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le labo

I have decided to change my way of working with this website a little bit. Up to now I have used the Sense of Scent Facebook for daily quick updates and news sharing, and this space has been reserved for more lengthy personal articles that appear with some time in between. I notice though that there are more people here than I thought and that the Facebook and this website/blog has different followers. So from now on you will not only find my own lengthy reflections on scent aspects of travel and life but also some interesting perfume industry news, articles etc. This will create more variation in the posts for you and make it easier for me to add new content more often. Just as before, I am entirely independent, I am not sponsored or paid by any company, and I choose to highlight the kinds of products, brands, research and people that I find interesting.

On that note – let me share some nice perfume news that I received in the inbox today from Le Labo.

The Le Labo Marais store in 7, rue Froissart will have “Coffee, Perfume, and Cigarettes” evenings throughout the year. The evenings will be lead by perfume developer Elisabeth Carre. Le Labo describe these evenings as “a gathering and lieu of nonchalant learning, a moment of perfume stories shared amongst friends and scent addicts, smelling and getting backstage details on rare and less-rare ingredients”. (What’s not to like!)

The price is 50 Euros. 7 people per session and each session lasts for about 1 1/2 hours. These are the themes:

White Flowers : from virginity to perversion…
May 14th, 2014 – 18:30

Woods : eternal icons to novel structures
July 9th, 2014 – 18:30

Colorless, odorless and tasteless: water … and perfume
Sept 9th, 2014 – 18:30

Sweets anyone ?
Sept 24th, 2014 – 18:30

Comfort in perfume : the musky way…
Oct 23d, 2014 – 18:30

Le Labo's treasures.

Le Labo’s treasures.

Le Labo stands out in many ways, it is an inspiring brand to follow which offers both really nice content and surprises. For example in terms of communication they excel since the start, in a business where generous dialogue with clients is not at all standard. When Le Labo was launched their style and personalized offer was very unusual and keeping this strong innovative position is a good challenge. A nice example of storytelling is the Community of Craft section on the website. For more about the idea behind Le Labo I recommend this interview with one of the founders Fabrice Penot.

Each Le Labo is built around a main ingredient. The perfumes are named after that main ingredient plus have a number that indicates how many ingredients were used. So Rose 31 is a rose perfume with 31 ingredients. I like many of the Le Labo fragrances. Ambrette 9 is probably my favorite and I admire the softness in it. However another favorite is Vetiver 46, a true no-nonsense super-vetiver.

Their manifesto gives good insight into the essence and what drives the creative work and brand.

Le Labo Manifesto taken from the Le Labo website

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Despite there being a huge global online perfume community I have seen very few examples of perfume houses that really excel in social media. A few web sites have tests where you can get help in finding your fragrance type, some web sites are extremely well-designed (favorite: Le Labo), some are strikingly generous and informative (for example Mandy Aftel). But social media – general impression is that there is much work to do. The most interesting communication is created by the perfumistas rather than the perfumers, is my impression. If you have examples that contradict this statement – please share!

My favorite right now web-wise is By Kilian as this perfume house creates nice links between information, shop, customer care and exclusivity. Everything is also very well-designed and has a tonality that fits the feeling of the fragrances. By Kilian has a facebook-page that actually does stay active and a part of is it the Kilian Club which gives you access to aming others things – samples delivered straight to your home. A couple of months ago I received a very elegant whole kit of samples and it really felt like getting a treasure.

So today I would really like to compliment By Kilian on their way of staying in touch with fans and also their generosity. Really really nice.

You can see just looking at the word that it has to be something a bit nasty, can’t you? It sounds like a place on the human body that is geographically located in an angle that only very close allies ever visit. 
As we know, the poetic world of perfume would not be so seductive and mysterious without the mysteries and oddities. Just like a perfume wouldn’t. Perfumes that are just easy and sweet are… boring. Just like people who are just easy and sweet can be. And then we have those who use perfumes like Mandy Afteliers Secret Garden (also has natural civet as Mandy Aftelier is known for her use of natural ingredients), Cuir de Russie and Antaeus (of course…) from Chanel or Labdanum 18 from le Labo. 

Castoreum, comes from the castor sacs of a mature North American or European beaver. Both males and females have castor sacs located in cavities under the skin between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Together with the urine, it helps the animal to scent mark and mate. The secretion has a bitter and strong-smelling odor (as if you expected it to smell like roses…). To create the castoreum resinoid that is used for perfumes it is dried, ground and put into alcohol. The dried sacs are generally aged for two or more years for the harshness to go away. The scent it then gets is compared to dried leather.

Castoreum is not only used in fragrances but also in food. You can find it in alcoholic and other beverages, baked things, frozen dairy and ice cream, chewing gum, candy, meat products and gelatin. In Scandinavia it used to flavor a schnapps called Bäverhojt. A few months ago some people went rather ballistic when Jamie Oliver brought up castoreum at David Letterman. Interesting, since quite a lot of parents feed their kids artificial crap without any moral dilemmas. The vanilla ice cream and ”beaver glands ” appear around 2:30.