Not many New York City streets have their own Wikipedia page, buildings dating back to 1755, and a 1-acre community sculpture garden. Elizabeth Street surely does. On this shopping trip, we’ll focus on Elizabeth Street’s perfume shops; home to some of my favorites. Each is unique, beautifully designed, and filled with awesome product.
Join me as I walk down one of the most charming streets in Nolita; inhale the sweet smell of spring, stop by the Cafe Habana for some fresh grilled corn, or hang out at Cafe Gitane around the corner for some baked feta, and then head down to the beautiful Elizabeth Street Garden to enjoy a sunny spring day among the limestone lion statues and beds of daffodils and roses.
Walking into the Cire Trudon boutique is akin to stepping through a looking glass and into a miniature hall of mirrors. Opulent and almost overwhelming, the small space boasts ambience with attitude, an atelier d’emotion. The company was founded in France in 1643, and was the candle maker of kings and cardinals. The factory was, and still is, located in Normandy and specialized in beeswax, hence the name cire, and produced candles that literally illuminated history.
The variety of candles on display is mind-boggling. The classic candles come in over 20 different scents, and several sizes. The illustrator, Lawrence Mynott, has created original drawings that represents each scent.
You can also buy elegant taper candles in a wide range of outstanding colors. The vivid, handmade cameo candles come with golden cameos attached to them. As such, La Marquise cameo pays homage to Madame de Pompadour and the imperial candle shows the effigy of Napoleon.
There is a collection of perfumed matches decorated with the illustration of the scents. Lighting a candle should be a pleasure, too. If you leave the match box open … a subtle scent emerges.
Cire Trudon is famous for their bust candles of figures with a French provenance. There are wicks on the top, but who would really want to burn Louis XIV, Benjamin Franklin or Marie Antoinette?
Or Napoleon? The candles are available in several sizes and colors, and other personalities.
The diffusers are sleek and modern. A tea candle is placed at the bottom, and cameos with different scents are placed in the dish on the top; releasing perfume as the tea candle burns.
Should you prefer not to burn candles, you can buy elegant bottles of room sprays in a selection of scents.
There is a curated collection of genderless perfumes on sale as well. Don’t worry, you won’t smell at all like your rooms.
The New York store is decorated with a beautiful collection of French antiques. This amazing candelabra represents the harvest in France, with the wheat, grapes and grape leaves. There is also a large collection of candles sticks for sale in porcelain and a variety of metals.
You might find a decorated ink blotter, a baby rattle, or a silver rimmed tortoise shell. Of course, it is all one of a kind.
Step into the world of Cire Trudon, and enjoy luxury heritage objects that are sustainably produced, as they have been for centuries.
Cire Trudon, 248 Elizabeth Street, www.trudon.com
A bit further down Elizabeth Street is the new Nest boutique — a delight for the senses. The decor is meticulous and enchanting. The store’s interior was created especially for the space by a team who worked with the owner, Laura Slatkin. Originally, Nest began as a collection of specialty scented candles. Ms. Slatkin has since spread her wings and created a range of home and beauty products; all tucked into this boutique with a vibe that feels as if it’s perpetually spring.
Perfumes and candles are displayed in the center of the store. The walls are covered in a fanciful hand painted/sculpted design from the MJ Atelier studio on the West Coast. The art on the back wall celebrates the Wild Poppy scent.
The candles come in over 12 scents, and many different sizes. The candle designs are coolly modern.
Every season brings a new Limited Edition scent that is available in the shop. The quantities are limited, and the designs reflect the mood of the season.
The store decor brings to mind an English garden. Surprising pieces of topiary art play against the sculpted wall coverings. The pillar in the front of the store is decorated as an homage to the Wild Poppy collection.
The ceiling sports a boxwood topiary sculpture, with a fanciful center piece that enhances the garden theme.
The decor sets the mood, and the mood highlights the products. Home and personal fragrances fill the shelves.
There are hand and body lotions, and boxes full of scented towelettes, and perfumed body wipes, as well as a range of liquid soaps.
The newest additions to the product line are dish soap and an all purpose cleaner. You can spoil your home as well as yourself.
Need a present? You will find beautifully packaged gift sets for the home and as a personal treat.
You truly feel that you are shopping in a fragrance garden. This is the brand’s first boutique. I love that it is in one of my favorite parts of town, on one of my favorite streets.
The store is a work of art, like their products. I love the spider web signature of the team that created the custom walls. The Nest Fragrance boutique is meant for the discovery of all of your senses. In the few months it has been open, it has become a must-visit destination in Nolita.
NEST FRAGRANCES, 232 Elizabeth Street, www.nestfragrances.com
The Claus Porto store recently opened in a space that is full of architectural swagger, with a range of hand crafted products. Designed by Tacklebox, this is their first boutique in America. The brand was founded in 1887 by two German gentlemen living in Porto. The store is all about product and design. A modern freestanding archway made of textured cork (Portuguese, of course) was installed down the center of the space. A carved, rounded marble (Portuguese, naturally) sink ties the super clean design together.
The newest scent was created for the new store. Called Le Parfum, it is displayed here on a piece of book art, that represents the creation of the perfume. The staff in the store can explain the symbolism contained in the piece, the creator’s notes, and the various scents that are used in the perfume.
Perfumes and soaps were the original products. They are still produced in Porto, in the same place and same way for over 130 years. There are over 30 different perfumes. You can pluck them off the cork walls and try them out.
The product stays true to its roots. Sustainably made and beautifully packaged.
There are over 26 kinds of soap. The packaging is a modern take of their early 20th century original designs. There are multiple vitrines in the shop that display the vintage originals.
The boxed collections of the soaps make for a perfect gift.
There is a body collection as well, with body lotions and hand creams.
One of the newer additions to the product line is liquid soap. You can try it out in the Portuguese marble sink.
There is a full men’s collection in a range of scents. Shaving creams, aftershaves, scents, and soap on a rope created in four scents.
There is a Home Collection that includes diffusers, candles, and even stationery. The holders are beautifully designed.
The newest candle was designed for the opening of the New York boutique. New Yorkers love to be appreciated. This heritage brand also supports the arts. Should you happen to be in Porto, visit their museum dedicated to the art of perfumery.
Claus Porto, 230 Elizabeth Street. Or clausporto.com
Treat yourself and your home. Come to Elizabeth Street and enjoy!
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.