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Nose-to-nose: Sniffing out news with Esther

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New in niche
I love Le Labo. I love leather scents. And I’m a sucker for a time-limited offer. So it should come as no surprise that I’ll be ordering a decant of Le Labo’s new Cuir 28, a city exclusive scent for Dubai that is available from all Le Labo vendors, along with the other city exclusives, for six weeks beginning in September. Check the Le Labo website for locations near you.

Vintage appeal
When I visit a city, I love checking out those mall perfume shops--the ones that sell a mish-mash of high-end fragrances, old classics and the latest celebuscents. On a trip to the US last week, I wandered into just such a shop in Baltimore. I always do the same thing: a bit of idle chatter with the sales assistant, and then I scan the rows, looking especially for older-looking packaging or frags I know are discontinued. I spotted Jil Sander Scent 79 Woman--I’d have picked it up but scored a bottle on eBay last year, so I left it for some other fragrance hound. Then I spotted a bottle of Laura Biagiotti Roma in its 1980s-style packaging. I’d sniffed it once and loved its odd top note combo of black currant, grapefruit and mint; its floral heart notes and its animalic base of oakmoss, musk, civet, patchouli and sandalwood. I asked about it, hesitated--and the clerk knocked $10 off the price because it was “old stock.” That sealed the deal. It’s every bit as delicious as I recalled.

Interested in trying it? Gwen and Kay have Roma decants on offer.

Deals, deals, deals
“Do you care about the bottles?” That was the question posed by a pal when asking about my perfume habit. And while I do love the packaging that goes with my perfume--I’m a sucker for a beautiful box or a boffo bottle--it is the juice inside that appeals to me most. And, at a certain point, you can have too many bottles. (I’m not sure what that point is, mind you, but I do believe in its existence...) And so rather than risking high-priced perfume disappointments with full bottle blind buys, lately I’ve been having fun with splits--purchasing decants from folks who’ve bought full bottles and split them among a handful of other perfumistas who’ve “bought in” on the split. It’s a little like buying decants, though the “split” sizes are typically 10 ml or more (some start at 5 ml).

Interested in checking out splits? The Basenotes forums has a splits section, as does the Facebook group Facebook Fragrance Friends. And there’s a newish site called Scentsplits that does the same.

Nosing around
The nose behind another Laura Biagiotti scent, Venezia, is the talented Michel Almairac. He’s also the nose behind a number of other frags I love--and that Kay and Gwen have on offer. They include Venezia, Chopard’s Casmir, the gorgeous Bottega Veneta, Bond No. 9 Fire Island, Gucci Rush for women and L’Artisan Voleur de Roses.
One not on Kay and Gwen’s list that you can often find at discounters is Gres Cabaret, a terrific--and terrifically priced--rose that I adore. Check them out!

Makes me want to try it
The granddaddy of “makes me want to try it,” Luca Turin, is back at it. As rumoured earlier and now confirmed, Turin is returning to perfume criticism with reviews on the Arabia Check out the launch interview with Turin and then watch for his reviews starting in August. The even better news? Apparently, he’s at work on a new book of reviews, due in 2014. I’m already imagining the lemmings he’ll be creating!

Just because
Yup. A cute-splosion. Lessons we can learn from animals.