My New York City Sniffing Tour – Part I

Four days in New York City! This long awaited and hotly anticipated trip was wonderful and, as I knew it would be, too short to do everything I wanted to. But that is okay, it is always nice to know that it is inevitably necessary to go back. :)

On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, my husband and I flew to New York City only to leave it again as fast as possible. We rented a car and drove upstate to Harriman, a small town that would not be remarkable in any way, were it not for the largest outlet center in the US (the world in all probability, although I have not checked that fact!), Woodbury Common.

The opening hours are made for people suffering from jetlag anyway, so since we were up at 5am, it was nice to make use of the time and go shopping. (Since it was Black Friday, the stores opened as soon as 9pm on Thursday and were open through the night.) We had a strict plan, without that, the Black Friday hysteria would have overwhelmed the bravest shopper.

Of course, I checked out the perfumes stores on the premises and found a few discontinued Tom Ford Private Blends to sniff, at The Cosmetics Company Store. They had Velvet Gardenia, Noir de Noir and even Moss Breches.

The outlet center was followed by Target to shop for essentials (the husband and I are the kind of people, who think that importing things like dental floss and pretzels is essential, we are strange like that), so this Friday was decidedly low brow. (Although I think the makeup brushes and hair brush by Sonia Kashuk are great!)

We drove into the city after lunch and returned the car. After checking in at the W Hotel (the location of Bliss Spa!), I immediately started the perfume hunt and dragged poor Dr O with me.

Soho and Nolita sounded like the perfect place to start, so we took a cab downtown. On the way to Le Labo, I saw the newly opened boutique of Atelier Cologne with its lovely blue door.

Le Labo is a beautiful store, I love how it is decorated. My husband insisted on getting me his favorite perfume, since it is only available there – Tubereuse 40. Thank you!

Inside the Le Labo store

The Husband wonders if he could use his favorite Calone 17 room spray as his signature scent...

I'd like one of those cupboards, please!

Then we wandered over to Aedes de Venustas. The store is decorated like a royal boudoir, very elegant and luxe, and they carry many niche lines, although aside from Santa Maria Novella, there was nothing totally new to me. A good thing! ;) I should have gone to MiN New York as well as long as I was in the area, but I forgot and didn’t get another chance, unfortunately.

Aedes de Venustas

On Saturday I met fellow blogger Joey of Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies and she took me under her wings and showed me around the Beauty and Fragrance level at the mothership – Bergdorf Goodman’s.

First stop was the Guerlain boutique, where we met the nicest SA, who immediately clocked my accent and placed me squarely in Vienna (I have to work on that!). She turned out to be German, living in the US for the past 38 years though.

I had planned to treat myself to one Guerlain perfume, I was not sure which one though, but re-smelling Jicky in extrait on the one hand and EdT on the other, left me no choice than to go for the parfum. The EdT just doesn’t compare. So I became the significantly poorer, but delirioulsy happy owner of a quadrilobe bottle of Jicky extrait.

Next we took a peek at the By Kilian solids in very pretty compacts, but I prefer liquid perfume in almost all cases (Aftelier soldids are the sole exception for me so far).

Amouage was out of Opus IV, which was a good thing, I don’t know whether I could have withstood the temptation. Dee’s repeated hymns of praise have been whittling away on my resistance, and being away from home, it is always easier to spend money, but as I said, I was saved by Bergdorf’s paring down their stock. (They said they won’t carry the Opus line anymore, sad…)

And then came the highpoint of the tour – the JAR experience.

We have all read about J. Arthur Rosenthal’s (in)famous line of perfumes – super-exclusive and super-expensive.

We sat down in a velvet covered alcove, on a table before us the famed glass cups holding perfume-soaked velvet cloths. One after the other, each cup is opened and presented to you and you may smell what is inside. Only then you may know the name, but nothing else. After the first round, you can say which ones you’d like to smell again and then choose the one you like most, to wear on skin.

The bottles of JAR perfumes are beautiful, simple, but gorgeous smooth bubbles that lay on their sides and come in a purple velvet pouch. One ounce (30ml) of pure perfume is 465$ (plus tax). So, the secret is out! ;)

My favorite was called Diamond Water, I also liked Shadow and Jarling. Golconda (Joey’s favorite) and Ferme tes Yeux were very interesting and I’m sure, given the chance to get them to know better, I’d love them too. I didn’t particularly care for Jardenia and the nameless, symbol only, one (There is only a bolt of lightning on the flask, this perfume is as nameless and the man who use to call himself Prince.)

I was fully expecting NOT to be wowed by JAR, but I must say, these are beautiful perfumes, interesting all of them and obviously expensively and well made. That said, I still think they are incredibly expensive though.

A big Thank you! to Joey, who took the time to meet me and show me her favorite hunting ground. We were not yet quite done, though…

Watch out for Part II coming up soon!

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About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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38 Responses to My New York City Sniffing Tour – Part I

  1. Natalie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing the first leg with us! It sounds like a wonderful trip so far, and you got some beautiful perfumes. Lastly, I salute you for braving an outlet mall! :)

  2. Sandra says:

    I enjoyed reading your first part of NYC! I share your need to import strange things like toothpaste and dental floss into Austria! Thankfully I am not the only one. JAR sounds lovely.

  3. Undina says:

    Thank you for the account of your sniffing adventure! I like reading these stories probably even more that one perfume reviews.

    Did it feel comfortable to sniff those JAR perfumes knowing that you weren’t going to buy any? BTW, I read that some of them are more expensive (around $800). So it looks like you liked it on the lower side of the range ;)

    • Olfactoria says:

      I felt very comfortable with the JAR SA, since I was there with Joey as declared fragrance nuts, he didn’t expect to make a sale, it was very relaxed and informative.
      I forgot to ask whether they were all the same price, Joey later said she thought yes, but maybe that is not the case after all.

  4. lady jane grey says:

    What an exciting read, B. – sounds like you had great fun!
    I can’t await part II. (and hopefully III., IV, …)

  5. Ines says:

    What wonderful experience! :)
    I’d like one of those cupboards too!

    I’m already looking forward to reading more – and I’m glad you’re back to tell us all about it. :)

  6. civava says:

    Ha, ha, I enjoy reading your smelly travelogue. I can clearly imagine myself through your writing running around from store to store sniffing and dragging my poor husband along.

  7. Suzanne says:

    One of the greatest things about you, Birgit, is just when I think I have your tastes pegged, you bust a move that is so far to the left or right of what I think those tastes are that I can only shake my head and laugh. You’re a sweet mystery, and I love that you bought a bottle of Jicky extrait, which to me is one of those naughty perfumes that I would have thought would make you cringe.

    Wonderful report of your NYC trip. Looking forward to your next installment.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I am an enigma! ;)

      It is the strangest thing, but I have a very weird skank perception. Some days, I can’t stand the slightest hint of dirtiness, some days, all I smell is warm fuzziness. I love Absolue pour le Soir on some days and don’t know what I was complaining about, only to try again another day and run for the shower, because the stench is killing me. It is not as extreme with Jicky, of course, but it too has rough AND smooth days. :)

  8. deeHowe says:

    Squee! I feel like I was right there by your side, breathlessly trying to keep up with you and Dr. O!

    “Whirlwind” probably is an understatement for your trip, but what a delightful trip. I love the picture of M contemplating Le Labo, and like Vanessa, I love that you bought a bottle of Jicky extrait (which, incidentally, reminds me of Onda–or the other way around) at Guerlain.

    I can’t wait to hear part two :)

  9. Ari says:

    Love me some Woodbury Commons, they have a great Diane von Furstenberg outlet. It made me smile to hear about all the fun that you and Joey had!

  10. Tara says:

    This was a joy to read, B! You really took us along on your whirlwind shopping and sniffing tour and what lovely choices you made too – with more to come! I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll be back in New York so reading your post(card) was the next best thing. Very few of us will have had the “JAR experience” so that was a thrill to read about. I like the idea of the cups, way better than paper.

    Very excited for your Jicky extrait and Tudereuse 40 purchases. The city exclusive was a perfect momento of your stay and a generous gift from Dr O (love that pic!). So nice you got to meet up with Joey too. Along with everybody else, I can’t wait to see where we’re off to in Part II. A real treat, so thank-you.

  11. andrea says:

    Your trip sounds wonderful, the Le Labo store looks fantastic, I have just fallen prey to the PR of only being able to buy the exclusives in November, I succumbed to Paris. I thought they were stupidly expensive till you kindly let us into the secret of how expensive JAR is, that is heart stoppingly let’s not eat for a month expensive. :-)

    • Olfactoria says:

      You got Vanille? That is a lovely scent!
      JAR is really not in my budget, I’m glad I didn’t totally fall for something.

      • andrea says:

        Yes I got vanille, I absolutely love it as did my son when he smelt it. Nice Le Labo doing 15ml bottles which is slightly more budget friendly. I bet you were glad you did not fall too much for JAR, always nice to smell them though.

  12. Stef says:

    Sounds like you’ve had an amazing time, cant wait to hear the next installment. New York is one place I have wanted to go my whole life. I’ll make it there one day!

  13. Again, I am SO glad to have met you and to have been able to spend my Saturday morning taking you around. You are so wonderful to spend time with, and I hope you are enjoying the Jicky! I am planning another Bergdorf trip this weekend and I’ll be missing you xoxoxo

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’ll be missing you AND Bergdorf’s! :)
      Could you ask when the EB palettes are coming in, please? One is for a friend and I hope to give her an estimate. Thank you! xoxo

  14. JoanElaine says:

    Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your travels! I felt like I was there with you and J. as you sniffed all those glorious perfumes. I especially loved your descriptions of JAR’s artful pomp.
    Your handsome husband is an absolute doll for going sniffing with you. Enjoy your Tuberuese 40 and Jicky extrait!

  15. Julie says:

    Hi Birgit,
    Is that a Burberry scarf I spy around the neck of the Husband? How very dapper! I am quite green with envy over your New York trip. When I was growing up, my parents took my sister and I to New York every year at Christmas for the weekend to look at the beautifully decorated store windows and shop.

    I love the photo of the Atelier Cologne shop and I too would like a cabinet like the one in Le Labo. You got to meet Joey!!! She is one special bunny, isn’t she? I haven’t met her but feel like I have. :) Did you stop by the Le Metier de Beaute counter as well? Edward Bess? I am getting a bottle of Guerlain Jicky for Christmas (Edt), but the extrait? Oh my!! Would love to see a photo of the bottle when you unwrap it. OK, longest comment ever – I’ll sign off now. Great post!

    • Olfactoria says:

      The cosmetics stuff is in Part II, which will be up tomorrow. :)

      Your childhood trips sound so lovely! I should really photograph my new bottles, I’m so bad at this. I even forgot making a photo of Joey! :(

  16. I like that cupbord, too! Very nice :) Congrats on the Jicky and all of your purchases. That was fun, I’m sure!

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