14 posts tagged "Le Labo"
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.
Our hoarding tendencies tend to kick into high gear when it comes to hotel beauty products. Suddenly, whether or not a specific product will serve any purpose in our regimen is completely unimportant. If those perfectly petite bottles of lotions and potions happen to come courtesy of a brand we already hoard at home, all the better—which is why we were particularly elated to learn that the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (which includes the Plaza in New York and the Savoy in London) had paired up with Le Labo on a new amenities project. One of our very favorite boutique perfumers, the Nolita-based brand’s celebrated Rose 31—a rich, spicy floral composed of cedar, musk, cumin, and, of course, its titular bloom, which has been extracted directly from Grasse—has been imagined in shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, gel, and soap form. We’ll definitely be tracking down the housekeeping staff for a few extras, when we “run out” on our next stay.
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.
“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.”
It’s been a busy month for Le Labo. First, the bespoke fragrance company collaborated on an exclusive line for U.S. retailer Anthropologie, and now founders Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi have another joint venture: Another 13, a fragrance made with Jefferson Hack of Another Magazine. As you’d expect from the biannual glossy known for its provocative photo spreads and entertaining editorial content, the eau de parfum includes a particularly provocative and unusual ingredient: a whale vomit accord, or Ambrox, as the sweet-smelling and quite pricey extract from the upchuck of sperm whales is called by the olfactory set. “Technically, its processed whale puke,” Roschi deadpans. “Basically, a sperm whale’s main diet consists of squids, and these squids scratch the inside of the whale on the way down the digestive tract. When the whale pukes up what is basically a clot, that substance washes on shore, is found by fishermen, and sold as a substance called ambergris. I guess if you want a comparison, it could be like a cat fur ball.” Gross, yes, but the ancient Egyptians burned the stuff as incense eons ago and it was revered for its pleasant aromas. Colette’s Sarah Lerfel got the project off the ground. “Sarah had an ‘aha’ moment and thought that it would be cool if we did something together with Hack,” Roschi explains. “We are two brands with a common vibe—Another Magazine likes to experiment the way we do, so we agreed.” Fruity notes mixed with “something dirty” round out the scent, which takes its name from the 13 main ingredients in the concoction. Here’s betting the other 12 are just as interesting as Ambrox.