Fragrance

By Kim Taylor

Le Labo’s luxury fragrance’s are composed by some of the world’s best perfumers, and it’s impossible not to fall completely in love with the concept of this nonconformist brand, its unique boutique-lab in NoLita, the friendly people inside, and its ten masterpiece fragrances.

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Here is a place that takes fragrance seriously, offering quality signature compositions mixed on demand. They are presented an artfulness and minimalist style that places Le Labo fragrances on center stage instead of advertising. Le Labo, which aptly means “the lab” in French, is the result of a shared creative vision between two fragrance titans who grew weary of “one size fits all” industry tactics and the commodification of fragrance. Instead of investing in marketing gimmicks, the Le Labo duo invests in quality ingredients to forge a brand superior to most premium fragrances. Their vision includes personalized fragrance bottles with the wearers name, date sold, location, and an expiration date – delivered by the store’s charming chemist. The store itself is created to feel like a cross between an old fashioned apothecary and an ultra modern neighborhood bar. Sidle up to this bar to test your nasal prowess and to watch your fragrant mix being concocted from materials flown in from Grasse.

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The Le Labo line includes three masculine scents, three unisex, three feminine and one baby scent. Truth is, women can wear the masculine scents and vice-versa, so these are just guidelines. You can also opt to have your own custom scent created, but it will set you back $40,000. These exceptional handcrafted fragrances are made with no regard for cost in a hybrid atmosphere that is part laboratory, part social scene and meeting place.

Here is an overview of Le Labo’s fragrance gallery, which is an olfactory Louvre, and it should be notes the number next to the fragrance’s name indicates the number of its ingredients.

Ambrette 9 is is designed for mother and baby, alcohol-based for mom and water-based for baby. Ambrette seed is derived from the hibiscus plant and has a soft, warm aroma. Notes of citrus and fruit are added, and it has the sweet scent of a fresh pear.

For women, Iris 39 is outstanding among this group of extraordinary fragrances, mixing iris with orange blossom, rich musk, patchouli, violets and 34 other ingredients. The result is a woodsy-floral scent both memorable and beautiful. Jasmin 17 blends jasmine, musk, vanilla and sandalwood in a vibrant, refreshing scent. The distinctive Ciste 18 is composed of oriental notes, civet and castoreum.

For men, Bergamote 22 blends bergamot, petitgrain, grapefruit, amber, musk and vetiver. Rose 31, also for men, is a mix of Grasse rose, cumin, cedar, amber, olibanum, gaiac wood, and cistus. Vetiver 46 for men features Haitian vetiver, cedar, pepper, gaiac, labdanum, and aolibanum.

Unisex Neroli 36 offers neroli with rose, mandarin orange, jasmine, vanilla and musk. Fleur D’Oranger 27, also unisex, is a fusion of orange blossom, musk, bergamot, petit grain and lemon. Patchouli 24 rounds out the unisex trio with a composition of patchouli, birch and vanilla.

Le Labo stocks over 150 fragrances along with its ten perfumes, and has created The Olfactionary, an olfactory dictionary for those who want to boost their nose prowess. You can also purchase something from this 40 single-note olfactory.

Le Labo stands out as a something truly new and noteworthy in a city that prides itself on being able to offer everything. Visit Le Labo, at 223 Elizabeth Street in Nolita, 212-219-2230. You can order online at www.lelabofragrances.com. Prices begin at $45 for 15 ml, $115 for 50 ml, and $180 for 100 ml.

Originally published June 2006
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