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30 Roses

Another Day to Walk and Sniff in NYC

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Saturday, April 30th was a "perfect storm"-- glorious weather, the 2011 Guerlain Muguet released, and the Sniffapalooza event, with vendors prepared. We did not join the Sniffa group but did our own thing.

My husband, teenaged daughter and I took an early train into NYC Saturday with an itinerary in hand that enabled us to visit a number of stores on foot before they closed at 6 or 7 p.m.

We started at Saks. I made a beeline for Guerlain, eager to test Muguet. The rectangular splash bottle was offered, but the friendly and helpful Crystal generously filled my small sample atomizer so that I could use it to spray the scent on instead.

At first impression it smelled similar to Aqua Allegoria Lilia Bella in that there was a hint of lilac. But that is where the similarity ends. Muguet has a much smoother opening, and soon develops a mild, pleasantly dirty note (jasmine?) that lasts through the drydown. Sillage was low to moderate but it wafted up pleasantly for a couple of hours before becoming a skin scent. I could still smell it on my clothes in the evening after returning home.

The price tag was a stiff $580; the 10% discount was not enough to bring this into an affordable range for me. There were only 4 bottles left by the time I got to the store; now they are gone. The label was disappointing-- a paper sticker, not nearly as pretty as the illustrations of the bottle. But the fragrance did not disappoint. I am happy to have finally smelled it on skin. That alone would have made my trip worthwhile.

We visited other counters at Saks: at Hermès I chatted with Cynthia, who sprayed Un Jardin Sur Le Toit on my hand. I was surprised at how much I liked it-- I did not expect to, based on what I had read of it. At Penhaligon's I was disappointed not to find Fitzrovia, but Josie allowed us to decant small samples of the newer Anthology scents Zizonia (unisex, pleasantly woody) and Jubilee (too sweet for my taste.) I was assisted by Ted Levine at Armani, Khalid at Bond No. 9, and Christine at Jo Malone, where I smelled and got a decanted sample of the limited edition Sakura Cherry Blossom.

Everyone at Saks was very helpful; I want to go back and spend more time there.

By then we had an appetite, so we walked over to St. Andrews, a Scottish restaurant on W46th between 6th and 7th Avenues, where we enjoyed haggis, fried oysters, and a delectable sticky pudding that I will have to try making at home! (Yum!)

At Prada, Bruce allowed me to decant a bit of Infusion de Rose to test at home.

At Henri Bendel, Sergio demonstrated Bendel's own eau de toilette fragrances ( Wild Fig is a good alternative to Premier Figuier-- has a bit of coconut in it. Rose Oud is also worth testing.

At the L'Artisan boutique upstairs, my husband treated me to an early Mother's Day gift-- a 50ml bottle of the 2007 Iris Pallida, a limited release selling at $115. (If you want one, call fast-- they don't have many bottles.) We obtained a few more samples and then went over to chat with the Lubin representative, William, who had his display set up in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the Sniffapalooza crowd. He gave us samples and his email address. I liked a number of the Lubin ones at first sniff. I would have spent time with the Caron reps, but we were already late leaving Bendel and decided Caron could wait for another trip.

From there we visited the Krigler boutique at the Plaza Hotel before the Sniffa crowd would be shutting the boutique down for 3 hours. The charming and unflappable Naoko gave us a rapid but complete sniff tour of the 19 fragrances. I bought 2 samples of Manhattan Rose (no surprise there) and truly enjoyed sniffing that on my arm for the rest of the day.

My daughter and husband then visited FAO Schwarz while I darted back half a block to Mont Blanc, and then it was on to Barney's where we sniffed/got samples or sprayed blotters with some Lutens, CDG, Rosine, and Byredo fragrances we were unfamiliar with. I was especially pleased with CDG Jaisalmer. Each counter has its own policies on sampling. My husband got decanted samples (in our own atomizers) of Byredo and Lutens, but as to the others, all I could do was spray small watercolor paper blotters I had brought and place them in heavy-duty small zippered pill bags (from Walmart) that I had brought for the purpose. They had no carded Malle samples, and we were refused even decanted samples of Malle, despite the fact that I have bought both Malle and Diptyque at Barneys. One SA averred that if everyone wanted samples, they would sell no bottles! Unenlightened, is all I will say.

At the Hermès boutique, Andreea gave us a few Hermessence samples that we wished to test further. We admired the gorgeous scarves and adorable plush horses.

At the Creed boutique we chatted with Rodney and Luis and smelled Spice & Woods, Royal Ceylon, Sublime Vanille (a vanilla I actually like, with similarities to Jour de Fête) and Windsor (lovely, dry gardenia.) They are expecting a very limited Feuille Verte reissue this summer. In July they will be getting Original Cologne and White Flowers, and sometime in the fall, Jardins d'Amalfi.

Unexpectedly passing Bond No. 9, we stopped in, as my daughter had by now that she loved Chinatown, which she'd sprayed on her arm at Saks, and wanted a sample for further testing. The helpful Jennifer Colón gave her, and us, some samples. We loved their rose-decorated car parked out in front!

With a last gasp, we staggered into Frédéric Malle where the expressive and informative sales associate (whose name I failed to ask) guided our exploration of Carnal Flower, Portrait of a Lady, Noir Epices and Cologne Bigarade. We used the scent chambers to get better impressions. No carded samples were available but she graciously decanted a ml or so of those scents into our own atomizers for further testing at home. I am actually thinking of buying Carnal Flower-- I, who could never wear tuberose before-- too sweet! But Carnal Flower is not overly sweet.

After a rest in Central Park, we grabbed a bus ride back to the terminal.

All in all a fantastic day!


  1. Twolf's Avatar
    Congratulations on the new L'Artisan!

    More about Hermes On the Roof, if/when you have a chance please?

    Smelled JM Sakura Cherry Blossom and actually liked it, unfortunately the longevity is nil (and everything lasts on this skin).
  2. 30 Roses's Avatar
    Twolf, I have a sample of Un Jardin Sur Le Toit and will wear it tomorrow, and post in SotD about it as it develops.
  3. Twolf's Avatar
    I see everything now. TIA for tomorrow!
  4. RHM's Avatar
    Fantastic! I wish I knew you were going. I did not want to be part of the sniffapalooza event myself but I would have loved having a run around with you & your family!

    I too was surprised at how much I liked the new Hermes.
  5. Mimi Gardenia's Avatar
    What a fab day 30 Roses. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Another Carnal Flower fan here- I am so glad you love it- it has a way of getting under the skin and making one adore it .
    Congrats on the Iris Pallida too .
  6. morrison74's Avatar
    It sounds like you had a lovely, if exhausting, day! Thanks for being my personal shopper / sample procurer / info gatherer once again- I owe you big time!!
  7. 30 Roses's Avatar
    @morrison74, Were it not for you, I would not have thought of eating at the Scottish restaurant!

    @ mimi, I think Carnal Flower may replace Une Rose as my favorite Malle.

    @ RHM, We would have run your feet off and you would have declared me a tryrant! You'd laugh if you saw our itinerary: "20 minutes at X, 10 minutes to walk to Y" etc.
    Updated 2nd May 2011 at 04:21 PM by 30 Roses
  8. PerfumedLady's Avatar
    Wonderful reading,30R!Almost like going myself.I'm so glad Muguet did not disappoint(other than the chintzy paper label-WHAT!?!).
  9. 30 Roses's Avatar
    I know, PerfumedLady, really! The bottle should be a delight to the eye, and could have been-- they settled for that??
  10. matildaben's Avatar
    What an odyssey! If I'm ever in NYC on a day when you can come down, I'd love to go on a sniff tour with you.
  11. 30 Roses's Avatar
    matildaben, we'd have to bring your fragrance-discerning cat along!
  12. Saintpaulia's Avatar
    Dear Rosa, I don't know how you manage to keep all these details in your mind! Just trying to keep all of the scents straight is one thing; to remember the clerks' names another, and then to actually be able to associate these scents with others, whilst also getting samples and such...Boy! I am seeing a really pure amateur here! Makes me realize how far one can go in this hobby/passion. Thanks for allowing me to be a little bird on your shoulder for a day in Manhatten!
  13. 30 Roses's Avatar
    Saintpaulia, I could not rely on memory.

    in my tote I carried maps marked with each of our destinations, a detailed itinerary, a page just for Krigler with the name of each fragrance and its notes and space to write impressions, a similar page for Barney's with the name of each fragrance I wanted to check out on this trip (having tested others previously), and several other sheets for the all the other shops, with lists of the specific perfumes to test or request samples of.

    Before leaving each counter or store, I jotted down the SA's name, so that I could call them back if I decided to order.
  14. Twolf's Avatar
    Speak of being prepared! Wow.
  15. 30 Roses's Avatar
    Yeah, it's a bit obsessive, but in the past I've come home from such excursions and realized that in all the busyness, I'd forgotten to test or get a sample of something I had really, really wanted to try. (Maddening!) This way I didn't miss any on my "must try" list.

    I didn't write notes on each fragrance but on some, yes, I did write a snapshot impression. For example, Jeux de Peau: "buttered popcorn flavored Jelly Bellies" (not good, not for me.); Gris Clair: "lavender"; Ouarzazate: "peppery" ; Rosine Clair Matin: "boring fruity floral" and so forth.

    Simplistic, but it helped me sort the ones I liked right away from the ones I preferred not to test further just yet. Some I mentally filed away to get samples of-- like Jaisalmer.

    My husband and daughter didn't pre-plan, just looked at and tested whatever appealed to them. That works, too! My daughter especially liked the jewelry at Bendel; she is not so much into fragrance, prefers fashion. I promised her that the next family trip to NYC would be for something she enjoys more.
    Updated 4th May 2011 at 05:06 PM by 30 Roses
  16. 30 Roses's Avatar
    C Rose-- I'm glad you found it helpful! The 50ml is better for me as well. And I can do without the wooden box!


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