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April 19 2014

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9 posts tagged "Alexandra Balahoutis"

Of Songs And Scents

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Strange Invisible Perfumes founder Alexandra Balahoutis has made a name for herself by producing a niche range of frequently custom-made fragrances that use only organic, wild-crafted, or biodynamic essences set in a base of 100 percent organic grape alcohol. But her fondness for finding inspiration in unlikely places also sets her collection apart. There’s the brand’s name itself, which comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. (“I love literature and rich narratives,” Balahoutis—who dabbles in poetry writing on occasion—once told us.) Then there’s the fact that she readily turns to the cosmos when blending oils: Her astrological collection paired opposing signs together—Pisces and Virgo, for example—and each was meant to be the olfactory equivalent of its individual personality profile. For her latest release, Balahoutis mined another unlikely perfume muse: indie rock. Taken with the Jack White-and-Danger Mouse jam “The Rose With the Broken Neck,” Balahoutis was compelled to spike a classic rose essence with spicy hints of nutmeg and Tahitian vanilla, adding a fresh zing of vetiver and using the warm tinge of white cognac as a surprising base. It amounts to a limited-edition rose scent that by any other name would not smell as sweet, because the sweetness here is so well tempered, it’s not overpowering, but incredibly inviting, unique, and addictive.

$350, available exclusively at Strange Invisible Perfumes, 1138 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA; 310.314.1505, www.siperfumes.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Strange Invisible Perfume

Beauy Etiquetter: Should Friends Let Friends Share Scents?

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Beauty Etiquetter is a new column on Beauty Counter in which we address your beauty protocol predicaments with candid advice from industry experts and those in the know. To submit a question, email celia _ellenberg@condenast.com.

The Quandary: My friend wears a fragrance that I love. I’m tempted to wear the same one, but is that considered stealing her scent?

The Expert in Residence: Alexandra Balahoutis, perfumer and founder of Strange Invisible Perfumes

The Advice:“That truly depends on the friend whose perfume you covet. I think that if she’s a signature perfume wearer—i.e. a long-term devotee to the same fragrance—she may not be in love with the idea of having an aromatic twin. If, however, she has a broader fragrance wardrobe and gravitates toward whichever one her mood fancies, she’s likely to be completely fine with it. It also depends on how close you are, how much time you spend together, and whether or not there is a competitive layer to your relationship. If you’re joined at the hip, I wouldn’t advise wearing the same perfume. Scent has a primal quality to it. People can be territorial and scent carries such personal association. Personally, I think that the more individualistic people are, the less likely they are to define themselves according to a ready-to-wear fragrance. When you know that your style is distinctive, you aren’t usually threatened by this sort of thing. That isn’t to say that there’s no such thing as a ‘single white female’ scenario, though, so think carefully before you mist away.”

Photo: Getty Images

Of Signs And Scents

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Since Strange Invisible Perfumes founder Alexandra Balahoutis first announced the launch of her limited-edition Perfumes of the Zodiac Collection—pairs of organic, wild-crafted biodynamic essences set in a base of 100 percent organic grape alcohol, each created for an astrological sign—we’ve been patiently waiting for her to drop Aquarius. It looks like we and our late-January, early-February-born sisters will have to wait a little longer, though. After successfully debuting the frankincense, ylang ylang, black pepper, cedarwood, and jasmine-tinged Pisces for emotional and compassionate late-February, early-March babies and the neroli, sandalwood, sambac, rose, and temple mandarin-infused Virgo, for the analytical and focused folk born in late-August, early-September Balahoutis has turned her attention to Leo and Sagittarius. The former boasts hints of bergamot, jasmine sambac and ambrette seed to tame the warm, regal, commanding fire sign’s need for power, while the latter includes notes of lime, cypress, sandalwood and beeswax to nurture the affable, adventurous, sincere side of those with a Jupiter ruler. Hopefully, our next horoscope will be a fragrant one.

$275 each, available December 2012 at www.siperfumes.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Strange Invisible Perfumes

The “Perfume Commune” Cometh

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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.

Photo: Courtesy of

Strange Invisible Body Care: It’s Baaack

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To truly love natural, bespoke fragrances is to know Strange Invisible Perfumes. Master perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis has been doling out personalized eaux made from organic, wild-crafted essences that are set in a base of 100-percent organic grape alcohol for over ten years and her Venice, California atelier is something of a Mecca for the truly obsessed olfactory aficionado. But fans of Balahoutis’ precise and unique hydro-distillation process, which captures an incredibly pure form of notes like gardenia, musk and an impressive variety of roses, have been without a complimentary body-care line with which to ensconce themselves in scent since Balahoutis pulled her original offering from shelves to reformulate and repackage its cleansing and moisturizing contents. Now, at long last, SIP’s new-and-improved body wash and body lotion collection is back. Debuting this week are five different opulent scent combinations, including bergamot, lemon and neroli, lavender and vetiver, sage and rose, and our personal favorite, frankincense and coriander, which has made the simple act of taking a shower an entirely decadent experience. Suffice it to say, a quick lather will help you start the new year off right.

From $35, available beginning this week at www.siperfumes.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Strange Invisible Perfumes