Scents and Sensibility

by Mallory Passuite, 10/08/2013

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  • Like its cousins in the City's style industry—apparel, cosmetics and accessories—perfume is big business in New York. Some brands, like Chanel No. 5, are legendary; others, like Diptyque's Eau de Lierre, are lesser known but, to the discerning few who've made the scent their signature, no less lovely. "We forget that our most evolutionarily primitive, viscerally powerful sense is smell," says Chandler Burr, former New York Times perfume critic and curator of the Museum of Arts and Design's first-ever olfactory exhibition, which ended its run earlier this year. "A beautiful scent entrances us like nothing we might ever see."

    New York offers a range of scent-related shopping experiences unlike any other place on earth. In this slideshow, we present a few of the City's most luxurious fragrance boutiques—including NoLIta's pocket of parfumeries, Santa Maria Novella, Diptyque and Le Labo; Frédéric Malle's chic uptown boutique, which bottles an ode to designer Dries Van Noten; plus a perfumer in Brooklyn who antithetically named his store (and line) I Hate Perfume. Burr, who knows his way around NYC's fragrance purveyors, offers the following advice for those on the hunt: "Remember that you are only shopping for perfumes in the way that you are shopping in the City's art galleries for paintings: you may buy, you may not. What you are doing is not acquiring but experiencing and learning works in an art medium that, as with so many other works of art, are only available here in New York."

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