, I like the top notes of the parfum). The Eau de Gentiane Blanche is really nice, but it is one of those JC Ellena scents you have to douse yourself with to get a good impression of the scent...and since I didn't want to get strange looks in the store my 4-5 sprays vanished in about an hour. Lucky for us, after a fun and friendly conversation with the nice SA (he had heard of Basenotes before!) he came back from the rear of the store with two orange Hermes shopping bags filled with samples of the two new Eau's, Eau de Merveilles, Vetiver Tonka (2 deluxe samples) and Ambre Narguille (same). Most of these scents aren't new to us, but his kindness and generosity were what really mattered to the both of us. We also found out two things: 1) There is NOT an EdP of Terre de Hermes, contrary to what has been discussed here on BN and 2) In Paris you can buy the 15 ml travel atomizer's separate (by the piece) whereas here in the US you have to buy a set of 4.
The day ended too quick - I had to rush shades back to her hotel for dinner with her family and friends (she got a quick lesson in Miami traffic too).
A couple things we noticed:
1) Even the luxury shops, in this economy, are hurting for sales. Some of these stores I have been to years ago and the SA's would have turned their noses up at us, had we walked in looking to smell testers and walk out empty handed. Not today! EVERYONE was extremely helpful, cordial and downright generous. Of course some of you may expect service like this all of the time wherever you live, but here in Miami the service in luxury retail spaces like this can be downright ice cold. I was pleasantly surprised.
2) All day it was proven to us both, that no matter what we were smelling: a masculine scent, a feminine, unisex...it did NOT MATTER AT ALL. Scents are just scents. They have no gender. Shannon smelled absolutely wonderful wearing Vintage Tabarome. I easily wore the Kelly Caleche parfum that was doused all over by right arm all afternoon. NOSES DON'T CARE WHETHER A SCENT IS MARKETED AS MASCULINE OR FEMININE. Here on Basenotes when you're interacting online with each other...this concept can feel kind of hollow and politicized. God knows it has lead to a lot of heated discussions here on the Male Discussion boards. But in person, in the trenches, this man and woman faced with tons of scents...well, the barriers, boundaries and walls that the perfume industry (and we ourselves in our own head) put up - they come crumbling down.
And really, thats one of the main reasons why I stick around here on Basenotes and post as much as I do. New doors of perception keep opening up.
"All problems are illusions of the mind."
-- Eckhart Tolle
Sounds like fun! Thanks for a detailed report.
Great fun, all this. Who needs Paris?
Wow! What an amazingly entertaining post. Almost as good as being there. I really, really appreciate your impressions. Where do I begin....?
Glad you cleared up the TdH EdP question. Love that they plied you with samples. Yes, the Hermès boutique in LV treated me so nicely, but the SA-to-customer ratio was scary, and made me fearful for their continued presence.
I totally agree about Vintage Tabarome - it can come across as a gentleman or a lady. Just a wonderful scent. I'm surprised that there are still some bottles available.
I really need to smell the EdP and parfum of Kelly Calèche. I like the EdT, but I just don't love it. The leather is nice but a bit too subtle, and the floral just lacks something for me. I'm hoping that one of the stronger concentrations is more to my liking.
What you noted about Eau de Gentiane Blanche - that's how I felt about Vanille Galante. When something is subtle, light and clear in Ellena's style, I really like it when there is still some part of it that hits my nose like a knife. I feel like Nil did that, and Mousson even more. But I'm hopeful that it's still just a function of my nose, and that it will work for me. Alas, your nose predicts mine too well.
Roadster is a great scent, isn't it? The security mob sounds hilarious. Even worse than Tiffany.
"What jasmine?" is right! That Bulgari is one scent where the beautiful bottle color is simply not matched by the scent. But the Pour Femme EDP - I know you didn't like it, but it really interests me. My wife has the EdT, I think. I'll have to check.
The two Cartier scents at Saks sound very interesting - need more data!
I do love that new Chanel commercial. Very classy - just sooooo Chanel!
Anyway, sounds like you guys had a great time! Thanks so much for sharing. And I do think you should digest this all for a while and really expand on your final points in an article or blog post or something of the sort. I'm certain that with some further reflection, you will have even more and deeper thoughts on the subject, based on this experience. It seems like something has really clicked from this experience.
You know one do learn quite a lot from reading the post while chuckling at the same time. For me, the part about 'Le Baiser du Dragon EdP by Cartier (wow...this is great...the EdT is horrible but the EdP is like a SL scent, amaretto/amber goodness!)... is particularly helpful.
I'd know what to look out the next time should I be interested in Le Baiser.
Sounds like fun! I wish I had fragrance friends to do similar touristing around here and Vancouver.
Sounds like a great time! Thanks for sharing.
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Great reading! Sounds like you had a perfect day.
One thing struck me though: that you couldn´t smell Jasmin Noir and Essence. On me they last and last. They are not very obvious at the beginning, and they are pretty similar in the way they develops. From "almost nothing" to transparent whiffs for many hours to a drydown which is a little flatter but the most evident part of the journey. Jasmin Noir stays with me almost 24 hours on skin and on fabric at least a week... Really.
I believe those fragrances need to be tried on their own, and intense sniffing at spray points are no good. They create a subtle aura more than projects.
I won´t buy any of them, but if I was given bottles I sure would use them. To my nose they are also very unisex for those who bothers...
"Wonderfully wild, eminently civilized" - Derby by Guerlain
My swap thread
Thanks for the descriptive story Mike. Sounds like you guys had some fun. I have to live vicariously through adventures like this since Billings has only Dillards and Herberger's for retail purchases.
I love Bal Harbor. Lots of high end smellies within a very small area. My wallet doesn't like it much though.
Sounds like you guys had a great time. Thanks for posting.
Goodness, sounds like such a wonderful day for you both. Chanel boutique is always such a treat to be in, smelling all the yumminess.
Quand on boit l'eau, il faut penser à sa source
Nice post, Mike! Sounds like fun.
As to your mention of the Smiths b-side "Jeane"--a couple of Christmases ago we had a secret santa gift exchange at work. I drew the name of this older lady I work with named Jean. I always had a habit of singing "Jeane, the low life has lost its appeal," when I passed her. So I thought it would be cool to remake the song and give it to her as part of a Christmas present. She loved it.
As to the Tabarome...I'd better get on the ball and go get some before it's too late!
Last edited by Indie_Guy; 9th May 2009 at 04:45 PM. Reason: added something.
Yes, the SA seemed shocked when I mentioned the Terre de Hermes EdP rumour...he said Hermes currently makes NO masculine scents in EdP. If they ever change this, of course, they would make a big deal about it and it wouldn't just be available online, etc...
Technically, they did NOT have a flacon of Vintage Tabarome available (just a tester). Even if shades or I would have wanted to buy it, she would have had to rally the troops and find a Neimans somewhere in the US that had one - and shipped it to us.
Oh and Bulgari Pour Femme is not a bad scent (shades loves it) it's just totally not me!
"All problems are illusions of the mind."
-- Eckhart Tolle
Thanks for sharing mp23 - I could sense the passion and excitement through your words !
I have been to the shops at Bal Harbor. I stayed in a hotel just across the street. I frequented that little Italian restaurant. This is the place I first smelled Chanel Anteus. I thought it was not fitting in the sweltering heat there and it wasn't till I got back home that I ordered it. The heat really got it swarming.
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
I am not afraid... I was born to do this.
-Joan of Arc
Last edited by mikeperez23; 10th May 2009 at 07:26 PM.
"All problems are illusions of the mind."
-- Eckhart Tolle
This post made me smile big. I hope I get some Shades time this summer...even though the only place to go sniffing around here is Hall's . Thanks for the report!
"Wait...is David Bowie really God?" - Penelope Garcia
Wheww! I'm back home from the cruise and a wonderful few days spent in Miami. Mike pretty much covered our sniff-a-thon with amazing accuracy. I don't have much to add, except to say how much fun it was to spend some quality sniffing time with him! The Bal Harbour Shops were so much fun to see ... boutiques and shops that I had only seen in fashion magazines. Pretty cool stuff for this Kansas girl! We window shopped at Tiffany's (I still want that diamond key pendant!) and other famous jewelry and leather goods stores. But the main attraction of the day was the scent shopping ...
I still giggle at the thought of us at the Chanel Boutique. Our SA was so funny ... after she heard that I own Cuir de Russie and like Coromandel she had a very strong opinion of what I would like OR not like. Mike would ask if I had smelled something and Rie would say "She won't like that. Too green for her." (and she would be right!) I was SO surprised at No. 22. The other Chanel numbered scents just do not work out for me, I foolishly thought No. 22 would be the same. I loved it! It is officially on my lust-list now (along with that much loved Vintage Tabarome!)
We did spend a great deal of time at the Creed counter. MIke looked at the leather travel atomizers. The SA was trying to sell me on several layering tricks and talking about the new scents. My mind was elsewhere ... I was doing a quick math calculation trying to figure out some way, any way to afford that bottle of Vintage Tabarome.
I do want to try to get my hands on some of that Acqua di Parma Profumo. I didn't test that on my skin, but I want to.
The Angel Sunessence was such a huge disappointment. I guess I should know by now that you can't jack around with Angel, it's perfect just the way it is!
Mike was so generous with his time and the use of his car ... He drove me around his neighborhood and gave me inside tips on Miami. We had SO much fun! It was if we had been good friends forever. I wish I could say I bought something special to remember the day with ... It was the start of our vacation and we are on a bit of budget, so no purchases for me. Besides, the scents I want are going to require the sale of a kidney or something to finance!
Thank you MIke for such a wonderful experience!
I've trademarked the color bleu
Mike and Shannon, loved the armchair travelogues! Great fun reading your impressions.
I love love love Vintage Tabarome. I have a decant from a dear perfume friend that I treasure. A very wearable scent that works beautifully on me -- it's so smooth and utterly elegant. As regards layering Creeds, I've read Vintage Tabarome and Angelique Encens are supposed to be fabulous together, although I've yet to try that combo.
Shannon, I don't blame you for wanting one of those Tiffany key pendants, they are somethng else. My husband surprised me with one for Mother's Day, in sterling silver with the heart top.
Thanks again to you both! Glad you've got some samps to play with - enjoy!
Last edited by tdem1961; 18th May 2009 at 11:41 PM.
"I felt something so intense, I could only express it in a perfume." - Jacques Guerlain