I love fall – for me it’s all about new beginnings – the start of the school year, new clothes and most excitedly, the time to choose a new fragrance. And I’m a tough customer in this area – I don’t usually go for the blockbuster commercial scents. Thankfully, niche fragrance options presented in retail venues that focus on a new intimacy between customer and brand are more plentiful than ever.
“I strongly believe that retail perfumeries need two elements: an experience for the shopper and truth in the quality of the product you are selling,” said Celso Fadelli, president and CEO of Intertrade Europe, a fragrance producer and distributor that just opened The Avery Perfumes boutique at the Limelight Marketplace in New York City this past summer.
No familiar brand names here – Avery carries unique lines like Carthusia, which dates back to 1380 and the monastery of St. Giacomo in Capri Italy; Nasomatto, an editorial fave from master perfumer, Alessandro Gualtieri; and Profumi Del Forte, boasting the best raw materials blended with Tuscan hands-on artistry. Talk about experiential; visiting the Limelight (a former church and infamous nightclub) is akin to entering a sensorial kaleidoscope of design, textures and aromas. Fitting the caravan like atmosphere, Avery samples each fragrance on a feather that can be carried throughout the day as a reminder of the venue.
I’m partial to Carthusia’s new 1681 ($85), a rich blend of mandarin, bergamot, rosemary, lavender, black pepper, incense and cedar wood. And when in London, visit Avery Fine Perfumery, the company’s sister boutique in Mayfair.
Aedes de Venustas
Stepping into Greenwich Village’s Aedes de Venustas takes you on a time travelling trip back to the Belle Époque and a courtesan’s boudoir, despite the shop’s trailblazing status as one of the first contemporary niche perfumeries. Velvet, vials and crystal atomizers abound alongside roughly 50 artisanal fragrance lines such as Etro, Parfums DelRae, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, and Odin.
Founded and created by Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner, Aedes de Venusta offers an extensive online selection at www.aedes.com.
As modern as Aedes de Venusta is baroque, Scent Bar on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, is a minimalist salon described as offering “the intimacy of a wine bar, without the formality.” The brick and mortar incarnation of http://www.luckyscent.com/, Scent Bar and its online counterpart feature a monthly Lucky Seven scents. September’s were Ambra ($175) from Mazzolari, Harissa ($104) from Comme des Garçons, Janca ($120) from Acqua di Biella, Coup de Foudre ($150) from Parfums DelRae, U4EAH ($110) by Yosh, Orange Sanguine ($145) from L’Atelier Cologne and GSO1 ($150) from Biehl Parfumkunstwerke. Special events at Scent Bar include trunk shows, previews, books signings and talks with perfumers.
Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie at Harrods of London
The lavish shrine to perfume that Roja Dove has created at London’s Harrods Department store is anything but static. It’s a constantly evolving chronicle of the perfumer’s art, with every presented scent personally chosen by Roja Dove, claimed to be the world’s sole Professeur de Parfums. Designer Tom Ford calls the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, “a sensory haven of fragrances; it is the most inspiring distinctive and lavish perfumery anywhere.” From the venerable Houbigant to the new Atelier Flou, the collection represents scents from the genre’s geniuses. Most recently Roja himself has joined the act, developing his own line of fragrances – Scandal, Unspoken, Enslave and the newly launched Diaghilev. Each is available as a parfum for £342.55 pounds or an eau de parfum for £120.Read more about the astonishing Roja Dove at www.rojadove.com.
Back in the day when publishers were flush and the dollar was strong, I visited Paris as a beauty trade journal editor nearly every October. No trip was complete without two mandatory stops: the shop at the Musée des Art Décoratifs, located in the Louvre complex on the Rue de Rivoli, and the Serge Lutens boutique at the Palais Royale, a short walk away. A renowned fashion photographer, Serge began his career as a hairstylist, ultimately joining Shiseido in 1980 to develop the Japanese brand’s product image. The Serge Lutens fragrances reflect his sensorial esthetic, which always reached beyond the mere two dimensions. The newest scent is called Bas de Soie ($120), which means Silk Stockings in French and features notes of hyacinth and iris. All together there are nearly 35 fragrances, which can be viewed and purchased at http://www.sergelutens-usa.com/.
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
As the grandson of the founder of Dior Perfumes, Frederic Malle grew up with the utmost respect for the art of perfumery and the perfumers whose unique artistry creates the fragrances often credited to designers and celebrities. “One of my primary ideas was to reveal that these guys [the perfumers] are actually behind the fragrance,” states Frederic in a YouTube video. His 18 perfumes and 9 home fragrances clearly identify the responsible perfumer, who Frederic has proudly given free rein to create works of art without marketing restraints. Check out Le Parfum de Thérèse ($145), authored by the late renowned perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, responsible for the classic Eau Sauvage by Dior. There are four Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle boutiques, three in Paris and a recently opened shop in New York City. For additional department store and boutique locations in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, visit www.editionsdeparfum.com.