Post by Ainslie Walker
It’s time for a Spanish pilgrimage. We know Spain is famous for its pilgrimages…Camino De Santiago in particular. Here at APJ, we are pilgrams of perfume, so therefore I want to tell you about an awesome little perfumerie in San Sebastian, Spain, which just might be worth “pilgrimaging” to when next you are in Europe.
The store was first started as an English style barbershop and perfumery in 1908, and was named Casa Benegas. The founder D.Francisco Benegas and his wife Dona Justa Echeverria were extremely entrepreneurial, incorporating the latest trends from both the French and the English. It’s a lovely store, on a corner in Donostia, San Sebastian and actually HUGE once inside. Shelves surrounding from floor to ceiling FILLED with beautiful gleaming packages. San Sebastian was and still is full of glamour: artists, celebrities and royals have headed there for their summers, even before the perfumery opened. These”high profilers” made up the majority of Casa Benegas customers, right from the start.
Photo Stolen Benegas
Fifty years later the business was taken over by their son who concentrated on the perfumery, introducing international brands and then some cosmetics. Now in the hands of the 3rd and 4th generation of Benegas’s, this incredible family business still manages to show the original owners entrepreneurial spirit, selling many leading pioneering brands and yet keeping the feel of the original concept.
The personalized service is exceptional, and it was here my friend was guided towards a bottle of….
Velvet Flowers by Montale
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Peach blossom, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, saffron, fruit aroma, sandalwood, gurjan balsam, musk
Out of it’s Benegas giftwrap and box comes a sleek silk bag, inside an brushed gold aluminum bottle with a decorative pin which also stops it from being pressed unintentionally. Impressive. Modern, and not really giving away, what’s inside.
First spray is fruity and floral – peachy and clean, womanly but with a bit of flirty, sexy fun. Woodsy enough to feel a little unusual, and certainly robust. It’s warm, perhaps a touch of spice, and VERY sweet and intoxicating. As it settles its rosey-peachy waxiness goes on and on. Under this though is something interesting. Candy? I am reminded of opening a bottle of Darryl Lee ‘bo peeps’. YUM. Such an interesting fusion of strong woman and girl in a candy store! This fragrance screams fun.
Photo Stolen Fotopedia
Strong and long lasting, it’s not necessarily the most natural of smells but there is something about it I like nonetheless and the fruity floral remains steady, even on waking the next day.. Sometimes that’s the great thing about synthetic smells, they are new to the senses. I am reminded of Mugler’s Alien, but my sample is not nearby for a closer comparison. But this is definitely peachier, rosey and less heady. There are also some softer tones to velvet flowers. On a hot day the floral evaporates faster, leaving me with an odd metallic musk smell, which is probably my worst moment with VF. The best time is the first 1-2 hours. It’s clean, fresh and slightly creamy….but more waxy.
Photo Stolen Flickr
Further reading: Scent for Thought
Beauty Encounter has $130/100ml
First In Fragrance has €99/100ml and samples
Marketed as unisex, I find this fragrance hyperfeminine. I cannot imagine smelling it on a man. Really modern version of a fruity floral oriental, with additional sweetness. It’s certainly a pick me up kind of a fragrance, with more than 1 meaning! ;D
What other perfumes stores have you found around the world and where are they?
Ainslie Walker X
6 thoughts on “Velvet Flowers by Montale”
Love that you have written about Montale and that you liked the canisters. I think they look lovely too.
Thanks Portia. Yes I love the packaging. Always good to see a product house doing something different.
Peach and I don’t always get along well. I love the name Velvet Flowers but it seems an odd choice for something so bright and fruity.
Good point-the name is almost a little misleading. You definitely expect something different from what you get. I’ll have to try more montale and see if any others match their names imagery
Lovely post, Ainslie!
My favorite perfume shops were in the bazaar in Mashhad. These days, in the PNW, there are a few independent perfumers who maintain store fronts and I enjoy visiting them but have always been afraid (for the budget) to step foot into the luxury perfume retail stores like you describe above. One of these days I will just have to be brave!
Thanks Azar- I’ve always wanted to go to Iran-those markets are another excuse to go! How amazing they sound-did you used to live there in Iran?
Are you now in Portland area? I’ve seen on insta a lot of independent perfume and herbalists-it looks like a really cool part of the world too!
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