Anthropologie, which has really developed quite an impressive beauty collection lately, has a new fragrance feather to place in its faux-vintage cap. Le Labo, the New York-based niche perfume house founded by Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi, has created five new fragrances exclusively for the retailer.
Le Labo, in case you’re not familiar with the brand, is unique, even for a niche perfumery. When you purchase a fragrance from their shop, they mix it for you right there and add a customized label. The founders met while both making perfume for Armani. They chafed against corporate culture and in 2006 started their own range. Take a peek at their very amusing website. As Fabrice told me, they try not to be very serious about something they actually take very seriously; no fragrance snobbery here.
Anyway, back to the Anthropologie line. It makes perfect sense that Le Labo felt comfortable collaborating with the retailer and its very stylized point of view. The collection is a tribute to an older era of perfumery, and this comes across clearly. The bottles are amber glass and were inspired by antique poison bottles. The labels look like antique stamps. And the solid perfume is housed in a heavy metal compact based on turn-of-the-century measuring tins.
The collection consists of Chant de Bois (a feminine wood), Belle Du Soir (a musky chypre), Orange Discrète (a clean citrus), Poudre D'Orient (an oriental blend) and Bouquet Blanc (a decadent floral). None of them are too sweet or cloying, and they’re all interesting and obviously not mainstream. Chant de Bois has been the best seller so far, but I was partial to Belle Du Soir. Prices range from $28 for a solid perfume to $62 for a 50ml bottle of eau de parfum.
I got to speak to Fabrice Penot, and it was an experience I highly recommend if you get the chance. Being French, charming, opinionated, and knowledgeable about perfume is a winning combo. Some of his thoughts:
On solid perfume vs. spray: “It’s very intimate, the way you use [a solid perfume]. A solid perfume is more long-lasting, but the smell diffuses less. The top notes are less obvious in a solid than with a spray. And with a solid, you can apply it anywhere. You can’t spray a perfume in a restaurant, can you?”
On doing a collection for a mass brand when it seems to go against their edict: “With Anthropologie, frankly, it was not a stretch for us. Creation is at the center of their company. We wanted to be part of their ‘retail entertainment.’ They let us do everything we wanted to do. The people who love to shop here, they are the ones who will get what we do. They won’t think it smells strange.”
On celebrity fragrances: “Frankly I think they have as much [right] to make a perfume as Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein do. [They] make dresses and ties. If Calvin Klein can make a perfume, why not Paris Hilton?”
So next time you’re in Anthropologie looking at jewelry, haute aprons, and quirky doorknobs, try the new “By The Creators of Le Labo” perfumes. They don't smell strange at all.