By Paris Kim
The street on which you find Hové Parfumeur is Chartres. It’s not shar-tres or charts— it’s chart-ers. So much of the city is French influenced, yet have taken on a life of its own to become more Nola and less of the former. It’s the same with Hové. A legacy business of sorts in the French Quarter, inspired so long ago by the sweet smells of the south and now a fresh-faced facade filled with welcoming and sweet smells– old and new, and yet all comforting to those who wander in.
In true shopkeeping tradition, Amy Wendel lives upstairs on the second floor, just as her family has done since 1931. Back then, Mrs. Alvin Hovey-King, inspired by her world travels with her Navy Commander husband and the craft of perfume-making learned from her Creole French mother, opened Hové Parfumeur for business at 529 Royal Street down in the French Quarter. Inspired by fragrance familiar in her home in the South and the various types of women she first envisioned wearing them, the scents produced after year-long trial and errors became a popular attraction and local New Orleans belle staples, outgrowing its first two locations and now residing at 434 Chartres Street.
Amy Wendel, a great-niece of Mrs. Hovey-King, has transformed the facade of Hové into a airy and festive hub for the Easter season; baskets of soaps stacked near painted bunnies with bows and pastel-colored eggs in baskets on the counter tops by the wide front window. Pink ribbons adorn the packaging of favorite gift sets just in time for the spring. But what sets Hové apart from looking– and feeling– like any other one-stop perfume shop is their texture of space: mosaic tiled floors, near ceiling-high dark wood shelving sprinkled with heirloom glass bottles and porcelain toiletries. It’s not so much a museum, but more so a home, and on this particular afternoon you feel welcomed into it as Amy strolls around the shop dressing a mannequin in a lilac dress and suggests to her associate that for a glorious day out, ABBA should be playing on the sound system.
Amy’s own fond memories of visiting Hové as a little girl inspired her own devotion to it. Like her own, she enjoys seeing different generations of families come through its walls, like grandmothers with their daughters who, a year or two later, might bring in their granddaughters. These loyal generations are what make Hové a success, a small family tradition preserved by the beautiful scents that you can’t find quite anywhere else in these parts, especially ones like Vetivert, Carnaval, and Rue Royal.
But at one point Amy notices me lingering near the front counter where on display lay paper samples of each scent that adorn the goods of Hové. From soaps to room sprays and skincare, it’s hard to choose your favorite among the classic scents and the exquisite collection that includes a few more masculine choices. Between the go-to Southern scent of Magnolia or the fresh and oppulent sensation of Jardin de Louis, Amy suggests something new, and absolutely special. “Tea Olive is our exclusive scent,” she tells me, a delicate white flower unique to New Orleans and parts of the Southern Lowcountry. Light, sweet, and not too strong, Tea Olive strikes up memories I’ve made about the city I only just visited for the first time: Oak trees towering over broken brick sidewalks, a stray cat napping in the soft cushion on a wicker chair in someone’s front porch, sprays of water from the Mississippi, and secret gardens that connect the dark alleys you might see scattered around the ancient homes of the French Quarter. How scents deliver memories so suddenly to the brain once a sniff is taken is like magic. And not only does it bring back these feelings, but it brings out your confidence too, once you’ve settled on the right one that can keep those pleasant feelings around your whole day.
These loyal generations are what make Hové a success, a small family tradition preserved by the beautiful scents that you can’t find quite anywhere else in these parts, especially ones like Vetivert, Carnaval, and Rue Royal.
“It increases confidence, it helps make your mood a lot happier,” Amy explains. “Scent triggers memories emotions feelings. When a lady puts on a perfume or a fragrance, they are putting a scent on to make themselves feel better, smell better. They are doing this for themselves, not for people around them. It is a treat for themselves.”
The perfect scent then, in a city like New Orleans, makes perfect sense for one to find themselves, to explore and discover in what beautiful ways they can hold onto dear memories forever. A city in itself full of rich culture, traditions, with smells both good and bad, you’ll always want to find a way to take a piece of the Big Easy back with you to home. I find myself picking up a bottle of Tea Olive room spray. As Amy notes, it is the scent of the Creoles, that and Vetivert, two they have donned proudly and almost exclusively for generations. And now when you visit Hové on a beautiful spring or summer day down on Chartres Street, you’ll find how easy it is to never forget the magic and charm of New Orleans.
You only need to take a big, deep breath, and enjoy the enticing smells of the South that Hové has beautifully captured and bottled for your enjoyment!
Visit Hove Pafumeur today to find your signature scent at
434 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
A special thanks to Amy Wendel for such a welcoming and memorable visit!
Paris Kim is a writer in San Francisco and founder of Marjorie Magazine. Find her on Instagram @ParisKimWrites.