I have officially decided that the most fulfilling fragrance experiences come from visiting boutiques that focus on one perfume line. This became quite clear to me when I visited the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique in Los Angeles earlier this summer, and was validated again when I spent time in both the Caron and Frederic Malle boutiques in New York City last week. Frederic Malle does not technically have a boutique in NYC, but the corner his perfume line occupies within Barney’s might as well be one, with its glass partitions, comfy couch and small but ample scent bar.
Let’s begin with Caron, as that was my first stop on what was a very hot and muggy day in the city. Luckily, Diane of whom I had heard so much about, was at the boutique and offered me a seat upon which to gaze at the regal crystal urns before me. I think she could sense my initial bewilderment at the 12 vessels and multitude of bottles, so she just began to spray and hand me test strips. Diane eased me into the Caron experience with her patience, wit, and knowledge of the line. But what I found most impressive, was her integrity regarding the perfumes, which most likely comes from working so intimately with a line that she truly respects.
Alpona and En Avion were the fragrances that above all, held my attention and imagination. (Amazing that the dark woodsy fragrances would appeal to me on such an oppressively humid day). And although Alpona opens with citrus; lemon, grapefruit, and bergamot, the topnotes belie its darker base of myrrh, patchouli and oakmoss. This juxtaposition was intriguing and ultimately the drydown made me crave autumnal colors and crisp air; but definitely not walking out into the sweltering urban heat! According to Diane, Alpona is no longer being created, so what she has left in her urn is all that is available.
En Avion was more floral than Alpona, and quite spicy on my skin. The top and heart are filled with rose, neroli, spicy orange, jasmine, lilac and carnation. The base is rounded out deeply with opoponax, amber, musk and wood. Diane was very sweet to give me a sample of En Avion, as it was clear I needed to spend more time with this spicy, woodsy, floral fragrance as the day outside was not lending itself to fully experiencing it at its best. Of the two, Alpona resonates more with me. Its shadowy tones make me want to move into hibernation and dream about mossy forests inhabited by the mythical creatures I tell my sons about at bedtime. Diane might get a call from me any day now, asking her to open up the tap on that urn and send me a decant of Alpona posthaste.
The above photo is one of the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle boutiques in Paris, not Barney’s, but it gives you an idea of the aesthetic when you sit down to smell the divine fragrances Monsieur Malle has presented. I had yet another wonderful sales associate, Nathan, guide me through my first Malle experience which was surprisingly relaxing, low pressure and honestly…fun. I highly recommend you visit Barney’s on a day when Nathan is manning the Malle boutique, his customer service is excellent.
Frederic Malle, grandson to the founder of Dior perfumes, created Editions de Parfums to give the world’s best perfumers the opportunity to create fragrances without artistic limitations. The result has been some of the most compelling and frequently talked about fragrances in the beauty industry. One of which I saw mentioned in print at least three times in the week before I arrived in New York was Dominique Ropion’s Carnal Flower. Yes, Carnal Flower, that decadent blossom we know as tuberose. It can make you swoon, or suffocate. Intoxicate or nauseate, and I do believe Carnal Flower has the power to do either as well.
Some have called this “Fracas Lite”, and there’s no denying Carnal Flower owes much to its predecessor. But it’s not really “lite” as in “less filling.” We’ve got coconut and orange blossom, eucalyptus and melon to satisfy some new territory, but the narcotic tuberose is ever-present to satiate our lusty tropical desires. In fact, I was hoping for more green dewiness from the perfume, and ended up gravitating towards the lush and luxurious body cream which possesses more of tuberose’s freshness rather than its almost-over-the-top bombshell quality. I was this close to getting a jar on the spot, but realized that Barney’s infamous bag event is coming up in September (starts the 24th but you can call in your order on the 23rd) so I figured I’d wait and score the big GWP at that time. You can be sure I got Nathan’s number! 212-833-2652
Come back in a couple days for our regularly scheduled natural perfume and beauty product programming and see the organic side of NYC!
posted by ~Trish
5 thoughts on “NYC Boutiques: Caron and Frederic Malle”
I’m so glad you had the chance to visit the Caron boutique! The “urn” fragrances are gems, and Diane is so wonderful. xo
Diane lived up to her glowing reputation!
And I loved getting to meet up with you later in the day. I’ll be posting very soon about it 🙂
I worship (metaphorically) at the altar of Caron already, as you know – I would so love to do it in person! What a gorgeous setting for their perfumes. I don’t even want to think about Alpna since it’s discontinued….
I love Carnal Flower myself, and I don’t think of it in the same way I think of Fracas at all, it’s much greener and fresher, though still a real bombshell.
The Caron boutique was made just for you! You would go weak in the knees, swoon, and pull out the fan in your purse to avoid the vapors like the ladies in a southern church on a hot Sunday 🙂
ITA about Carnal Flower, it is a green bombshell isn’t it? Have you ever tried the body cream?
No, I have not tried the cream,but that is on my list to do, I may even buy that someday instead of the EDP since it’s marginally less expensive & would be awesome just to wear like perfume. If I had that and the En Passant cream I would be very happy!