Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Fascination - The Les Senteurs of The North?

On a recent day trip to Blackpool with the family, we made a detour to Lytham in Lancashire so I could visit a perfumery shop called Fascination. My partner and his mother quickly realised that this was a grave error of judgement, for once let loose in the shop it was apparent that I was going to be some considerable time browsing in this veritable Aladdin's Cave of scent. So they went off, visited every other shop in the town, had a cup of tea, walked by the front and finally returned forlornly a good hour and an half later and begged me to come away.

For Fascination, despite its unprepossessing exterior, was as its name suggests absolutely fascinating, crammed from floor to ceiling with stock of designer and niche brands alike. I would compare its range to a cross between Les Senteurs, Liberty's, Boots and your granny's attic. They had the new releases from Serge Lutens, Amouage, Creed, Czech & Speake and Acqua di Parma to name but a few, but also the latest Prada or YSL - all at prices comparable or slightly better than in London. They also carry some niche brands which you don't come across very often, such as Acqua di Genova and Lubin. Additionally there were a number of unusual - and possibly discontinued - US designer brands like Alfred Sung and Jesus del Pozo, which I have read about on perfume sites but never encountered in Europe before.

In terms of store layout the approach was the polar opposite of that adopted by Les Senteurs. Although there were some elegant wall displays of bottles, the counter tops were bristling with stock and testers, which had Amouages taking their chances rammed up against Serges - you could miss so many gems if you didn't take your time and proceed inch by inch along the counter with forensic care, like the police combing a field.

The proprietor Lynne (not sure about the "e") was happy to chat to me for the entire time I was there, breaking off - quite properly - to attend to the customers who dropped by. At a guess, these were mostly regulars: well heeled residents from the surrounding area - the NW is an affluent retirement destination and also classic "Footballers' Wives" territory. Having quickly clocked that I was one of those perfume nuts from sites like Basenotes, Lynne proceeded to quiz me about my views on a variety of niche releases. I felt flattered that she assumed I would have tried all the scents in question already, which for the most part I had.

Eventually I let myself be dragged away by the rest of my party, though not without a mini of an obscure designer scent and a bunch of free samples. We headed off to watch the Blackpool Illuminations, which were impressive, though nothing could make me light up as much as Fascination - a "must sniff" stopover for any perfume lovers venturing "up north"...


lovethescents said...

Oooooooh, this sounds fantastic. I read your locale review with so much interest and envy. I had no idea Blackpool was so uppercrust. I always picture Jack and Vera bopping around on a roller coaster rather than rubbing elbows with elitist footballer brides. Now you must share...what mini and samples did you score?

Vanessa said...

Ah, well you see the geography gets rather specific in those parts. Lytham is pretty upper crust, yes. Blackpool could perhaps be likened to Atlantic City - sorry that I do not know of a Canadian equivalent - and Jack and Vera would indeed go there to ride the Big Dipper...! I bought a mini of Sung by Alfred Sung and the samples were Creed Original Vetiver, Amouage Silver and Fille en Aiguilles.

scentandshinythings said...

How very random! I came across this post while packing to visit Blackpool this weekend. Fascination is now on my itinerary for Monday morning while the family are in Sandcastle, the water park. I shall look longingly towards Lytham from the top of the Pepsi Max Big One on Saturday, just before it plunges earthwards. What children make us do... Thank you very much for this post!

Vanessa said...

Hi scentandshinythings,

Thanks for dropping by! If my memory serves me rightly, I missed the chance to hook up with you in Edinburgh at Easter when I went sniffing with Anna and Hazel, my SIL.

Anyway, am pleased that you spotted this early post - I have been back to Fascination since and blogged about the place again - in this post you will find an interior shot.

Say hello to Lynn(e) (still confused about the "e"!) from me if she is in the store on the day you visit and I hope you have a lovely time browsing there.

scentandshinythings said...

Had a wonderful browse and sniff in Fascination. The agenda is simple - find something that you like from the huge range which is utterly refreshing, given that most of my purchasing is from department stores where the SAs focus on their own brands.

Tried Santal Majuscule and Nuit Etoilee, neither of which is me. Ended up with the Amouage sampler set and a couple of random samples which I haven't sprayed yet. Had to strongly resist the impulse to spray and spray from the mahoosive bank of testers

Lynn(e) is hugely knowledgeable and in between recommending fragrance to try and fielding customers, (of which there were a lot for a Monday morning!), she grilled me about Edinburgh which she is planning to visit in the near future. Left when my nose burnt out (literally, got accidentally much too close to the alcohol burnoff from Boucheron Jaipur, or was it Ivoire de Balmain. Ouch!! Happily now recovered. Thanks so much for the rec!

Vanessa said...

Hi scentandshinythings,

So glad you were able to slip away to Fascination on your family trip to Blackpool, and delighted to hear the visit lived up to your expectations! Thanks for taking the time to report back. The shop is a joyful jumble of niche and designer scents, and as you say, there is no pressure to make a purchase.

Vanessa said...

PS I note that between us we are still none the wiser about the status of Lynn(e)'s "e",