New York’s Finest

Chanel Ads: Proof That You're No Longer in Kansas

Day 1 of my “aroma  therapy” is simple.  Do anything that helps me fall back in love with fragrance.  Hence, this post.

As I was going through my iPhoto collection last night, finding a picture that reminded me of things I used to love – like rhododendrons in the forests of Kentucky – I stumbled upon the pictures from my recent trip to New York City.  Most of the pictures were from my wonderful visit to IFF.  I wrote a big article about that, and really poured a lot of myself into it.  That article will be appearing very soon in Perfume Magazine.  I’m really grateful for what IFF showed me during that visit.

There were other pictures, and as soon as I saw them, I treasured them.  They were mostly from my meet-ups with New York perfume aficionados Mike Devine and Kevin Guyer.  I met Mike the day before my IFF visit, and Kevin, the day after.  Honestly, those were three of the best days in my life as a ‘fume-head.  The IFF visit was wonderful, and you’ll read all about that.  But being able to see my old buddies Mike and Kevin in person, and get tours of New York’s finest perfume establishments, guided by two of New York’s finest gentlemen – well, those are the days that make me remember how much I love fragrance.

Which is precisely why I’m going to show them to you.  This is my “aroma therapy”.

The picture at the top?  It’s just a Chanel ad on a bus stop on Broadway at night.  To jaded New Yorkers, it’s just another ad.  But to somebody who last saw a roadside perfume advertisement in southern France, it’s amazing.  This is why New York is so precious to us.  It’s one of the places where America does more than just serve as rustic and majestic inspiration for fragrances.  It’s where fragrance itself is truly appreciated.  I know people thought I was a total rube taking this shot, but hey.  What’s New York without tourists?

MiN NY - A Fragrance Lover's Dream Store

MiN NY - A Fragrance Lover's Dream Store

So let’s start off with Day 1 of my trip.  After a rather hectic day of travel, I finally get into Manhattan just as nightfall is approaching.  Which – actually – is getting to be fairly early by the beginning of December.  My friend Mike Devine, a.k.a. MikeNY on Basenotes, is going to meet me at MiN NY, pictured above.  Mike has a great nose, and is actually going to start reviewing fragrances on Ca Fleure Bon in 2012.

Mike is literally one of New York’s finest – he works in a Manhattan police precinct, and his station is within easy walking distance of MiN NY.  So you can bet he knows the NYC fragrance beat.  His directions from my midtown westside hotel, down to the subway and out on the streets to MiN, were flawless.  I was lucky that I had seen Mike’s picture on Facebook, since he had never seen mine.  As soon as I walk in, though, we recognize each other.  Very quickly we get into sniffing and chatting, but not before Mike introduces me to Chad, who you see below.

Chad, Proprietor of MiN NY

Somebody Put a Movie Around This Guy! - Chad, of Chad & Mindy, of MiN NY

Talk about ambience!  As you can see, MiN is just oozing that Soho atmosphere, but I have to tell you, it’s all Chad and Mindy.  They clearly put their personal touch on this endeavor, and made it the kind of place where you literally feel at home as a fragrance lover.  I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of Mindy, but she was hugely busy fulfilling orders, as was Chad, the moment we started sniffing again.  The holidays are big business for Chad and Mindy, and they really try to please their customers.  I can tell you that what I ordered the night I took these photos, damn near beat me back to my hometown in Ohio!

Mike and I started off with Amouage, and I have to say that he has a very strong nose for this house.  I never fully appreciated Memoir Man until I sniffed it that night with Mike. He loves that particular fragrance more than anything else from Amouage, and very recently bought a bottle.  Mike had wonderful observations about every single one of their fragrances.  I was really in good hands, and feel like I have a much better understanding of the line after getting a guided tour from somebody who clearly knows their fragrances.

Next we moved on to Miller Harris and L’Artisan, where we exchanged a lot of information and enjoyed a lot of sniffing together.  I may have sold Mike on the beauty of Safran Troublant – a fragrance that was probably my tipping point into reckless perfumistahood.  I’m still waiting to bottle on it – mostly because Mike introduced me to several other fragrances that got to my wallet first!

Neil and Mike Posing with Fragrances from Carner Barcelona

Neil and Mike Posing with Fragrances from Carner Barcelona

And here we are with one of them – from the Spanish niche line Carner Barcelona.  Mike particularly wanted me to smell D600 – the middle of the three squarish bottles on the left of the dresser.  What can I say?  Cops are like scientists of human nature!  Mike knows my taste from Basenotes, and he thought I would be particularly interested in that fragrance.  Well, I’ll be damned if I didn’t buy a bottle.  As soon as I sniffed it, I knew it was one of the most novel yet traditional masculines I had smelled in a long time.  And yet it is so wearable, it could even be a go-to scent for work.  I could think of no better fragrance to remind me of my wonderful visit to MiN, so D600 went straight to the top of my tab.

Now – somewhere in this little adventure – Chad let us sniff some Amouage rose attar – I believe that it was Tribute.  Whatever it was, it was stunning – awesome – amazing – words simply don’t do it justice.  There is a bottle in my future, no doubt about it.  Mike is very keen on the stuff, and now I understand why.  It’s simply another huge dimension in the world of fragrance.  I simply had no idea.  No idea.  Just blown out of the water.  Chad even gave me a sample!  Hey – he knows damn well – you cannot smell that stuff and not fall in love.

Keiko Mecheri at MiN NY

Keiko Mecheri Fragrances at MiN NY

As we worked our way around the room, we came to Keiko Mecheri.  I have read about her line, and I’ve heard opinions good and bad, but I’ve never had the chance to really dig in and find out what was up with them, so I decided to go for it.  As you can see, Mike and I really sniffed these over well.

Keiko Mecheri at MiN NY - Close-up Shot

Keiko Mecheri Fragrances at MiN NY - Close-up Shot

I think that Mike liked Oliban or Grenats, but the two that grabbed both my nose and my wallet were Umé and Les Zazous.

I was pleasantly surprised by Umé – especially since I’m not actually a fan of either ume (plum) or umeboshi – those little Japanese condiment plum-oids that my wife loves, and which might be described as demure maraschino cherries that actually get respect among the Japanese.  Chad assured me that his Japanese clients do in fact go for this fragrance, and have commented on the quality and authenticity of the ume note.  Well, that’s all I needed to hear.  This line is indeed a real bargain as far as niche goes, and Umé was clearly a quality scent.  It also has a very measured and restrained fruitiness in line with my wife’s taste.  Thus, it is under the Christmas tree as we speak.

But Les Zazous?  Heck, I had no clue what “les zasous” were – all I knew was that this fragrance smelled amazing, and I had to have it!  Not too fruity, not too woody, not too anything, but all of the above!

Les Zazous

Les Zazous - Resistance Through Fashion

Only later did I discover that “les zazous” were French and Algerian youth who resisted fascism through fashion, even going so far as to mock the Nazi-imposed yellow stars with stars of their own, featuring the words “swing” or “zazou”.  In a world where new forces seem to be trying to make the world safe for lesser demons – take your pick – well, Les Zazous is the “perfect scent” for me!  Sometimes you just have to be an irresponsible dandy youth while the adults struggle to remember what they learned in kindergarten!  Now – where’s my umbrella?

But it was getting late, and we needed to move on to our next destination!  We had one more very fragrant stop before the night was over.  But let me leave you with one parting picture of Chad and I, taken by Mike.  You can crop me out of the picture – I don’t care – but good grief, this has to be the best picture of Chad, ever!  Kudos to Mike for such a great picture!

Chad and Neil at MiN NY

Chad and Neil at MiN NY

Now – on to our next location… just a short walk away….

The Perfume Store at 9 Bond Street

That Certain Perfume Store at 9 Bond Street

Yes, indeed!  The store I had heard so much about, and always wanted to visit – Bond no. 9, located rather surprisingly (OK, not really) on 9 Bond Street!  It turns out that Mike is a bit of an insider with these folks, and we had an amazing visit with the store staff.

However, before I would let Mike take me into the store, I just had to take all kinds of touristy pictures from outside, so here you go….

Bond no. 9 Storefront with Holiday Decorations

Bond no. 9 Storefront with Holiday Decorations

I just loved the storefront – I had dreamed about standing here for a long time, so I really did need to take a picture!

Holiday Display of Blingy Bond no. 9 Bottles

Holiday Display of Blingy Bond no. 9 Bottles

Talk about bling!  No lie with the mirror ball, sister!

Bond no. 9 Storefront with Famous Logo

Bond no. 9 Storefront with Famous Logo

I really like the store logo, and had to take a picture.  I still have the NYC subway token that my father gave me when I was a kid.  I thought the Scent of Peace theme was particularly appropriate for the season.

LOL!  Only at Bond no. 9!

LOL! Only at Bond no. 9!

I had to laugh when I saw this.  I knew that the Bond house leaned a bit feminine, but using a pair of high heels as a doorstop?  Classy!

High Heels as Doorstops at Bond no. 9

High Heels as Doorstops at Bond no. 9

Finally, we were ready to go in.  No pictures inside, so this is the last one you’re gonna see for a while…

Looking in the Door at Bond no. 9

Looking in the Door at Bond no. 9

Notice the I Love NY line on the left.  I will probably end up getting For Him at some point.  I just love that scent, and my samples are running out, slowly.   I like all three, actually, but For Him is really underrated in my opinion.  It gets dissed for being quite mainstream, but I really think that it does mainstream very nicely, and raises the bar for easily wearable, popular men’s fragrances.  Sadly, many of my “nichier” brethren  are passing up a lot of very interesting scents where great perfumers and very creative noses have done some of their most inspired work, while being tasked to do something that will also sell like hotcakes.  Sometimes, just having the capitalist mendacity to use a blue bottle, is all it takes to draw catcalls from the cogno-scented.  Well, bros – this is one blue bottle that’s worth sniffing until you appreciate it – even if you’re a Comme des Garçons type.  I’m not saying buy it – just try it – and see how much of your niche wardrobe they snuck into this baby.

Back to the store!  Mike and I had a great time with the “Bond Ladies” in the store, led by Veronica – my new contact for all things Bond.  I’ll try not to spoil the mystery of the experience, which is something that I sense Bond tries to preserve for new visitors, but if you want to do some serious sniffing of Bond, you need to come to New York City and visit the boutique on Bond Street.  You will be treated fabulously!  They have everything there, and you can sniff until you can’t sniff any more.  It’s a friendly, casual, but still very luxe experience.  And it wasn’t just us – we saw how several other groups were given the VIP treatment even as we were chatting away with the gals.

Now I have to say – I did not know this before we got there, but Mike is a serious expert on this line.  He’s smelled every single fragrance, and remembers everything about them.  Honestly, I can’t even keep track of them all.  There were a few scents that seemed very surprising to me, despite the fact that I had smelled them before.  Mike, on the other hand, was calling out the notes like a pool shark banking 8-balls.  Mike has smelled some of them as soon as they came out, and I’ll bet a few of them even before they were publicly released.  He’s definitely tuned in with the brand, and knows an incredible amount about the house.  I was quite impressed!

I had thought that I was going to walk out with the non-bling version of the Harrods Swarovski Limited Edition.  That was my holy grail, only-in-the-store, short-listed, gotta-buy scent.  But the one that ended up taking my money turned out to be Harrods for Him.  It smells like a greener, more complex, and even more interesting version of I Love NY for Him.  So I had Harrods for Him shipped straight to my home, and it’s under the tree right now!

Eventually we had to leave.  Even though Mike really needed to get home, he was kind enough to drop me off at my hotel.  We hung out for a while in the lobby, where I shared samples from some of my decants from the IFF Speed Smelling event that I had attended the last time I was in New York City.  It was really gratifying to see that Mike and I agreed on so much about so many of the scents.  Mike was particularly thrilled with Burning Man, Marrakesh, Secret of Isis, and Bread ‘n’ Roses.  I also shared with him some of the exquisitely dirty chocolate rose scent, Rose Rebelle, from A Lab On Fire.  Who the heck did that one?  I’ve got theories!  I REALLY hope that baby ends up with the many fans that it deserves.

Mike left me with some awesome samples, including some primo Amouage, but the best gift in his bag of samples, was the one I didn’t even notice until later.  It was a copy of his CD, Songs of Valor and Hope.

Songs of Valor and Hope

Mike's recent album, Songs of Valor and Hope

You may not know this, but when somebody sings very solemnly, after one of New York’s finest gives his final breath in the line of duty, the person doing the singing is probably going to be Mike.  You MUST hear his voice!  Mike has also sung for some other, bigger, memorial events as well, and you can find some very inspiring recordings of his work on YouTube.

Here’s a sample of his voice on a less solemn piece, which I happen to love:

Superman (It’s Not Easy)

After we were done swapping samples and intriguing everybody in the hotel lobby with some scents that I can guarantee you, they never smelled before, we walked out to Mike’s car.  As he took off, I felt a bit of sadness that it had to end there, but I was very happy that my New York trip had started on such a high note.  With that feeling of satisfaction fresh in my mind, I ducked into a pub and grille next door to the hotel, for a very late dinner.  My article on my visit to IFF actually picks up directly at that point.  So if you want to know why that visit got off to such a good start…. well, now you know.

**********

A little less than 2 days later, after finishing my visit to IFF and checking out of my hotel, I sashayed across town, lugging my precious laptop, my iPad, and every sample that I simply could not bear to lose.  I was also bearing a gift for Kevin Guyer, who I knew had fallen very hard for the charms of vintage Givenchy Gentleman.  As I have two bottles and rarely wear it, I was advised by my spiritual advisory board that my second bottle belonged to the one who could most appreciate it, thereby bringing great satisfaction and vicarious pleasure to their part of the universe.

40th and Tesla - No Corner Cooler in This Universe!

40th and Tesla - No Corner Cooler in This Universe!

After buying some books and CDs for my wife and son over at Kinokuniya near 40th Street, I walked briskly up to 57th street, arriving at Mangia – a trendy and quality eatery with refreshingly modest prices.  And there, waiting outside for me, was Kevin!  After a warm greeting, we quickly planned our lunch attack, which is – I now know – something of a necessity in New York City.   We ducked inside, looking around for seating room, before committing to a buy.  There seemed to be hundreds of workers and shoppers chasing only a few dozen seats, but Kevin asked a host guarding a stairway if it was permitted to take our trays upstairs, to the seated dining.  Happily, it was, so we snagged some awesome sandwiches and soups, cafeteria-style, and ate in the balcony, so to speak.  Let me just put in a good word for this place, for anybody from my part of the world who wants to eat in true New York City style.  My roast beef, mushroom and brie sandwich was out of this world.  If I’m ever in the neighborhood, I’m going back!

We talked for a good hour or two while trying to get the occasional bite into our mouthes – and if I said I wouldn’t want to bore you with the details, I’d be lying my ass off.  Let me just put it this way – YOU need to have lunch with Kevin sometime.  As we finally cleared the table, what came out, but the samples and the gifts!  Kevin, a fellow lover of the house of Guerlain, had a huge bottled decant of Eau de Guerlain for me, which is under my Christmas tree at this very moment.  The stuff smells fantastic!  Along with many other great samples from Kevin to me, more samples of the IFF Speed Smelling fragrances and the recent releases from A Lab On Fire were passed back to him.  I think that half the New Yorkers who walked past us did a sly double-take out of the corner of their eyes, sensing some kind of drug operation.

And they would have been right!

But time was a-wasting – we needed to get out and do some serious holiday sniffing.  So we packed up our stuff and made our exit.

Close to Mangia, Kevin showed me a fancy eatery that I simply MUST take the wife to, someday.  Though it’s Japanese fusion, my guess is that it will thrill her as much as the most authentic place in our part of the world (which, incidentally, does pride itself on good Japanese cuisine, if only due to the proximity of Honda’s Ohio headquarters).

The name is Nobu - and don't forget it!

The name is Nobu - and don't forget it!

Not only is the cuisine of Nobu supposedly top-notch – it’s easy to find, for scatterbrained tourists with unpredictable memories.  Simply look for this statue:

The statue of the restaurant that is not, apparently, P. F. Chaing's!

The statue of a restaurant that is not, apparently, P. F. Chiang's!

I made sure to take enough pictures to find my way back.  But enough horseplay.  Let’s get sniffing!

First stop?  Henri Bendel!  Kevin was absolutely right that this was the place I needed to see.  Ohio is in a horrible niche famine right now.  I will spare you all the sordid details save one.  We have a small Henri Bendel, but they only carry some of the trendier and more teen-friendly lines – and none of the hard-core adult niche that we perfumistas crave.  Well, Henri Bendel of New York City is awash in the stuff!  I wish I had pictures, but we we were so busy sniffing, I simply forgot to pull out the camera.

We had a two really great visits inside the store.  First, in the L’Artisan Parfumeur alcove, we had a spirited sniff-fest with a very friendly Buckeye State ex-pat named Allison.  I once again came within a hair’s breadth of buying Safran Troublant, only to have my heart stolen by Nuits de Tubéreuse.  While I was feeling wallet-loose and fancy-free, I had a first sniff of Traversée du Bosphore.  I was immediately compelled to buy an atomizer of the stuff for a friend of mine, who is at this moment working on a fictional story set in the Ottoman Empire – from a truly unique perspective.  I’m really excited about his effort, and I wanted him to have the fragrant inspiration that this scent might offer.

Next, we trekked past numerous worthy niche lines, ignoring them all, until we came to the main section with the hardest of hardcore niche.  I came very close to buying Histoires de Parfums 1828 (Jules Verne) – wonderful stuff.  I sniffed the new Blood Concept fragrances, and had a momentary liking for B, which has some nice woods in it, despite likely blood-type incompatibility.

All in all, nothing really floated my boat enough for a buy.  But I walked away with a smattering of familiarity with several respectable niche brands, and an understanding of why Kevin really favors Histoires de Parfums.  Since Kevin gave me a sample of 1740 (Marquis de Sade), I do hope to gain a better feel for the line, before committing to that first bottle.

Moving on, we departed for one of the best parts of my visit – Bergdorf Goodman.  If I had to describe the place in one word, that word would be FANCY.  Oh, yeah.  This is the money, amigos.

First stop – Tom Ford.  Best.  Tom Ford counter.  EVER.  (With apologies to my lovely hometown Tom Ford representative, who has all the style but less than half the stock).  I got to sniff the new ones, including Santal Blush and Jasmin Rouge and…..  and……  Well, they’re good, but nothing that moved me enough for a buy.  Damn, if I wasn’t getting picky as hell.  I was having trouble just smelling the sandalwood in Santal Blush – not a good sign.  However, my nose was about to get sticker-shocked back into a fully awakened state.

Creed.  We walked right past something that made me stop dead in my tracks.  It was the new 250th-anniversary scent, Royal Service, in that awesome new bottle.  It was sitting right out in the open on its own shelf, with not a salesperson in sight.  We oohed and ahhed and looked around for blotters, until a protective salesperson showed up and gave us both nicely wetted blotters.

My verdict?  Good stuff.  I like this far better than the recent Original Cologne (now renamed something like Pure White Cologne), and even better than White Flowers, which had really impressed me earlier.  I have to be honest – I’m not sure if part of my preference for Royal Service isn’t  simply the fact that it’s more easily wearable by a man than White Flowers, which leans feminine with no qualms.  But I must say – Royal Service is even smoother than White Flowers – and that really is saying quite a bit.  If money were no object, I would certainly snap up this juice.  It’s a beautifully clean and fresh floral with just enough other stuff going on to appeal to a man as a scent for his own use.  The smell of a white tuxedo, worn for the first time (admittedly, I’m doing some extrapolation on that, color-wise).  I think that I could share this bottle easily with my wife, as our “best clothes, going out on the town” scent.  I may be a hillbilly at heart, but I know a good thing when I smell it, and I won’t knock something just because it’s not in my budget.  Royal Service is one of Creed’s finest efforts.

Moving on from there, we eventually got to the Guerlain boutique.  We had a nice discussion with the lovely sales lady, but I have to say – despite some very attentive sniffing, absolutely nothing was floating my boat.  Even Thierry Wasser’s new Cologne du Parfumeur, which had wowed me when it first came out, simply wasn’t getting my love.  Alas, I think the real culprit was Kevin’s gift of Eau de Guerlain, which may very well be one of the best Guerlains I’ve ever sniffed. It’s pretty hard to stack up against classic juice of that quality.

Well, Kevin had a trick up his sleeve.  We popped into the very, very exclusive JAR alcove – without an appointment, mind you – and Kevin smoothly talked our way into a private showing of the JAR fragrances.  If you want the details, click here.  All I can say is this.  If you want the new rose scent, Bed of Roses, you had best drop into Bergdorf Goodman for your first bottle, or already be a valued customer of the house.  Blind buys over the phone are highly discouraged, if not actually forbidden.  But is it worth the trip to New York City?  Absolutely!  I didn’t take one of the manager’s cards for nothing.  This rose perfume is, hands down, one of the greatest scents I’ve ever smelled.  I simply can’t forget it.  It had me positively foolish in love.

Next stop?  Barney’s New York!  I spent my full time in Barney’s tracking the progress of Bed of Roses, as well as sniffing a lot of other great stuff for the first time.

Two Rowdy Fragrance Shoppers Posing by Lady Gaga's Lips!

Two Rowdy Fragrance Shoppers Posing Dangerously Close to Lady Gaga's Lips!

As we approached Barney’s side entrance, Kevin pointed out the holiday decorations – this year themed on Lady Gaga.  While I don’t consider myself one of Gaga’s little monsters, I’m certainly not one of those who regards her cynically.  I’ve always loved the way Gaga pushes art as a no-brainer, in a world that frowns on the arts as a career option for those who probably won’t ever “make it big”.  Hey – my son is a music major, and I’m quite proud of him for sticking to his passion.  So if I’m not rolling my eyes enough for you, during our tour of Gaga’s outrageous stuff, you may just have to do it for me!

The Gaga Machine @ Barney's New York

The Gaga Machine @ Barney's New York

We moved around to the front entrance, where many people were milling about, looking in the storefront windows.  You can see why.  Here is “the Gagamachine” – loosely styled on the image on L.G.’s second album, Born This Way.

Gaga's Crystal Cave @ Barney's New York

Gaga's Crystal Cave @ Barney's New York

Here you see Gaga’s Crystal Cave, in another window display.  Very cooooooool.

Gaga's Boudoir

Gaga's Boudoir - Oh Yeah, Baby!

Finally, Gaga’s Boudoir.  What can I say?  I think she’s fantastic.  But then again, I’m one of the few guys who think that the beauty of women is enhanced when the carry around their own personal orbitals!

Lady Gaga Monster Ball Promotional

Costume Bohr Atomic Orbitals - THE Must-Have Accessory in 2012!

So – let’s get shopping!  We hit the main fragrance area, aimed mostly at the ladies and us serious fragrance lovers.  We had a very good time at the Frederic Malle counter, where Kevin took in Portrait of a Lady, and was himself quite taken by it.  I was thrilled to hear that there would be a new “book” of fragrances coming out almost any day, even though I would miss the launch in Barney’s on December 6.  Kevin thought it possible that he might stop in for that – enough that he gave me his sample of Portrait of a Lady on the promise that he would get another one, the next time he was in Barney’s.  I have to admit that it’s a great fragrance, and may be my first FB purchase from this house.  I’m wearing it as I write this, and loving it.

We stopped by the Byredo counter next, where I sampled a variety of things that the salesperson thought I might like.  She scored a direct hit twice – once with Bal d’Afrique and once with Baudelaire.  While I resisted the impulse buy in both cases, I made sure to properly secure her business card, with the names of the fragrances clearly written upon it.

Kevin made sure that we got around to seeing “Gaga’s Workshop” – which was really something aimed more at her li’l monsters than at middle-aged men shopping for high-end fragrance.  I won’t speak for Kevin, but I did feel a bit funny walking through piles of “Hot Topic Meets Art Gallery Gift Shop” stuff – stuff that even my son might have raised an eyebrow at.  Still, we got some great pictures.  Here’s one with Gaga herself!

Lady Gaga, Kevin Guyer, and Neil Sternberg Pose During Fragrance Shopping

Lady Gaga, Kevin Guyer, and Neil Sternberg Pose During Fragrance Shopping at Barney's New York

On the way out of the store, we stopped by the men’s fragrance area.  Much more crowded, we frustrated the sales people with our pickiness, but got a lot of great sniffing in.  I finally got to sniff Céline Ellena’s Sublime Balkiss, and discovered that it’s a very nice fragrance.  I was also impressed by another Byredo scent, Mister Marvelous.  Atrocious name – great scent.   Hmmmm.  You can say that again! 😉

It was getting very late, and we made our exit, but not before stopping into one more very exclusive fragrance store – Krigler – located in the Plaza Hotel.  Now, people – this is going to be a strong test of my credibility as a fragrance writer.  I am sworn to tell the truth – the good, the bad, and the ugly beautiful.  So listen up.

In my considered opinion, Krigler is something like Hollister meets Creed – though in a good way.  Their fragrant stories are historically Creedish, but factually Hollisteroid.  By which I mean, some of their scents could not have even POSSIBLY been enjoyed in their current state by the people who allegedly wore them.  Where Creed has gone for a retro feel that gives their “older” scents fairly decent plausibility, Krigler has used genres in ways that are so chemo-historically wrong, the perpetrating scents have all the vintage authenticity of a Fossil solar-powered ’50’s watch.  However, not only do I like Fossil – I have to invoke the Hollister clause.  If the person COULD have worn these scents, given some kind of fantastic fragrance time warp, then they very likely would have.  Or, alternatively, if these are total, modern makeovers of real but dead scents, then same difference, fragrance-wise.  They’re not what Joe Schmoe wore – they’re what he would have worn, given the chance.  Probably.  Well, maybe.

Does that make sense?  And not only that – is it even wrong?  I love the fact that Lubin made Bluff – a modern fragrance inspired by the American Wild West.  Inspired, in fact, by a place that is very close to the place where Crazy Horse had one of his greatest visions, and where I faced one of my greatest tests of personal courage.  Given the fact that it actually smells good on top of that, I can’t possibly NOT love the fragrance.  Well – you could just as easily say that these Krigler fragrances are inspired by the people who Krigler claims to have worn them.  If you admire somebody enough to get a kick out of wearing a fragrance they would have worn, then damn it – I say go ahead and buy the fragrance.

So what does Krigler smell like?  Well, they’re not bad at all.  Very likely, a few will smell good to you.  Without the long wavelength of olfactory correctness constraining them, à la Creed, they’re like modern PhotoShop versions of their decades-gone subjects.  They’re like an episode of Mad Men, or Pan Am, or the new Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey, Jr.  They’re a fresh take on old classics, centered around an idea.  My two favorites are Jazzy Riviera and America One.  Jazzy Riviera just feels subtle and smooth, like the kind of music that makes my wife jump up and down and say “I want to go to a jazz bar!” – despite the fact that she doesn’t drink.  Nice stuff.  America One feels – well – it feels clean-cut, powerful, but easy and smooth – like a movie-star good-looking president who’s doing Obama by day and Clinton by night.  It’s mainstream in a slightly retro way, and I’m a mainstream lover, so it works for me.

Did I buy one?  No.  Honestly, at those prices, I expect really powerful perfumery, not just something that’s good, with a cool and consistent story.  I’m sniffing Portrait of a Lady right now, with a good vintage California red wine, and the fragrance is blowing the wine out of the water, so to speak.  Likewise, I’ve been sniffing Lubin samples lately, and I can confidently say that the house delivers really solid French perfumery at a great price.  Krigler tempts with interesting fragrances, but for me, it only teases in the end, at shocker prices.  It’s simply not enough for a hardcore like me.  I’ll take a dime’s worth of perfumery over a dollar of exclusivity.  Give me the new Chanel no. 19 Poudré, made from Chanel’s new, wholly-owned iris fields, at a fraction of the price of Audrey Hepburn’s Krigler.

That being said, if you should buy a Krigler, I’m still gonna say “Cool!”, and ask you all about it, and how much you love it, and maybe even try to sniff it again, so I can see what it is that you saw in it, so I can love what it was that you loved in it.  Like the man said, there’s one born every minute – and I’m proud and happy to be one of ’em!

So – now – where was I?

Oh yeah.  Kevin and I left Krigler empty-handed, but awash in a great and animated discussion of their fragrances.  This is what fragrance meet-ups are all about.  We could have talked for hours – but at the appointed intersection, Kevin headed downtown toward his subway entrance, and I headed cross-town to my hotel, so I could pick up my luggage.  We hugged and said goodbye, both of us disappearing into our separate streams of holiday shoppers and homeward-bound workers.  Based on Kevin’s good advice, relayed strategically to my taxi driver, I was able to circumvent the massive jams caused by a combination of Christmas tree lighting, President Obama, and Justin Bieber – all being in Manhattan at roughly the same time.  I was at Laguardia, on my plane, and in the air before I knew it.

Just like last time, I got a little misty-eyed, as my plane took off into the night sky.

But this time, I remembered to take a picture, so I could share that moment with you.

Leaving New York City
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