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  1. #1

    Default Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    So, I decided to check out this baby after seeing the ad in one of the Conde Nast rags and being a fan of their suits. So after work I wandered over to my local Barney's (Chicago), which I'd never set foot in.

    Store directory says: Men's fragrance, 5th floor. So I trek up to 5 and wander around through the labyrinth of racks with <5 items per rack. Come across something that looks like a fragrance counter. Turns out it's only skin care products.

    So back I head down, this time to the basement, where the cosmetics are.

    As soon as I emerge the phalanx of black-clad cougars and queens running the operation turn and give me the most disturbingly overt full-body-scan. I feel like I've just walked into a human x-ray machine. I nonchalantly wander around, pick the most matronly-looking of the cougars, and ask her if they have mens' fragrances here.

    "No, that's on 4 or 5".

    OK, so having already checked out 5 without success, I head back up to 4. while 5 was the tailored clothing, 4 is the trendy Varvatos, Paul Smith, Vince etc. youth-y stuff. Initiate nonchalant floor patrol #2 -- all the while being studiously ignored by the sales people who act as though they're paid commissions based on how snooty they can be. Come up dry. Approach a nice-looking girl who is doing something behind a counter. "Hi, do you have a men's fragrance section?"

    "No, I only fold boxes. Sorry!" (Wow, they can afford a dedicated box-folder? Who'd have thunk given that I saw all of 7.5 customers in the entire store.)

    So I approach one of the other salesmen. Ask the same question.

    "Oh, you have to go to the basement". I retort, "but I was told your mens fragrance is on this floor or the one above". At this point the guy gives me a withering look and goes "oh, but us guys on the floor wear the stuff in the basement ALL THE TIME, like the Comme des Garcons stuff." (translation -- "us higher life-forms have evolved to the point where we wear unisex or womens' fragrances, unlike you, you Calvin Klein-wearing neanderthal… or whatever it is you're wearing.")

    By this point I am beginning to gnash my teeth. Figuring that -- by process of elimination -- my best bet probably IS the basement that I was emphatically told did NOT have mens' stuff, I return to the lair of harpies that had directed me elsewhere ten minutes earlier. And this time I resolve to check out the racks for myself.

    So I initiate nonchalant patrol #3. Ah, a ray of light -- I see the Frederic Malle section, with a battery of little bottles pretentiously stored in some kind of refrigerator that looks more like a safe in a Swiss bank, so as to convey perhaps that the ingredients are supremely fragile and exclusive. My internal self-confidence rises: clearly, there are a FEW mens' juices here. So I complete my rounds but come up dry. No Costume National.

    Finally, in desperation I identify benign cougar #2. "Do you have Costume National?"

    "Yes, we do, over there, let me show you." Yes!!!

    We head over. And they have the accursed bottle! She sprays me a strip. It smells nice enough. But by this time my quest has taken on a life of its own; I MUST bring this expedition to a close, successfully. So I rashly say "give me a bottle".

    A couple of minutes later I'm threading my way through the nest of cougars and queens, clutching my little black Barneys bag, and being subjected to shameless full-body-scan #3. Finally make it to the exit. Whew! Mission successful -- out of the belly of the beast.

    As for the juice: as is so often the case, I have to report, unfortunately, that it smelt nicer in the store than it does at home; it's nice but nothing amazing. It certainly has the strength and projection of an EDP, but the scent itself is disturbingly like a softer, well-rounded version of Banana Republic's Black Walnut; heavy on the cedar, with the sweet, well-blended touch of a Caron or Guerlain.

    Nice, but not worth the price. But possibly worth the adventure!

  2. #2
    rogalal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    He he.

    7 customers and they have a full-time box folder?

    There's a reason Barneys is constantly on the brink of insolvency...

    That being said, I really like the SF Barneys, though it sounds exactly identical to the Chicago one, right down to the occasionally unhelpful staff and the almost-empty store.

    If you walk in with higher confidence, they'll be way nicer. And high end salespeople, if they're good, recognize regulars. If you go back, find the same lady who sold you your stuff this time. If she's on the ball, she'll recognize you and be way friendlier next time.

    I still remember my first time walking into Neiman Marcus to sniff the Creeds. I was petrified. Now everyone there knows me and they're amazingly friendly.

    If you're going to be a crazed fragrance nut and full-fledged Basenotes weirdo, the niche selection at Barneys is indispensable (a few afternoons sampling there will save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars in samples bought online).

    Thanks for the story!
    Has everyone checked out my Top 100 Blog??

  3. #3

    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    That was a funny read. Nice!

  4. #4
    JoNnY 4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Great post Rodent !

    I wonder how it would be like to work as a full time box folder...
    "A parent's only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed."

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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Wow... I don't know where you were looking, but there's a table and shelf display in the center of the 4th floor menswear section that has their masculine-leaning stuff, and the main fragrance counter on the LL is immediately in front of you when you go down the stairs.

    In terms of the staff, they do engage rather directly, but I've not found them to apply much pressure while I'm browsing. The personnel at Neiman and Saks are far more annoying and unhelpful.

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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    I read that intense is much better
    ever try that?
    Off-Site Decants =) (updated 05/16/12)
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Sorry to hear about your experience. I personally have had nothing but positive experiences at the Chicago Barneys.
    Last edited by petruccijc; 19th December 2009 at 09:44 AM.
    Please feel free to check out my Swap Thread - Patou pour Homme, L'Instant de Guerlain PH Extreme, Dior Homme Intense, Pure Malt, Pure Coffee and many more! Click Here For My Swap Thread

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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Hasupk@gmail.com View Post
    I read that intense is much better
    ever try that?
    You must be thinking of Scent Intense, not the new CN Pour Homme.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Quote Originally Posted by petruccijc View Post
    Sorry to hear about your experience. I personally have had nothing but positive experiences at the Chicago Barneys.
    My experience also. They ask if I need help, I say I'm just looking around, and they let me be. Tons of stuff that you can sample yourself. I never realized there were any fragrances on the 4th floor - I'll have to check that out - I wonder if they have the new Paul Smith Man.

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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Excellent, funny read, rodent! I'm sure all of us can relate to your experience on some level.

    Your story makes me eager to visit Chicago again! Cougars at fragrance counters are way more interesting (and dangerous) than their counterparts at the zoo!
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. Daniel Moynihan

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    LOL... the cougars at my Neimans swarmed me and got me to try Ferragamo's Tuscan Sun (not bad, but not what I wanted on a cold winter's day, lemony freshness). She told me it's meant to evoke "Tuh-sun"--you know the city in Italy. REALLY? I get that some SAs don't speak fluent french (or italian in this case), but have you never even heard the word Tuscany pronounced? And no it's not a city. Argh.
    I offer you perfume,
    More for its pleasure than for yours;
    You perfume perfume.

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  12. #12

    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Remember when Barneys only sold suits??? Was only a mens store???

    Something odd happened in the 90's it secretly turned into a womans store and now the men have a very small section(at least I think those are womens clothes). The store is in identity crises is it a modern urban museum or a gay club? Gosh there is hardly any clothes in those stores and nothing I would wear either. Don't get me going on the sales help...

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Was just at the Barney's in Chicago today and they only had a few frags on the forth floor. It's all on the LL. My wife and I sniffed and sniffed to our hearts content, and the girl behind the counter was very friendly, helpful and not snooty at all. =)

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    I saw this being sold in Dillards recently.
    Please feel free to check out my Swap Thread - Patou pour Homme, L'Instant de Guerlain PH Extreme, Dior Homme Intense, Pure Malt, Pure Coffee and many more! Click Here For My Swap Thread

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    I went to the Barney's in Seattle last week to look at their CdG line (ended up buying Wonderwood) There were around 3 good looking ladies working there and a gentleman. As soon as I walked in a cute blond approached me and I asked her if she could show me the CdGs which she gladly did. I also asked if she could provide me with samples of other fragrances and she said that unfortunately they don't have any but will make some for me. I chatted a few minutes with her and one of her co-workers, overall it was a pleasant experience.
    Current top 5
    1. Creed Vintage Tabaróme
    2. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue pour le Soir
    3. Comme des Garçons 8 88
    4. Montale Black Musk
    5. Profumum Antico Caruso

  16. #16

    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    In early 2010 (March/April-ish) I visited my local Barney's fragrance counters and was extremely put off by the aggresiveness of the their SA's. It was such an unpleasant experience I had no desire to return any time soon. I finally went back to Barneys maybe 2 months ago now (ironically, bought the same frag that the OP did) and was very pleasantly surprised at how much less aggresive the SA's were this time around.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Costume National Pour Homme EDP - my unbelievable buying experience

    Rodent,
    I feel you.
    But I happen to like CN Homme so much that I`d say it`s one of my best finds. I like the spice section especially.
    By the way - it got some prizes in Italy lately
    Vetiver The Great!!!

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