Shopping Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan is unlike any experience in the world. The finest luxury stores line the Avenue, and yet, well-dressed sophisticated New Yorkers barely raise their eyes to marvel at the sumptuously appointed store windows as they dash to their next appointment. Brief cases bump you, and your ears are assaulted by businessmen screaming into their cell phones. During the Holiday season, El Tourtistos blind you with their cameras, while last minute shoppers - men and women both - dressed in designer furs and cashmere coats run you down like so much ‘streetkill’.
But there is a haven: Takashimaya NY, a distinctively tranquil and serene emporium of unique treasures, where one can browse for hours amidst unique and hard-to-find niche fragrance, fashion, and beauty brands. When Takashimaya NY’s management decided to create an exclusive signature scent that captured their brand in a bottle, they turned to independent perfumer Neil Morris (who resides in Boston). Neil is a self-taught perfumer who could melt 8 inches of snow with simply a hug.
As a child of the '60s, his creativity is surpassed only by his humanity and love of diversity (which is why, I suspect, they did not choose a "celebrity" perfumer with a big name and a bigger ego, five publicists, and multiple handlers). Takashimaya NY shared their brand with Neil Morris, not just from the perspective of its composition but by joining their store name with his on the bottle; this speaks to the core values of a remarkable retailer.
With a tightly-edited retail line and more expansive special edition fragrances, aka the Vault Fragrances, each scent tells a story (NeilMorrisFragrances.com); all are inspired by friends, travels, poetry, literature, and memories. Instead of being locked away in a lab, Neil prefers to work with real people.
And Neil Morris for Takashimaya New York is one of his finest fragrant offerings yet. Brushstrokes of Black Currant, Mandarin and Bergamot are layered with such delicacy over sparkling Aldehydes. Plum Blossom and Jasmine Tea bring the fragrance of Japanese Cherry Blossom to the forefront; fine strokes of Bamboo and Dossinia orchid are accented by Oak, and Oud which cast their sepia and grey incense hues over the ochre and indigo colors of Tonka and Orris. The fragrance is a Japanese painting, a 絵画, Kaiga-- one of the oldest and most highly refined of the Japanese arts, encompassing a wide variety of genre and styles.
When I tested this fragrance (which is exclusive to Takashimaya) on 10 men and women, it consistently smelled beautiful, but different, on each of us. On Neil’s skin, it immediately evoked the sight and smells of a Japanese monastery at dusk; cedar, oak, bamboo and oud predominate. On me, the fragrance opens with the smell of ‘luxury’ (you know it when you smell it!), and morphs into the ‘taste’ of a delicious tea cake filled with plum and cherry blossom jam. Even now, ten hours later, I still detect a distinctive and unexpected powdery orris and soft incense drydown.
Two words: Bottle Worthy.
Neil Morris for Takashimaya NY is available at Takashimaya-NY.com.
- Michelyn Camen, Editor at Large
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