Reinvention: Henri Bendel Grapefruit & Vetiver, Incense & Musk, and Rose & Oud Eax de Parfum
Henri Bendel is a store that's been around forever and in it's last incarnation had an image that became a bit staid. The West 57th street store was lovely in a "ladies who lunch" kind of way. The Limited people bought the place in the late 80's, moved it to it's new location on Fifth Avenue in 1990 and apparently as of 2009 decided to no longer carry apparel and focus on accessories and beauty items. They've also opened several small satellite stores that only carry Bendel-branded items, one of which opened in the Beverly Center mall a short walk from my gracious hovel.
One of the things they carry in addition to the (admittedly adorable and pretty reasonable considering) branded items is a line of their own perfumes: there are six of them, the three I tried and a gardenia, lime and an orange blossom one. Sniffing the bottles I though they were pleasant, if not anything to write home about. Testing the other three on skin led to these impressions: nothing to write home about.
They aren't bad mind you.
Rose & Oud is a pretty little thing that makes me understand why By Killian is so expensive. The rose is nice and the oud is so whisperingly self-effacing that I frankly don't see why they bothered. I didn't expect a Montale-style Oud smackdown but really kids, it could have had something.
Grapefruit & Vetiver started off with pink grapefruit that I enjoyed but my friend said reminded her of "The Scarsdale Diet which was not a happy memory"; an albeit valid comment I thought it not only dated her but had more to do with her issues than the quality of the scent. Cross that one off the list for her birthday. Again, not much in the way of vetiver, so I am guessing that the secondary note is either in infinitesimal concentration or a fond wish.
Incense & Musk was confounding in that I got neither. It was nice, but it wasn't incense that I was smelling. After a few hours is sort of collapsed into a slightly salty skin scent with a hint of white flower.
Granted, I an sooooo not the target market for this. I assume that these would be big hits with the "Gossip Girl" generation types I saw in the store trying on candy colored wellies and fiddling with the so-cute-you-want-to-slap-them handbags. They're cute and fun and safe in a way that most of the stuff that I like as an admittedly middle-aged man cares to smell on himself or others. I guess I have to get over my ideas of what the pre-Limited Henri Bendel was (the store that introduced Chanel to America) and enjoy what it has become; Babe Paley has given way to Blake Lively and that's just the way it is.
But then again my Godchild has been wearing Bandit since she was 16 and Norell since she was 17 so there's hope for todays youth...
Available for $65 for 50ML online or at their various store locations. I sniffed mine at their LA outpost in the Beverly Center.
Image source, shoewawa.com