Monday, June 21, 2010

fragrance shopping in Detroit.

IMG_5092 There has been a lot of bad press about Detroit and its environs lately, but I must say, it is a great place to shop for perfume. I have had a great time this past week exploring the little specialty boutiques, as well as the big stores packed with scent. It is a welcome change for me from my small upstate town, which is nice in its way, but has absolutely nowhere to sniff things! SO here, my list of must-dos in Detroit for perfumistas.

First, one simply must head off to Birmingham, a gay-friendly suburb of IMG_5095 the big city filled with locally-owned upscale boutiques as well as a few chain stores here and there. There you’ll find two very pleasant venues for sniffing. Well, actually, these shops are more than just pleasant. I had a great time in both of these charming boutiques, and found myself wishing I lived closer so I could enjoy the sniffings offered in Birmingham more often.

IMG_5097 The first, Lori Karbal, is  an adorable, well-curated beauty supply and clothing store. I spoke with the very helpful and well-informed owner Lori, who told me that she had run the store for 19 years! She obviously knew her stuff, and had a clear passion for fragrance. The perfumes offered stand on a series of shelves near the door, and I got a good 40 minutes of sniffing pleasure there, and would happily have stayed longer—I’m sure I would have been welcome to do so. The ambience is cozy and creative, and I really liked all the women working there. They were very helpful butIMG_5098 not pushy at all. Here’s a list of the lines they carry there: Santa Maria Novella, I profumi di Firenze,  L’artisan, Keiko Mecheri, Fresh, Perfect, Tsi-La, love comes from within, and Loree rodkin.  I left with four large bottles of the Loree Rodkin patchouli based EDC line, at a very reasonable price. (I know,IMG_5101 ironic, right, after my post about keeping the addiction under control)

Lori told me that she was getting a lot of new niche lines in, some of which have not been carried much in the states. I look forward to seeing them the next time I’m in the area.

The second boutique in Birmingham is the beauty salon and beauty-supply store Todd’s Room. A nice SA named Eric helped me; he cheerfully left me alone to sniff to my heart’s content, yet was ready with help should I need him. Todd’s Room carries Serge Lutens, Odin, Comptoir sud Pacifique, Parfums d’orsay, Keiko Mecheri, Christine Calle, Frank, Miller etIMG_5090 Bertaux, and Bond no.9

By the way, both of these boutiques were very generous with the samples.

Beyond niche perfumery, Detroit has the second-largest Arab-American population in the US, so I love to head over to Warren road in Dearborn, a mind-bogglingly long street simply packed with Arabic groceries, butchers, delis, and coffee roasters. Digging around those stores long enough can turn up some really interesting smellies as well. You just have to ask…..

Beyond that, Detroit also has the large shopping centers. I go to The Somerset Collection—a bizarre segregated mall with the high-end and normal retail stores housed in two separate buildings connected by a sky bridge. There, you can smell creed, annick goutal etc., at Saks 5th Ave and Neiman Marcus, but ask for samples at Nordstrom—I find they are the most generous. Also in these odd twinned malls: Anthropologie, Sephora, Hervi Bendel, L’occitane, Aveda, and more designer boutiques (w/accompanying perfumes) than you can shake a stick at.

The bottom line: head to Birmingham for some really exciting niche perfume shopping—you will enjoy the experience and like the shops. Then, if your nostrils haven’t partied enough, consider heading to Dearborn and Somerset Collection.

2 comments:

  1. How cute. Oddly enough, just a few days ago I went shopping to Santa Maria Novella itself and when I spare an hour, I have to go there to check their museum (and possibly to get a bottle of Sandalo).
    I profumi di Firenze is a tad less cool to me but they have quite some strong shit - their Cuoio di Russia is exactly my style, a leather scent that makes the paint blister and flake off.
    And, of the three Florentine companies, Farmacia SS. Annunziata is the bestest, they have nice bottles to start with, and very nice and very weird fragrances.

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  2. OH, Thanks so much for the local perspective! I remember touring SMN and buying a bottle when I lived in Florence for a semester in my undergraduate days--I can't find it at my parents' house now, alas! It was before this obsession took complete hold of me ;-)

    I am not that familiar w. F SS Anunciata, although I have sniffed a few things of theirs. I'll keep my eyes open--

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