perfume shopping: 8 posts

A Perfume Tour of Boston

Courtney takes us on a perfume walk around Boston.

At face value, Boston isn’t exactly a perfume destination. It lacks dedicated perfume boutiques like Aedes in New York or the Scent Bar in LA, and the culture of the city doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the celebration of fragrance (Bostonians have a bit too much Yankee practicality to fritter their energy and thought into perfume). But as a resident, I feel fortunate that I can try out a wide array of luxury and niche fragrances within a few subway stops, and if you find yourself in Boston there’s plenty of perfume to be found if you know where to look.


The best part of the city for sniffing is Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the center of shopping in Boston, with blocks of boutiques tucked into the brownstones of Newbury Street, as well the Copley Place and Prudential Center malls (adjacent to each other and conveniently joined by a sky bridge so you can shop your way from end to end in the winter without ever having to don your hat and gloves).

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“Don’t Crush The Molecules” : How to Test Perfume

“Don’t crush the molecules!” I turned around, a bottle of perfume in hand, to discover a sales associate approaching me with a look of mild panic. My crime was that I sprayed too much perfume on my wrist and tried to transfer the excess to another arm. “You’re about to crush molecules,” she repeated for emphasis, leaving me to imagine dramatic visions of aldehydes and ionones bursting like overripe grapes on my skin.

two magi

Out of all the nonsensical things I hear at the perfume counter, “don’t crush the molecules” (or its variant “don’t crush the scent”) tops the list of my all time favorites. I never argue with the sales associates, but I once inquired where they’re taught such a concept. What do the perfume sales associates know that still eludes modern science? One counter manager admitted that she heard more senior personnel say it and repeated it herself. Another recalled hearing this molecule business in a perfume training class (in my opinion, she deserves a refund).

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Perfume Shopping : Where Do You Buy Your Fragrances

Where do you shop for perfume?

Today’s question comes from Jan, who wrote to me that “it would be wonderful to know where people all over are buying their full bottles, once they find favorites.” She was also curious if there are any real bargain to be had on Ebay, because her experience was mixed so far.

Once I find a favorite perfume, I prefer to buy it from a small boutique where I’ve received good customer service. In the US, I’ve always shopped at Aedes or Luckyscent, while here in Belgium, Senteurs d’Ailleurs or Haute Parfumerie Place Vendôme are the places I favor. Sephora is another favorite for its convenience. If I’m looking for a bargain, I turn to Ebay. I read the feedback and do a google search for a seller’s name to make sure that they are reputable. Most of my purchases have turned out to be successful, but even so, buying from online discounters carries some risk of getting merchandise from old stock.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

The Fragrance Wardrobe : My Article in Red Magazine

The November issue of UK’s popular women’s magazine, Red Magazine (Hearst), features my article “The Fragrance Wardrobe” (p. 206-212) on how I went from a single signature perfume to a wardrobe of scents. I also explain why I find fragrance as rewarding and stimulating as music and art, and how to create your own perfume wardrobe. It is available on newsstands now. Red Magazine’s November issue is autumn inspired and includes interesting articles on managing stress, creating healthy meals, picking the ideal skincare and more.

Here is a peak inside the magazine, as well as into my current fall perfume wardrobe.

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Discovering Interesting Perfumes at Sephora

I don’t know about you, but I love shopping at Sephora. There was a time when Sephora only existed in big cities and as a veritable vault of perfume comprising both the ordinary and the extra-; the hard-to-find and the very popular; Etro and Caron alongside Dior and Guerlain.

Then things changed.  Perfume was downsized to make room for ever more cosmetic lines or for expansion of existing lines.  The Etros and the Carons disappeared along with Chamade and Miss Dior.  Soon, what was left was a display touting a “Top Ten” of fragrances, which for a while was led by Light Blue.  More shelf space disappeared.  Only top performers were left.  That’s what you find today in most Sephora shops, especially in small towns like mine where a “mistake” can be costly.  This is why precious space has been given over to Dot, Marc Jacobs’ latest, based on the performances of Lola and Daisy.

Nevertheless, it is still possible to build a fantastic perfume  wardrobe based on the available selection, and I browse the perfume section at Sephora on a regular basis, if not for revelation, then for fun. That is where I discovered, much to my delight, the trio of Hermès colognes Eau d’Orange Verte (green orange), Eau de Pamplemousse Rose (pink grapefruit) and the stunningly weird Eau de Gentiane Blanche (white gentian) that smells the way Chartreuse tastes.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

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  • Frances in 10 Favorite Modern Patchouli Fragrances: *word correction: (and demure -not demuse!- really isn’t Angel’s main quality) ps: was I unconsciously thinking about Angel Muse? Never tried that one! October 21, 2021 at 7:33pm

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