Our scent, is arguably the first impression that one makes of us. While our clothes give us visible attention, scent elicits a unique response. When a fine scent passes through the air, you can’t help but comment on the lovely fragrance. It is why when we are sitting next to someone with that scent we immediately ask what fragrance is that? Who are you wearing? We are dying to know because we too hope to lavish ourselves in such a lovely aroma.

With scent being such an intimate and personal experience, one would think we would pay closer to attention to the fragrance that we emit throughout the world. Every year there are dozens if not more new fragrances that hit the market. After a while, the fragrances almost seem to meld together leaving many overwhelmed by the choices. Scent is by no means one size fits all. It may be years until you find your signature. However, at least there is comfort in knowing that there is one fine perfumery here to guide you on your aromatic journey. They are Le Labo.

The Philosophy of Le Labo

Le Labo meaning Lab in French is a New York based fine perfumery that creates with intention and quality craftsmanship. The intention is displayed in the careful selection of only the finest aromas that the world has to offer. And the quality craftsmanship comes froom Le Labo only entrusting the finest chemist and perfumist with their fragrances.

According to the Le Labo manifesto the belief is that “there are too many bottles of perfume and not enough soulful fragrances”

It is that soul that is precisely dropped within each bottle on site in the lab. They are one of the only fine fragrance companies that prepares the uniquely fresh fragrances on site. Meaning when you buy your fragrance, you are receiving the freshest batch versus a bottle that had been sitting on the shelf for months.

Le Labo was created in response to our changing world. Co-Founder Fabrice Penot shares “The world has changed in the last 10 years… back then, there was very little choice in perfumery for someone who was tired of the marketing tricks played by the designer brands and wanted to wear a great, spectacular, creative perfume. We wanted to propose an alternative – in the perfume itself, but also by sharing the backstage of perfume creation sharing the craftsmanship behind a true fine fragrance”.

In addition bottled fragrances, Le Labo also specializes in scented candles, soaps and a scented notebook that emits aromas when you write. Each item follows the luxe craftsmanship that is evident throughout the collection..

 The Aesthetic

The Chicago location in Wicker Park stays true to the global aesthetic of the brand. It is also the largest lab in the country.

The space features a rustic vintage feel that pays homage to our imperfections. There’s a certain roughness to the space as it lets in natural light but still features a dark mood. Paint appeaers to be peeling of the walls and tiles feature discoloration.

These imperfections are a special nod to the ancient Japanese philosophy Wabi Sabi. This philosophy guided the design process of the space. Within this belief one learns to accept imperfections, impermanence and things that are incomplete. Fabrice shares that We seek the beauty that finds its niche in irregularity, in “roughness”, a result of the integrity and voluntary simplicity of the process that we guide the craftsmen (the perfumer) through.”

While the aesthetic features an elegant roughness, the same sentiment can be found in the myriad of fragrances.

The Fragrances

The imperfect lab are where luxurious concoctions such as Santal 33, Ambrette 9, and Bergamotte 22 are created. The numbers on the bottle signify the number of ingredients in the fragrance. The higher the number the heavier the scent and the lower the number the more delicate the scent.

The light and airy Ambrette 9 which has only 9 ingredients is a favorite of North West. Yes, that North West. Kim Kardashian had purchased all of the baby editions before Le Labo discontinued the product. Unfortunately, your little ones will not be smelling like North West any time soon.

In addition to their signature scents, their city exclusive fragrances allows you to travel the world through fragrance. The essence of the city is preserved in the scent, taking fragrance lovers everywhere from Moscow to Paris. Since it is such a unique and exclusive experience, you can only purchase city exclusives in their host location.

In Chicago, the Baie Rose pays homage to our rich Chicago music history and the elegance and grit of the city.  This scents features hints of a pink pepper, cedar, and aldehyde. One wiff takes you back to the vivacious jazz age of Chicago.

From Le Labo’s signature fragrances to the city exclusives, I dare you to not walk away finding a scent that speaks to you.

When finding a scent Fabrice describes the journey as “just trust your gut… wear the perfumes you are interested in, use samples, don’t choose on a blotter. If after a few hours, you feel that the perfume you have on skin is a fit, wear it one more day. Is that what you want to smell like? Is that what you want to tell the world about yourself? Does the perfume give you an edge? If yes, then it is ok to commit”

Like anything in life, the perfect scent is all about how you want to present yourself in the world. After all, scent leaves a powerful first impression. So what impression did I want to share with the world? I chose the Santal 33.

Santal 33

The Santal 33 is arguably the most popular fragrance from the Le Labo collection. Co-founder Fabrice Penot even describes the scent as his second sin. This fragrance put Le Labo on the map and n0 Le Labo collection is complete without the famous Santal.

The Santal features everything from the masculinity of a man to the sensuality of a woman. What emits from the bottle is a gentle mist of cardamom, iris, violet, and Austrailian Sandalwood. Le Labo best compares this scent to an open fire and the rise of smoke.

My perfumist Eleanora prepared the scent in the lab with absolute precision and secrecy. No one is allowed in the Le Labo lab and the exact recipe is hidden from peering eyes.

Once complete, the bottle is sealed and a label is created which features my perfumist’s name and my own unique message. I decided to call the fragrance “A Dose of Elegance”. It will be an ode to future endeavors.

It was an incredibly tough decision but at the end of the day, Santal is what spoke to me the loudest. It’s Santal 33 with just the right amount of Kori.

If you are looking for a truly one of a kind luxury sensory experience, then look no further than Le Labo. I can assure you that you won’t regret the world of senses that await you.

Special thanks to Le Labo for having me in their luxurious lab. I highly recommend you check out the space for yourself.

If you wish to experience even more  Le Labo check out the rare and exclusive city tour this September. This will be one of the few times you can experience all 11 city exclusives in person. Before you go, check out the Discovery Set so you can sample the fragrances at your leisure. See you there!


*Complimentary fragrance was courtesy of Le Labo. All opinions are my own