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30 Roses

A Day of Extreme Sniffing in NYC

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Monday 7/26, my husband, daughter and I took the train to NYC to see the MoMA and afterward smell perfumes that interested us. Time was limited but we filled it well!

This was not going to be extensive testing and analysing of perfumes-- it was more like process-of-elimination sniffing, and mostly on paper blotters. We hoped to find a few perfumes we liked enough to test further on skin and possibly buy at a later date. I don't like to buy a perfume until I've worn it several times right through to the dry-down.

We stopped at Molton Brown on our way to the museum and smelled Celestial Maracuja (too sweet for me) and Black Pepper (which husband liked.) They offered us samples.

After the museum, we started at nearby Henri Bendel, where I first visited the L'Artisan boutique and reacquainted myself with several perfumes, including Iris Pallida. This faded to imperceptibility within minutes. I'm starting to think I may be somewhat anosmic to iris.

I also smelled, for the first time, Nuit de Tubereuse and Havanna Vanille. I am no lover of tuberose, but this one is not as cloying as some. Havana Vanille sprayed on the back of my hand made me smile! Could I wear this-- I who have always loathed vanilla perfumes? Maybe! I requested and was given several samples, but when I got home and looked at them, I found they were of Vanilia instead. So I will have to wait to test this again. Ah, well!

Although the L'Artisan boutique in the store has samples, do not expect to get samples of other fragrances at Bendel-- they don't have any, and also don't allow decanting of samples into one's own sample size atomizers (unlike practically every other store in my experience.) So we used the testers and sniffed extensively as there was no way to bring the scents home for more testing. I think it was the department manager who assisted us; he was great-- just the right degree of attention without hovering.

I smelled my way through every one of the ELdO fragrances on paper blotters-- yep, even Sécrétions Magnifique . I was prepared to maybe like it-- some do-- but instead I found it utterly revolting. It smelled of blood, salty milk and iodine. My daughter said, upon sniffing it, "I don't ever want to smell that again." None of the ELdO fragrances grabbed me, but my daughter liked the honeyed spice of Noel au Balcon. I had sampled Jasmin et Cigarette before and found it very clever-- the smell of a newly-opened pack of cigarettes is unmistakable-- but this is not something I want to wear.

I then went on to sniff a handful of other fragrances, including Ombre Rose, Ellie (= lily of the valley), 06130 Lentisque and Lys, MPG Fraiche Passiflore (delightful on paper, not so good on my skin), and Yosh Sottile (rose and lily of the valley, but it didn't work for me.) Caron Muguet du Bonheur I had tried before and retested; I still prefer other lily of the valley perfumes.

Among the Annick Goutals I sprayed two on skin: Eau de Sud (nice initial lemoniness, but as it developed it seemed more masculine to me; I prefer Eau d'Hadrien.), and Chevrefeuille (not honeysuckle on my skin, but tea. Black tea.) We smelled on paper Mandragore Pourpre (hubby and I prefer the original, which has less anise.)

I was glad to have had the chance to sniff so many fragrances at Bendel, but we didn't find anything we loved, this time.

After Henri Bendel, we walked a block or so to Bergdorf-Goodman, where I had several goals: to smell (and get a sample of) Jo Malone Red Roses for myself and Nutmeg and Ginger for hubby, and to visit the JAR boutique.
Jo Malone's SA was quite willing for us to decant small samples. (Thanks!)

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the JAR boutique. I was assisted by Taylor R. who graciously took me on a tour of all the perfumes while my daughter and husband checked out other counters. When they joined me at JAR, Taylor graciously offered them seats and repeated some of his presentation, inviting them to join in smelling the jars that contained perfumed chamois. It was kind of him to treat my teenaged daughter as an adult. She seemed to enjoy smelling the jars and sharing her impressions.

I tried four of the JAR perfumes on skin:

• The original and current formulations of Golconda. This is a delicious carnation/clove perfume, which we think later develops a pear note (my daughter caught that before I did.) I preferred the original formulation, which I found mellower, more complex and more rounded (and at $800 for one ounce, it's 2/3 again the price of the current version.)

Jardenia-- The slight blue cheese note at the start, followed later by a freshly-cut mushroom note, made this an earthy and realistic (while not overly sweet) gardenia. I am not sure I could wear this, but I loved smelling it and kept going back to that bit of skin to whiff all evening. Original and compelling, Jardenia was one of the very best things I smelled all day.

Diamond Water on my skin was very soft-- at first I could not identify specific notes, but soon I thought I smelled violets, then later heliotrope, and still later jasmine. Very pretty and soft but not for me.

Bolt of Lightning-- what an interesting and evolving fragrance. We got, at different times, dill? fenugreek? parsley? ylang-ylang?

Jarling smelled of bitter almonds (or cherry.)
Ferme Tes Yeux ("close your eyes") was pretty bad for me; it reminded me of formaldehyde.

The perfumes are, I was told, 40% strength-- but 4 hours later, I noticed they had faded away to mere traces of scent on my skin. This surprised me; I expected greater longevity.

After taking a break walking through FAO Schwarz, we went on to Barney's. I had a list of fragrances I wanted to try, and worked my way systematically through the list:

• Delrae Coup de Foudre-- I love roses and fully expected to be captivated by this newest Delrae. I sprayed it first on paper, then on skin. It did nothing for me. I don't hate it-- I just feel apathetic about it.

• Malle Une Rose. I smelled this last year in Boston, but it didn't impress me at the time. Having read so many favorable reviews since then, I decided I needed to try it again, and specifically avoided spraying any other perfumes all day on my throat/upper chest area so as to be able to apply this the way I would normally apply my perfumes.

Une Rose is more complex than I gave it credit for last year. It has a completely different tone than my other rose perfumes; this is a rose with gravitas. I can see why men wear this rose. It is not exactly what I would call a fresh living rose (like Evelyn), but it is also not an aged, rich or potpourri-like rose (like Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare.). Nor is it the sort of damask rose smell I get in AG Rose Absolue. And it is absolutely not powdery or citrusy. There is something that darkens the rose. I will need to test this again with the sample I received (and I'm definitely applying less next time-- I finally had to scrub it off at 2 a.m. so I could get to sleep!) One of the base notes bothers me; I wonder if there is musk in this?

Other fragrances at Barney's that I tested on paper (by now I had little skin available for testing!):

• Heeley Menthe Fraiche-- nice spearmint at first, but became toothpaste-y.
• Heeley Figuier-- supposedly fig, cedar and lime. I didn't get the lime. Creamy, very pleasant, but I still prefer L'Artisan Premier Figuier. Might test again someday.
• Heeley Iris de Nuit-- confirmed my earlier impression that I may be partially anosmic to iris.
• Heeley Lemon Verbena -- not an intense verbena; a bit like 4711 as it developed.
• Escentric Molecules Escentric 01 and 02-- these were both indistinct, soft; neither appealed much to me.
• i Profumi di Firenze Miele Rosa-- quite old fashioned, rather like an old perfume from my grandmother's house. Didn't appeal to me.
• i Profumi di Firenze Caterina de Medici-- nice, interesting, a bit odd-- I got lily of the valley and root beer? anise?-- puzzling! I will have to try this again someday.
• i Profumi di Firenze Fiori de Cielo-- boring, generic.
• CDG Series 2 Red: Carnation-- nice carnation; I requested a small sample in my own atomizer and got it. I'm still looking for my ideal carnation scent to buy; maybe this will be the one?
• Le Labo Rose 31-- peppery, a good smell. Husband liked it.
• Hermès Voyage d'Hermès-- didn't seem very original.
• Malle Outrageous! -- sharp and unpleasant.
• SL Muscs Koublai Khan-- I was very curious about this, having read so much about it. It smelled nothing like what I imagined. I only sprayed it on paper, but was surprised to smell the note that David Austin calls "myrrh", which a number of his English Roses have. I once bought 3 bushes of the David Austin rose "Tamora" that had that note; those were the only rose bushes I've ever uprooted after one season and replaced with something else! Whatever that note is, I do not like it. Neither did my husband, fortunately for me!

Well, that was quite a day. Incredibly, I didn't find my nose growing fatigued, but my feet certainly did!

What did I buy after sniffing 60 perfumes? Only this: a bottle of Diptyque L'Ombre Dans L'Eau at Barney's, which I had previously tested thoroughly from a sample.
Possible contender for future purchase: L'Artisan Havana Vanille. But I'll definitely have to get samples of it and test it again before buying.

Next NYC trip: Aedes


  1. 30 Roses's Avatar
    Warum, you survived reading all that? Thanks for taking the time!
  2. 30 Roses's Avatar
    Thank you, ladies!


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