Day 2 (Part III) – A Whirlwind Tour of Perfume Boutiques
We left Jovoy with contented smiles on our faces – well, more than just contented smiles: Monsieur D left with a bottle of Parfum d’Empire’s Ambre Russe and plenty of samples. I’d managed to muster up some inkling of restraint and left without buying anything… yet (that’s a story for Day 4). We had planned to meet up with Bianca, a friend that Monsieur D had made on the train from the airport, at 3.30pm, but there was still some time to kill, and so we decided to walk around the area. Just diagonally across the street from Jovoy was a Jean Patou boutique, where we discovered the recently launched Collection Héritage series comprising Chaldée, Eau de Patou and Patou Pour Homme. I have yet to smell the original scents, so I can’t comment on how they’ve been reformulated, and I can’t remember much of what I smelt either, save for the fact that they were quite smooth and elegant, never venturing into offensive territory. The sales assistant was helpful enough, and possibly rather hopeful that we would be making a purchase as well, given that she was quite persistent about the quality of the fragrances. I suppose it was because we were holding so many shopping bags!
The time soon came for tea, at the very swanky Jean-Paul Hevin. Monsieur D sure is one with fine taste! There I met Bianca for the first time, a lovely young woman of Brazilian, Japanese, American (and more, but I forgot!) descent. We ordered our teas, coffees and desserts and promptly settled into comfortable conversation about everything under the sun. Pretty soon, though, our cups were drained and our sweet teeth were satisfied; Monsieur D asked Bianca if she would like to join us on our scented adventure, and she agreed to tag along since she had nothing to do until her dinner appointment with some other friends later in the evening.
Our first stop was Iunx, the ultra exclusive, ultra reclusive perfume brand that was situated in the Hôtel Costes. For those not in the know, there is only one Iunx boutique in the entire world, and they don’t do online sales either! I’m not sure what they’re trying to go for by being so exclusive, but I guess people are entitled to whatever mode of sales and operations they wish to pursue! Iunx contains perfumes by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti, whose style tends towards the ethereal and light, like intimate whispers; I usually don’t get much longevity from her perfumes, but I nevertheless remain a fan of some of her work (En Passant for Frédéric Malle, Philosykos for Diptyque, Passage d’Enfer and Tea for Two for L’Artisan Parfumeur, among others). The Iunx boutique was run by a rather eccentric old man who delighted in making us squirm somewhat with his political incorrectness. When I asked to try L’Ether, he remarked that it was a good thing I hadn’t reached out for the bottle to spray myself, as he would have scolded me. Right. When I asked him how the brand managed to stay afloat given that there was only one point of sales in the whole world, he remarked, in a blasé manner, that the Middle Easterns came into the boutique and bought many bottles at one go, sometimes even without smelling them. I suppose when you’re rich, exclusivity somehow matters a lot. Moi, I’m happy to own any perfume, no matter how ubiquitous, so long as it smells good. Perfume is personal, after all, and why should it matter that no one else has something I own when what matters is how the perfume I have smells to me? Anyway, I quite liked L’Ether, which was a woody incense fragrance with somewhat creamy undertones of sandalwood (done with a light hand, of course, this is Olivia we’re talking about!), as well as Splash Forte. But I didn’t like them enough to splash out €175 on a massive 150ml bottle that wouldn’t fit in a regular cupboard or shelf. The smell-dispensing machines were also quite chic, resembling large microscopes that erupted in plastic strips at the end. Now that I think about them, they actually resembled nostrils, complete with nose hair!
Walking along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, we came past an Hermès boutique and proceeded inside. If there’s one word that can be used to describe an Hermès boutique, it’s “orange”, which I’m sure many will recognise as the striking colour of their boxes. I had the opportunity to try the recently released Épice Marine. Because I didn’t have any high expectations of it, I was somewhat taken aback to find out that it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would have been, but I must have been biased towards it because of its cumin and sesame, and I felt that it might even be one of the better Hermessence fragrances. Not that that’s saying much, mind you; I don’t have any affection for any of the others in the Hermessence range. Give me 24, Faubourg, any day, in any concentration. It’s classy and sexy at the same time. For someone who’s rather level-headed, I must confess that I own two 100ml bottles of 24, Faubourg EDP, one a regular bottle and the other a limited edition fancy bottle, a 30ml EDT, 15ml EDT travel spray, and a 7.5ml extrait. Yep, I’m a fan. Can I just say that I absolutely adore perfumer Maurice Roucel, who is the nose behind 24, Faubourg, as well as many other much-loved fragrances such as Iris Silver Mist, Envy, Insolence etc. Oh wait, where were we? Paris. That’s right. Coincidentally, we were informed by the staff that the bottle design of the regular line had changed that very day. I thought the new bottles looked uglier than the previous ones did, plus I’m always sceptical about bottle changes because they usually hint at possible reformulations. I also had the opportunity to try the newly-released Bel Ami Vetiver and promptly proceeded to hate it because it reminded me terribly of Thierry Mugler Angel, except it turned the butch into a man. Angel is, if you don’t already know, one of the few perfumes that induces my gag-reflex and that makes me want to rampage around like Godzilla and stomp on the guilty person who’s wearing Angel. It’s the spawn of the Devil. I haven’t had the chance to smell it since, but I’ve heard that it doesn’t smell remotely close to Angel. It could very well have been that my nose had gone bonkers after all that smelling!
Leaving Hermès, we came by a Lancôme boutique a couple of stores down the road and we went inside because Monsieur D had to pick something up for a friend. Apparently, they stocked Lancôme’s exclusive perfume range – who even knew they had an exclusive range?! I had a sniff of them, but the testers were placed on counters that were overheated – a perfume travesty! Perhaps this explained why they smelt bad, and not at all pleasing. I wonder, though, why every other brand seems to be starting an exclusive line, when little effort actually goes into the fragrance. I really should start an anti-exclusive campaign!
And that was it for the fragrant section of Day 2. Monsieur D, Bianca and I slowly made our way from Rue du Faubourg toward Odéon, where Bianca was to meet her friends. Along the way, we came by a little bar by the roadside that was having a Happy Hour for its cocktails, so I happily bought my customary Piña Colada, and we drank to the lovely day that we’d spent together. After drinks, Bianca left us to join her friends, so Monsieur D and I walked around for a bit before settling on having dinner in a cosy café in the area. And then it was time to bid goodbye and head back as it was getting late, and as we parted I couldn’t help but feel that even though spending time in Paris on my own was magical, spending it with friends (and perfume) made my time in Paris even more special.
~ The Smelly Vagabond
[Well that’s the end of Day 2! Two more days to go, if I can find the time to write… It’s an amazing feeling to relive the memories of my Paris trip – are there any holidays you’d love to relive over and over again?]