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Annick Goutal on Motcomb Street ~ perfume shopping in London

Annick Goutal in London, Motcomb Street

The first Annick Goutal boutique in the UK has opened on Motcomb Street, a tucked-away retail enclave in glossy Knightsbridge.

Although it’s only ten minutes walk from Harvey Nichols, it’s a bit off the beaten track as far as the tourist trade is concerned. This makes for a quiet shopping experience, which can come as a relief after the bustle of the big Knightsbridge stores.

The boutique sells the full Goutal range, including toiletries, candles and the L’Orientalistes collection. Fragrances such as Sables, not always widely available, can be found here.

On the main floor, there’s a quiet space with seats and a hand-basin, so that you can test and remove the scents. Downstairs, there’s a lingerie room with a small jewellery range, and a display of fragrances in Baccarat bottles…

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No safe exposure level

She chose leading brands of three air fresheners - a solid, a liquid spray and a plug-in oil - as well as a laundry detergent, dryer sheet and fabric softener and, because manufacturers are not mandated to list ingredients in such products, she had each tested in a laboratory to see what, if any, volatile organic compounds they gave off at room temperature.

Turns out there were nearly 100 in the six products, including acetone, limonene and three chemicals - acetaldehyde, chloromethane and 1,4-dioxane - that the Environmental Protection Agency considers to have "no safe exposure level."

— From Forget the fragrance, an article in SFGate recounting what University of Washington professor Anne Steinemann found when she started investigating the chemical composition of scented household products.