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“I enjoy fashion, but also enjoy bludgeoning”: Henri Bendel’s and happiness

balloonsI’m just going to say it: I made myself feel better by spending money.

I was having a lovely day in the city, and had the chance to swing by Henri Bendel’s uptown. This was a store I used to be terrified to enter, till I took my little brother there with me one day.

For a straight guy, that man can SHOP, and he was perfectly willing to enter the temple with me. But he entered it in the right frame of mind, which is not taking it too seriously and not thinking that anyone in a retail establishment is going to throw you out for not being posh enough.

This is the right frame of mind for Bendel’s, where many of the fashion accessories are downright silly. (I think they’d rather I said “of the moment”, but what I mean is silly.) He picked up a pony-hair handbag with metal studs all over it and said “See, this bag says, ‘I enjoy fashion, but I also enjoy bludgeoning.'”

He was so right.

In this frame of mind – realizing that Bendel’s is Target for rich people – I enjoy browsing there from time to time. You have to just barge through all the hard-sell people on the bottom floor and get to the relative sanity of the upper parts. And though they keep rearranging the upper two floors, it cannot be denied that on those upper two floors, somewhere, you will find a perfume treasure that you did not know about previously.

This was three days after my cat died and I was just coming out of the shock and into a downswing where I felt like there was nothing to look forward to ever again. Some sort of enjoyment was called for. Anything would do.

I felt a bit unfortunate about the fact that they had in stock not just one but TWO bottles I had been stalking for ages. I hate to pay retail price for perfume. But there was a lovely sales associate there who treated me very gently, letting me sniff things, realizing I did not want to see the same old things (I was a bit chilly with one woman who tried to get me to sniff Mandragore. “Have you tried this?” she said, and I just said “Yes,” and did not say “And so has anyone else who ever gave a damn about perfume.”) Lovely Sales Associate could see that I wanted to know what was new and nifty, and also noticed that I was already clutching a mini of Histoires de Parfums’ 1740, because I made a beeline straight for it when I came in, that being the “reason” I was in the store.

1740 is not for the faint of heart (I’m just going to ignore the “named after the Marquis de Sade” foolishness, but it is a pretty spiky amber) and probably not what most women coming in for bludgeoning-worthy handbags are looking for. (Or maybe they are. 1740 would go awesomely with a bludgeoning handbag!) LSA duly showed me the nifty and new things, and let me sniff what he showed me, rather than attempting to put it on me. (Note to sales associates: DO NOT TRY TO PUT STUFF ON ME!)

There was a lovely huge display of The Enchanted Forest, and I must say it was interesting at first sniff. Despite the fact that I am so over Bertrand Duchaufour, I wanted to sniff it more, though I have no intention of buying a bottle.

In this precarious position – remember, I haven’t paid for anything yet, though I am clutching one perfume mini – I asked Lovely Sales Associate if he had a sample of The Enchanted Forest.

He looked like he had to think about it a second, and then said oh yes, he did. He pulled out this huge beautiful carded sample (I will have to post a picture) and handed it to me.

So, I bought the other two bottles I was thinking of. Plus the mini.

Look, he was flat out nice to me. I have a huge weakness for people being nice to me. And I needed someone to be nice to me. When I’m vulnerable, there really isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for someone who is nice to me. Plus, I wanted those bottles. And I knew there was a gnat’s chance in hell that I was going to ever find them discounted.

So, I bought them. I can claim that it was for my birthday, but it wasn’t. It was because I wanted them, I wanted to please myself, and the Lovely Sales Associate was nice to me. And his being nice to me gave me an excuse to be nice to myself.

In an object lesson I am going to try to remember and apply, I freaking love those bottles. One was Boadicea the Victorious’ Divine, which feels like a perfect spring/summer perfume and an antidote to all those ambers I’ve been wearing. It’s almost a clean floral but stronger than the average “spa” scent, deeper, and better longevity, I think. The quality of the materials comes through for me – to me it smells miles better than the average department store scent though the structure is nothing earth-shatteringly innovative.

The other was Lubin’s Idole de Lubin in EDP, which smelled fantastic on Ari when we got to visit recently but smells pretty damn awesome on me too. This is an incensey, boozy thing that is supposed to have orange and spice notes in it but to my nose smells almost like an incense floral with a hit of guaiac in it (by which I mean it reminds me, however faintly, of Le Labo’s Gaiac 10). It’s probably the cumin, but it pings the part of my brain that loves and craves Gaiac 10, so, nyah. (Personally I think the crazy weird clean spicy wood note is hinoki, not cumin.) It is also ridiculously strong and one spray will absolutely do you for the entire day – or night. I’m glad I got the EDP because though the EDT smelled absolutely fantastic on the much younger, dewier Ari, I think the EDP version – smoother, a little deeper – is working better on me.

I am super happy with those bottles. I have already worn them tons of times and one (Idole) I keep by my bed to cuddle and call George. They were not wasted purchases at all.

I need to figure out how to make all my perfume spending make me as happy. (In fact, the mini I went in for I haven’t even worn yet, as opposed to the two “impulsive” purchases – impulsive if it counts as impulsive that I had been intending to buy them for months on end, just not at that moment. But then it isn’t really 1740 weather this week.)

Plus, Lovely Sales Associate loaded me up with some samples of other lines, including some Jovoy scents that I am REALLY enjoying; Ambre Premier may be the amber I’ve been looking for lo these many moons, it is so rich and long-lasting and despite what some websites say on me not foody at all. I will probably need a bottle of that at some point. Also really enjoying Psychedelique, which is an awesome polished rich cocoa patchouli that is Not Angel.

I really can’t explain how much better I’ve been feeling since that shopping trip. Shopping “therapy” is supposed to be bad for you. But I plain old am happy with my splurges and the fun I had getting them. Not only do I feel more inclined to buy more of the new lines that were pointed out to me, I feel not only like I don’t dread Bendel’s, but like I actually might enjoy it. After all, I do enjoy fashion. And bludgeoning.


Image is “Balloons against the grey, great sky!”, by Renato Ganoza, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

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7 comments to “I enjoy fashion, but also enjoy bludgeoning”: Henri Bendel’s and happiness

  • I want to snuggle this post.
    I had a similar experience last night, in Macy’s of all places. Lovely sales associate. Chatted with me about perfumes. We sniffed stuff together. I didn’t buy a perfume from her but out of the blue she gave me a sample of (heh) Angel. Which is funny, because the perfume I liked the most while I was there was A*Men Pure Havane, which intrigued me, but which I was not tempted to buy. I am digging smoke scents at the moment and things that remind me of bourbon and my grandfather’s pipe tobacco.

    Instead I bought two handbags at a ridiculously low price, and although it is true, I do enjoy bludgeoning, I probably won’t do that with these handbags.
    Then I had my toes done. It was aweome.

    Glad you are finding methods of self care.

    • Judith

      “I enjoy fashion but also enjoy bludgeoning” is on your family crest, isn’t it? 🙂

      I’ve also had some lovely experiences at Macy’s – a good shopping trip is so happy-making, feeding one’s desire for human connection but also Finding Stuff To Take Back To The Cave, plus getting out of the house!

      If you have a store that stocks it near you, try Angel Taste of Leather. I think that one would suit both your smelling interests right now. No, it’s not tobacco, but… um. You should smell it.

      I pulled out a green handbag to switch to and am ridiculously happy about it. Yes, I take care of myself fairly well when I keep my head!

  • Ari

    I’M DEWY

    Totally going to make a longer comment after my nap

  • On my last (Ok, who am I kidding? the only) visit to Henri Bendel’s perfume section a lady who worked there was really nice. She let me sniff through everything I wanted and wasn’t pushy at all. I didn’t end up buying anything since most of the perfumes I sniffed there were new to me – and I don’t make that type of an impulse buying.

    Congratulations on your new bottles! I haven’t tried Divine (BdV is one of those non-existent brands in our area) – so I’ll wait for your review. I liked Idole when I tried it but I’m boycotting Lubin so I even stopped testing a sample that I have. As to the Enchanted Forrest, I LOVED the scent and will definitely use up both samples I’ve got (I think they are the same as the one you have) but because of my boycotting BD I don’t want to think about buying a bottle; though I feel bad for those small houses who went into the collaboration with him without knowing about his faux pas: he had got paid already, the only people we’re punishing are those brands themselves. So I’m conflicted.

    • Judith

      Yes, boycotts are complicated. I think I will review Enchanted Forest along with some other things that are green. Yes, he’s already gotten paid, but if a company stops selling Duchaufour fragrances, he’ll stop getting hired for EVERY DAMN THING. Which is part of the reason I think so many things smell alike these days.

      • I agree. But then we have to be more vocal about it: if nobody knows why we’re not buying perfumes from those brands (or, actually,even the fact itself – that we’re NOT buying), the next brand won’t no NOT to hire BD.

What do you think?