Ok, I admit it. I’m a thirty something woman with a love for old French lady perfumes. Through much of my 20’s and 30’s, I wore Aromatics Elixir every single day. People loved the way it smelled on me, but no one I knew would ever dare to wear it. It was too strong, too musky/patchouli-ish, too BIG. For me, I projected power and sexiness whenever I wore it because it announced my presence in a room, and my friends began to associate the smell of it to me. But I never really tried too many other perfumes because the shopping experiences at Sephora and large department stores discouraged me–too many smells, aggressive sales assistants threatening to attack me with sprays of the newest trend who knew barely anything about the products they were pushing.
Only recently did I become a perfumista, and it’s all because of Le Labo (www.lelabofragrances.com). They have a shop in my neighborhood in New York and I was always slightly intimidated to go in. The minimal décor and the lofty scents it emitted seemed too high-minded for me (and probably too expensive). But one day a few months ago, I did go in, and I fell in love. I didn’t realize that there was this world of niche perfumery that would fall in stride with my sense of avant-garde creativity. But Le Labo does it. I walked in and had my hand-held by a lovely French woman who told me she was from the south of France. I told her I liked patchouli and musky scents, and she patiently took me around to each bottle offered, gave me blotters and allowed me to smell without rushing. Then she told me something that I never thought I would ever hear from an SA: Don’t buy anything now. Try something on your skin, live with it, let it evolve, and if you like it, then come back. But don’t buy anything now. At $145 for a 50 ml bottle, this was really good advice, but I was so in love with the experience that I bought a bottle of Labdanum 18. I loved the way it smelled on my skin and from the bottle, and so I bought one. I also tried Patchouli 24, but it was too weird, too bizarre for me to impulse buy.
I brought my bottle of Labdanum 18 home and started researching the world of niche perfumery. Oh my god. I did not realize a world like this existed out there. Basenotes, Fragrantica, Luckyscent, Luca Turin, Chandler Burr… A whole community of crazy perfume people out there! I loved it. Unfortunately, my love of Labdanum 18 waned while my desire and curiosity for Patchouli 24 soared, and I went back to the store a week later and sprayed it on me. I went Christmas shopping and at every place I stopped, people asked me what I was wearing. I was hooked. Completely and utterly hooked. I bought Patch 24 the next day, and thus began my slippery slope of perfume collecting.