August 29 2014

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5 posts tagged "Fabrice Penot"

Le Labo’s Flower Power


Le-LaboSince it opened its doors in Nolita seven years ago, Le Labo has been something of a paradox in the perfumery industry. In an often mass-marketed business, where new launches are almost mandatory in every quarter, the New York–based atelier only deals in freshly made eaux that are hand-poured at the time of purchase; it also rarely releases new scents. Which is why this month’s debut of not one—but two—flacons should not be taken lightly. “The way we work is that we keep creating, modifying, playing endlessly with formulas until magic hits. This time and after so many years of work, we finally got lucky twice with these two perfumes, which happened to mature at about the same time, creating very different kinds of effects and emotions,” the company’s co-founder, Fabrice Penot, explains of Lys 41 and Ylang 49—”imperfect twins,” as he affectionately refers to the two new floral compositions. The latter, a chypre floral that accentuates its titular ylang-ylang note with a strong undertone of Pua Noa Noa (Tahitian gardenia), patchouli, oak moss, vetiver, and sandalwood has a lush, dark richness, while the former, a white floral, blends jasmine, tuberose absolute, and lily with woods, Madagascar vanilla, and musks for an opulent effect that is likely to elicit a visceral response from anyone who gets in its wake (as we are not jasmine fans, that effect registers as a little overpowering to us, but we respect a fragrance that pushes our olfactory limits). As with all Le Labo creations, best to keep these out of the sun and stored in the refrigerator to preserve potency if you plan on wearing them sparingly. Freshly poured means preservative-free, don’t ya know.

Photo: Courtesy of Le Labo

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.

Photo: Courtesy of

Scent Stars Of The Silver Screen


Jessica Chastain might not be a household name yet, but the flame-haired actress is about to be huge. The Tree of Life star has—count them—five big films on the docket for the rest of the year, including Tate Taylor’s mega-hyped The Help and Wilde Salome, on which Al Pacino served as both star and director. Chastain’s first big red-carpet cameo came this May in Cannes—alongside Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, no less. We had the pleasure of meeting her there at Calvin Klein Euphoria and Calvin Klein Collection’s soirée for the International Filmmakers Project. And we caught up with her again last night at Bottega Veneta’s New York fragrance launch. Turns out, Chastain is as big a fan of fragrance as film. “I change perfumes for every part I play,” she revealed, explaining that she has a tight-knit relationship with Le Labo’s Fabrice Penot. “I’ll call him up and say, ‘this is what the character is like,’ and he’ll make me up a perfume.” For Terence Malick’s Tree of Life, she wore Le Labo’s Orange Blossom; for August’s espionage thriller, The Debt, it was Le Labo’s Vetiver. The made-to-order fragrance company’s Patchouli provided Chastain’s scent inspiration for her role in the upcoming contemporary apocalyptic tale, Take Shelter, but she switched allegiances for The Help: “I wore Chanel No. 5 for [that one],” she admits of the movie set in the 1960′s South. Coco wins again.

Photo: Billy Farrell/

Le Labo Debuts Eau de Rugged Americana


“We wanted to make impactful scents that weren’t able to exist in the commercial mindset,” Le Labo’s Fabrice Penot explained last night at Barneys. He was describing the impetus behind his five-year-old brand, one that’s done no less than essentially change the fragrance industry. The revolutionary concept was simple: Fill only testers with actual eaux, and hand-mix the essential oil notes with alcohol and water upon purchase to ensure that each flacon sold is as fresh as it can be. “Perfume is fragile,” Penot continued, recommending that you store your favorite scents in the fridge—or at least at a cool 60 degrees. A hit with perfume junkies the world over—Karl Lagerfeld included (the Kaiser is reportedly fond of Le Labo’s Neroli 36 and stocks up on it at Colette in Paris)—the brand has only released two of its own creations in recent years, after launching in 2006 with a small range. (Penot has bided his time in between with some very high profile collaborations, such as a recent project with Another Magazine.)

Le Labo’s latest is Santal 33, which arrived on shelves this week. Inspired by its popular Santal 26 candle, the sandalwood-heavy scent stems from Penot’s boyhood infatuation with America, in which the Marlborough Man—with his leather saddle, crackling night fire and the perpetual sweet stink (one imagines) of rum and whiskey on his breath—played a pivotal role. But don’t get too caught up in the overt masculinity; like all of Le Labo’s creations, this one is unisex. “We don’t believe in gender in perfume,” Penot says. Notes of papyrus and cedar wood, cardamom, iris, and violet help soften this scent so that it dries to a warm, spicy finish—and you need to let this one dry down on your skin, too, to truly grasp its full-bodied flavor. “We also don’t believe in love at first sight,” Penot jokes. “What happens [to a fragrance] in fifteen to twenty minutes is soulful. It can’t be smelled in a bottle.”

—Celia Ellenberg

Photo: Courtesy of Le Labo

Le Labo Does London


The fashion tribe is relocating to London after a whirlwind week in New York, and for Manhattanites wistful for the fineries of home, some exciting news. Le Labo, the Nolita bespoke fragrance outpost, has set up shop in Marylebone. The new U.K. store, which opened its doors last week, is the fourth global location for the brand, after L.A., Tokyo, and the Big Apple. In honor of its new home away—and just in time for the start of London fashion week—founders Édouard Roschi and Fabrice Penot have created a limited edition eau that is exclusively available in London, at the shop itself and at Liberty. The unisex perfume, called Poivre 23, is centered around its namesake spice with a good helping of sandalwood, patchouli, and vanilla to impart a warm, enveloping feel. It might just be the perfect you-can’t-get-this-here beauty item to present to jealous friends when you return to the States.

Le Labo London is located at 28A Devonshire Street, London W1G 6PP.

Photo: John Donegan / AP Photo