Fragrance

By Candice Sabatini

Riddle: What happens when a store opens, and then for two years has scaffolding around it? If your inclination is to say “nothing”, I’d usually be inclined to agree. However, I’m happy to say that in this case, we’d both be wrong.

SPAfumerie, a gem of a shop, with a funny name, has a lot to offer. I was introduced to the store by the two Karen’s of Sniffapalooza – and when they rave about a place, fragrance lovers take note! Walk in and immediately feel welcomed. Pretty cobblestone floors, neatly arranged shelves of perfumes, skin care and makeup, and a staff that’s as concerned about making you happy as they are about making a sale. SPAfumerie feels like the beauty stores in France and Italy that I enjoy visiting when I’m fortunate enough to get across the pond. You’ll get service here that’s not like in any department or chain cosmetic store. It’s a real neighborhood spot. The people here truly know their stuff and want to share the joy of experience with you.

I met with Joe Garces, the enthusiastic owner, just after he came back from filming a segment on the Martha Stewart show. Martha invited him on to talk about Fracas by Piguet, which turns out to be her favorite perfume and Joe is the man responsible for bringing it back to life after some turbulent years. He’s a purist. He respects the integrity of the scent, and will never cut corners on ingredients. He believes in artistry and quality and promotes it in everything he touches. For you classic lovers, the store carries some of the other almost impossible to find Piguet perfumes as well.

The bottles that line the shelves are not your typical department store brands. Sure there are some that sell in both places – brands like Annick Goutal, Neil Morris, Etro and Caron. However, most of the brands carried are very special and hard to find. Some require a trip to their native land to buy and SPAfumerie has them exclusively for the US. The passion for fragrances speaks volumes and as you look around the store you see a dizzying array from indie perfumers and small companies like Bois1920, Nobile 1942, Profumo Di Firenze, Laura Tonatto from Italy. Featured fragrances from France are Parfums De Rosine, Lubin, Juliette Has a Gun, Claudie Pierlot, Etat Libre d’Orange and Isabey, which fyi is the best gardenia.

There are a few from the UK ,and Tarantella from Australia. From New York City, perfumer Cathy Gins, who just won the prestigious Rising Star Award from Fashion Group International for her Aroma Wear and Pink Room by Sarah Barton King from London who now calls New York her home and the NYC woman cult favorite, Love, The Key to Life are also available.

Joe travels around the world to perfume houses and says he always appreciates people with a dream. He loves to showcase the fragrances of brands only known in Europe, as well as new and upcoming perfumers as long as they’re true artists and have a passion for quality in their product.

Take some time with Salena who shares the passion for finely crafted scents as she helps you explore the shop and shares her knowledge. And if you’re selecting a gift for someone and unsure if they’ll like it, they will give you a vial of it to give to the recipient, so that they can try it before opening the actual box, and then exchange it in the event it’s not to their liking. Nice insurance policy! The store has soaps from Portugal, bath and body products by Mistral and Thyme, upscale hair care products, and even some elegantly packaged high quality chocolates and tea.

SPAfumerie also sells skin care, and DJ is the shop’s skin care specialist. She knows her stuff and loves to work with people to help create the right skin care regimen whether the client is a teenager or a baby boomer fighting the war on wrinkles. Her favorites are Skinceuticals, Decleor and Terme di Saturna. The shop also does makeup applications and carries Bare Essentials and Glo Minerals.

As you can well imagine by the name, they also have a spa offering full services tucked away in the back where it’s nice and quiet. Who woulda thunk? There are five treatment rooms, and even mani’s and pedi’s are done in private rooms, which, DJ tells me, brings in the guys who don’t want a crowd when they go for grooming services. The Spa offers services such as waxing, facials, massages, spray tanning and vichy shower treatments. Water, tea and little snacks are offered to make you feel at home as well.

I used to think that there were so few great little neighborhood shops in east midtown. I don’t think that anymore!

Turtle Bay SPAfumerie
900 2nd Ave at 48th Street
212-644-9525
http://www.turtlebayspa.com

Originally published March 2009
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