New York: The Beginning of the Holiday Shopping — Six Niche Fragrance Stores to Visit In Downtown Manhattan
Walking down the streets in New York, I can’t believe I’m already seeing some Christmas decorations here and there – Time Warner Building has all the Christmas stars shining high up in the center, Christmas gift sets all over cosmetic counters at Saks Fifth Avenue, and of course, Starbucks stores already have their Christmas music playing in the background. It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of the year again, it is time to start some holiday shopping!
Fragrance is always one of the highest ranked and most popular gifting items of all time, especially during the holiday season because of the classy, sophisticate image with a luxurious touch. Plus, who doesn’t like a pretty gift that smells good, too?
In the 90’s to 2000’s, designer fragrances (such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Chanel) dominated the fragrance market. Then follows the celebrity fragrances like J. Lo and Britney Spears fragrances…. Which makes fragrance seems more accessible to everyone, but at the same time, the mystery and the prestige-ness in fragrance was taken away. Starting around 5 years ago, there seems to be a rise of the niche fragrances , some of the brands are not necessarily new in the fragrance market, but they are finally getting the recognition they should be getting as they not only focus on the true artistry in perfumery, but also the craftsmanship and fine quality of the fragrances.
Some of these brands’ fragrances can be found in beauty boutiques or high-end department stores, but most of them have their own freestanding presence in the city. And coincidently most of them are downtown Manhattan, which makes it easy if you want to do some shopping for niche fragrances in one trip. Here are some of my favorite niche fragrance stores in Manhattan:
Frédéric Malle started his fragrance company in 2000 with a unique proposition: to find the best perfumers in the world and give them financial and creative license to do whatever they want. Malle also offered something unheard of—he put the composers’ authorial signatures on the bottle and give the perfumer the full credit of the creation. Frederic Mall opened his first store on Madison Avenue, and recently just opened a new store on Greenwich Avenue in West Village. The store is tiny, but is uniquely and beautifully constructed as all the fragrances they have — with metallic silver walls and geographic shaped wooden wall shelves – it satisfies your visual sensation as your olfactory getting inspired by the fragrances. The staff members are all very knowledgeable with fragrances, talk to them if you don’t know what suites you the best, you’d be surprised how much you can learn from them.
Address: 94 Greenwich Avenue, New York NY 10011
2). Le Labo
This is one of my new favorites. Founded in 2006 by former chemical engineer Eddie Roschi and perfumer Fabrice Penot, who developed the Armani Privé and Acqua di Gio lines. Le Labo, which means “the lab”, making their store just like a lab, creates scents that are built around a primary ingredient using a blend of essential oils. The brand boasts hand-mixed rather than factory-made perfumes — Each time a sale is made, a staffer takes the ingredients from an industrial-size refrigerator on the premises and decants and mixes the fragrance on the spot. The bottle is then stamped with the date for freshness (which remains optimal for a year) and the customer’s name. What can be better than a fragrance that has a customized label that’s made just for you?
Address: 233 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY
Diptyque is known for their beautiful candles and the long lasting room scents they create, but they have fine fragrances men and women in all shape and sizes, too! Founded in 1961 by interior designer Christiane Gautrot, painter Desmond Knox-Leet, and theater director and set designer Yves Coueslant, Diptyque produces wearable yet edgy scents created in the tradition of fine French perfume making. All are inspired by far-flung travels, including the cult-favorite L’Autre, which evokes Moroccan spice markets, and Philosykos, which captures the fresness of Greece’s wild fig tree. Most of the scents come in travel friendly sizes too, just in case you’re a jet setter just like the founders!
Address: 377 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10014
4). Atelier Cologne
This is another newcomer in fragrance that’s getting a lot of following. Atelier Cologne boutiques are furnished with industrial worktables, lamps, stools, engraving machines sourced from vintage French and American factories. These unique spaces set the stage for individual consultations. Clients can take time to discover the Colognes Absolues and their stories. The engraving workshop offers clients a unique experience to personalize the leather case of the perfume bottles.
Address: 247 Elizabeth Street, New York NY 10013
5). Bond No.9
A fragrance brand that launched as a homage to a great city! Each fragrance from Bond No.9 represents a specific neighborhood in New York City – whether you’re from downtown, uptown or even Staten Island, you can find a scent that belongs to you. Or… maybe you’ll just find a scent you like and explore that neighborhood through a different sensory experience.
Address: 9 Bond Street, New York NY 10012
6). By Kilian
By Kilian is another all-star brand in fragrance. Created by Kilian Hennessy, heir to a long line of cognac makers that were poineers in luxury. Most of the fragrances come in a black and white bottle, just like the store design, but the scents are complex and colorful, and usually come with a unwarned sexiness. Aside from fragrances, Kilian believes that true luxury should never be thrown away, it should be passed on from one generation to another. All Kilian bottles are reusable and refillable, making the brand a true statement of “eco-luxury”. When a customer buys a Kilian bottle, they can keep that bottle for their lifetime.
Address: 804 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014
Of course there are more fragrance stores than the six that are listed above, but these are the ones that not only provides great fragrance selection, but also have unique store designs that elevates the fragrance experiences. I can’t be more excited to see more fragrances stores popping up in New York, it’s nice to know that people are taking fragrance more seriously and truly appreciate the art behind perfumery, too. I usually cant’ survive walking through all these stores without breaking the bank, but I guess it doesn’t hurt if I get to smell better, right?
Happy holiday shopping, y’all!