May 31, 2013

Three Unique Views of Rare Perfumes

Do you love perfume, but don't know anything about the art of perfume making?

Or does the thought of hanging around Place Vendôme and exploring some of the expensive-looking luxury shops nearby feel a bit intimidating to you?

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
If so, WICE has the perfect solution for you.  Recently, WICE members were treated to a special tour of three artisan perfumeries in Paris that specialize in rare and unique, hard to find fragrances.  In these boutiques, you will not find any of the popular mainstream perfumes that are typically found in department stores.

At Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, we were transported back in time with its elegant 17th century boudoir decor.  There, we learned all about the evolution of the different scents in a fragrance.  The top notes, middle notes, and base notes in perfume unfold at different rates, so it takes a bit of time in order to smell the complete fragrance.  This explains why initially smelling perfume in a store does not have the same fragrance as when you've worn it for an hour.  In fact, some flowers release many different fragrance notes over time, which makes the perfume's fragrance continue to evolve as you wear it throughout the day.    

With their focus on celebrating the history of perfume in France, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier has a collection of historical perfumes that were recreated using old formulas from the past, such as one of George Sand's perfumes.   Perfumed gloves are sold in homage to the time when perfume and glove making went hand in hand.  They also offer ambiance perfumes for your home, including the one that’s used at the Ritz Hotel.  With this fragrance you can have the aromatic experience of staying at the Ritz, without breaking the bank. 

Frederic Malle
Editions de Parfums
Next we visited Frederic Malle's Editions de Parfums - a modern boutique with a masculine feel.    As the grandson of the founder of Christian Dior perfumes, Malle focuses on highlighting the creators of each fragrance.  Usually people love perfumes without having any awareness of the people behind them.  With Malle, each bottle displays the creator's name as an attempt to correct this oversight.  

Customers can sit down for a one on one consultation aimed at finding their perfect fragrance.  To ensure that they select fragrances that will also be loved once worn, part of the consultation includes the unique Smelling Chamber experience.   These floor-to-ceiling chambers block out all other odors and release all the fragrance notes at once. This allows you to smell the complete perfume without having to wait.  It's as if you get a chance to smell the fragrance trail that you will leave behind, as you walk down the street.      

Last but not least, we ended our tour at Jovoy, where the owner gave us VIP treatment in the store's back parlor area with coffee, tea and exquisite macarons. Unlike the other two stores that sell only their own fragrances, Jovoy has a large selection from over 70 different brands from all over the world.  Delivered with a great sense of humor, the owner gave us a 20th century history lesson of perfume trends in France, including the role of mistresses in the evolution of perfume use.  
Frederic Malle
Smelling Columns
Editions de Parfums

Different fragrances were presented, from various aroma families, including some higher price point perfumes and unusual scents like rhubarb.  At first this might sound strange but if your partner is someone who loves rhubarb-confitured tartines or rhubarb crumbles for dessert, then this might be a winner for you.   At the end of our visit we had the rare treat of receiving free samples of some of the enchanting perfumes that we enjoyed the most.   

What other opportunity would you have to walk into these high-end perfume boutiques, learn all about different fragrances, get VIP treatment and not have any pressure to buy?    After an experience like this, I feel very fortunate to be a WICE member!

Once WICE reconvenes after summer break, our expert perfume guide will offer more perfume tours and workshops available to members.  

**** Don't miss the upcoming workshop dedicated to discovering and learning about the perfumes of Chanel which will take place on Tuesday, December 3rd from 10am -12pm.  

Post and photos by Veronica Kugler