(Black) Fragrance Friday update

When last heard from, Gentle Reader, I was about to be dragged by three offspring into the wilds of “Black Friday.” Negotiations resulted in the acceptable compromise of avoiding all malls but going to an outdoors shopping district that is much less crowded but has many of the same stores. I clung to the hope that in the midst of gift and clothes shopping, I might encounter some fragrance deals.

Success! I came home with a bottle of J.Crew’s unisex custom fragrance, J. Crew No. 57, developed for it by niche perfumery Arquiste. Originally $78.00, it was reduced to $39.99 and then cut by another 50%, bringing it to $19.99 for a 1.7 ounce bottle. Score! Even if I find I don’t love it, it’s a quality fragrance at a bargain price that I can happily share with others. (Its partner, J. Crew No. 31, also unisex, is also available at that price, in stores and online. I ordered mine online and it hasn’t arrived yet).

Here is J.Crew’s description of J. Crew No. 31 and J. Crew No. 57:

These two scents (created exclusively for J.Crew) were inspired by Exhibition by 31 Women, the first all-female modern art show in the United States, curated by Peggy Guggenheim in 1943.

No. 31 takes cues from the fragrances worn by the artists themselves: A mix of damson plum, Bulgarian rose and patchouli are designed to evoke an avant-garde crowd.

No. 57 gets its name from the Art of This Century gallery on West 57th Street in New York City, where the show was held. The curved oak walls of the gallery and the aromatic cocktails at the bar are evoked in a woodsy blend of cedarwood, aged whiskey and cinnamon.

I like No. 57 very much. It has a warm, pleasant whiskey top note, soon followed by cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of smoke and more than a hint of woods. I don’t normally seek out this kind of personal scent for myself, but I was intrigued by the Arquiste name and sold on the bargain pricetag for a blind buy. I’m very pleased with my Fragrance (Black) Friday deal. This is a good scent for the fall: warm, with some spice and vanilla but not too much. It doesn’t smell cheap at all; it smells like good quality ingredients, thoughtfully combined.

I used to live in New York, on West 53rd Street, and I often walked on West 57th. While No. 57 in no way captures the varied scents of midtown Manhattan, when I smell it I can certainly picture a mid-century modern, wood-paneled art gallery serving excellent whiskey and cocktails. And no tacky, fruity Mai-Tais  with little paper umbrellas, either –we’re talking single malt whiskeys and my father’s favorite, a “dry stand-up Gibson.” The drinks of the 1940s and 1950s, among Ivy Leaguers in the center of the universe, New York City.

So I’ll keep playing with No. 57 and enjoying a little autumn warmth and a stroll down … if not Memory Lane, my memories of West 57th Street.

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