Thursday, 8 October 2009

City Shopping Feature - Duft & Kultur - Vienna

By far the most enjoyable destination for fragrance lovers in Vienna is to be found at Tuchlauben 17 just a stone's throw from Stephansplatz in the city center. Much more than a perfume store, Duft und Kultur is a welcome retreat and conceptual shopping experience. From the street front, the store's facade is sleek and understated, but when you step inside it feels as though you have walked into an exotic bazaar of smells, colours and textures. Old empire apothecary cabinets brim with scented candles, bundles of incense and pretty bottles of niche and hard-to-find perfumes from international perfume houses.

Duft Und Kultur embraces all things fragrant, and celebrates their far-flung source - the sprawling boutique itself like a tattered passport stamped with destinations both exotic and enticing. Small alcoves and shuttered vitrines house fragrant teas , rich textiles, hand-made pottery, oils, lotions, resins, salves and colognes, and one cant help feel captivated by the scope and bounty of the goods on offer. On this particular visit, Antonio and Lisa - the very accommodating staff - allowed us the time and space we required to meander through the shop and turn things over in our hands; sniff, shake, spritz, scatter, clatter, unfurl, uncurl and completely exhaust our senses. I scooped up several boxes of oliban from Yemen to burn over coal discs, whilst my wife inhaled the luxurious nap of deep suede handbags (of which she later bought three!).

A known stockist of one of my favourite "go to" scents, Molinard Pour Homme II, Lisa and Antonio offered me generous samples as consolation when I was told my scent was out of stock, and each took the time to show me something new and different that perhaps I might not have considered otherwise. Duft und Kultur carry a bountiful selection of scents and scented products from Comptoir Sud Pacifique, Lubin, L'Artisan Perfumeur, Esteban, Diptyque, Molinard, Fragonard, and many, many more. The real treasures are to be found however, by exploring every nook and cranny where interesting artefacts reside (jasmine or damas rose-infused sea salt, for example).

Duft und Kultur cater to a clientele who have a distinct appreciation of perfumed products and their origin, and offer five-star service. Absolutely not to be missed when visiting Vienna.

Duft und Kultur
Aschauer GmbH
Tuchlauben 17
A-1010 Wien
Tel: 0043 1 532 3960
Mon-Fri. 10am - 6.30pm, Sat. 10am to 5pm.

City Shopping Feature: Le Parfum - Vienna

A few years ago I wrote a glowing review about Le Parfum - a Viennese niche perfume retailer in the heart of the Austrian capital which I felt at the time had ticked all the right boxes.
On my first visit since, I sadly learned that things at Le Parfum were no longer quite up to par. The blonde saleswoman behind the cashdesk bewildered me somewhat, enough so to make me seriously wonder if she was on meds. Any conversation I attempted to strike up about their perfume selection shifted swiftly into a discourse about how the store owner was currently holidaying in Crete, and having a wonderful time. I wondered if the €10 hike on most prices in the store was helping pay for this exotic Grecian excursion. Instead of buying the Nasomatto Black Afgano that I had intended; I scampered.
I returned a week later figuring I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. When I entered the store this time, I was delighted to see the original sales assistant whom had helped me on my first exceptional visit a few years ago. I smiled broadly but was met with a lukewarm gaze. When asking a few questions that I had saved since my previous (doomed) visit, I received responses that were every bit as tepid as her stare. I couldn't help but feel I was intruding when a young man who was clearly waiting for her shift to end or to meet with her stared at his watch and shifted in his seat impatiently. Instead of indulging my senses, I plucked the Nasomatto from the shelf and made for the cash register. Where samples were once generously offered in the past, this time one was dropped into my bag upon my request.

It could be that I walked in on two occasions when the sales assistants were having a bad day, but the odds of my visiting again have now diminished. Le Parfum is still a good little outlet for niche scents in Vienna, but recommended only if you cant find what you are looking for elsewhere.