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  1. #1

    Default How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    How do you approach department store fragrance halls? If at all? What is your favourite fragrance shopping environment?

    Yesterday I visited the fragrance hall at Harrods in London. It was absolutely overwhelming, but a bit disappointing as well -- but I couldn't find many of the scents that I wanted to try (Le Labo, Parfums de Nicolai, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Robert Piguet). Looking at the website, some of these are listed, but when I was actually there is was completely overwhelming. Such a huge, bright, over-lit, over-shiny room with loud bad music, no natural light or windows, and counter after counter of perfumes and people trying to spray you with stuff. I found it very unpleasant and not at all an environment conducive to considering fragrances. It was sensory overload to the extent that I could hardly smell anything. There also seemed to be a lot of (for want of a better word) 'junk', or perhaps I just couldn't take anything in.

    I will stick to samples wherever possible. Although expensive, I think this is the only way to truly find out whether I like a perfume. Home environment, no sales assistant pressure/awkward conversations. Minimal packaging/marketing to provide false influence.

    Also, if I visit a big store again, I will take a map of my body (or at least my arms) to plot what I have sprayed and where. By the time I got home after tube and train rides, something on my left elbow was smelling marvellous, but I have not idea what it was. I think it might have been something by Caron, but no idea what.

    I also couldn't wait to wash off whatever else I had on my arms (lots of Tom Ford, and a squirt of Bond No. 9 Chinatown - do not agree with Turin on that one) and replace it with lovely Jicky. Jicky never smelled so good.

  2. #2
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Personally love those large fragrance hall establishments. Could spend hours in those places spending money and not get tired.

  3. #3

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Hendic, you could probably move in besided Harrods and give them a run for their money, man would love to see some photos of your collection!

  4. #4

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Harrods is one of those places that you need to do your homework before you go. Once you know what you want (or a rough idea of what to look for), it is great!

    They have L' Artisan, but not in the black room, which I think is what you were describing. Never heard of them doing Le Labo; Liberty is the store to be in for that - I think it's exclusive to them in the UK.

    Definitely worth getting a Harrods Rewards card if you're going to go there again in the future. They have plenty to be saved during their 10% off days. Great for discounted niche brands. Well, it's better than paying retail!

    Also, the sales in January can bag you some great bargains. Well worth popping in for a day for just that! I make it an annual event...

  5. #5

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Harrods has Piguet, at the end of the fragrance hall opposite the Bond No 9s.

    Nicolai is only sold at the Nicolai boutique in South Kensington, which is about 10 minutes' walk from Harrods.

    I think you have to go to Liberty to find Le Labo. Not sure if it's sold anywhere else. And like rum said, the L'Artisans are in a different room, but I can't recall which at the moment - same floor though. You can also find those at Liberty. Or at the L'Artisan shop in Covent Garden.

    Frankly, I can't stand Harrods. They have lots of good stuff but I find the SAs obnoxious and woefully uneducated about their fragrances.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    For the sake of your sanity, skip the perfume hall at Harrods and hit up Roja Dove's joint upstairs, then head over to Fortnum & Mason and Liberty's and Les Senteurs.

  7. #7

    Default

    Oh bother. I really really should have talked to you guys before I went.

    It was a bank holiday, so Les Senteurs and Parfums de Nicolai were shut. I can't believe I missed the Piguet counter. I was looking at Bond No 9 for ages.

    I've never liked Harrods, my girlfriend* and I just wandered in and then ran out of time for Harvey Nichols and Liberty's.

    There's only one thing for it. I just need to plan another trip asap. And do my homework first.

    *(edit to say: by 'girlfriend' I mean my good friend who is a girl. I have just been referred to as a man on another thread and wanted to clarify I am female!)
    Last edited by cashmerecardi; 9th May 2013 at 09:02 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kagey View Post
    And like rum said, the L'Artisans are in a different room, but I can't recall which at the moment - same floor though. You can also find those at Liberty. Or at the L'Artisan shop in Covent Garden.
    Yes, L'Artisan are at Liberty too.
    I think the room they're in at Harrods is now a general cosmetics/fragrance room, just behind the Chanel, Dior and Tom Ford hall or room, where they do make-up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kagey View Post
    Frankly, I can't stand Harrods. They have lots of good stuff but I find the SAs obnoxious and woefully uneducated about their fragrances.
    Their discounts can be good with the rewards card, but I'm totally with you on the SA comment. I think they list being retarded as a pre-requisite on the application form for the SA job

    Quote Originally Posted by gandhajala View Post
    For the sake of your sanity, skip the perfume hall at Harrods and hit up Roja Dove's joint upstairs, then head over to Fortnum & Mason and Liberty's and Les Senteurs.
    Yep, that's another good one. Roja Dove's paradise on the 5th floor is not to be missed. And Fortnum and Mason (although a rip-off for most fragrances) is one of my favourites!!

  9. #9

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Just pop in sometimes to smell a few things, that's it.

    Never tried the Bond No 9s there, the bottles are too horrendous.

  10. #10

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    When you close your eyes and inhale a perfume,
    The surroundings seem to just crumble away and
    all that is left is that scent fleeting away and reality
    fading back in.

  11. #11

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    These places are wonderful, but olfactory fatigue sets in rather quickly, and there's no way to properly smell more than half a dozen perfumes or so. Sometimes it pays to go out for 15 min to refresh the nose. Also, keeping the smelling strips (with the name written on them) helps, if you bring them home, you can smell them later at ease. While it's not as having the perfume on the skin, it gives a pretty good idea.

    cacio

  12. #12

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Haven't been to Harrods since I was 11. All I remember is a train set I drooled over (and couldn't afford) and an expensive hamburger somewhere upstairs.

    I do enjoy those big fragrance halls, though. It gives me a chance to smell things I can't find in Sephora or smaller, local stores. The closest thing like that to me is a place called Paris Gallery. I love to visit, but like everyone else, I find the SA's hovering and borderline annoying. They get commissions on sales, though, so I understand it. I just make a point of telling them straight off that "I'm not buying today." Then they usually leave me alone. If they try to jump me with their bottles, I just use martial arts on them.

    When you find a good SA, though, it's really great. There are a few that I struck up acquaintance with, asking after their kids and talking about life in general, and I often ended up getting unexpected samples or little gifts. There is one SA at the Guerlain boutique that is always ready to make a sample and fills them up to the top - even the parfums!

    As for shopping strategies, I usually know what I want to smell before hand. I always go for those first since nose fatigue eventually sets in. I make sure to spray them on blotters, and I bring a pen so I can write the names down. Then I just browse. At some point I go and get fresh air, and then if anything strikes me I go back and spray it on skin. Then I go after samples for the ones that make the cut.

    But that's all if it's a leisurely visit, which is impossible with kids in tow. In which case it turns into a kind of fragrance speed dating.
    Anakin: What was that all about?
    Obi-Wan: Well, R2 has been...
    Anakin: No loose wire jokes.
    Obi-Wan: Did I say anything?
    Anakin: He's trying.
    Obi-Wan: I didn't say anything!

    -ROTS


  13. #13

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    The environment you describe is mankind at its worst.

    No natural light so that you forget reality and spend money. Artificial lights so that each and every blemish on your face standout like Big Ben so that you fret and buy creams and concealers.
    Overexcited SAs amd loud music to make you want to 'just buy & leave'.

    Personally I put up with it. I don't let it intimidate or influence me.

    for swap/sale:





  14. #14

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    Thank you all for your entertaining and highly informative replies. I have enjoyed reading all of them. Looking forward to my next trip to London already.

    Mr B-V - great memories!
    hedonist - you are right. But I am easily intimidated (or perhaps irritated/stressed is more accurate) when it comes to shopping and fragrances.

  15. #15

    Default Re: How do you shop? (Harrods fragrance hall - overwhelming & next time take a map)

    you shouldnt sample more than 5 at a time though.

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