We like to speak about unforgettable experiences or once-in-a-lifetime events, but as those terms imply, they are rare. Yet we had one of those moments Nov. 16 as WAG attended an intimate press gathering for the new Amaffi Perfume House boutique on 57th Street (off Madison Avenue) in Manhattan. Amaffi is a 10-year-old Geneva, Switzerland-based company founded by a woman known only as Madame Amaffi, with boutiques in London, Moscow and, coming next year, Singapore, with plans for more in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The New York boutique – similar to the others and yet unique – is indeed a jewel box in the company’s signature black and gold with gilt moldings, a twinkling ceiling and Italian-Portuguese chandeliers. (Other materials were imported from Austria and Japan.)
The jewel box offsets a series of “gems” — imaginatively named collections in exquisite designs and packaging that offer some of the most intense, saturated fragrances – they use no water – that we have ever had the pleasure of sniffing. (To carry the gemstone analogy further, the fragrances were taken out of locked cases by gloved employees who were the quintessence of charm and who sprayed each scent on specially made papers for us to sample.)
We could go on about each fragrance but allow us to describe our two favorites, both florals. Tears of a Sinner looks like a Manhattan skyscraper, if a Manhattan skyscraper could be shrunk and encased in crystal and gold and placed in a lacquered wood box. (It’s part of the Pyramid Collection.) Despite its name, Tears is fabulously felicitous, with notes of tuberose and magnolia combining with the three Ls – leather, labdanum and lipstick.
Glory wraps mimosa and ylang-ylang in sandalwood and places the voluptuous result in a matte bottle embossed with fleurs-de-lis and contained in a ruby enamel metallic orb ornamented with filigree ribbons and 2,026 Swarovski crystals, all presented in a black piano-lacquered box lined in red velvet. (Each fragrance is accompanied by a 50ml bottle of the scent for travel purposes.)
We know what you’re thinking: You pay for the packaging. We thought so, too, as we indulged in fragrances we saw priced from $2,300 to $7,700. But we learned that what makes them so costly – and so irresistibly intense and intoxicating – are the ingredients like irises, lilies of the valley, saffron and sandalwood, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars for a few kilos.
We learned a lot about fragrance that night as we were whisked in a fleet of black SUVs to Restaurant Daniel on 65th Street (off Park Avenue). For instance, if you can’t smell a fragrance you’re wearing, it means it matches your own skin and natural scent.
At Amaffi, we indulged sight, sound and touch as well as smell. At Restaurant Daniel, we continued our “Babette’s Feast” for all the senses, adding taste as we savored a six-course tasting menu of veal, pheasant and sea base with Cristal champagne and various wine pairings, along with sage ice cream and Daniel Boulud’s warm signature petites madeleines.
In a rose-filled room, a string quartet played, putting a whole new spin on Toto’s “Africa.” We saw big-screen testimonials from Amaffi perfume designers and learned about the scent garden the company donated to Chelsea and Westminister Hospital in London as a tribute to health-care workers.
At the end of the evening, a saxophone cried “Besame Mucho,” the name of Amaffi’s upcoming scent. It might as well have been a cry from our hearts. Time to turn back into a pumpkin, we thought. But we floated home with a gift bag that contained the company’s beautifully illustrated booklet and playing cards and one of Amaffi’s heady, spicy candles (a set of three costs $1,000) – in a bag emblazoned with the words “Possess and Rule.” And the next day we could still scent the Tears of a Sinner on our skin as we basked in the night’s afterglow.
Like its fragrances, Amaffi creates memories that linger.
For more, visit amaffi.com.