A Frederic Malle Perfume Adventure: Barneys New York in Las Vegas

Published in: Fragrance, Product Reviews, Travel

Once inside the fantastical world of the Barneys New York department store in Las Vegas, I felt like I was trapped on an expensive planet. The native inhabitants were friendly and well groomed, yet there was something off about them. Maybe it was the scent of money in the air. I felt sweaty and nervous when the staff spoke to me, like they might be cyborgs. Expensive cyborgs.


If this is your first time to Makeup and Beauty Blog, welcome and thanks for visiting. For a review of one of Frederic Malle’s newest fragrances, check out Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur Is for Ladies and Gentlemen.



I made my way toward the cosmetics department. I was looking for makeup and beauty brands I’d never seen before, and my research before the trip suggested that Barneys, located in the Palazzo Hotel on the Vegas strip, wouldn’t let me down.

My first reaction was disappointment. I was seeing all the same high end stuff also carried by Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s — YSL, Chantecaille, T. LeClerc. Yawn.

The street entrance to Barneys New York in Las Vegas
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I’d almost given up, and then it was there, at the very heart of the store. They resembled two empty telephone booths, or perhaps teleportation chambers, standing beside a display with several scientific looking bottles and a sign that read, “Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle.” Holla!

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I began at one end of the display and sniffed my way to the other. With each scent, I grew more intrigued. Raul, a Barney’s sales associate with the smoothest hands I’d ever seen on a man, noticed my eyes rolling back into my head (seriously, some of the scents were *that* good) and proceeded to fill me in on the line.

One of the perfumes, Carnal Flower
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Nine famous perfumers (noses) developed their own individual perfumes for the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle collection. These are some of the most famous noses of our time. Without limits or boundaries placed upon them by anyone, each perfumer received free reign over their creations, resulting in the 16 scents that make up the line. You won’t find watered down eau de toilettes or body splashes here; each of the scents is complex and interesting in its own way.

When you test perfumes sprayed onto paper strips at a perfume counter, the scent’s top notes grab you (the initial burst of fragrance). If your nose is hyper-sensitive like mine, you might even smell the paper.

But you could be missing the more subtle aspects of the fragrance — the middle notes (which occur after the top notes fade), and then the dry down (which is like the scent’s finale). To appreciate the fullness and complexity of the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle scents, Raul suggested I ditch the paper strips and use one of the store’s special scent chambers to fully appreciate the line.

A little scurred of the chamber…
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The two phone booth/teleportation chambers are actually scent chambers. I’m claustrophobic, but Raul assured me that I wouldn’t have to step into the chamber to get the full experience, just stick my head in.

Raul explaining how the chamber works
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Raul flipped a switch to activate fans installed in the ceiling of each chamber and then sprayed a fragrance from the line into each one — En Passant (a light floral) on the left, and Noir Epices (a spicy Oriental) on the right.

I took a whiff of each and instantly fell in love with En Passant. Created by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti and described as an “impressionistic” fragrance on the Editions de Parfums Web site, En Passant combines the scent of white lilac flower with orange tree leaves, cucumber and wheat. I could detect all of the different layers and rich fullness in the scent chamber. I couldn’t help but picture fields of lilac flowers and freshly laundered cotton sheets. Heaven!

Sniffing En Passant perfume is heavenly
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A few other fragrances that I smelled and liked were…

Iris Poudre by Pierre Bourdon – Tonka bean, musk, vanilla, sandal wood and vetiver.
Nose fun fact: In 1988 Pierre created one of my favorite men’s fragrances of all time, Davidoff Cool Water.

Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion – Tuberose, coconut and musk.
Nose fun Fact: Dominique, along with perfumers Loc Dong and Carlos Benaim, created Calvin Klein Euphoria, winner of the 2006 Fragrance Foundation (Fifi) Award, the equivalent of the “Oscars” in the perfume world.

Lipstick Rose by Ralf Schwieger – Violet, musk, vanilla, vetiver and amber… and it really does smell like a tube of lipstick!
Nose fun fact: Ralf has created several famous perfumes, including Yves Saint Laurent’s Baby Doll and Marc Jacobs’ Men.

This refrigerator, located beneath the display, keeps the fragrances fresh
perfume-fridge.jpg

Prices range from $115-$330, depending on the scent (some are more expensive then others) and size (50-100ml). Here in the US, the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle line is exclusive to Barneys New York stores. To find the one nearest you, check out their Web site. If you don’t live near a Barneys, you can also order the scents online or call a store and place your order over the phone using a credit card.

Aren’t you glad we’re done with Monday? I’m still tired from traveling so it’s early to bed for this girl tonight. I hope your day was good and that you’re feeling relaxed and happy.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, check out the home page before you go.

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  1. Breezy says:

    Ooh these sound soooooo delish! I wanna try them all, I’m so jealous of you Karen. So did you get any? I’m totally with you, anytime I walk into those foofee stores I feel like I have to walk by stuff really fast or one of the “cyborgs” will want me to buy really really spensive stuff :( I wanna go check them out but I have to build up the guts to go see and MAYBE purchase and not get pressured into it.

  2. tricia says:

    Did you go to the shoe department, i saw it on a show i was watching, and wish i was there. you know who you look like in the pic infront of the refrigerator, jlo. lol
    hope u had tons of fun!

  3. Mrs. Lynne says:

    Just when I thought I’ve heard it all, they done busted out the scent chamber. This world is full of never ending surprises!

  4. Clueless Cat says:

    Wow! Scent chambers…that’s kinda crazy. haha Wouldn’t the best way to test it really be to just spray some and sniff yourself over a period of a few hours? The perfume does sound absolutely gorgeous though…I’m so going to go sniff them when I’m in NYC next month! :)

    And do tell us – did you buy one/any?

  5. Holly says:

    Hey Karen,
    Wow what an amazing idea, my nose is really hyper sensitive too so i can never get away from that underlying paper smell on perfume spills!
    Just wanted to say thanks, I got a little delivery from space NK this morning containing shu uemura lash curlers and Nars blush in orgasm! I LOVE them both! I love the Nars packaging its so sturdy and secure – perfect for somebody like me who throws my makeup around as if i dont spend a small fortune on it all! And the colour is beautiful, really subtle but lovely for the day time!
    Now im just waiting for Chanel to deliver my foundation refils and my Chanel summer uniform :) ( a pink Chanel cardigan and skirt too cute!)

  6. Megan says:

    Karen…the descriptions alone have me wanting to go right out and pick them up…the only thing I would worry about is my allergies…:-( I generally have to test smell new fragrances at least once…then come back like a day later to make sure it doesn’t give me a headache or anything. Hmmmm….one of these may make my list.

  7. Glosslizard says:

    Wow, those sound amazing! What a sensational way to sample scents! I remember when I was at the fragrance event at Nordstrom over the holidays and I kept wishing I had more than two wrists! Maybe some scent chambers would’ve helped! Of course they would have been packed in like particularly fragrant sardines… oh well! Do you know if they have Malle in our SF Barney’s?

  8. Tekoa says:

    A scent chamber? *boggles* My word! I feel like a country bumpkin all over again.

  9. TUPRNUT says:

    That sounds divine. How much fun and I love that your hubby (right?) got in on the photo action!

    The scent chamber idea is interesting. I hate dealing with the paper swatches! One time I tested a bunch of perfumes at Ulta… I’m not a good sprayer apparently, and I left there smelling like a church lady who bathed in all her bottles of perfume.

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Breezy,

    I really didn’t feel any pressure to buy stuff. All the sales folks at the Las Vegas Barneys were really nice, and very interactive and talkative. But sometimes when I’m shopping I don’t want all of the stimulus, you know? I like to browse on my own, and I didn’t feel like I could do that there because there was customer service overload. I didn’t feel any pressure to buy, which was nice. (I gotta say though, that I’m mostly impervious to sales pressure, because I used to work in sales and I know all the tricks, so I never feel weird saying “no” to a salesperson.)

    Anyway, happy Tuesday, girl!

  11. Karen says:

    Hi Tricia!

    Oh, la lah, J. Lo! That’s a very nice complement, thanks girlfriend. :)

    I didn’t make it to the shoe department, unfortunately. It was upstairs and my stomach was rumbling for lunch. It was either shoes or food and although I have chosen footwear over sustenance in the past, this time I was really starving so I had to find the food court, ASAP!

    There is a Barneys in San Francisco, though, so I plan on investigating the shoe department there soon.

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Mrs. Lynne,

    I know, right? I kind of want one in my living room, ha!

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Clueless Cat,

    Yep, the only real way to see how your body chemistry reacts to the scent is to test it on yourself, but if you want to experience multiple fragrances then using the chamber is tops. The fans actually clean out the previous scent, giving a sort of “blank canvas,” so when the next perfume is sprayed the scents don’t collide at all (which can happen when you spray all sorts of fragrances on you at once.)

    I walked away with several generous samples of En Passant, because if I purchased the 50 ml bottle I couldn’t bring it on the plane with me (I had a carry on bag – I hate checking in.) I plan on getting a bottle at Barneys in SF, or online. :)

    Are you headed to NY for work or fun next month?

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Holly,

    Your Chanel summer uniform sounds *super cute*. Awwww!

    That NARS blush packaging will take you through everything. I’ve taken my blushes on trips and dropped them a gazillion times and they’ve always held up. I’m excited for your lash curler, too. Isn’t it amazing how it doesn’t pinch your lashes at all and gives the perfect curl?

  15. Karen says:

    Hi Megan,

    I hear ya – I have to test scents beforehand too, because some really make me ill. Remember Liz Clairborne perfume from the late 80s/early 90s? It came in this triangle bottle, and to this day every time I’d smell it I get a headache.

    I dunno what the Barneys online return policy is, but I’m assuming it must be good. High end stores are usually take back anything.

  16. Karen says:

    Hi Glosslizard,

    I dunno…yet! I asked the Las Vegas sales folks and they said yes, so hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on a bottle soon. For now my samples will do until I save up enough pennies. :)

  17. Karen says:

    Hi Tekoa,

    I know, right? I’m just glad I didn’t have to get in the thing, ha.

  18. Karen says:

    Hi Tuprnut,

    Yep, El Hub worked that camera like a pro. I’m afraid one of these days he’s gonna start charging me…

    I hate paper swatches too, because I always end up with at least five of them, and hours later I can never remember what scent I sprayed on them!

  19. Dao says:

    The scent chamber looked like fun. It does look like the perfume testing chambers that I saw on TV. Get some rest, Karen.

  20. Holly says:

    Hi Karen,

    I love the curlers so much yeh they dont pinch at all and the curl is so natural, I hate it when curlers give you that like 90 degree bend in your lashes so they just kinda look straight but pointing upwards!

    The Iris Poudre scent sounds like it would smell like Chanel No 5, the powerful note in that is tonka bean too! I have it reserved for my old lady scent when im about 60! I do love it now but i feel like im still to young to pull it off!

  21. i love carnal flower. that’s one of my all time fave scents. i’m dying to try out those scent chambers, too.

  22. Karen says:

    Hi Dao,

    It was a lot of fun! I could’ve played with them all day, but I started getting hungry and El Hub started getting the gambling itch!

    I hope you are having a good Tuesday. Anything exciting happen so far?

  23. Karen says:

    Hi Holly,

    HA! I’m saving Chanel No 5 for my elderly lady days too. I really aspire to be one of those elegant mature women rocking the pearls and the Chanel tweed – LE SIGH!

    Guess what? I have a few gift certificates to Nordstrom (one of my fave department stores) and I think I’m going to stock up on some Chanel perfume. I’m thinking I’ll get Allure (or maybe Allure Sensualle, I can’t decide) and Chance Eau Fraiche. :)

  24. Karen says:

    Hi Live Fabulously,

    After I use up all my En Passant testers and get my mitts on a bottle, then Carnal Flower is next on the must-acquire fragrance list.

    You’ll have a field day with those chambers! It’s amazing how well rounded the scent comes through when you smell them in there. :)

  25. Dao says:

    Hi Karen,

    Glad you replied, I actually used the Monistat gel thing today as a primer and so far so good. My initial reactions are: (a) it feels pretty much like DHC Velvet Skin coat which is in my fave; (b) no smell, so it’s better than Sephora professionel primer (the one with the pearly texture that made me breakout major time!); and (c) after almost 8 hours my makeup is still on my face and I don’t look greasy.

    It’s $6 something a pop at Walmart. For the thrill of it, you should give it a try. It’s called “Monistat anti-chafing gel”, not the stuff that’s used to treat yeast infection.

  26. Holly says:

    Hi Karen,

    Haha I aspire to be that exact same old lady! In a pink tweed Chanel skirt suit and pearls and No 5 pure parfum!

    I LOVE Eau Fraiche at the moment, I got a big bottle of it for my Christmas present from Chanel and now i think i may actually love it even more then Mademoiselle! I cant wait until they bring out the bath and body range to go with it!

    If I were you i would go for the Allure sensualle over the original I think its a much nicer scent but thats just my humble oppinion :p

  27. Karen says:

    Hi Dao,

    Wow, that’s great. I’m glad it worked for you and I hope it doesn’t break you out in the future. It takes me forever to finish a tube o’ primer (I’ve had my Laura Mercier Oil-Free foundation primer for about a year) because I’m usually lazy about that step, but if I work up the courage (I’m not very adventurous when it comes to using certain products for off-brand use) I’ll grab a tube. :)

    I like DHC too! What other items from the line do you like?

  28. Karen says:

    Hi Holly!

    LOL, right? You can’t forget the Chanel chain link handbag (I’m thinking black quilted to go with everything). I just don’t want to be one of those ladies that gets older and just gives up, you know? NO SWEATSHIRTS OR STRETCHY PANTS is my motto.

    Funny that you mention liking Allure Sensualle over the original Allure – the reason why I tried it was because a Chanel makeup artist recommended it to me at the counter. I like how it changes throughout the day. It’s definitely a winter scent though, so maybe I’ll save that one till next year, because in about a month spring weather will be in full force here.

  29. Holly says:

    Hi Karen,

    Yes absolutely NO stretchy pants or sweatshirts and I have told my friends if they ever see me without a properly fitting bra they have to put me in a home!

    You do have a point about it being a winter scent! Eau Fraiche will be a perfect spring scent though its so fresh and citrus-y i love it! It feels like a really clean scent to me, i really hope they eventually bring out a shower gel it will work really well!

  30. Lilan says:

    Wowsers! It’s like you were in another world with those chambers! I wonder when those will make their way to SF – I’d love to check them out. Or, maybe next time I’m in Vegas. Although I doubt that the BF will be too excited to be my photog admidst all that food and gambling – LOL!

    Welcome back and happy early birthday, Makeup and Beauty Blog!! :)

  31. Karen says:

    Hi Holly,

    I bet a shower gel would be fantastic, as would a light moisturizer. How do you feel about the original Chance fragrance? It’s too sweet for my nose…

  32. Holly says:

    Hi Karen,

    I feel exactly the same about the original Chance, I can never believe how many people like it! I find it so sweet that if i wear it all day i actually begin to feel a bit ill!

  33. Karen says:

    Hi Holly,

    Oh, I just smelled a new perfume that I think you might like. It’s citrusy, like Chance Eau Fraiche. It’s the new Burberry Brit Sheer in the pink bottle. I hope you guys have it over there so you can give it a sniff. I think I’m going to treat myself to both that and Chance Eau Fraiche for my spring fragrances! Yay!

  34. Holly says:

    Hi Karen,
    Oooh i must smell that, it should be out over here with Burberry being a British brand!
    I am wearing Eau Fraiche today and its making me feel like spring is here!! :)

  35. Karen says:

    You’ll love it! And it’s an a totally cute bottle…I love that it’s pink :) I hope your week is off to a good start!

  36. Elizabeth says:

    I will have to try En passant. I am already a huge Carnal Flower, Eau D’Hiver and Lys Mediterranee fan…this could be an expensive habit. I am seriously pondering buying the 100 ml Carnal Flower, but can I really justify $275 on a bottle of perfume?? It’s like a drug, though…or better. I might just have to take the plunge….

  37. Karen says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I liked Lys Mediterranee too. Girl, if you need somebody to help you do the makeup math to justify that $275 you came to the right place. :)

  38. Elizabeth says:

    Well, please persuade me!! I am already pretty close, and all the money coming my way from the IRS is pushing me along.:)

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