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  1. #1
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    Astaroth's Avatar
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    Thumbs up An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    The first stop was the Chanel boutique at 400 N Rodeo Drive, to pick up a bottle of Égoïste Pour Homme. The boutique had only two 100ml bottles left, and someone else came in to buy one of them during the first 5 minutes that I was there. The fragrance counter at this boutique is very well stocked, with the bottom shelves displaying the non-Exclusifs and the upper shelf displaying each of the Exclusifs. The SA working there (a Mr. Greg Ochoa) was very helpful, and we spoke for a while. According to him, the newer Platinum Égoïste was mostly created for the United States market, and its sales have been eclipsing those of the original Égoïste for some time now. He said neither one is in any danger of being discontinued, although the original Égoïste is becoming more and more difficult to find. After whiffing a bit of the Exclusif Coromandel (which I consider to be the best one, even though it goes sour on me in drydown ), I decided to score the last bottle of Égoïste and walk on further South.

    Before reaching Wilshire Blvd, I veered off to the left onto a cobblestone hill at the Southeast corner of Rodeo Dr and Dayton Way. There I went into Porsche Design for another crack at Porsche Design The Essence. After burning some leather-scented incense in the small, makeshift everso shrine just outside the door, I went inside. I found lots of overpriced luggage, watches, and windbreaker jackets, with the fragrance area in the back. This juice is still not making it for me. Sure, it smells good. It's fresh and smells "cold," but this is still pretty mediocre compared to all the other fragrances out there. Porsche needs to either give this up or hire a decent nose (who probably drives a Citroën or Fiat) to make a good product for them. So I moved on further South ...

    ... to Barneys on Wilshire Blvd. After saying hello to some of the SAs, I went like a rutting elk straight for the Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khän. The Serge Lutens SA was named Jasmine, and she accommodated me by giving me a good spray on the top of my left hand. I had prepared myself for comparison that afternoon by wearing Kiehl's Original Musk Blend No. 1 on my upper left arm. MKK has a strength and "bite" to it that the Kiehl's is lacking. The other salient difference I detected was the almost complete lack of soapy, floral drydown which is very apparent in both the Kiehl's and Le Labo Musc 25. In contrast, I found the MKK to be very linear, and not nearly as unpleasantly fecal as I had been led to believe. This was musk the way I wanted it to be, a fertile animal which remains an animal and doesn't morph into a bottle of laundry detergent within half an hour.

    While I was there, I also revisited Chembur in the Byredo line. I gained a new appreciation for this scent which I hadn't had before. The incense here is very good, and it seems to remain good through to drydown without completely killing off the nutmeg and other notes. Longevity here is really pretty good. Still, $195 for this juice just seemed a little steep for what it offered. I've reserved judgment until I try it more.

    The Frédéric Malle SA there (Rebecca) introduced me to the relatively new fragrance Geranium pour Monsieur. This comes out of the gate very bright and sharp, with the mint and peppermint notes taking center stage. There is also a very slight sense of camphor present here, although not overpowering. The middle notes have a bit of a peppery feel to them. And although clove is listed as a middle note, I didn't find it to be particularly strong. Altogether, I would say the fragrance notes here work well together. I'm not a big fan of mint, however, so I didn't consider this to be a viable purchase for me. Before leaving Barneys, I scored myself a mandatory bottle of MKK, along with samples of Chembur and Frédéric Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire.

    Not wanting to run a gauntlet of aggressive, underfed Bond No. 9 SAs, I opted to skip Saks Fifth Avenue and move on to the 4th floor men's fragrance counter at Neiman Marcus, also on Wilshire Blvd. There I discovered that this part of the store is basically abandoned by the assigned SA between 6pm and the weekend closing time of 7pm, so it's a good time to test items if one wants to be left alone. This was when I discovered three of the new fragrances from the Maison Francis Kurkdjian line:

    Lumière Noire pour Homme: An odd concoction, where the rose note seems to always be taking a back seat to something resembling a mild, pleasant swimming pool vinyl note. Drydown moves toward a powdery ... ummm ... swimming pool vinyl. This might be caused by the reported mugwort present. All I know is that it reminded me of when I used to patch my parents' aging swimming pool with a tube of xylene goo.
    Aqua Universalis: Very mild, watery scent with the same constant powdery note described above. There is definitely bergamot in here, along with a mild sense of non-oceanic water (i.e. no sense of salt or seaweed, etc). It's pleasant enough, but nothing special.
    APOM (A Piece of Me) pour Homme: The orange in here is apparent, although it came across to me more as a generic sense of fruitiness. The aforementioned powdery note is also present here, made relatively stronger by the extreme mildness of all the other notes. (I suppose I could also have been reaching nose fatigue by this time.)

    In my opinion, none of these fragrances seem to be worth the asking price ($110 for 2.4oz Aqua Universalis, and $130 for the same size of the other two).

    At that point, I collected my 2-bottle stash for the day, and went home. Incidentally, it's good to note that free street parking near these stores on Wilshire Blvd loosens up after 4pm if one parks just South of Wilshire Blvd on the West side of McCarty Drive. The 2-hour parking zone there is only patrolled from 8am to 6pm, so if one parks just after 4pm it's essentially free parking for the whole evening. So after 3 hours of leisurely sniffing, one can have a leisurely dinner.

  2. #2

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Thank you for the good read, especially this late at night. Makes me want to go to Rodeo Drive tomorrow, but many of the shops aren't open on Sunday, I think. Oh well, some other time then.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by LuckyLuke View Post
    Thank you for the good read, especially this late at night. Makes me want to go to Rodeo Drive tomorrow, but many of the shops aren't open on Sunday, I think. Oh well, some other time then.
    No, they are mostly open on Sundays too, at least from noon until 5pm. You can find hours of operation here: Shopping on Rodeo Drive. The stores which do not report hours on that website will report them in a recorded message if you call their phone numbers. Offhand, I know that Chanel is open 12-6pm on Sundays, and Gucci is open 12-5pm on Sundays. Also, each of the "Big 3" down on Wilshire Blvd (Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus) are all open on Sundays, usually 12-6pm. The Scent Bar up on the corner of Beverly Blvd and N Flores St is also open 12-5pm on Sundays. And when you're all done shopping, Spago down on N Canon Drive is open until 10pm, even on Sunday.
    Last edited by Astaroth; 25th October 2009 at 10:53 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Thank you for the update information. I read one of those reviews on Rodeo Drive a while back, and the author said not to go on Sunday, because many of the shops there are closed that day. I guess things have changed since.

  5. #5

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Wish I could have tagged along, Astaroth. I was getting myself "beautified" almost all day. I don't really know how it can take more than three hours to cut, color and style my hair, but I have surrendered to this reality for the time being. On the plus side, I got to see some amazing transformations as several women came in to have their hair styled for their special Saturday evening events. My stylist was wearing Vera Wang Princess, which smells pretty good on her. Go figure!

    I have a sample of MKK that an incredibly generous BNer gave me a while back. I must be anosmic to some of the musks. To my nose, the top smells mostly like a blend of Castoreum and a dash of Civet. Then, in the drydown, I get an overwhelming scent of soapy white musk. I agree it is better than Musc 25 from Le Labo, and a bit more sophisticated than Kiehl's Musk, but for my Castoreum hit, I think I prefer Mazzolari Lui. You probably would not like it, though, because it contains a huge amount of Patchouli

    I really want to try the Malle Geranium Pour Homme. Geranium is a note that has grown on me over the years, so any chance to sample a geranium-prominent scent is attractive!

    Congratulations on your Egoiste purchase. I love the stuff. The other day, I wore my Bois des Iles parfum, which has a drydown very similar to Egoiste. Love that too--much better than the BDI Jug-o-Exclusif.
    Last edited by Asha; 25th October 2009 at 02:54 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Great write-up, Astaroth! I was laughing so loudly at the everso shrine, the dog came looking and my son complained. And total agreement on your choices - wise buys both.

    Asha - I'm also looking forward to sampling GPM.

    I envy you two, living within a car ride of such places. Even Porshe Design! AAAUUURRRGGGHHH!
    * * * *

  7. #7

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Great post!
    I'll be doing the "rutting elk" thing at the Barneys in Vegas. Hope they have MKK!

  8. #8

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    I envy you two, living within a car ride of such places. Even Porshe Design! AAAUUURRRGGGHHH!
    I, too, envy these guys for being so close to such a fabulous shopping district!

    Edit: Forgot to say thanks for the great read!
    Last edited by warlandsboy; 25th October 2009 at 04:16 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Don't forget some additional spots just east of BH. SMN is closed on Sunday.

    Last edited by adonis; 25th October 2009 at 05:13 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Wow. The SoCal Basenoters all turnout here. We do have it pretty lucky.

    How cool is the Scent Bar?

    I always get a kick out of mentioning Basenotes to the SA's in all these stores. They always say "we get some people in here from there" with a sort deadpan expression.

    Now I see some of the people they're talking about....

    Some of us are likely pains in the....

    BUT we buy stuff, that's for sure.

  11. #11

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by adonis View Post
    Don't forget some additional spots just east of BH. SMN is closed on Sunday.

    Cool! Thank you, Adonis.

  12. #12

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Great thread...it would seem I'm off to Barney's now for some "elk rutting" now since it looks like there's going to be a "run" on MKK by the SoCal contingent.

  13. #13

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Wonderful account of your day Astaroth! What I would give to have all of that at my fingertips. Just curious, have you ever tried Angeliques sous la Pluie, seeing as how you went and tried Geranium Pour Monsiuer and Vetiver Extraordinaire?
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  14. #14

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Thanks Astaroth, for that well put together read.

    Quote Originally Posted by Astaroth View Post
    ...After burning some leather-scented incense in the small, makeshift everso shrine just outside the door, I went inside...

  15. #15
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by Asha View Post
    Wish I could have tagged along, Astaroth. I was getting myself "beautified" almost all day. I don't really know how it can take more than three hours to cut, color and style my hair, but I have surrendered to this reality for the time being.
    At the place where I have my hair styled, there is an Egyptian woman who comes in, usually on the same day. She's also in the 3+ hour category. I've seen her both when she arrives and also when she leaves, and what her stylist does with her thick, black hair is pure art. She's also visibly happier at the end of the process, so for that alone it must be worth it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Asha View Post
    To my nose, the top [of MKK] smells mostly like a blend of Castoreum and a dash of Civet. Then, in the drydown, I get an overwhelming scent of soapy white musk. I agree it is better than Musc 25 from Le Labo, and a bit more sophisticated than Kiehl's Musk, but for my Castoreum hit, I think I prefer Mazzolari Lui. You probably would not like it, though, because it contains a huge amount of Patchouli
    Interesting that you picked up on soapiness in MKK, since I don't get it at all. It stays musky for me all the way through. I still intend on using my Kiehl's, but now mostly for layering with other fragrances. Concerning patchouli, I think I'm now forced to admit that I'm actually starting to like it, especially since it forms a major component of one of my most loved fragrances, Profumum Thundra.

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    I envy you two, living within a car ride of such places. Even Porsche Design! AAAUUURRRGGGHHH!
    Well, you need to come out and visit, so that we can infect you with some of our patented Southern California Sin in the Sun. Concerning Porsche Design, you're not missing anything. Everything in there is so overpriced as to appear to be a decimal point error. They are definitely milking the cachet of the Porsche marque for all that it's worth. Also, I have to admit that I sometimes miss everso's over-the-top commentary. Of course, internet forums being what they are, I probably won't have to wait too long for similar entertainment to make an appearance.

    Quote Originally Posted by StylinLA View Post
    I always get a kick out of mentioning Basenotes to the SA's in all these stores. They always say "we get some people in here from there" with a sort deadpan expression.
    This could mean a few things:

    "I have no idea what you mean, but my job forbids me to appear ignorant."
    "If I give you samples, will you promise to not hurt me?"
    "Please be nice when you write this up later on."

    Incidentally, there is an SA in Barneys in Beverly Hills who looks a lot like a darker version of Grant, even down to the same style of eyeglasses. I had to scrutinize him carefully to keep from prematurely embarrassing myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtgprox05 View Post
    What I would give to have all of that at my fingertips. Just curious, have you ever tried Angeliques sous la Pluie, seeing as how you went and tried Geranium Pour Monsiuer and Vetiver Extraordinaire?
    If you live in Connecticut, you do have all this at your fingertips. It's called ... Manhattan. I might be wrong, but my guess is that Aedes de Venustas and the shops on Fifth Avenue in New York equal anything we have out here in Los Angeles. Concerning Angeliques Sous La Pluie, I tried it about 6 months ago. I liked it, but not enough to splurge on it. It seemed too light and blew off my hand in less than an hour. I tend to like much heavier fragrances.
    Last edited by Astaroth; 26th October 2009 at 03:10 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Thanks for your fabulous post Astaroth! That sounds like my kind of day...

    I'm a fellow Profumum Thundra lover, it's right up there in my top three. I haven't tried MKK yet, but I will get to it soon now that it's at Barneys'. I'm curious...can you expound a little bit on how you would compare Thundra as a musk to MKK?
    “I wanna say something. I’m gonna put it out there. If you like it, you can take it, if you don’t, send it right back…."

  17. #17
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Isn't shopping for fragrances in Beverly Hills so wonderful? Me and bront82 got to spend some time there once (Barney's, Neimans, Santa Maria Novella, Scent Bar) and even though I felt horribly under dressed I still had a great time being in the general vicinity of so many wonderful shops. And I was giggling at your tip about parking on a Sunday, behind Rodeo...because when I was there I passed by all of these empty spots and I thought the same thing to myself: I should have just parked here for an hour or so, for free, since no parking attendants were anywhere in sight!

    I too can't smell part of the musks in MKK - to me it just smells like soap and spices. No biggie.

    However the Egoiste is just wonderful - and just like Asha said, my next fantasy Chanel purchase is the parfum version of Bois de Iles. 500 thread count sandalwood, if you will.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 26th October 2009 at 06:38 PM.
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  18. #18

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    ah I am so close to these areas you visited, however due to my student status (UCLA) I do not think I will visit any of these areas anytime soon due to financial situations

    as for the Egoiste, after trying the vintage and concentree versions I am unable to appreciate the new juice, such a shame IMO

    I totally love Kiehls Musk, I was wondering if MKK is a suitable replacement, or is it an alternate take on musk?

    great read!
    Off-Site Decants =) (updated 05/16/12)
    http://flacon.ambaric.net/viewtopic....7994440fd3c0ab

  19. #19

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Hi Astaroth-

    Nice to read that MKK made it to our shores- do you know the price?

  20. #20

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    I checked the Barney's website- it's $140. Good to know.

    Wish I could have joined you!

  21. #21
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by arlecchino View Post
    I'm curious...can you expound a little bit on how you would compare Thundra as a musk to MKK?
    Thundra does contain white musk in it. But it doesn't come across as a major component, as far as I'm concerned. The wet leaf and mushroom notes are the dominant ones there, as well as patchouli. Muscs Koublaï Khän is really a different animal entirely. But they are both fantastic.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Me and bront82 got to spend some time [in Beverly Hills] once (Barney's, Neimans, Santa Maria Novella, Scent Bar) and even though I felt horribly under dressed ...
    I don't dress up to shop in Beverly Hills, and most other people do not either, particularly at the department stores on Wilshire Blvd. You'd probably get more attention from SAs if you did dress up, but all the stores are so hungry for business right now you could show up in bib overalls with a straw hat and still get service.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hasupk@gmail.com View Post
    I totally love Kiehls Musk, I was wondering if MKK is a suitable replacement, or is it an alternate take on musk?
    MKK seems more sharp, more linear, ... and a lot more expensive. If you're on a budget, Kiehl's is an inexpensive way to include musk in your rotation. And if you spend a lot of time in the close quarters of lecture halls, it might be a bit risky to wear MKK there anyway. But you should definitely go over to Barneys and try it out.

  22. #22

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Astaroth, are the SA's as knowledgeable about the fragrances as basenotes members? I have a feeling sometimes I get pushed fragrances that give them the most benefit

  23. #23
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by chaosman View Post
    Astaroth, are the SA's as knowledgeable about the fragrances as basenotes members? I have a feeling sometimes I get pushed fragrances that give them the most benefit
    I found the SA's in Barney's extremely knowledgeable. Of course they're going to 'push' certain fragrances, especially some of the reps for certain lines since it's their job. But, nonetheless, they usually have some people who are real fragrance fans.
    "You are here to enable the Divine purpose of the Universe to unfold. That is how important you are."

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  24. #24
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    What a great day Astaroth ! Thank you for sharing it.......I love mentioning Basenotes when perfume shopping.
    http://www.basenotes.net/threads/370...o-Profumo-Onda
    For sale. Carnal Flower and Vero Profumo Onda.

  25. #25

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Thanks Astaroth,

    I'm aiming to do the very same rounds tomorrow after lunch so this post was hugely helpful.

    Already visited the Chanel store today and smelled a couple of the exclusifs. Sycomore was nice and my wife loved Gardenia.
    Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I found the SA's in Barney's extremely knowledgeable.
    I'd take a BNer's opinion over that of an SA in most cases, but the Barney's folks are pretty good. They don't usually heap on the pressure. It's also helpful to know whether you are dealing with a fragrance house's rep, or with a Barney's SA. In all cases, of course, it's better to walk in knowing precisely what you're looking for.

  27. #27

    Default Re: An afternoon of smelling in Beverly Hills

    Quote Originally Posted by adonis View Post
    Don't forget some additional spots just east of BH. SMN is closed on Sunday.

    Oh my, this is a beautiful map. Thank you, Adonis!!!
    "Embrace those things which give you pleasure, after all, there is so much mediocrity to endure elsewhere." -- Inselaffe

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