From the quirky, old-time photos on the Le Labo Web site to the nature of their hand-blended fragrances, it's clear that Le Labo is a fragrance maven's company. I was delighted to stumble upon Le Labo - and that's literally how I discovered them.
I am woefully behind on reading the fragrance blogs. I need to create more hours in the day to get cracking! There are so many great ones. I read The Non-Blonde every day, and each week, Gaia delves into fragrances that are noteworthy - and in some cases virtually unobtainable. Recently, I've "hooked up" with some excellent bloggers on Twitter, and I need to snatch some time to read their archives. I learn so much about fragrances by reading (and sniffing).
I do know my own tastes, which a fragrance snob would consider rather elementary, I fear. I'm OK with that, even though I pine to join the club of those who can translate scents into words and write about those scents so well that the fragrances seem to waft off the pages - or computer display. Maybe some day. In the meantime, I tell you about fragrances I love, and I've got a new-to-me one I adore: Fleur d'Oranger 27 Eau de Parfum ($58 to $700).
If you are unfamiliar with Le Labo, here's some enticing information from their Web site.
Le Labo aims to have perfume enthusiasts better understand the time-honored art of perfume making, to hone their sense of smell and develop their olfactory “palette” so that they too can distinguish what makes up a fine perfume. Knowledge, in perfumery as in everything else, is essential to free choice. Otherwise, we’re condemned to remain in the herd of consumers manipulated by the latest in advertising, fashion trends, and gadgetry.
Le Labo’s exclusive training tools will help you to learn more, refine your olfactory buds, and enable you to choose your perfumes with a true expert’s savoir-faire and discernment. Le Labo believes that it is about time that we open our eyes, breathe in deeply, and take in all that life has to offer.
Each of the Le Labo perfumes (fragrances) is built around a primary natural essence that comes directly from Grasse, France’s “perfume capital.” Bergamot, rose, vetiver, neroli, orange blossom, patchouli, iris, ambrette, jasmine, and labdanum, each of these essences form the base of a composition. The names of the perfumes provide a valuable clue on how they are formulated. Based on the codes that perfumers use to identify their perfume trials, the perfumes are named after their principal essence and the number of ingredients combined to make them. For example, FLEUR d’ORANGER 27 indicates that the perfume is made up of a total of 27 ingredients, with the natural orange blossom from Grasse as its principal essence.
Describing our perfumes in words seems to be an absolute must and totally useless at the same time. On a street in New York City’s Chelsea, a sign was recently posted that spelled out in capital letters: “EXPLAINING KILLS ART.” You could say exactly the same thing about perfume. Above all, you have to smell and feel it. Choosing your perfume by reading an olfactory description is like asking for someone’s resume before falling in love. But until the Internet allows us to smell online, we have found nothing better than words to "explain" our scents.
Their philosophy made me question my belief that the best fragrance bloggers can capture the essence of a fragrance. I still believe they can, but I also understand Le Labo's philosophy that to smell is to know.
Orange blossom is one of my all-time favorite fragrance notes. I was excited to see that Le Labo had a fragrance to fuel my addiction to the fragrant white flower.
Fleur d'Oranger is a natural, "extremely rare orange blossom that took over three years to compose. Its innate nobility is enhanced by fresh floral and lemony notes, rounded out by musk and the succulent, sunny touches of bergamot, petit grain, and lemon."1 That description from Le Labo was all it took for me to order. I expected a sweet orange flower fragrance with a bit or "rawness" provided by the citrus. When Fleur d'Oranger arrived, had it been in the old days before my body rebelled, I would have done cartwheels. As it was, I just left my nose on my arm for hours. Now it's been there for days.
I purchased the half-ounce size for $58, knowing I could go back for more if I liked it. As soon as my credit card turns over for the month (probably in a grave), I will be buying more Fleur d'Oranger. It's that special! I may never be able to retire, but I'll be one great-smelling little old lady - wherever I'm working.
My Fleur d'Oranger arrived in a spray bottle packed nicely in a utilitarian/artsy cardboard box. Both the bottle and the box have a custom label! They custom made the bottle for me. All of their fragrances are freshly made by hand - unbelievably impressive. The bottle has a printed label that says it was compounded in Nolita by Clio for Best Things in Beauty and will be fresh until May 29, 2012. Maybe my next purchase won't be the $700, 16.9-ounce size, which I have considered, but rather the $220 size - one I can probably use up in a year. On the bottom of the bottle, there is a hand-printed label that appears to read, "F027, ICUT, 5/19." So classy!
In a few more words, Fleur d'Oranger is an elegant, fresh, and green orange flower for those who want their scent to be as delightful at its conclusion as it was during its first hour. Some will find that boring; I love it. I dislike fragrances that have multiple personalities, with an opening personality that delights me, but a closing personality that terrorizes my nose. Fleur d'Oranger is suitably light for refreshing day wear. I imagine that men would find it as compelling as women - there's a bit of a unisex quality to the scent. It reminds me of my L'Artisan limited-edition Fleur d'Oranger fragrances, so dear that I ordered multiples of each vintage.
Le Labo has a sampling program. Even the samples are hand blended! Check out their Web site for information. I am going to be trying several more of them - very soon. I definitely want to try Neroli 36. I'd really love to try Tubereuse 40, but it's only available in the New York boutique. In the near future, I'll tell you about the other Le Labo fragrance I ordered when I bought Fleur d'Oranger.
You can also find Le Labo fragrances at LuckyScent. I ordered from Le Labo because New York is closer to me. I knew I would receive my fragrances more quickly.
1LuckyScent's description is slightly different: "The zesty aspect of orange blossom is underscored by the sunny, sparkly bergamot, petitgrain, and grapefruit. The fragile beauty of snow-white blossoms is made even more dazzling when contrasted with the verdancy of vetiver and the dark richness of amber and musk."
Photos by Le Labo and LuckyScent