My (brief) visit to The Perfume Shoppe in Rehobeth, Delaware.

Down a little street off of the main drag in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware - a street called Penny Lane - lies a hidden gem. I want to come up with some kind of clever analogy between finding this shop and a pearl in an oyster, you know, to play up the ocean thing... but I am not that clever. Or trite.

The hidden gem in question: The Perfume Shoppe, which opened this new location just a few weeks ago! I was only able to visit briefly, but the whole experience was excellent.

Rehobeth's boardwalk area is not the typical tacky, bright-lights-neon-signs scene. Instead, cute shops (shoppes?) line the street, selling jewelry, breezy sundresses, and other fairly upscale sundries. At least, that was my impression as I dodged tourists with ice cream cones and sunburns. You see, I had to dash, because the kids were overdue for naps and we had plans for an early dinner!

Penny Lane is a quaint bricked alley a block from the ocean. Two doors in from the arched entrance, past the hanging flower baskets and across from the beautiful shrubs in large urns, is where you'll find Cindy, proprietress of the Perfume Shoppe. Cindy greeted us instantly when we walked in, making us feel instantly at home. By the way, I don't know how she does it, but she manages to pull of elegant and comfortable and beachy, all at the same time.

My husband stepped out to wait on a bench with Lulu, leaving me and Ara to explore. The store is small, but well-appointed. Most of the perfumes are behind glass, in cabinets lining the side walls. The large glass window in the front of the store showed off a few special scents and housed the Histories de Parfums display. I've never played with the line before, and thought the cool funnels with scented paper inserts were genius!

The shop (shoppe?) itself is as elegant as Cindy. It seemed sound-proofed, but that's probably just a lovely benefit of the location. There were gorgeous orchids blooming on the desk, everything was spotless, and a pretty curved stairway was tucked in one corner (Ara wanted to climb it, of course!).

Behind those glass doors? Amouage. Keiko Mecheri. L'Artisan Parfumeur. Montale. Penhaligon's. Serge Lutens. There were more, but the mind boggles!

That's my Ara there, lounging comfortably in the stool. Trust me when I tell you this place must be nice - and friendly - if she was that at ease!

How sweet was Cindy when she discussed Ara's love of lavender perfumes with us? And when she happily spritzed Ara and Lulu with Penhaligon's Lavendula? It's their favorite, and I dab a bit on their wrists before naptime on most days. She also sprayed a few girlie-girl-friendly scents on blotters and let Ara try them. Ara was over the moon!

Cindy did a quicky profile of my girl, too, and suggested a few scents. My almost-five year old deemed Premier Figuier as her favorite, identifying its scent as smelling like "granola". You know what? She's not wrong! Figs, almond milk... I can see the link to the almond-heavy, raisin-laden granola she snacked on the day before. I think my kid has a great nose! Cindy was kind enough to provide us with a sample of Premier Figuier to take home, and Ara is in love... Well, at least a small bottle of PF is cheaper than Lavendula! ;)

The Chanel wristlet is NOT Ara's. Or mine. :)

As for me, I was tickled to be in the same area as bottles of Lutens. I have never seen them in person before! Ditto the Amouage line and the L'Artisans. I snuffled HdP's Mata Hari, and Ara liked Blanc Violette.

I tried, and enjoyed, Amouage's Ciel, which was one of the few I hadn't tried from the line. Yum! It rode out the door on my left wrist, with Lutens' Un Lys on my right. Hubby liked the former, but thought the latter smelled like a monkey cage. Um, hate to break it to him, but I adored it and it's going on The List!

I had a few regrets about the experience. One, I wish I had more time to spend. Two, I wish I had a few hundred bucks on me to buy a few scents I've been ogling for awhile! And Un Lys. Three, I am so sorry I was so rushed that I was scattered and took only a few (lousy) pictures and had a disjointed conversation with Cindy. Last but not least, I had hoped to meet a fragrance friend there, but due to a super late night the evening before (we saw Harry Potter at midnight!) my schedule was a wreck and I missed her.

What I did not regret, though, was making the time to go meet Cindy and see the shop (shoppe?). It was a great time! I will definitely go back, hopefully for an evening of wine and sniffing -- Cindy hinted that she was planning to arrange such a thing from time to time.

Many thanks to Cindy for her time and kindness, and to Naz for having such a great business and letting it expand!

Sniff-up in Toronto!

I thought I'd pass this along in case any of my readers is interested:

Date: SUNDAY July 24th, 2011
Location: Noor Boutique, 176 Cumberland St (Yorkville), 416-928-0700 (]). Nahla and Fred are the friendly owners
Time: Around 12pm/Noon to about 3:30 or so, but drop by any time. We may move around the area to some other locations at some point. Let’s see how things go and decide at the time.
To Bring: yourself &significant others / friends, any industry books or magazines, business cards, samples/decants/bottles to share/trade, etc.

original thread here -!

Perfume Review: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL) - Morocco

Let me start off this review with a quick note:
How cute is that little pad of moss that I used as a prop to photograph my Morocco bottle?! Living in the woods has some good points (though there are distinct downsides).

On to Morocco...

Despite the obvious foreign reference, I specifically chose this scent today because it is made by a very underrated American perfumer: Elizabeth Barrial. She's the nose for -and founder of- Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, purveyor of hand-blended oil perfumes.

Almost everything from The Lab is vegan (barring honey-based scents), none of it is tested on animals, and all of it is well-crafted and well-made.The catalog of scents at BPAL is expansive, to say the least. I say everyone can find something there that they love --- at least one thing.

I don't know if it's the large number of scents BPAL has, or the perceived speed of release (or maybe the gothic tone of the site is offputting?) but a lot of Important Fragrance Fans seem to discount the line. That's a mistake, in my opinion. Yes, taking a wander through the website is time-consuming, but put on your glass-half-full hat and take it as an exercise in relaxation, learning, and wonderment! It's quite the experience...

My favorite scent from BPAL is Morocco. I have others, but this one is in my Top 10 of all Favorite Perfumes with a DSH, a Hermes and a Chanel. In fact, it's in my Top 5!


The intoxicating perfume of exotic incenses wafting on warm desert breezes. Arabian spices wind through a blend of warm musk, carnation, red sandalwood and cassia.

Reading that description, one might expect a dry, dusty sort of scent, kind of how I perceive Andy Tauer's L'Air du Desert Marocain. That one is a spicy melange that feels warm and arid. I love it, but aside from the name and the spice, the two perfumes are quite different.

BPAL's Morocco is velvet. A musky breeze of subtle spice. It's soothing. Cozy. I swear there's rose in there, though it's never listed as a note. The sandalwood is creamy, not sharp or dry. The carnation and cassia lend the warmth, a counterpoint to the musk. Morocco is, at times, almost vanillic and gourmand. Other moments are more sultry.

Morocco wears close to the skin, which is partially because it's a perfume oil. I do revel in a slight sillage - this is one I love smelling when I cross my own path!

I haven't found a time when this scent doesn't work, which is unusual. It's never too heavy or warm. Even on a hot day, it doesn't overwhelm, though it's especially comforting in cooler weather. The musk is soft, cuddly. If you're not a musk fan, don't run! You may still enjoy this perfume.

I get hours and hours of wear out of Morocco, which is good. It's one of the few scents I wear that doesn't eventually lead to the itch to change it. I have decanted some into a massage oil (unscented) that I put on after my showers sometimes. Divine!

This is the closest I've come to a signature scent in recent years. I hope never to be without it (I'm on my 4th bottle!).  And at $17.50 a pop (5ml), why should I have to be?!
I think of Morocco as sensual but comforting, sexy but not dirty. It's kinda like this:


And I love it!

Morocco can be found on BPAL's website by accessing the "Wanderlust" section (use the menu on the left) and scrolling down. The scents are in alphabetical order on that page. A sample (BPAL calls them Imps) can be had for $4 - order through the Imp's Ears section of the site.