Seattle Sniff Spree Part 1: Barneys (Frederic Malle, Byredo, Arquiste, L’Artisan)

Dear Scent Diary,

A semi-planned, semi-spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle materialized this past weekend and not only provided the opportunity for some perfume scouting and recreational sniffing, but also to meet a fellow perfumista. Live. In the flesh. With the ability to speak to one another, not through comments on a blog, but in real time over a table, and eventually over a Frederic Malle counter. (Those lucky enough to have friends who aren’t bewildered by your perfume hobby might not understand how exciting this was.)

DSC03408Dasi and I met at the entrance to Barneys (natch). After an enjoyable exchange of non-perfume related info (she’s as interesting and intelligent as I’d imagined) we descended upon the fragrance department where Dasi is a regular visitor (natch again).

Seattle’s Barneys is a small, intimate store with a very well-curated selection of, well, everything they sell. If you’re interested in drooling over shoes or handbags, they have the ones to do it over (read Celine ‘it’ bags and Isabel Marant shoes). Their fragrance section is the equivalent. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as an ‘it’ fragrance, but the ones they do carry are very much coveted.


Frederic Malle






L’Artisan Parfumeur, Serge Lutens

I’ve been itching to try some of the fragrances in the Arquiste line and finally got a chance to take a sniff. I tried Anima Dulcis on skin (but was not as impressed as I wanted to be). None of them particularly grabbed me to be honest – more testing is required.

Dasi has ruined Seville a L’Aube for me. If you have it, go take a whiff. Now smell it again and see if you smell tortillas. Yep. Same thing happened to me. Sorry. You can blame Dasi.


A Frederic Malle scent chamber.

I came dangerously close to buying Frederic Malle’s En Passant on first sniff. Gorgeous ethereal, watery lilac that is very soft up close and has a beautiful billowy, feminine sillage. Managed to stay coy for now. It’s only a matter of time, however.

On this day, it was the Byredo line that seemed to get the better of both of us. We tested each of them and spent all too much time trying to figure out the vegetal note that seems to dominate Pulp (it’s green pepper). But it was Gypsy Water that stole Dasi’s heart and Bal D’Afrique is the one that followed me home (biased review to come).

Kudos to the Barneys staff who knew just when to help and when to leave us to our happy huffing.

All in all, it was a perfumista’s dream date.


A wearable Serge Lutens: Vetiver Oriental

Dear Scent Diary,

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll wear anything anywhere. But there are times when you do have to put others first and keep your skunking tendencies at bay. I have a few ‘polite scents’ that I pull out when I’ll be in unknown company. And then there are my ‘wearable scents’ that are a bit beyond polite, but are refined and pleasing for when I’ll be amongst people and don’t think (or don’t particularly care if) they’ll be offended by a waft or two.

UnknownI’m a fan of Serge Lutens fragrances but I can’t say that many of the scents in the range fall into the ‘wearable’ camp. For me, the majority are to wear for yourself when you’re by yourself, or you’re just popping in somewhere briefly and don’t mind leaving an unusual or intense scent trail. There are a few exceptions, however, and Vetiver Oriental is one of them.

It opens with a very clean vetiver buffered by what smells to me like powdery iris and a hint of anise. There’s a refined booziness to me as it develops, and it sweetens considerably. Then out of nowhere, out pops a cocoa note that I find completely beguiling. At the start, it’s debatable whether this leans masculine or whether it’s truly unisex. However, as it drys down, the gourmand sweetness pulls the rooty greenness into what I would consider feminine territory. It’s not for girls though. Women only.

Vetiver fiends will adore this scent. But even if you merely like vetiver, read these reviews and you will, like me, find yourself blind buying it ordering a sample.

Olfactoria’s Travels

The Non-Blonde

Nathan Branch

All the facts about Serge Lutens perfumes

Dear Scent Diary,


When I was preparing the previous post on The Best Sample programs and Discovery Sets, I came across this very helpful page called “Serge Lutens – Nearly All the Facts” compiled by Bela, author of the blog ‘Frag Name of the Day’.

It’s a post with, you guessed it, nearly all the facts about the line in one spot, including a chart with every scent they’ve ever released and when, whether they come in bell jars or spray bottles, notes, whether the samples are available in liquid or wax and even what colour the label is.

ANNND it gives instructions on how to ask for and receive the Petit Livre des Salons (their book of wax samples) for free.

Serge Lutens' Petit Livre des Salons.

Serge Lutens’ Petit Livre des Salons.

She refers to a handwritten letter or phone call in the post, but I’ve also had success with a thoughtfully-worded email.

It’s a nice reference page to bookmark.