The craft of perfumery is quite akin to magic, as it involves an interesting blend of chemistry and art.
Capturing this magic is an exacting task, requiring a strong knowledge of the elements involved. Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi decided to start Le Labo in search of this magic. The colleagues became fast friends during a perfume course in Grasse, France, discussing their ideas of what perfume should be. Their vision for a fine perfume brand with a strong character came to life with the launch of Le Labo in 2006 in New York. The name, which means ‘the laboratory’ in French, is a tribute to the art of perfumery.
A bottle of Le Labo perfume is quite unremarkable at sight’; a simple glass bottle with a label in typewriter print that could be easily overlooked among the vast array of flashy brands in a store. In fact, the brand’s approach is anything but loud. Le Labo makes use of no marketing tactics, and established itself without any advertisements. The store designs also showcase this simplicity. Designed in a minimal industrial style with a vintage touch, the stores, true to the name, come equipped with a laboratory. The perfumes are blended and bottled to order in the laboratory, showcasing an enchanting process while treating the buyer to an interesting learning experience.
Of the extensive range of fragrances made by Le Labo, none are more popular than Santal 33. Santal 33, which was originally introduced as a candle, achieved cult status on being developed into a perfume. Loved by celebrities like Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez and even adopted by luxury hotels, the woody notes of Santal 33 can be found across the world today. However, Le Labo offers a lot more than Santal 33 with a collection that keeps growing, albeit slowly. The brand’s core range of fragrances, the Classic Collection, includes perfumes like Neroli 36 (a warm blend of orange blossom, rose and vanilla among others) and Oud 29 (an intense mix of agarwood, incense, patchouli, saffron and others), alongside the famed Santal 33. If the perfume names seem to be following a pattern, it’s because they are - Le Labo names its fragrances after the most used ingredient in each perfume, with the number indicating the number of ingredients. The name however, does not tell the whole story.
This is best seen in their City Exclusive range of perfumes, where Le Labo created signature scents based on cities around the world. Citron 28, the scent for Seoul, is a complex blend of citruses with scents such as musk, cedar and jasmine, while Tubereuse 40, the fragrance representing New York, combines tuberose with notes of bergamot, oak moss, sandalwood and ambrette among others. These perfumes, available for sale only within each city, are a blend of varied scents, some sweet, some intense, some floral, but each remarkable in it’s own way. Take a whiff of any perfume by Le Labo, and it’s not hard to see how a small brand born of passion could make a name for itself in a world of fragrance ruled by giants.