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The “Perfume Commune” Cometh


Alexandra Balahoutis’ Abbot Kinney Boulevard Strange Invisible Perfumes lab and store has become something of a shrine to old-fashioned perfumery since it first opened its doors in Venice, California over ten years ago. Rejecting the commonly held beauty biz mantra of mass production and cost-cutting over small batches and quality ingredients, each of her creations boasts only organic, wild-crafted or biodynamic essences set in a base of 100 percent organic grape alcohol, making her brand a favorite amongst green-leaning fragrance fiends and the discerning Hollywood set (who frequently seek out Balahoutis for her custom blending services as well). That said, it might come as a little bit of a surprise to learn that Balahoutis has relinquished her stronghold on the area and amenably welcome Fabrice Penot’s Le Labo to the neighborhood—and by neighborhood, we mean the exact same complex—to form what the two like-minded perfumers have christened the “perfume commune.” “[It's] much nicer to inhabit than a perfume island,” Balahoutis jokes of the two stores that as of this Spring now exist alongside one another and are thus joined together in the pursuit of perfume—in its purest form. “If our brands were the same, this wouldn’t make sense,” Penot says, emphasizing that while there are certain inherent differences between SIP and Le Labo—aesthetically and in precise composition—both preach the importance of hand-blended formulas that are bottled in house, concepts that Penot and Balahoutis are hoping will revive consumer interest in the passion of perfume-making. “It’s is a way to support one another in our common quest to deal with the difficult balance of art and commerce,” Penot continues—and provide one hell-of-a one-stop-shop for perfume aficionados in the process.

Strange Invisible Perfumes and Le Labo, 1138 Abbot Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291; (310) 314-1505 and 310-581-2233.

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