Monday, September 04, 2006

August 26th: Snifforama with NYC Perfumistas

In a charming Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, the three of us met for brunch – Nancy Arnott, Susan Winters and I. Time flew by fast as we discussed almost anything possible from perfumes to traveling, family, world peace and community supported agriculture (CSA). Susan smelled deliciously of Parfum Delrae Eau Iluminee while Nancy had a scent-free skin, all set up for a big perfume-testing day.

We set off for Aedes with left over from the generous lunch that mysteriously found its way to the table without invitation, all in high hopes for finding a hungry homeless dying to have that gourmet pizza. The doggy-bag ended up accompanying us to the finest perfume stores in Greenwich Village and beyond…

Aedes was nothing I had expected. It may be great to be able to recognize a meeting point by a photo on the internet, but when it came to Aedes, I was happy that I did not have any visual idea about the store, except for its name and its old fashioned logo (and a vague yet intriguing idea of some of the lines carried there). At the door, a gentleman named Robert was joyously smoking his afternoon cigarette and of course it wasn’t necessary for Ms. Winters and Ms. Arnott top introduce myself, and I was just the anonymous lady dragging along with the avid perfumistas (trying to keep a low profile, which lasted for quite a while)… The atmosphere inside the dim-lit and highly fragrant store space was very European – from the furniture and the decoration and the manner in which the perfume lines are exquisitely displayed in their antique cabinets, to the accent of the other gentleman, Karl, who greeted us warmly as soon as we entered the space.

I saw perfumes that have never smelled before – Mona di Orio line, wich I found most exquisite; Rosine’s line, which showcases the versatility of rose; Montale’s rich, Arabesque concoctions; Escentric Molecules’ sweet and short, abstract olfactory line (Nancy tried their Molecule No. 1 , which to me smelled as soft skin-musk, and Nancy experienced as celery seed); Jalaine’s oils in fancy cut-glass bottles; Luten’s legendary line, including the newest Chypre Rouge (it was celery again! Not what I was looking for in a Chypre…) and Vetiver Oriental;

Montale’s Oud Queen Rose was the only one I have tried on my wrist at Aedes. It was a bit like an exaggerated impression of Agent Provocateur, with higher doses of saffron, and of course a killer dose of oud. It was persistent for quite a long time until it started to soften and phase out.

We also got a sneak-sniff into the new l’Artisan harvest limited edition coming up, based on narcissus. To our sheer astonishment, it smelled very little of fresh narcissus, but strongly of dark coffee, and than a quiet, powdery and dark narcissus note has emerged from the bottom.

If it wasn’t for the charming Ms. Winters, I could have kept my anonymity throughout the visit and manage to go through the entire Rosine line and maybe even picking a new scent... But thanks to her enthusiasm, I had the opportunity for a brief olfactory seduction with scents such as Espionage and Zohar.

Nancy and I than set off to a couple of old pharmacies – New London and Bigelow’s – and explored their extensive collections of both bourique and classic fragrances. Bigelow’s collection was incredible – Miller Harris, Comptoir Sud Pacifique - they carried almost anything classic imaginable, from Diorissimo and Vent Vert to Patricia de Nicolai, Lorenzo Villoresi, Le Parfums de Rosine and more. Quite a departure from the usual Brittney Spears and Coty’s Wild Musk collection that more down-to-earth pharmacies offer. They also carried indie self-made houses such as AromaM Geisha line, and others.

New London Pharmacy carried a similar variety of lines, namely Miller Harris, Sage Mechado, Dyptique, Comptoir Sud Pacifique, Aqua di Parma and Carthusia. If only we weren’t in a bit of a hurry to get to Barney’s store uptown on Madison Avenue before closure time, I would have readily spent more time (and probably money too…) in the rich perfume isles of these two old-fashioned pharmacies. They truly deserve their very own blog entry, and a bit of history
about the interesting relationship between the apothecary, pharmacy and perfumery. I will save this for my next trip to New York.

It was Le Parfum de Therese that was calling my name all the way from Madison Avenue to the Village, and I had to go and meet her before the Barney’s closure time. The subway in New York is impressively fast and effective - it got us there in less than 30 minutes, and we had time not only to finally get a steady supply of this masterpiece (which have become my summer staple fragrance), but also befriend the two sales people – a kind and knowledgeable lady and an enthusiastic gentleman named Khash. We were fortunate enough to sniff We got more sniffs of l’Artisan, Serge Lutens and Frederick Malle scents that I haven’t had the chance to smell before. I tried Bigarade Concentree for the first time, and loved it more than I can ever expect from a citrus. There were also a few lines that I haven’t seen in any of the other fragrance boutiques I visited in NYC yet – such as Strange Invisible Perfumes and Yosh, and even the more known Costume National (thanks to Khash, I am now quite intrigued by their Scent Intense – a skin-musk type of scent in the black bottle). After Khash’s comment about our knowledge and understanding of fragrance, the kind Ms. Arnott couldn’t help it but follow Susan’s tradition of identity-revelation, and I had the pleasure of giving Khash a little tour of my fragrances as well, particularly the skin-like and the musky ones (Razala, Espionage). He likened Ayalitta, strangely enough, to an exotic Indian and Pakistani breath freshener, wrapped in leaves and served at the end of weddings and festivities.

It was a fabulous day, with two fine ladies, in a fine city full of gorgeous perfumes and curious celery fragrances. It wasn’t until I got off the train in Brooklyn that I finally found the grateful homeless man to eat that gourmet pizza, and it seemed well worth carrying around, along with all the fragrant souvenirs from a gigantic metropolitan – the capital of the world.

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4 Comments:

At September 05, 2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Victoria said...

Sounds so wonderful! Love Aedes, so charming! Although they need more space! Did you go to the Magnolia Bakery, just up the street from Bigelow Drug? Was the big black cat there at Bigelow? Ohhhh I'm missing NYC!!!

 
At September 06, 2006 5:50 PM, Blogger nancy said...

Thanks for immortalizing our wonderful day with your lovely write-up, Ayala. I can't wait to do it again and hit all the spots we missed this time! But I'll let you recover from this trip first.:)

Welcome home!!

 
At September 07, 2006 1:46 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Victoria, isn't Aedes wonderful? I personally like the small size... And even the darkness. It calls for an experience that is all perfume. Haven't made it to the Magnolia bakery, but now that you told me about it, I wrote it down as a destination for my next trip to NYC.

 
At September 07, 2006 1:47 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Nancy, I can't wait for my next visit! It would be wonderful to meet again and hit all the good spots again - including new ones. I really want to visit Le Labo as well, but there is only so much you can do in three days... See you soon!

 

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