Perfume is now a $28 billion dollar global industry, dominated by the mass-produced and mass-marketed designer and celebrity scents. Recently however, a movement championing the usage of unique and bespoke perfumes, tailored to individual personalities and body scents is rapidly gaining momentum. After all, as Christian Dior once said, “A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” Inspired by these wise words of Dior, we decided to dig deeper into one of New York’s best-kept secrets: its boutique perfumeries. Here are some of our favorites:
For the chemistry buff: Le Labo, 233 Elizabeth St
Le Labo literally means “the lab” in French and indeed, the science behind perfume creation is stripped down to its most elemental form at this charming French lab in the heart of SoHo. Unlike the blends of synthetic chemicals found in most commercial perfumes, all of Le Labo’s products are based around a single natural ingredient sourced from Grasse, the “perfume capital” of France. When you purchase a bottle of Le Labo perfume, their experts will mix the ingredients of your perfume right there on the spot and design a custom label just for you.
For the alternative hipster: CB I Hate Perfume, 318 Maujer St. (3rd Floor), Brooklyn, NY
The name of this perfumery screams “alternative,” and their manifesto is certainly that, describing conventional perfume as an “ethereal corset trapping everyone in the same unnatural shape.” Founder Christopher Brosius found fame in the early 2000s for his uncanny ability to capture the scent of commonly overlooked olfactory experiences in perfumes such as Snow, Dirt and Crust of Bread. A great scent for summer, and one of his most famous creations, is “At the Beach 1966,” which evokes the smell of wet sand, seashell, driftwood and a hint of boardwalk. Visit his Brooklyn-based headquarters to see Christopher and his team in action, meticulously crafting each perfume.
For the storied historian: Santa Maria Novella inside LAFCO, 285 Lafayette St
To our surprise, one of the most enchanting stores in Florence, Italy, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, can also be found in New York City. Since 1221, Dominican Friars have carefully passed down their ancient herbal remedies to create the all-natural products found on the shelves of Santa Maria Novella today. The herbs and flowers used in their perfumes and aromatic oils are grown locally in the hills of Florence, and each perfume is carefully created according to traditional expertise. One thing you must try when you visit is their signature fragrance – the Aqua di Colonia – created especially for Catherine De Medici, the 16th century Queen of France.
For the olfactory adventurer: MiN New York, 117 Crosby St.
Chad Murawczyk and Mindy Yang carefully curate a selection of niche perfumes from around the world at their simply elegant SoHo atelier, founded in 2010. For $250, you can indulge in a one-hour individual consultation to discover your signature scent. Consultations begin with an interview, where you are asked probing questions about your personality, lifestyle and perfume usage. Then, in a similar manner to a wine flight, their experts will then guide you through a selection of fragrances that suit your individual needs for a truly bespoke and tailored experience.