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Old-lady is now boho-chic

Solids by Le Labo for AnthropologieNo one loves it when someone describes what they love as classic perfumery as smelling “old lady”. I wonder, though, if we aren’t perhaps entering an era where those “old lady” smells are becoming fashionable again, like cat’s-glasses or New Look-waisted dresses.

The Anthropologie in Nassau County used to stock a TON of fragrances, from Lollia to a whole collection of tea-based scents and much more. I haven’t been back to check it out lately, but I sort of got the idea when I was there last that they had a market for not-particularly-complex but pretty-and-slightly-nostalgic scents. However much you might or might not like the things they were stocking, they were a far cry from the department-store fragrances we all smell too often on the street.

They were also, however, uniformly inoffensively pretty and very light.

Today I was able to drop by the Anthropologie store here in northern Columbus, Ohio. Downcast from finding out (for I think the third time – I need to make a note) that there is no Burberry beauty counter at the Nordstrom nearly next door, I needed a pick-me-up.

I’d been intending to try their Orange Discrete in the apothecary-type brown bottles, in my annual summer try-every-orange-fest, but in fact I was struck most by the smell from the Belle du Soir bottle. Whoa, I thought, snorting it again. That smells gorgeous. You can google notes as well as I can but what I smelled was a gorgeous floral bouquet, accented and sharpened up with some vetiver and floored with wood (apparently cedar). It’s a floral that was not sweet (in the bottle, at least; goodness knows what my skin would do to it) and deep and rich in a way that current florals seldom are, unless they come from very high-end companies – or cater to perfume fans like us.

I’m fairly sheeplish, though, so I had to look it up once I got home for some external validation of my purchase. No, I’m not crazy; Patti over at Blogdorf Goodman thinks Belle du Soir is a dead ringer for Deneuve, the long-lost perfume many regard as very beautiful, like its namesake. Score! I’ve always wanted to smell Deneuve; killing multiple birds with one stone, right? if I smell a new Le Labo descendant that is reminiscent of that departed perfume.

Beautiful I also think it is; typical it is not. Having just passed through the perfume aisle at Nordstrom, and sniffed fondly at some Coco there, I can say that there are few perfumes being sold at the perfume counter at Nordstrom just a few steps away from this Anthropologie that are as complex or as gorgeous as this Belle du Soir. Even though other perfumistas might turn up their noses at the other perfumes in the line like Orange Discrete or Poudre d’Orient, having smelled lots of things like them before, I imagine the mythical “average” customer has not smelled much like this before and might well find this line to be very different and innovative.

It reminds me of Katie Puckrik’s report that young women write to her all the time to avow their love for Coco – something I too have learned to love, and which certainly isn’t the average fruitchouli or clean musk that we think of as popular among “kids today”. Are we entering a delightful new era where what the “cool kids” like is very reminiscent of golden age perfumes long gone by? Or is it just Anthropologie and their vintage/girly/faux-antique vibe and the customers who tend to shop there?

Either way, I officially like Belle du Soir very much, and I’m thinking I made a mistake in getting the solid, as it does smell sharper and less blended than the spray. I may need to go back and exchange. But don’t the solids look awesome?


Image is mine; all rights reserved.

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