Following the previous day’s perfume adventures in the Upper East Side, last Sunday we revisited the more familiar and relaxed neighborhoods of SoHo and NoHo. I wanted to go into Atelier d’Emotion (who, incidentally, categorize their perfumes as “olfactory art”) and try some of the “Shot” extraits de parfum from the Sepia Collection of Olfactive Studio, among other things. However, when we first walked past it, it wasn’t open yet, and by the time it was, we’d had brunch and wandered off into another area.
So, sniffing in earnest for the day began at Fueguia 1833 SOHO, which appeared brighter and more inviting than its Madison counterpart. What looked like rows of light bulbs were in fact 100-mL round-bottom flasks sprayed with each perfume—according to the SA, there were 92 in total; I was up for the challenge!
As a bit of backstory, my first experience with this brand wasn’t very encouraging. I had read the marketing hype about plant-derived “musks ‘from the pheromone family'” and procured a sample of Muskara Phero J. My nose fixated on a note that smelled like Ambrettolide (which I find annoying and is very different from ambrette seed extract, which I love) and I couldn’t figure out what the fuss was about. Still, I am always interested in smelling perfumes made from extracts of plants native to a particular region (in this case, Patagonia) that are not easily found elsewhere.
The perfumes are organized by fragrance family, with the light citruses closest to the entrance. Each one is quite beautiful, though some are more unusual than others. Across the remarkable range, I perceived a signature and asked about it—the SA agreed that it would seem that all the perfumes had a common DNA, but they weren’t privy to what it was. It’s hard to describe but I would say it’s a richness, a natural sweetness like that of a ripe fruit (not sugary or gourmand).
The SA also mentioned that the brand had its own “anti-perfume” (Muskara Phero J) and gave Juliette Has A Gun Not a Perfume and D.S. & Durga I Don’t Know What as examples of the concept. I took another sniff and still felt it really paled next to all the perfumes.
Another customer had asked about a discovery set and been told that the only set they sold was the Oud collection (in 8-mL bottles), so it didn’t even occur to me to ask whether they sold individual samples. A few that I would like to explore further are Ballena de la Pampa (hay, ambergris, tobacco), La Tierra del Rayo (pink pepper, oakwood, rose), and Yakeñ (ambergris, paramela [a native Patagonian flower], senecio [a flowering plant in the daisy family]).
Crossing Houston Street, we next went to Olfactory NYC, which was quite crowded with people of all ages getting their unisex-named perfumes customized by adding a range of accords. I am still enjoying my bottle of Leo that I bought more than 2 years ago, maxed out on the fig/cedarwood. This time I bought the “playset” for it to see if, now that my tastes have matured a little, I would also like it with more of the suede. (The other note listed is patchouli.) The accords (provided in 3-mL dropper vials) are labelled as follows:
- 1. Fig & cedarwood
- 2. Sage, orris, & Clearwood
- 3. Cedarwood & incense
I asked whether the sage, orris, and Clearwood combo was the “suede” accord, but the SA didn’t seem to know. After testing it out, I think it is, but doesn’t behave as such until the medicinal sage top note has calmed down after a while.
On the next block was Scent Bar NYC, into which I excitedly brought my list of perfumes available on the Luckyscent website that I wanted to try in person. They didn’t have those; as the SA explained, they had to share inventory with the Los Angeles store and neither had the full selection from the website. I tried several perfumes somewhat randomly. The most eyebrow-raising ones for me were Rundholz 03.Apr.1968 and 20MARS2022, both built around a rich, multifaceted incense, the former being lighter and fruity and the latter being deep like a compote of dried fruits.
Finally, and serendipitously because it was just a couple of doors down from Scent Bar, we stepped into Cire Trudon to take in its old-world charm for a few moments. The wax busts are impressive and the candles smell refined. The mirrored walls made the place hard to photograph, especially with the crowds, but I made an attempt.
I believe I toned some finger and forearm muscles that I didn’t know I had, just from holding ridiculous numbers of blotters in a fan configuration and trying to memorize each one before dispersing them in various garbage cans across the city. This skill will come in handy again, I’m sure!