Luxurious exclusive perfume scents
It could be said that perfume is a message in a bottle. An important part of your identity — even more so than your apparel or demeanor — your scent communicates your unique vibe and essence, and it can evoke certain memories at any time.
The olfactory sense is one of the most delicate yet strong parts of the human sensory experience, able to give rise to emotion and ignite passion. To that avail, the desire for an individualist scent that defines us and separates us from one another has started a trend that is moving away from mass market designer fragrances to exclusive boutique niche or personalized, bespoke fragrances. Aware that people can smell luxury, these niche perfume houses are creating proprietary scents that are experiencing the sweet smell of success.
Of course, one can’t say the word “perfume” without thinking of Paris, which is the global leader with 30 percent of the world market. Along with houses such as Dior, Guerlain, Caron, Annick Goutal and Chanel, the city boasts its fair share of niche boutiques, from centuries-old houses to newcomers that customize made-to-order scents.
Parfums Divine, for example, is a discrete boutique that is known only by word of mouth. For founder Yvan Mouchel and his team, all their fragrances are a work of art, the creation of which they approach as they would a novel, painting or symphony. Using only the finest raw materials, their perfumes — such as L’âme Sœur, a marriage of noble flowers and aldehydes, and L’Être Aimé, a fragrance that soars with sun-drenched notes of neroli, bergamot and nectarine — make a statement that Parfums Divine is a French perfume house that places an accent on creating timeless fragrances.
Another exclusive house is that of Armenian-born Francis Kurkdjian, a pioneer in bespoke perfume creation and renowned as one of the most brilliant, innovative noses in the industry. In 1995, at age 25, he scored his first hit with Le Male for Jean-Paul Gaultier. He went on to impress the olfactory elite with other best-selling fragrances, including Narciso Rodriguez For Her, Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile, and Dior’s cult Eau Noire. However, he created the ultimate buzz after he filled the fountains at Versailles with scented soap bubbles and reproduced the smell of money for an art happening in 2003 that was organized by French installation artist Sophie Calle. You can book a private consultation with Kurkdjian — his made-to-measure perfumes start at €8000 ($10,050) — but you can expect starting prices of €30,000 or more for the bespoke service at Cartier or Guerlain.
Another house that deserves mention is Jovoy, one of the latest additions to the Paris perfume scene. Tucked away in a quiet side street near Place Vendôme, this discreet little boutique is owned by François Hénin, a man committed to “restoring perfume’s essential mystique.” While its look is sleek and modern, Jovoy’s atmosphere is that of an old-fashioned perfume shop where you would expect to see clients sniffing fragrances from amber apothecary bottle stoppers instead of from waved-around paper strips. Hénin himself is an avid storyteller and is often found in his shop, sharing his knowledge and passion for perfume with patrons.
Not to be missed is a visit to the legendary Salons du Palais-Royal Shiseido, Serge Lutens’ luxurious headquarters. Since opening in the Palais-Royal gardens in 1992, it has attracted a cult following. Fragrance connoisseurs from around the world converge here to stock up on Les Exclusives, perfumes from Lutens’ nonexport line that can be bought only at the Paris boutique or shipped by mail order to a limited number of European countries. Moscow is now in the loop, too. In 2015, Lutens presented his vision of Russian aristocracy via the design of the new Serge Lutens boutique in that city.
For more unusual and exclusive scents, niche boutiques are available and should be experienced on any perfume journey, including Parfums de Nicolaï,whose founder and chief nose, Patricia de Nicolaï, is a member of the Guerlain family; Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, founded by Jean-François Laporte; and JAR, the boutique of Paris-based American jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal. Although it is a U.K. house, Penhalion’s also has a shop in Paris as well as in London. A popular perfumery, it is known for its perfumes made in England from the highest-quality materials, such as fine jasmine that costs twice as much as gold.
London also has much to offer when it comes to sniffing out exclusivity. The House of Creed, founded by James Creed in 1760 and known as a historical fragrance dynasty, used to supply royal families, including Queen Victoria. All these generations later, the company still remains in the family in the hands of Oliver Creed, who is insistent upon all the components being weighed, mixed and filtered by hand as they were centuries ago.
The House of Creed recently launched an exclusive boutique in Mayfair’s refined and sophisticated Mount Street. The company’s commitment has always been to develop fragrances using traditional and conventional ways, an ancient method called infusion, in which one to two teaspoons of dried herb, or two to four fresh herbs (flowers and berries are substitutable), are “infused,” or placed, in oil or water (it does not need to be boiled). Then, after about 10 minutes, the herb, or herbs, are strained. Prices for its perfumes range from $165 to $1,995.
Believing that every city in the world deserves its own renowned niche perfume store, Bloom Perfumery London aspires to be that for England’s capital. While it showcases the work of outstanding niche perfumery talent from all around the world, in 2015, it launched a bespoke perfume lab with professional bases — mixes of molecules representing basic building blocks in perfumery — that allow any customer to design a perfume within an hour or so. It is different from meticulous molecule-by-molecule formulation the pros practice, but a session in a lab produces amazing results: a unique perfume imagined and designed solely by a customer.
New York shouldn’t be left out when it comes to offering exclusive perfume houses. CB, short for Christopher Brosius, used to be a taxi driver in the Big Apple and founded I Hate Perfume because of his passengers who wore “some horrible scents.” His anger and enthusiasm led him to write a manifesto in which he swore off perfume as “a substitute for true style.” He now creates custom-made scents, each one with a unique story. Believing that perfume is “always an experience” as well as art, inside a converted garage in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Brosius runs a factory devoted to the bottling of everyday scents, from roast beef to libraries.
Another Brooklyn house, D.S. & Durga, believes in the ability of perfume to conjure unseen worlds, and that the power of scent is equal to that of sight and sound. With artistry being top priority, perfumer D.S. — Durga, aka Kavi, is the designer — taught himself how to make perfume by immersing himself in all things fragrant. He is passionate about translating musical and literary spaces into scent. His distinct process involves creating accords of lifelike objects, places, and characters and weaving them into rich narratives. The sniffer reading the description should be able to sense clearly the ideas within the perfume.
Lastly, a world-famous destination for celebrities, fashion designers and perfume lovers of all kinds, Aedes de Venustas, a perfume boutique located at the end of a curvy West Village street in New York City, is positioned as the ultimate Art Perfume Gallery. It recently came out with its own fragrance, Aedes de Venustas, housed in an aubergine-colored bottle with a gold leaf-layered top adorned with the Aedes insignia.
So there you have it. Whether in Paris, London or Rome, the smell of exclusive luxury makes perfect scents.