Part one of a two -part post by MJ Rose. Enter your email in our subscription field (top right) to win a signed copy of MJ’s new book and exclusive fragrance.
NY – New York is a feast for the senses. And the one-mile walk from 55th and Fifth Avenue to 72nd and Madison is a perfume lover’s shrine. While I was writing my recent novel, “The Book of Lost Fragrances,” I made this pilgrimage over and over.
Let’s start at Henri Bendel, a small, exclusive department store established in 1895. Bendel was the first shop owner to bring Coco Chanel’s clothes to America from Paris. And today the store is still forward thinking.
According to Claudia Lucas, SVP and GMM of Cosmetics for Henri Bendel, ”The fragrance shop at Henri Bendel celebrates the artistry and craftsmanship within the perfume industry. The brands we carry either have a rich heritage such as L’Artisan Parfumeur or come from authentic creative sources such as Etat Libre D’Orange.”
For me the best part of Bendels is the Memoire Liquide Shop, just outside the main fragrance area. There you find a central tester and mixing bar offering 150 different scents. Be inventive, be bold. You might just find your signature combination.
Leaving Bendels, it’s just a two-block walk to Bergdorf Goodman, another of New York’s truly iconic stores. This emporium also has a long history, founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf.
Since I was a little girl, Bergdorf’s has been my favorite store in the world. Just going through the revolving door makes my heart beat a little faster. This store has it all: the best shoe department, the best designers, the best china, crystal, chocolate and even vintage books.
But the best of the best is the ultra chic cosmetic and fragrance department. Hidden there, is a secret dark alcove with plum velvet chairs and walls, home to JAR perfumes. Other than Paris, Bergdorf’s is the only place in the world to buy one of JAR’s super luxurious scents.
Designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal started out as a brilliant jeweler and then turned to perfume. I bring everyone to his boutique because I like to see their reactions. People either love or hate his fragrances. No one is lukewarm. Some of his scents smell like dirt on my skin. But not Golconda. It’s the most luxurious and exotic scent I’ve ever worn.
I fell in love with Golconda, named after the famous diamond mine in India, when I was in my early thirties and on a business trip to Paris. At the time, it wasn’t sold anywhere else and its exclusivity added to its aura. It also cost a small fortune. Too much for me. After I’d been in Paris for just four days my boss called to ask me to cut my trip short and come back and handle a problem with one of the ad agency’s accounts. I agreed only if he’d pay for me to buy a bottle of Golconda.
Sink into the most comfortable chairs in the city, and order a Bellini - the proseco and peach nectar cocktail invented in the early 1940s by Giuseppe Cipriani founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. The menu is the same in the Fifth Avenue eatery as in its Italian counterpart. Have a light lunch or an indulgent feast. My husband always orders the Baked Tagliolini with Ham which is the billionaire’s mac and cheese. Yes, Cipriani’s is pricey.
Using artisanal techniques, enhanced with environmentally friendly refinement, Joya offers bold and original fragrances for the body and the home. I think their candles – which Joya calls perfume in porcelain – are perfect. To keep myself inspired and thinking perfume, I burned them the whole time I was writing “The Book of Lost Fragrances.”
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