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  1. #1

    Default Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    Continuing on my trip through the South, this afternoon was spent sniffing my way through the two Charleston fragrance stores I found mentioned here on Basenotes.

    First stop was Saks, which was rather like the one in Miami I posted about, but somewhat lame in comparison. There was the usual designer selection - some Chanels, Goutals, Diors, Muglers, Estees etc. - and the complete Bond No. 9 line-up. Smelled a couple more Bonds but nothing grabbed me enough to want try on. The SA got me to try something brand new and fresh-floral smelling in an interesting bottle, but the bottle was the best thing about it so I didn't commit its name to memory.

    Now Stella Nova, on the other hand, is awesome, and is the kind of fragrance store I was not expecting in Charleston ( not that Charleston is podunk, but in terms of size and population it's hardly Miami, either ). Nice niche selection, so if you're in the area, or even in the state, stop by. Here I found lots of Bonds, L'Artisans, Creeds, Comptoir Sud Pacifiques, Freshes, and most surprisingly, Santa Maria Novellas! Many of the L'Artisans, Creeds, Bonds and Comptoir Sud Pacifiques were 40% off, too.

    Not having been to a store that carrries SMN, I was eager to try some. Patchouli was a bit too plain to me, but very bold if what you want is patchouli shouted from the roof-tops. Think Fumidus with patchouli rather than vetiver. Mughetto was a rich and full muguet; interesting and deeper than most I've smelled before. Frangipani was a bright fruity-floral, lacking the ripe richness I expect from real frangipani. Sandalo was the only bad one; it smelled harsh and synethetic and nothing like sandalwood. Magnolia was a green floral and what I felt like on a hot day in the South, so it's what I wore.

    Magnolia was a lucky choice, as this is a very enjoyable fragrance, especially if you're a fan of green florals. It goes on effervescent and green, with a tart magnolia and galbanum. It's somewhat like Chanel No. 19 without the powder and aldehydes. I've had bad luck with the green-floral genre on the whole, as they tend to let me down and go sweet or lose their verdant side in the drydown, and this one doesn't. The magnolia stays true and green, but in the heart a muguet and subtle jasmine note emerge, nudging this closer to the Diorissimo than No. 19. In the base I smell a nice, understated musk. This is simple, gorgeous, and the magnolia fragrance for me.

    The other one I tried was Creed's Love In Black. On the tester I'd thought I'd found Stephen Jones' big brother - a bouquet of violets and rank, tarry petrochemicals? Bring it on! I dare you! Unfortunately that lasts mere seconds before this turns into bland, faintly soapy violet overloaded with a synethetic berry candy note I found sickly. No love here - this one is a scrubber.

    As an aside, the city of Charleston really is quite epic in terms of architecture. The pictures online don't prepare you for the sheer SIZE and grandeur of it all, especially when it comes to the mansions south of Broad Street. I've traveled a lot through the UK, and Charleston is quite different but every bit as impressive as any of the cities I visited there.

    It gets hot though - I won't be visiting here in August again, that's for sure!

  2. #2
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    I love Charlston, but maybe August wasn't the ideal time to experience it. The sniffing sounds as if it went well. I'd like to try the Magnolia. Was that SMN?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    Quote Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
    I love Charlston, but maybe August wasn't the ideal time to experience it. The sniffing sounds as if it went well. I'd like to try the Magnolia. Was that SMN?
    Yes - it's by Santa Maria Novella. It seems to be one of their lesser-known ones amid their large line; haven't seen it mentioned on Basenotes before.
    Last edited by Sugandaraja; 8th August 2009 at 07:20 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    It's good to hear you had a fun time sniffing in the one of the oldest (if not the oldest) major port city on the east coast. I am from Charleston, and it is a pretty place to be. The Saks is dismal, especially their menswear selection. I believe it was more of an afterthought than a real focus. Stella Nova is a great place for some niche offerings. Also worth noting is Biton, which carries trendy high end clothing and some Bond scents. I think that Charleston is over saturated with 3 vendors selling the same scents within 1 mile. You'd think someone would carry some Lutens to differentiate themselves.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    Stella Nova is a great shop and the SA's are sweet and helpful. We head to the beach every summer on Isle of Palms, near Charleston, and always make certain to get to Stella Nova. A few weeks ago, I picked up a bottle of SMN's Acqua di Cuba at 50% off and a tester bottle of Trumper's Bay Rum at 75%off. As a bonus, they gave my 8 year old daughter a little makeover. The selection is tops, but when you take care of my girl, while I'm sniffing, you've made me a loyal customer. Great store, great city. I'm glad you had the chance to check it out. Dave

  6. #6

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    Quote Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
    I love Charlston, but maybe August wasn't the ideal time to experience it. The sniffing sounds as if it went well. I'd like to try the Magnolia.
    Ditto to all of this. What a charming little city! The Magnolia sounds like my kind of fragrance, too. Thanks for posting about it, GB!

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    I live in Rock Hill, SC (upstate), but rarely get down to Charleston. I never thought of fragrance shopping while visiting down there. How enlightening!

    I always found the best time to go, is during the off season. Early spring is beautiful, but November is nice, too. Very nice in spring and fall...and winter for that matter. Always something in bloom, especially in late winter the cassia and acacia trees are blooming. And then comes the azaleas in spring. Gorgeous!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    I love Stella Nova! I ordered my Passage d'Enfer and Dzing! from them. Great customer service. I really hope we get a niche store here soon. I know Luscious Cargo is planning on reopening a storefront here in town, but I'm impatient.
    I'm a colognosaurus. Rawr!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    As an aside, the city of Charleston really is quite epic in terms of architecture. The pictures online don't prepare you for the sheer SIZE and grandeur of it all, especially when it comes to the mansions south of Broad Street. I've traveled a lot through the UK, and Charleston is quite different but every bit as impressive as any of the cities I visited there.
    It gets hot though - I won't be visiting here in August again, that's for sure!
    I love Charleston, too. The buildings/homes are quite grand, but as a city it's so human scaled. The restaurants are amazing, too. A friend of mine has a store there on King Street called RTW, it's in an old townhouse. They sell women's designer clothing, Lanvin, etc. Did your mother and you get there by chance?
    As far as Santa Maria Novella....I find the line charming, but perhaps a bit twee. Did you try their vegetal musk, Muschio? It's made out of spikenard and smells very old world, a sweet grandmother comes to mind; the ultimate comfort scent.
    Where does your journey take you to next? Baltimore is quite the eccentric charmer. Their American Visionary Art Museum is a fantastic place, not to be missed. Outsider art. www.avam.org/
    Keep us posted.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 9th August 2009 at 02:50 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    I love Charleston, too. The buildings/homes are quite grand, but as a city it's so human scaled. The restaurants are amazing, too. A friend of mine has a store there on King Street called RTW, it's in an old townhouse. They sell women's designer clothing, Lanvin, etc. Did your mother and you get there by chance?
    We missed that one - in fact, I wouldn't have found the ones I did without this thread from last year. Got to love Basenotes.

    As it happens, my mother wasn't with me for this excursion. After getting roasted touring downtown the previous day, she decided to keep cool back at the hotel pool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    As far as Santa Maria Novella....I find the line charming, but perhaps a bit twee. Did you try their vegetal musk, Muschio? It's made out of spikenard and smells very old world, a sweet grandmother comes to mind; the ultimate comfort scent.
    SMN does strikes me as very old fashioned in general, to the point of being rather Victorian - it's mostly a line of soliflores rather than abstract fragrances. However, there are definitely exceptions to that, like the decidedly odd Nostalgia.

    I missed their musk, but they might not have had it there. I'll have to give it a try sometime. I've certainly heard good things about their Gold Musk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    Where does your journey take you to next? Baltimore is quite the eccentric charmer. Their American Visionary Art Museum is a fantastic place, not to be missed. Outsider art. www.avam.org/
    Keep us posted.
    I may have to check it out. We're traveling on a flexible rail pass so we can make our trip as it happens, rather than in advance. Last night we actually retraced our steps and are spending more time in Savannah; we really like it here. I doubt it has many fragrance shopportunities, but the history and atmosphere more than makes up for it.

    My mom is a great fan of all things Civil War - and recently made her way through Shelby Foote's phone-book sized history of it it - so we're thinking of stopping by Richmond, Virginia for a day or two when we start heading north again.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Frag Sniffing in Charleston, SC - sales and niche surprises!

    Charleston has fantastic architecture - the church steeples that mark the skyline to give it an old world feel. The downtown area also has a lot of quirky antique shops. A fun town to visit. I like how they put the at-times overt racism on the backburner when it comes to cashing in on tourism dollars. Learning something from the early days of Atlanta these folks.

    To me SMN Magnolia is actually more powdery/soapy than No.19. It seems like the Magnolia component is overloaded on the leaf oil (hence the more green note, lacking the fruitiness of the flower oil) with some galbanum to emphasize the green-ness. It might be a bit disappointing for someone looking for a rich Magnolia flower note but SMNs rendition is more wearable (and unisex!). I cant related to your Love in black experience. The clove-cedar-iris notes are more natural smelling than in CdGs Stephen Jones (with a distinct earthy edge). There is the SMW currant note in the drydown but I am surprised you didn't get the excellent rose note in the drydown at all. I would retry it when not overwhelmed by other fragrances.
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