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  1. #1

    Default Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    I booked a gig in Chicago at Hunter's so I figured it would be a good opportunity to explore Serge Lutens and more of Chicago fragrance shopping.

    To prepared, I have been testing several Serge Lutens samples over the past three weeks - everything from Musc Koublai Khan (strong and lovely, but goes fecal on me) and Ambre Sultan (love it but reminds me too much of TF PB Amber Absolute that I already owned.) I decided that Cuir Mauresque was a definite as was Chene and either Rouse and Douce Amere.

    I started at Barneys.. went right to Serge Lutens counter.. the sales lady directed me to Andy.. a huggable lovable.. daddy bear type. I showed him the list and told him that i was planning to buy Cuir Mauresque and Chene .. and possibly either Rousse or Douce Amere. He said Douce Amere is non import and not available in the states anymore. So he grabbed the 3 I wanted and we went down and he sprayed everyone on a strip and we sniffed together.. he made a list of about 10 that had top notes that I liked. He said he was out of samples but was getting a shipment this week.. and would drop them in the mail to me. I really appreciated the time he took exploring with me - he was quite knowlegable and quickly figured out that I like frags that are strong, dark and intense.

    Looking around I saw Nasomatto and asked about Black Afgano - they are sold out (and the tester was empty). If I see this in a store - I am going to buy to have a backup bottle.. I love BA that much. I asked about a Perfumes Roisine that sounded interesting - not so much. We were right next to the Frederic Malle counter and I said that I have been looking for a dirty/interesting/intense rose and hoping that POAL would be that and was disappointed. He nodded and said that there were two other things I should try. He brought me over to Byredo and had me smell two - neither really moved me. Then he took me over to Le Labo and I had never really played with their stuff. Their Rose is REALLY cool.. it has edge and body to it. I asked for a sample. While there I also sniffed all the candles from Frederic Malle.. I like Coffee Society but not really able to justify $95 for a candle. They had Mavis - so I bought a tube of Jasmine Mint.. love it.. had a smaller tube. While chatting with Andy, I told him that I was heading to Chanel and asked him for other things to check out. He suggested a path of travel including Hermes and all the dept stores (with descriptions of what they carry.) He is awesome and I look forward to working with him. Three full bottles bought - no sales tax because they are shipping it.. for $12 shipping, I saved a lot in sales tax (it is 10.25% here). I know that the website offers free shipping but I'd rather spend the $12 and build a relationship with such an amazing SA.

    Next up was the Hermes boutique (across the street) and the Hermessence line. The fragrances are beautifully displayed in a drawer but something about the SAs werent really that welcoming. I smelled a few of the bottles and sprayed Poivre Samarcande on a strip and liked it. I asked for a sample - and the SA suggested that I buy 4 small travel vials for $100 some odd dollars and I said, that's an idea. Luckily its at The Perfumed court so I will get a sample there and check it out again at the Hermes boutique on SoBe... hopefully the SAs are friendlier there.

    Chanel was next on the list - I was ready to buy a full bottle of Coromandel. I've been wearing it for the past 2 weeks with samples and have loved it. Since the frag is light and will require lots of sprays, I wanted the magnetic 6.8 oz bottle. In stock, all they had was the 2.5. At $110 for 2.5 oz vs $210 for the 6.8 oz, I insisted on the large size bottle. They checked other boutiques and found one that they will ship to me.. highlight .. no sales tax .. free shipping.. score. I also got a few samples of Rue Cambio (that I liked) and Coromandel (to tie me over until the fb comes.)

    Department store time..

    Macy's.. nothing really of interest.. though I flirted with the very cute SA girl. If you know me, you know how much fun that was <grin>

    Nordstrom's.. I was pissed because the Swatch store was closed in that mall. The only thing that grabbed me was Acqui de Parma - which I had never really played with before. The Iris was nice (if I hadn't just bought Iris Ganache from Guerlain - I might be more into).. the Cologne was good also.. need to get a few samples to play with.. might get them from Perfumed Court.

    Saks 5th Avenue - The men's store had Killians, Tom Ford Private Blend and Bonds. I was interested in smelling Chez Bond but the bottels were so tightly packed, I couldn't see the names. The SA pulled it out, sprayed a card - and I thought - this smells like a Creed. I mentioned that and he the SA told a story that the founder of Bond worked for Creed and that this frag was inspired by one - I think he said Green Iris Tweed, but i wasn't sure. He was quite knowledgeable and friendly but if I want a Creed, I will get a Creed. I forgot to go across the street to the ladies store to see their fragrance department - oh well. Something for next time.

    Neiman Marcus - Walking in, I saw a lovely Tom Ford Private Blend display and a massive Creed section. I asked the TF SA about the Neroli body products and she said they would be available in March. I asked about the new Lavender and she said that it was an exclusive to the Los Angeles boutique and was a special plated bottle. She also mentioned that two new PBs were coming for spring.. maybe all the rumblings on the message board are true. I was impressed that she was so up to date on TF info. Next up was Creed.. I asked what sizes of Royal Delight they had - all the had was the 8.4 oz flacon. I like this one but I am not sure if I want to go all the way.. in the Creed world - there is 2.5 oz for $225 and a 8.4 oz for $350 If I am going to do a flacon, I should probably go for Virgin Island Water first - since I've actually used up 90% of 4 oz bottle. Who knows - these may be future splurges. I asked the SA clerk what Milessime meant and she explained that it was concentration - the highest concentration of essential oils and fragrance. So I said, "oh its like an eau de parfum as opposed to an eau de toilette or an eau de cologne." She said yes and complimented me for knowing about fragrances. Good training. I mentioned that I loved Bois Du Portugal as a manly fragrance and Virgin Island Water as a summer frag as well as Acier as a cold/metallic snap. Of course she asked if I had tried Aventus (they are programmed to do that.) She then pulled out Windsor which she said was a real connoisseur fragrance. It did smell like royalty - but at $600+, I wasnt really interested in sampling it on skin. I bit adieu on the cusp of buying the flacon thinking about coming back the next day.

    While at NM, I also sampled the Maison Francis Kurkdjian Cologne Pour le sour - it was nice but nothing that really blew me away on the card. Maybe it develops more on the skin.

    So that was it for Saturday.. had to take a nap before heading to the club to spin from 10pm-4am.

    On Sunday, I had a nice brunch and did some light shopping at Diesel and window shopping other places. Stopped in at Marc Jacobs and as intrigued by the pretty bottles. I saw these huge bottles of scents and Biscotti caught my eye. For $68, the bottles are 10oz. I liked it but would need to test it a bit - but at that price, I was tempted to do a blind buy. At the last minute, I changed my mind.. I already bought 4 full bottles on this trip <grin>

  2. #2


    I know many of those stores quite well.

    Also, yes, Chez Bond is almost a dead knockoff of Green Irish Tweed.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    Quote Originally Posted by djron91 View Post
    I started at Barneys.. went right to Serge Lutens counter.. the sales lady directed me to Andy.
    The fragrance staff at Barney's of Chicago is fantastic. They are knowledgeable, polite and genuinely concerned that you leave happy with your purchase. I'm not surprised that you had a great experience there. I have always been extremely pleased with my experiences.
    - Expect the unexpected

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    - Expect the unexpected

  5. #5

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    Great shopping story! I hit Barney's in Chicago last fall, and the SAs I worked with were just OK. Sounds like you found the good ones. Overall, a very good account of shopping in Chicago. Good work.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    Just wanted to add that Andy at Barneys is a gem. Pretty much every perfumisto in Chicago knows him as he was at the fragrance counter at Saks for years before going to Barneys. There's another guy there from Saks named Shefton and he is awesome too. Both can be very generous with samples as well!

  7. #7
    Ivory88's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Chicagoland, IL

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    Great read, DJRon....thanks a lot for sharing. Always nice to hear tales from the Mag Mile. But please do give the Kurdkjians another shot.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    So the Chanel package arrived yesterday and the bottle is deformed. The top is at a 30 degree angle and the bottle seems to have leaked in transit. I call the Chicago boutique and they have someone call me back to arrange a return. The Fedex guy came today to pick up the box and asked for the airbill - and I am like, I don't know the boutique should have arranged that. They didn't - I don't have anything in email and the FedEx guy didn't either. So, I called back to the Chanel boutique again today and left a message for their shipping guy. This is turning into a headache.. not the kind of experience I would expect from a luxury brand.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    Happy ending - I returned the Coromondel with the damaged top. About a week later, I received another package with a bottle that wasn't damaged. So now.. I have a massive bottle that should take me through the summer (or the next 5 summers..)

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    The SA's at Barney are GREAT!. Neimans only has two good SA's... Hermes is bleh. The SA's at saks in the Mens Store were horrible. Its a great smelling line up Barneys>Hermes>Macy>Nordstrom>Neiamns>Saks. Cant go wrong with all those stores. And I never saw By Kilian in the Mens Store once.....
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Fragrance shopping in Chicago

    Nope, by Kilian is only at the main Saks store.

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