This is the fragrance story I was going to share last Friday, before I heard about the attacks in Paris. So last Friday was a Fragrance Friday moment of silence in honor of one of the world’s greatest fragrance cities. This Friday, I’ll describe my recent (and first) visit to Los Angeles, the Broad Museum and the Scent Bar.
I was in Costa Mesa for a conference; an old friend had recently moved to Los Angeles and invited me to spend some time with her downtown, where she lives. We made plans to spend the morning at the new Broad Museum of contemporary art, where she works on weekends, then eat lunch in Little Tokyo, then make our way to the Scent Bar, storefront and home base of http://www.luckyscent.com, a noted online retailer of independent, niche and hard to find perfumes.
First, the Broad Museum. It opened this fall on the block next to the Disney Concert Hall and it is a stunning architectural work as well as home to a dazzling collection of contemporary art. A highlight of the collection is the installation “Infinity Mirrored Room: The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away”, by Yayoi Kasuma. It is a room entirely paneled in mirrors, which you enter one at a time with a timed ticket. It is filled with strands of LED lights that flicker, twinkle and flash while the mirrors reflect you, the room and the lights in ever-repeating reflections. Yes, it’s a bit overwhelming, but wow! Is it beautiful! Infinite light.
The Broad is full of delights, such as this room:
There was too much to describe on a blog — masterworks of contemporary art everywhere one turned — but here is a wonderful story about it from National Public Radio. Gorgeous building, gorgeous art!
Then on to sushi in Little Tokyo, possibly the freshest I have ever eaten. We wandered in and out of a few little Japanese cosmetics stores in search of treasures but quickly realized we had no idea what most of the pretty boxes contained or said on their labels, which mostly featured lovely young Japanese women with beautiful skin and hair. No hint as to what kind of product was in the boxes, though!
So we sallied forth to the Scent Bar, on a stretch of Beverly Boulevard that is a gentrified, 1920s-era shopping district lined with fun little stores and restaurants. Perfume heaven! The store is not very large but it is so beautifully laid out and organized that it feels very spacious. As you can see from my photos, the walls are covered in neatly ordered shelves with testers of scents organized by categories.
We were assisted by a lovely young woman, who kindly and patiently talked to us about various scents and perfumers and urged us to test as many as we liked. Some of her suggestions for me were Muguet Fleuri, Inflorescence, Coup de Foudre, Perle de Mousse, Fille de Berlin, and other florals featuring rose and/or lily of the valley. Truly, the variety and range of choices were as dazzling as the Infinity Mirrored Room. I settled on a coffret of six selected Byredo perfumes and also came away with samples of the Muguet Fleuri and the Perle de Mousse, which I’ll describe in a later post.
Our visit to the Scent Bar was a highlight of my short trip to L.A. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable; the store is delightful; the array of perfumes is impressive. Altogether a very satisfying experience, capped with artisan cheese and California wine on the terrace of a little restaurant up the block, under a heated arbor draped in white-flowered vines. A perfect end to a perfect day.