After yesterday’s Times pitted Ulta against Sephora, suggesting that the former offered a more accessible venue for a meeting of both prestige and mass product lines—plus a welcoming “Persian melon”-colored interior to contrast with Sephora’s exclusive black and white motif—we got to thinking. Which beauty megastore do we actually prefer? There are, of course, pros to both, the one-stop-shop convenience of Ulta and the well-edited niche offerings at Sephora, but a major factor that’s pushing us toward the latter is Scentsa. Launched at a few select locations in February, the Fragrance Finder is an innovative device that takes the guesswork out of picking a new scent or finding an old favorite, and will complete its nationwide rollout to every Sephora location by the end of the summer. The brainchild of Jan Moran, a fragrance expert and author of the Fabulous Fragrances book series, the custom program uses touch-screen technology that makes for easy navigation of its different search options. With a simple press of the finger, you can find detailed information on new olfactory arrivals, discover scents based on a beloved single note or fragrance family, view bottle designs, run videos, or read thousands of reviews on a potential purchase written by experts from around the world. It also has a feature that lets you search discontinued fragrances so you can familiarize yourself with similar offerings that are still in existence (a signature scent is forever). To find a Scentsa near you, call (877) SEPHORA.
When we last checked in with D.S. & Durga, a musician and architect who met in New York, fell in love, and started a perfume company, their fragrance adventures had only just begun. But the duo has just inked a deal with Anthropologie for four exclusive scents due out at the end of the summer, and a new chapter in their story is in the works. Their first effort for the Philadelphia-based retailer is called Beverly Hills 1985 and debuted this month. It’s meant to evoke “leopard-print shirts, cigarettes, and the smell of the opulent white flower perfumes of the era of excess,” according to D.S. Born and raised on the East Coast, he envisioned the spicy, musky scent—with notes of jasmine, peach, clove leaf, and amber—as a realization of a fantasy that belonged to his mother and her friends when he was growing up. To them, the legendary 90210 zip code was some kind of mythical place, “a dream paradise for rich people,” he recalls. Now, the town that still holds the same allure for aspirational types the world over is also the only place you can buy his olfactory homage. For more information, call Anthropologie on N. Beverly Drive, (310) 385-7390.
While our aversion to all things jasmine might normally have kept us away from Estée Lauder’s new fragrance that stars the pungent floral note, an indelible attraction to perfume solids encased by kitschy trinkets managed to lure us in. The latest addition to the brand’s Private Collection of scents, Jasmine White Moss represents the convergence of two generations of Lauders: Called formula #546AQ when it was conceived by Estée herself, it was left unfinished, forgotten in the International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) vault, until her granddaughter Aerin unearthed it a year and a half ago. Using advanced distillation technologies, the latter Lauder incorporated the original essences with an exclusive white moss accord as well as 15 different natural fragrance absolutes, combining crisp black-currant bud (a quality captured for the first time with a new extraction technique) with Jasmine Sambac absolute, ylang-ylang absolute, and Jasmin India absolute, three ingredients her grandmother had chosen a generation ago. Violet, orange flower absolute, and absolute of patchouli heart round out the perfume’s rich, white bouquet, which comes in bottle and accessory form, making it a dream come true for jasmine fans—and those of us who just like a shiny compact. To each her own.
Bond No. 9 has made a name for itself as the downtown perfume purveyor with a knack for bottling the essence of New York. But recently, the niche company seems to be growing tired of the isle of Manhattan. It crossed the East River this past spring, when Brooklyn served as olfactory muse, and this week it’s gearing up for a much longer swim when the new scents Harrods for Her and for Him will debut at the legendary London retailer. The joint venture marks the first intercontinental fragrance effort for both brands, a collaboration that was intended to produce a smell that evoked Bond No. 9′s eclectic, downtown vibe mixed with Harrod’s classic history—an ode to its esteemed past and its bright future. To properly execute this abstract concept, the women’s parfum starts with a single floral note, tuberose (apparently coveted by both British and American noses), and intermingles with leather, yielding a unique aroma that is both spicy and sweet. The juice is then fleshed out with earthy-citrus accoutrements like neroli, sage, nutmeg, and amber. The star-shaped flacon is, of course, all Bond No. 9, but the interlocking-H pattern on the bottle brings it right back to Harrods. Miller Harris, Neiman’s—your move.
You’ve likely heard the hype surrounding Justin Timberlake’s lucrative contract with Parfums Givenchy, which surfaced last year when his ad campaign for its new scent, Play, debuted in Europe. But if you aren’t a frequent consumer of foreign glossies, it’s unlikely you’ve seen just how much sexy Timberlake is bringing back for the French company (see image above). The stateside launch of the fragrance, which is centered around Caribbean amyris wood, a soft woody note similar to sandalwood and cedar, was apparently held for a year so any “kinks” could be worked out before it debuted in the U.S. But with those imperfections presumably ironed out, its release is now slated for September. As for future contributions to the beauty industry, the pop star-cum-fashion designer-cum-actor and music producer told WWD that while he could see possibly doing a signature scent for his William Rast line, there will likely not be a “Justin” fragrance anytime soon. “There’s some level of narcissism you have to put in check,” he mentioned, referencing celebrity olfactory collaborations. “It feels like cheating, almost. It doesn’t seem like you’re creating anything.” (He said it, not us.)