Valery Gherman | October 2nd, 2007
A definite must when in Portland, Oregon is to visit The Perfume House. In a pretty unexpected location on a main road in Portland sits this unassuming fragrance store. Here you will discover the largest collection of ‘real’ perfumes for men and women in the world. Chris Tsefalas, the owner, has spent over forty years devoted to great perfumes and perfume making and he is the only American to sit on the International Perfume Counsel made up of 26 of the world’s top ‘Noses’. To qualify as a Nose, the prospective candidate must be able to recant all of the elements that make up the essential elements within a fragrance before the sprayed droplets reach the floor.
The Perfume House also hosts a private reserve of some of the rarest perfumes in the world that can be previewed by special appointment only. They also stock some of the most precious plant essences, which are showed to a select few a couple times a year. We had the good fortune of experiencing the essence of the Snow Rose from the Himalayas. The rose only lives for one day after rising through the ice.
I was blown away by his the line of perfume he stocks by the esteemed House of Rance. When they launched their most important creation in 200 years, they chose The Perfume House over every other location in the world to launch the fragrances named Le Vanquer Napoleon and Josephine. Before his coronation in 1804, Napoleon approached master perfumer Francois Rance and commissioned him to make two scents, one for himself and one for Josephine. The perfumes were designed so that if Napoleon and Josephine were in the same room, her scent would dominate, but if the two came together, the two perfumes would merge to create a whole new unique fragrance. Napoleon made a rule for the perfume to not be released for 200 years after the coronation. In 2004 the house of Rance launched these two perfumes. While the formula now is available elsewhere, the stock available at The Perfume House is the only place in the USA where you can buy bottles of the actual perfume found in the original vats.
Another of the stores exclusive releases, which Chris told us about was for Caron’s Perfume Sacre in 1991. It was the first perfume allowed by the French Perfume Council to have the word “sacred” in its name. It is considered to be the greatest memory perfume of all time. In 1940, after the formula was finished using the most precious ingredients it was put in barrels for fifty years. After passing the quality test and the perfume was still perfect after 50 years it was awarded the highest ranking. By tradition after being released it had to remain in France for a year after which it was given the honour as one of the ten greatest of all time in French perfumery. On the official day of release at The Perfume House there was a mob scene and traffic blocked up down the road. This was all just from word of mouth, and notification to existing customers. Chris showed us the original tester bottle on display, which came over on the plane with the President of Caron, who had booked a separate first class seat for the precious package.
A very special destination indeed and not to be missed when in town.
The Perfume House, 3328 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR 97214. + 503 234 5375;