Olfactoria On The Road – Milan, Fragrant City Part II

My first stop in Milan was the big department store in the center of the city, on Piazza Duomo. Located in a beautiful old venue, La Rinascente is famous like Harrods in London or KaDeWe in Berlin. The ground floor is devoted to fragrances and cosmetics. There were renovations going on (remember, it is August and everything is at least partially closed, it seems!), so not the entire floor was open.

La Rinascente Milano

The fare at La Rinascente is pretty conventional on the perfume side, although I spent a good amount of time at the Acqua di Parma counter, sniffing my way through and aquiring samples (very generous SA!) and the Tom Ford counter, where a scarily close-to-the-real-deal Tom Ford look alike was on duty. On closer inspection, he was at least ten years younger than the original, but my heart skipped a few beats when I saw him, stopping in my tracks and preparing to be starstruck. He was looking incredibly like his apparent idol.

I smelled the now discontinued Moss Breches, they still have a few bottles left, and was sorely tempted, but then I didn’t go for it, the price is very high after all. I struggled even harder with wanting Amber Absolute, which is – of course – totally my thing, but I have many a similar amber already in my closet, so I passed here as well, although Amber Absolute has its fixed place on the eternal wishlist.

The cosmetics department had some very nice lines that are not found everywhere, namely Burberry and Dolce&Gabbana, I happily swatched my way through the lipstick offerings and left a happy woman with a quite recent new release, Burberry Lip Mist in Cinnamon.

After the unlucky visit to Calé (I was separated from Brezza di Seta only by a glass front!), I discovered a small profumeria, La Vecchia Milano, as I mentioned in my previous Milan post. This “mom and pop” store had a sizable niche collection, featuring (and that list is by no means complete) Bois 1920, Molinard, Washington Tremlett, Geo F. Trumper, Creed, Robert Piguet, Knize, Mark Birley, Etro, Nicolai, Hanbury, Laura Tonnato, Odori, Brousseau, Caron, Dr Vranjes, Eau de Pierlot and Guerlains in perfume concentrations and rare limited bottle editions.

A fragrance fanatics paradise…

La Vecchia, sorry for the bad quality :(

I smelled some Bois 1920 scents, with Sushi Imperiale the strongest in my mind, for its name more than the scent itself, although it was nice. I smelled Bal á Versailles (not for me, as I suspected, but still a must-smell for Perfumistas), and swooned over various Guerlain extraits.

In a cupboard near the floor, hidden behind a desk were bottles of Yohi Homme, which is coveted by many, and Gucci L’Arte de Gucci, also Dior bottles from at least the eighties.

The proprietor was very nice, she spoke no English or German and my Italian is unfortunately only good enough to order food. She let me look and smell to my hearts content, though. Perfume lovers need no words to communicate. :)

Later that same day, we went to 10 Corso Como. 10 Corso Como is a lifestyle store, a concept store, what ever you call it. Almost invisible from the street you have to go into a courtyard, where here is a beautiful café amidst lots of trees and greenery, further in, there is the beautiful black and white glass surface dominated store. They sell pretty much everything that can be designed – clothes, jewellery, handbags, furniture, toys and tada! – Perfume!

Their niche selection is pretty comprehensive and includes L’Artisan Parfumeur, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, L’Agent Provocateur, Serge Lutens, Roger Vivier, By Kilian, Diptyque, Honorè des Pres, Jo Malone Home Scents and Comme des Garcons.

I was pleasantly surprised to find long discontinued scents there too, (or at least testers of them, I didn’t inquire further) for example L’Artisan Fleurs de Narcisse 2006 (no love lost for me here), Iris Pallida 2007 and Fleurs D’Oranger 2007, or Comme des Garcons Calamus by Bertrand Duchaufour (truly lovely, should have asked whether they still had it, but one knows always better after leaving). I smelled and applied Serge Lutens Chêne on one arm, and Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue pour le Matin on the other. I will try to acquire samples of both. Of course I tried the house scent 10 Corso Como, but was a bit underwhelmed, it might be nice but did not leave a huge impression upon first sniff either on paper or hand, at least that first impression did not propel me to buy it in the least and they wouldn’t part with a sample. Well, their loss.

The By Kilian display was so beautiful, I was compelled to stay and smell the roses, or rather Rose Oud and liked it, although I find it very much like so many other rose and oud combinations out there. And I gave Back to Black another chance and lo and behold – I did a complete 180 and liked it, a lot. But fear not, that is not the bottle I brought home, I am not that mad to invest in such an expensive perfume when I had mixed reactions to it. (I think you can call blank horror and pleasant surprise, a mixed reaction.) but I am inspired to give my By Kilian set another go, right now I am wearing Cruel Intentions quite happily, oud or no oud.

I left 10 Corso Como armed with a heap of blotters and a satisfied smile, and my boys strolled out nonchalantly weaving fans that had been presented to them by courteous sales assistants, when they collapsed in a heap on some sofa immediately upon entering the premises.

Before we left that hot city, busy with tourists and empty of Italians in August again, I skipped once more into La Rinascente and purchased a bottle of Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile. Review will come up soon (ish). Only so much, my dear husband loves it, and it has proven beneficial in many a way, to keep him happy. ;)

Image source: cpp-luxury.com, my own, ar-revista.com, cynthia-rowley.com
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About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
This entry was posted in Acqua di Parma, Calé Fragranze d'Autore, Corso Como, Serge Lutens, Shopping, Travels and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Olfactoria On The Road – Milan, Fragrant City Part II

  1. It sounds like you had an amazing time! La Vecchia Milano sounds so quaint and lovely!

    By Killian is a line that I really should invest more time looking into, there is a lot of positive buzz about them in the blogosphere.

  2. iodine says:

    I’m so sorry, I think, too, that’s inconceivable to leave a big city CLOSED for two weeks, but that’s what’s happening here, most unpleasant even for residents that choose to spend part of August in town! Next time you should come in Autumn, or Winter (beware, some shops have the bad habit of closing during Christmas holidays!!) or in Spring, maybe during the Exsence.. Thanks anyway for the nice words for the city, which has much more beauty than meets the eye, and hopefully will get even better with the new major. My greetings to Vienna, where I spent a wonderfully “open” August 20 years ago!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Iodine, no need to be sorry. Your tip with the Giardino Pubblico was great, my boys loved the playground there, it was a much needed pit stop for us.
      But you are right, next time I will come in autumn or spring, it is just a short flight away after all. :)

  3. masha7 says:

    What fun!
    10 Corso Como used to be a really striking perfume, maybe the best sandalwood/incense out there. But with the disappearance of mysore sandalwood from the market (overharvesting), the skyrocketing cost of genuine oud, and IFRA regulations, it turned into a ghost of itself.

  4. Vanessa says:

    Not a bad day’s work, even allowing for the chiuso factor! I particularly loved the look of that 10 Corso Como store, though am not a fan of the scent particularly. A purchase of Mag Nob (as I like to call it) seems very fitting on Italian soil – I was wearing my bottle of Iris Nob (EDT) the other day, which I bought in Paris, haha!

    Oh and that is not a heater I spy on the floor of La Vecchia Milano, is it?? Tell me it is a fan!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Lol, it is a fan, and the gifted photographer is more astute with a drill than a camera. ;) The Corso Como store was beautiful, I love such interesting spaces. And Mag Nob – it was kind of spur of the moment, but it is somehow very Italian to me, so it fits. And bottles bought somewhere else are always a little more special, aren’t they?

      • the husband says:

        While my dear wife was sniffing Mag Nob I was stuck outside with a Nag Mob in 400 degrees of Milano sun. That considered I find my photos to be fabulous.

  5. deeHowe says:

    Amber Absolute is on my permanent wish list too! Along with Tobacco Vanille…

    I am so glad that you tried Back to Black again, and that you liked it: I always question my taste when you dislike something that I love! :)

    What a wonderful trip you had—and what lucky little boys! What an education they are getting! The girls had better watch out when they come of age… Can you imagine being gifted by your high-school sweetheart with a L’Artisan? Or a Malle?

  6. Suzanne says:

    La Vecchia Milano sounds charming, and wow, that’s quite the respectable perfume collection they have, especially for a small store.

    I’m surprised Corso Como wouldn’t supply you with a sample of their own fragrance, but it sounds like they were otherwise courteous and had a great selection, too. I have to agree with Vanessa — despite the closings, I think you made out well!

  7. Tara says:

    So Magnolia Nobile was your surprise scent, what a fitting souvenir of your holiday. I too love the sound of that 10 Coso Como store, too bad the perfume is not what it once was. I keep to-ing and fro-ing over Back to Black but Sweet Redemption sounds wonderful.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I wore Sweet Redemption today, it is amazing! You will love it, I think. I am already certain that I need a full bottle (or rather a travel set).

      • Tara says:

        Ha! Just responded to your FB comment about this. I really think/fear I will love it too! May get a chance to go to Harvey Nics tomorrow and try it out. At least there are options with travel sets/refills to bring the price down a bit. Will let you know if I do. Hope to see a review in the future with a nice pic of Killian himself :)

  8. Lavanya says:

    La Vecchia Milano looks and sounds so lovely! oh and the thought of all those discontinued scents..:)
    I really need to try Sweet redemption. Maybe on my next trip to the scentbar/luckyscent.

    10 Corso Como, when I tried it long ago, smelled very interesting and more medicinal and edgy than many of the current ouds..I have read that it has been reformulated because of the sandalwood. *needs to dig out her sample and resniff*

    • Olfactoria says:

      Great when you have an old sample of 10 Corso Como!
      Sweet Redemption is a must-try. Certainly not unique or totally new, but very well done and just goooooood. ;)

  9. jedennard says:

    Speaking of Kilian, I have recently fallen for A Taste of Heaven. Jane Daly suggested it to me because I am a lavender fan. Have you tried that one?

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  11. Pingback: One Out Of Three – Review: Acqua Di Parma Iris Nobile, Magnolia Nobile, Gelsomino Nobile | Olfactoria's Travels

  12. Philipp says:

    A quick update on Rinascente’s current perfume selection: it now carries Chanel les Exclusifs, Dior’s Collection Couturier P. and several niche lines like Serge Lutens, Diptyque, Byredo, Piguet, Biehl’s etc. etc. La Rinascente is most def. worth checking out if you are in Milan.
    The staff are always friendly and always happy to give you samples (if they are available of course).

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