European Trip 2013: Day 2 (Milan)

ron-before-afterA full 10 hours of rest made me feel well-rested and ready to attack Milan on my second day. I started by walking to Antica Barbiera Colla, a classic barbershop founded in 1904. A good friend, Duane, who is really into wet shaving asked me to pick up some shave soap from there, so I decided to get a full-service head and neck shave. To say it was invigorating and luxurious was an understatement. The animated and friendly Beppe did an incredible job with the razor and there wasn’t a single nick. I am quite afraid of shaving with a straight blade but the results he achieved made me consider giving it a shot. The secret is to think of shaving as a luxury that you enjoy and not something I rush through in the shower twice a week. It is a mindset, after all.

What I got from Etro..
What I got from Etro..

Next stop was the Etro Outlet where I realized that I probably made a mistake not coming here first. Granted, the service at the outlet is not as exceptional as at the boutique, but the prices are 1/3 to 1/2 the original retail on last season’s garment. I was hoping to find a suit as cool as the one I tried on the day before but there wasn’t much in that direction. I did find three incredible polos that I can’t wait to wear for Amsterdam Dance Event (as well as DJ gigs – yes, they are that vibrant).

pitbull-cafeFrom the Etro Outlet, I went to the Corsi Como outlet. Honestly, fragrancewise there wasn’t a lot there (and I don’t think the idea of buying discounted Honores des Pres – an all natural fragrance – is a wise idea because of shelf life). There was some “interesting” clothing items there, but most seemed a bit hipster or way too cool for me. If I was about 100 pounds thinner and 20 years younger, I could pull off some of those looks – but let’s just say they weren’t in my wheelhouse.

pizza-before-afterFrom the outlet it was a nice walk to the actual 10 Corsi Como store. Realizing that I hadn’t eaten yet, I stopped for a delicious pizza at the Rocking Horse Ristorante. I figured since it was crowded with what looked like locals and they had free WiFi that it was a safe choice. I chose a pizza with rocket salad, sweet corn, and baby prawns and finished the whole thing.

Waking into the Corsi Como store is an experience. It is a well-curated mini-department store with the trendiest of the trendy in all areas. The women’s clothing was stuff you see in magazines. I headed directly to the fragrance department where I met the lovely Mariella. We chatted a lot about fragrance and shared several stories – she’s a charming SA and I strongly recommend you ask for her by name. The store carries just about the full Commes Des Garcons and Diptyque lines, along with a lot of Tom Ford, By Killian, and Francis Kurdjian. I was looking for stuff that I hadn’t seen before and found the new Explosion D’Emotion line from L’Artisan Perfumer. The scents by Bertrand Duchafour include Amour Nocturne, Skin on Skin, and Deliria. The first two didn’t grab me at first, but the boozy fruit of Deliria kind of intrigued me. Correges Empreinte is a pretty floral that was nice, not mind-blowing, but I wouldn’t mind smelling it on a working woman (especially with the licorice in the top). I had not tried the Carla Fracci line and honestly, aside from the nice floral Medea, there rest seemed like typical designer fragrances at first sniff – nothing enchanting. The opposite extreme was Aussie perfumer Naomi Goodsir, who had two quite excellent fragrances, Cuir Velours (which is just what the title says, a velvety, sweet leather) and Bois D’Ascese (a smokey, incense-y wood). I tried the Cuir Velours on skin and it REALLY came alive. While chatting with Mariella, I kept sniffing my arm and loved the way it was developing, so I splurged on a bottle (about 110 Euros – funny how $160 seems moderately-priced for a fragrance these days). As I write this about eight hours later, Cuir Velours is still a lovely leather with a bit of booze mixed in.

cale-collectionI felt bad after slagging off the CALE line yesterday, so I decided to head to their store on Via Magenta and give the full line a good sniff. This ends up being a great area for scent lovers with Rance, Santa Maria Novella, and Jo Malone all close by. Okay, here are my initial impressions of the Cale line:
Misterio – peppery vetiver
Brezza Diseta – sweet ambergris
Preludeio D’Orient – spicy sweet that made me sneeze
Ozio – light and airy
Assolo – sweet and fruity – like a celebrity scent but well-done
Dolce Riso – I take back what I said yesterday, this one made me gag when I sprayed it.
Fulgar – lives up to its name – fucking vulgar – assertive and annoying (which actually are two words that people use to describe me)
Roboris – a perfect scent for the passive female in your life
Overall, it’s not a line for me but it was at least nice that the scents inspired reaction. The same can’t be said for the Acqua di Biella line, which ranged from light nothingness (Caluna) to explorations of Cedar (Bursch with citrus, Baraja with iris), to the briny sweet No 1. The strongest of the line was Janca, a strong, sweet feminine musky floral.

The Cale store also carries several great niche lines like Jovoy, Majda Bekkali, Marc Buxton, Clive Christian, Humierci & Graef, Les Nez, Floris, and lots of men’s grooming supplies from Taylor of Old Bond Street and Truefitt & Hill. Seeing a display of Crest toothpaste was quite humorous.

aubepine-acacia-cypres-musc-tabaromeThough one BIG reason to visit the store is the exposition on the back where they have discontinued and rare fragrances that you can touch and spray – but painfully not buy. The Creed selection is beyond amazing with several tester bottles of Tabarome (which is just as amazing as people say it is), Aubepine Acacia, and Cypres Musc. I hate to say this, but holding the bottle of Tabarome is the first time I was ever tempted to dine-and-dash – but common sense quickly kicked in and told me that was the wrong thing to do. If you visit Milan, I strongly recommend you stop by the store to check out all the niche and experience the classic fragrances that you will not find anywhere else.

Speaking of stores I strongly recommend – Profumo (Via Brera 6) feels like a mom and pop shop hosted by the lovely Susanna. Lines include Frederic Malle (they have the scent column), Le Labo (they had all the city exclusives which were fun to sniff), Diptyque, Jovoy, Mancera, Andy Tauer, Montale, and more. Both SAs were incredibly knowledgeable and FRIENDLY. I sniffed the Tableau de Parfums which I had never seen before – Miriam was nice but Loretta kinda took me away as a sweet candied amber. The line is made by Andy Tauer with a filmmaker exploring women’s memories of their mother’s perfumes.

Across the street from Profumo is a Olfatorrio Bar A Perfumes – which has a bar set-up stocked with perfumes (kind of obvious). Lines include Lostmarch, L’artisan perfumer, Piver, Miller Harris, and the connecting Penhaligon’s store. I got kind of a salesman kind of vibe from the place, so I didn’t stick around long.

From there, I headed back to Mazzolari to splurge on a bottle of Bois 1920 Vento nel Vento. After wearing it all day yesterday and realizing that it was still there the next day after a shower, I realized that I was a lemming and pulled the trigger.

At that point, it was time to head back to the apartment and go to sleep early to be ready for my 7am flight to Amsterdam.