By Jacqueline Jameson
Almost immediately after opening fourteen years ago, Manhattan’s Aedes de Venustas became known for its collection of personal fragrances, beauty care products, home fragrances and candles. We visited the boutique recently to see what a Valentine’s shopper might experience in their quest for a perfect valentine’s fragrance. Romantic stories abound of inspired and impassioned creation.
The view from the street into the space is obscured by a classical composition of gilded and earthly inspirations, suggestive of the sensual experience inside. Warm billows of scent rise to greet you as you duck through the antique black painted doorway.
Inside: a classical garden of earthly delights. A peacock roosts on a vitrine, wine velvet curtains pool on soft floors, pendulous cut glass prisms fracture the soft light and dusky roses fill a large vase. The music is unobtrusive, enhancing the experience. The welcoming staff has great expertise, revealed as they assist the shopper in finding the perfect fragrance. Shopping for a gift of fragrance can be intimidating. Like your affection, a fragrance is utterly personal.
Highly edited, the boutique’s wares are presented in glass cases, doors left invitingly open. Fragrances from traditional Parisian perfumers and ancient Mediterranean companies are found together with more recently found companies. Among the most ancient formulas are Florence’s Santa Maria Novella, established in a monastary in the 14th century. Carthusia of Capri uses 14th century formulas from the Monastery of St. Giacomo on that island.
We found several love stories behind the creation of perfumes. In 1956, Prince Rainier of Monaco wanted a special a fragrance for Grace Kelly to wear on their wedding. Creed, perfumers since 1760, was commissioned to create Fleurissimo, a wedding bouquet to last forever. The fragrance would contain the same flowers that composed her bouquet: iris, roses and jasmine. This floral fragrance was private until released to the public in 1995.
Love in Black, also by Creed, in a seductive opaque black bottle, draws in the browser with a fragrance that is mysterious at first: violets, clove, iris and leather. The warm, powdery fragrance is worn by women and men. Inspired by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, this sophisticated and unique fragrance tightly holds the attention of one who catches the scent.
Annick Goutal began her company in 1980 and her daughters grew up in the world of fragrance. Inspired by love for her family, she created three scents for her daughters. Eau de Charlotte is fruity floral with lily of the valley and black currant, Eau de Camille is fresh, honeysuckle and grass and Petit Cherie is a delightfully light and fruity fragrance with pear, peach and grass. Grand Amour, created for her husband’s great love and affection, has scents of lily, hyacinth and honeysuckle blended with the notes of amber, musk, balsam and myrtle. Annick Goutal fragrances are housed in lovely cut glass bottles with golden accents
A Mediterranean escape in a bottle, Fiori de Capri was created by the monks of Carthusia in 1380. Large bouquets and arrangements of wildflowers were made for Queen Giovanna D’Angio while she stayed in the monastery. The formula created was inspired by those wildflowers and is still used in today’s fragrance. Made by Carthusia since 1948, it contains the wild carnation of Capri, lily of the valley, sandalwood, ylang-ylang and oak. Inhale and envision the white, windswept, fragrant hillsides of Capri.
Phylosykos is popular dry fig fragrance made by Diptyque and loved by men and women. Until my recent trip to Aedes de Venustas, I had not heard the inspiring story of love behind the fragrance. Vacationing on a particular northern Grecian isle, the owners became enamored with the scent of a particular fig grove on a hot summer day. Year after year they returned to the same place and the scent became integral to the memories of their holidays. Determined to capture this scent, they brought a branch home to Paris and endeavored to create a perfume. Phylosykos is this fragrance.
Once fragrance in particular seems to be extremely well loved. A concept perfume in minimalist packaging, Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules is made of only one molecule, a warm woody aroma-chemical called Iso E Super. This fragrance has the unique quality of being barely detectable and notoriously effective. Molecule 01 is reported by many to have an attracting effect, a way of bonding with the skin and chemistry of its wearer to create a seemingly pheremonic effect, luring in the unsuspecting. Men and women wear this alone or in addition to other fragrances to rave reviews. Aedes de Venustas tells me they can barely keep it in stock.
Fragrance is an exceptional gift, especially when the gift is packaged by Aedes de Venustas. A black box with gold is wrapped with satin ribbon. Optional, and highly recommended, is finishing the signature box with the signature floral arrangement this unique wrap is deluxe and completely representative of Aedes de Venustas. They’re happy to ship a beautifully wrapped gift to your lucky someone if you prefer.
A particularly clever idea, the staff at Aedes de Venustas will add to the package a sample of the perfume being given. The recipient can sample the fragrance from the vial before opening the package of the perfume. A giver of fragrances would find this an excellent solution to not knowing whether the fragrance is a perfect fit. If it’s not the perfect fit, the recipient can take the unopened package back to Aedes de Venustas to find another.
The owners, Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner, have a passion for fragrance. They have created several fragrances in collaboration with leading houses of fragrance. A candle was their first venture in 2005, designed to capture and embody the experience of their deluxe boutique. The candle immediately gained a followings so a room fragrance followed in 2006. When the owners, discovered how many customers wanted to wear the room fragrance on their bodies, they quickly composed a personal fragrance. To create Venustas Eau de Parfum, they collaborated with renowned French fragrance house L’Artisan Parfumeur. The perfume has Japanese incense, the softness of leather, musk, strawflowers, and precious woods. It’s fantastic and only available at Aedes de Venustas.
A second perfume, Une Histoire de Chypre, was created with Molinard’s Dominique Camilli. Housed in a colored Lalique bottle, there are only 400 available. Based on a classic archived Molinard Chypre formula from the 1920’s, Une Histoire de Chypre has Bergamot, Mandarin, Neroli, Jasmine, Galbanum, Bulgarian Rose, Osmanthus Iris, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Musk and Amber. Histoire de Chypre is also exclusive to Aedes de Venustas and sits alongside seven sister fragrances in the Molinard 1849 collection. Great success in their creations has inspired Robert and Karl. Keep an eye on Aedes de Venustas for new launches in 2009.
Fragrances are luxurious. They remind us of romantic moments, sacred places, and beloved family. They are personal, melding with the wearer’s skin. They remind us of distant lands, favorite escapes and they may, in a flash, transport our thoughts/minds/us to a softer existence, a Caribbean Isle, a velveteen Valentine’s romance.
Aedes De Venustas
9 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014