My body woke me up early, it knew that there was a lot I wanted to do on my last day in London. Taylor of Old Bond Street was open before Geo F Trumpers, so I called there first and was able to secure a 10am appointment for a shave. I took the bus down there and enjoyed the ride completely. Walking up the street, guided perfectly by Google Maps, I came across so many classic British brands – Czech and Speake, Floris and enough classic British tailors to dandify anyone.
The shave was good, but honestly wasn’t as good as the one I received in Paris or Milan. The barber was young, seemed a bit inexperienced, and a tad bit rushed. I also got a few small cuts on my neck and because of this, I declined my head shave. I will know for next time to try a shave at Geo F Trumpers or make an appointment in advance and request a more experienced barber. I did pop my head into Geo F Trumpers and sniff several of their scents – really good stuff they have in there.
While I was in the more classic, old style section of London, I figured I should pop into Fortnum and Mason. Last year, I splurged on Xerjoff Oud Stars Alexandria, the limited edition exclusive to F&M. That sold out and they had Alexandria II – which smelled just like the original but was apparently made with a different piece of oud.
They had several other Xerjoff that I had not seen before – Emery (a very pretty floral, sweet rose), Aubres (citrus and pine), and a boxed set of Amber Star and Star Musk. Amber Star was a boozy sweet amber with a bit of the sickening top of Alexandria. Star Musk was a really sweet musk. All were really nice but with prices north of 300 pounds, I wasn’t even going to let them touch my skin.
From Fortnum and Mason, I made a quick stop at Selfridges to pick up the Yohji Homme and Maison Margiella Jazz Club that I liked from the night before. Then it was off to Les Senteurs. Nick Gilbert no longer works there (he is now at Penhaligons, where he had just won an award for best window display the night before) and so I was greeted by the charming Callum.
At Les Senteurs, I was looking for stuff that I hadn’t seen before and especially the 4160 Tuesdays line. This is a really great line with interesting scents at reasonable prices. What I Did On My Holidays is a ummy mix of minty sweet jasmine and sandalwood. Kiss by the Fireside was a smoky clove scent (apparently there is a “naughty” version which has a lot of cinnamon oil that ignores IFRA regulation). Inspired by the perfumer’s dad’s closet, The Lion Cupboard smelled of peppermint and gin, or an alcoholic with good oral hygiene. Sunshine and Pancakes was fresh mix of citrus, jasmine, wood, and honey. Evil Max was a dirty, filthy animalic leather.
From Cloon Keen Atelier, I was instantly in love with with Castana which mixed chestnuts and jasmine. Line de Gigre was a nice airy violet. Other lines carried by the store which were new to me were Bex (kind of an entry line like Scents of Departure) and Ruth Mastenbroek (two really nice and pretty floral femmes).
After letting several of these work on my skin for a while, I knew that Castana was coming home with me along with two of the 4160s (A Kiss by the Fireside and What I DId On My Holidays). While we were chatting, I asked what their biggest seller was and the quick reply was Lorenzo Villoresi Teint De Neige, because the Arabic tourists buy more than 10 bottles each when they visit. In addition to the lines I mentioned, the store also carries the full lines of Parfumerie Generale, Nu_Be, Atelier Cologne, Tauer, Kilian, Frederic Malle, Creed, Aoage and others. If you are in the London area, a visit to Senteurs should definitely be on your to do list.
My next stop was a highlight of the whole trip – lunch with Tina Cousins. Backstory- I’ve maintained her website for a long time, yet we had never face met. People who’ve followed me on the radio and at the club know how her songs “Pray” and “Mysterious Times” are two of my all time favorites. We met at the Brasserie Blanc in Covent Garden where we (she, her fiance, and I) enjoyed a wonderful and decadent lunch and even more enjoyable conversation. She is every bit as sweet and lovable as you would imagine – I am hoping to bring her to the states for Winter Music Conference and some performances… Wish me luck.
From there, I wasted my time going to the Paul Smith outlet. Unlike the Etro outlet in Milan, the store was a mess, disorganized with very few interesting or desirable items there. My advice, don’t bother going.
One of my Facebook fragrance friends suggested that I go to Roullier White. I checked out their site and noticed they had several lines that I had never heard of. Getting there is a bit of journey, including an overground railroad and a nice walk. Walking into the store, I saw Slumberhouse bottles and knew that I had found someplace special.
Catching my attention was the Florascent line, orient-inspired scents that were organic and handmade in Germany. Kokiku was love at first smell – sweet juicy lychees grounded with teas. When it hit my skin, I knew it would be an impulse buy.
Officina delle Essenze had a Caldo line which had two scents that caught my eye. Oriental was a rubbery, leafy spicy scent with anise on the top which became a decadent ambery vanilla. Legnoso smelled like hot chocolate made with white chocolate instead of milk or dark chocolate.
Ex Idolo Thirty Three was a unique take on oud – dark and soft at the same time with sweet orange and roses laying the groundwork for the soft oud to come in.
The Maison Des Reves line became one of my favorite discoveries of the whole trip. All three scents were wonderful. Poudre was a glorious powder bomb. Mousse Au Cafe was sweet coffee with vanilla and milk. Gourmandise was sweet candied leather. If I hadn’t had just bought the Naomi Goodsir Cuirs Velours, I probably would have gone with Gourmandise but it was Mousse Au Cafe that came home with me (along with Kokiku).
Roullier White is also worthy of a visit for some of the other interesting and unique products they stock – most notable pet perfumes. Yes, think about that.
Afterwards, I met up with Marc JB of Bimbo Jones for a nice chat with him (and his lovely mum). It was really the perfect way to end my European experience – a good discussion about music, life, and adventures that framed the previous two weeks in a wonderful perspective. I was planning to go out to XXL or G-A-Y and instead decided to call it a night because I was yawning the whole way back. Granted, I missed out on a surprise appearance by Lady Gaga at G-A-Y but I think I made the right choice to be well-rested for my flight back to the states.