October 21, 2013

Perfume in Brooklyn

Chandelier made of Etat Libre d' Orange Flacons at Twisted Lily
I feel so lucky that there are at least three new ways to enjoy perfume in Brooklyn right now. The energy of Brooklyn and one of my deepest interests,  perfume,  have come into alignment!  As you may know,  after you've lived in Brooklyn  awhile, the  place becomes almost like a team you root for.

Brooklyn still holds a  strongly local, neighborhood,  old-fashioned, even old-school feel.   There are times I walk down the streets and get a whiff of the old soot clinging to the softened edges of  ornamental carvings on the stone and  brick low rise buildings from the Turn of the Last Century (a time period of strong appeal to me) which continue to be freshened by the greens of big  trees planted long ago. Thank heavens lots of new street trees have been planted too, and you can feel the sometimes uneven sidewalks pushed up by their roots beneath your feet, while the low rise of the buildings keeps everything open to the sky and under the influence of the changeable light and weather.  Old signs cling on storefronts, mixing with the energy of the current generation of boutiques opening up in every available space, so the modern world rushes in while appreciating the past.

That whole area around Atlantic Avenue, anchored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music which I love especially because it has a cinema set in a spacious grand old theater,  is one of the intensive centers of activity.  There is range of everything from an outpost of Barney's, to the new Barclay's Center entertainment and sports complex, with interesting small clothing boutiques and restaurants in-between, and the amazing One Hanson Place vintage market on Sundays in the cooler months.

I am excited that now we have a sophisticated perfume center in Twisted Lily, on Atlantic Avenue.  They carry a wide array of niche, indie and natural perfumes along with cult beauty products, many of them exclusive for NYC.  I am glad to have such a force for the good of my kind of perfume taking up residence in Brooklyn.  The two founders Eric Weiser and Stamatis Birsimijoglou are easy to talk to, and have some deep roots in Brooklyn. I was impressed when Eric mentioned his descent from a crowned beauty queen of Coney Island.

They are supportive of Brooklyn perfumers, and carry a selection of DS Durga, Joya and CB I Hate Perfume.  There have indieperfumers such as  Providence Perfume, Slumberhouse  Maria Candida Gentile, Smell Bent, In Fiore,  Memoire Liquide, as well as the haute French niche of Mona di Orio, Francis Kurkdjian, L'Artisan, Jardin de Ecrivains, and also Ramon Monegal, Rouge Bunny Rouge, Tommi Sooni, Amouage, Penhaligon and many other lines new to me such as Maison Dorin, Belle Fleur, Undergreen, and Sheswai (you can see the complete list online).  It's great to have a place nearby where you can explore in person, on skin, to get a true feel for them within the context what's out there now, and within an edited selection of each line. Twisted Lily is at 360 Atlantic Avenue, in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn.  Please see their site online for directions and a complete list of perfumes.

It's special when fine perfumers open their studio so it becomes possible to try all of their perfumes in one place, and talk to them and others while doing it.  Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl, as the House of Cherry Bomb, and separately as Aroma M and Scent by Alexis, are holding regular open atelier Mondays and Fridays 1-6 pm in a loft building in DUMBO (stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) which is an area that reminds me of a expressionist film noir set.  All of their perfumes are there, from the Japonesque Geisha line of Aroma M to the new hair, face and body camellia oil products, to the limited edition suites  and Body Made Luminous from Scent by Alexis, inspired by the perfumer's romance with darkness. Matcha tea is whisked, the setting sun streams in the windows as it goes down over the bridge, shadows lengthen and a casual tea party atmosphere scintillates while the perfumers are gracious and enjoy themselves talking about what they do.  You can try something and  and wait to see how you feel about it as it unfolds. There is no pressure and it is very likely that you will run into aficionados who have much to discuss about fragrance in general in an intimate atmosphere.

Aroma M Beauty-Camellia Oils for Face, Hair and Body
I very much appreciate that these perfumers decided to keep an affordable choice on hand at all times, and so have brought out two in a  series of perfumes available only at the atelier, for about $40 each, that are well presented, refined, and seasonal.  Rose Cardamom, based on a traditional flavoring combination in many Middle Eastern desserts, is refreshing and sophisticated especially for the hot and humid summers we've been having.   
Tobacco Cognac is exactly what the name sounds like, the deep richness of autumn held within a sheer veil that releases an addictive darkness,  hinting of serious business without becoming overwhelming.  These perfumes can be worn anywhere. The open Atelier Mondays and Fridays are from 1-6 and by appointment, at 68 Jay Street #1007 10th FL. DUMBO, Brooklyn, or by appointment contact info@aromam.com.

I have written in detail about many of the complex and sophisticated Geisha perfumes before, and also of the current limited edition perfumes by Alexis that range in aesthetic from piercingly floral to deepest dark, and the new gourmand Body Made Luminous.

The third aspect of perfume as a focus for social enjoyment in Brooklyn is through the beginning of monthly dinners for a varying small group of perfumistas.  We all arrive wearing something we love, tell each other about it, and the perfumers will talk about what they're doing, and we all talk about what other perfumes we are writing or thinking about or currently lusting over.


Twisted Lily has provided samples for a giveaway, which you can enter by sending me an email at indieperfumes at gmail dot com, with the subject line "Twisted Lily", and a short Brooklyn story if you have one, or your own local social life in perfume story.  I will pick my three favorites and  post them here, and send each of the three a nice surprise package  (continental USA only). The draw will be open until Saturday midnight, November 2nd and winners will be announced in this space on November 4th.

All Rights Reserved, Lucy Raubertas, 2013
Photos above provided by Twisted Lily and The House of Cherry Bomb perfumers
Samples provided by the perfumers. These opinions are my own and not compensated.


deana sidney said...

I do love cardamom and rose... there's a fabulous version of a famous spice mix--garam masala- that has that connection and I am mad for it. Sort of makes the whole day feel better.
Love what you say about Brooklyn, so true... even when you leave you root for it. Lovely to have a perfume store in that area... who would have thought it possible even 10 years ago?

Lucy said...

Even five years ago. Things change fast in NYC, about every seven years a major reordering the the city universe. The card/rose has no sweetness and just those two elements together interact in a gently bracing way, if you know what I mean. Next time you have a chance you should Brooklyn and try everything.