Sweet Smell of Revitalization

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams holds up a bottle of
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams holds up a bottle of "Beau-Tie" as Aveda representative Beth Grant looks on. (By Dudley M. Brooks -- The Washington Post)
By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 19, 2005

Elizabeth Taylor has White Diamonds. Coco Chanel had Chanel No. 5. Now, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has his own signature scent, a blend of patchouli, jasmine and citrus christened "Beau-Tie."

That's pronounced "bow tie" for the French-impaired, a coy reference to the mayor's signature fashion accessory. And though Williams does not normally wear perfume, cologne or scents of any kind, he cheerfully accepted a small, beribboned flask of the stuff yesterday from representatives of Aveda during a news conference at the new Gallery Place mall.

The mayor welcomed an array of retailers to the mall, the biggest investment in downtown retail in two decades. In addition to Aveda, the complex at Seventh and H streets NW, next to MCI Center, features Ann Taylor Loft, City Sports, United Colors of Benetton, Urban Outfitters and Bed, Bath and Beyond. It also will house Lucky Strike, the District's first new bowling alley in years. The Gallery Place complex, developed by Herbert S. Miller, is the linchpin of a shopping revival in downtown's east end.

Aveda, as beauty aficionados will know, is the eco-friendly maker of plant-derived shampoos, lotions, makeup and "lifestyle products" sold in salons and "Experience Centers" worldwide. Now the company is opening its 31st institute at Gallery Place so local residents who aspire to work in the beauty industry can learn the Aveda way to cut hair and give facials.

Aveda executives wanted to do something special for Williams at the news conference. They hit upon presenting him with a "custom-blended aroma," a service that also will be offered to Aveda customers.

Alas, the mayor had no time to "chitchat with us about essential oils," said institute director Beth Grant. So Nicole Kaldes, Aveda's director of international/environmental communications, placed a call this week from her Manhattan office to the John A. Wilson Building, in search of a little personal information.

Kaldes learned that Williams is an avid bird-watcher who also likes to hike, kayak and canoe. In an ideal world, she would have had the company's "in-house perfumer" come up with something woodsy and unique. But time was short, so she dressed up a bottle of "Personal Blends Key Element #9" with a lime-green bow tie. She said the fragrance was selected for its "calming, grounded" qualities to help the mayor cope with a busy schedule.

Under Grant's direction, Williams cautiously sprayed the stuff on his left wrist. He pronounced it "very nice."

"I don't really wear cologne," Williams said. But "I really appreciate that they put it together."

"It's pretty hard to top your own perfume," said developer Miller, who sounded a bit jealous.

Staff writer Michael Barbaro contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company