January 19, 2010

Opposites Attract - Enfleurage - Part 2


After leaving in a  buzz from the Malle store uptown, we walked it off a bit in the nearby Ralph Lauren retail mansion, stepping it down by passing close by their gigantic floral displays. Then it was back out into the cold air again, to the train downtown, to Bleecker Street near Christopher, where Enfleurage is found. 

The Malle store is where you go when you want to try the finished productions of masters of the art. Enfleurage is where you go to experiment for yourself, and to try exotic materials first hand.  I am lucky to have a store relatively close by, where the frankincense of Oman and the essential oils of plants particular to Southeast Asia can be tried on the spot.  The owner, Trygve Harris, is an aromatherapist who travels extensively to bring products directly from foreign farms and suppliers to NYC.  Her staff is a tight-knit little group who are all highly informed as to the lore and origin and uses of their wares.  There are many elements of perfumes also, which still keep their natural medicinal edge in these less refined forms.  There are carrier oils, incenses,  essences, absolutes and hydosols, teas, books, and a lot of information available in the form of books and conversation with the staff.

They have, for example, oils from Zanzibar such as clove, basil and  cinnamon leaf, and unusual oils such as Amla, an ayurvedic oil for scalp and hair, or Marula from South Africa for the skin, and organic virgin Argan oil from Morocco.  They have an extensive list of essences like fresh evening primrose, arnica and calendula, Italian and African bergamot, and are known as specialists of frankincense and agarwood and other Arabian aromatics from Oman.  Trygve Harris lives there part time and enthusiastically invites us all to visit the country for an aromatic tour of the flowering frankincense trees.  She has an entertaining and informative blog on her personal quests for aromatic materials around the world and her interactions with the various cultures.  She has been importing from Southeast Asia too, and brought essential oils back from Vietnam, like tumeric, vervaine, a very fresh ginger essential oil, and shiso leaf (sold out immediately).  She has brought in agarwood from Laos  and even natural Arabian ambergris.

I came away with a pure jojoba oil of much higher quality than available more generally, and an organic Moroccan Argan oil.  I have the jasmine butter, which is dark, grainy and very strong, like fragrant tar.  The place has a rare combination of enthusiasm and integrity, because the selection is curated by people who have both a hunger for natural beauty and a sense for quality and enough respect for nature to leave what is well enough alone.  There is so much here, it requires more than one visit to get to know the riches on offer.  I want to go back and try the Columbian rose oils, the neroli butter,  the vanilla absolute from Madagascar, and the chamomile distilled in England.   If I can't go to these places myself right now, I can get close to the nature of them by trying the absolutes and essences of their distinctive fragrance plants and woods on the shelves of this small place in the West Village.  They are open every day!

12 comments:

Scent Hive said...

I just adore Enfleurage! I swoon everytime I wear Trygve's Tuberose enfleurage butter. And the jasmine sambac concrete we both got is wonderful!

I also love wearing her frankincense from Oman, remember her pouring it on our arms? It was so amazing in that summer heat.

I can't wait to go back. It has become a must-stop for my trips to NY.

~Trish

Lucy said...

Hi Trish,

Trygve is a treasure. I know you love your tuberose.

It's also good to know that someone who cares about where the materials come from, how they are harvested, the impact socially and environmentally, and locally, matters to these people and you can feel safe buying their products. The integrity adds a lot of value to the products.

chayaruchama said...

When you were away, Leah and I made a pilgrimage...

I thought that the folks were lovely; very knowledgeable and also not intrusive !

I brought home several treasures
[ that is to say : treasures to ME, LOL ! Others have sniffed 'em and were certain I'd lost all reason], which give me such pleasure.

I could pitch a tent there ;-)

Scent Hive said...

Integrity for certain!

Hey Chaya, if you ever want to pitch a tent there for real count me in!!

~T

Lucy said...

Yes, dear C/I, they are wild and wooly, the medicinal edge is intact...it's a different aesthetic but it is reality based, is it not? Like getting used to food without sugar and salt....

Qwendy said...

I'm so happy to read an account of what it's like at Enfleurage, thanks so much! I can't wait to get there in March -- perhaps you will want to try the Neroli Butter by then ; ) Sounds divine. I'll be totally overwhelmed and drunk on scent I know!

Lucy said...

Q- That would be total fun! Perhaps do the trip in reverse, too, start here, and then go uptown to Malle...

Aparatchick said...

I was there just after Christmas this year. For someone who lives in an area with no access to such lovely things, it was a joy just to be in the shop. The staff is so helpful and knowledgeable that I really enjoyed shopping there.

Perfumaniac said...

You've brought it all back to me Lucy! So glad I got to share it with you and Leah. I was like a kid in a candy shop, sniffing around. Next time, I will come away with some goodies. I especially loved taking a whiff of Benzoin, Frankincense, real (and costly) Laotian agarwood, and amazing hair perfumes from the Middle East (I think?). A feast for the nose.

Lucy said...

Hey Apparatchik,

Yes, the staff is so reliable, like consulting a dictionary on perfume/aromatherapy ingredients...

Lucy said...

Hey Barbara,

So great to meet you! I will be making more trips over there. Amazing and affordable, it does take a few trips because there is so much, I for one can't take it all in at one go...

pheromones said...

Enfleurage is so beautiful. I enjoyed reading this very much...Loved the pictures!