Yesterday I had the amazing pleasure of meeting Fabrice Penot, creator of Le Labo, at Barneys New York. Not only was I immediately obsessed with everything about him, but I also learned a thing or two I never knew about the wonderful world of fragrance. I got a chance to test their latest Santal 33, and let’s just say, I’ll never look at perfume the same way again and neither will you when you hear what he had to say.
Unlike a lot of mass perfume brands, Le Labo is about quality and authenticity, which can be seen by their successful attempt at bringing exclusivity and individuality back to the perfume industry. And their long roster of both male and female celebrity clients can attest to that In fact, I heard that People‘s Sexiest Man Alive Ryan Reynolds frequently stops into Barneys to pick up a bottle or two. And once you get a whif, you’ll be hooked too. Read on to find out what makes Le Labo so special, and how they’re changing the fragrance game.
Tell me a little bit about your original vision for Le Labo and how it differs from where you guys are now?
Well, really Le Labo today is very close to what we wanted it to be in the first place: making the life more beautiful to people sharing with them the art of perfume creation… making sure they live a special moment when they discover the perfume, when they see their perfume being made, and when they wear it through the day.
How did the idea to launch Le Labo first come about?
We wanted to create a collection not to please everyone, just a very small number of people who would have the sensitivity to connect with soulful perfumes and aesthetic.
How do Le Labo fragrances differ from other mass perfume brands in terms of the user experience?
Well, beyond the quality of the ingredients and our special style, our perfumes are all freshly hand made to the order, and we take the time to personalize your label with your name on it. And this is every lab we have, in our stores and at our lab at Barneys New York.
Can you walk me through the process of how the perfumes are created?
This is a very long process that starts from a spark in our minds, just an idea, a dream, a fantasy and which then we try to shape into an olfactive form with the perfumer of our choice… then hundreds of modifications after, years of work and wearing the trials, you (hopefully) end up with a shape that meets your need for beauty, originality and elegance…
What was your inspiration behind the latest Santal scent? Can you tell me a little about the key ingredients?
Santal 33 is inspired by the Marlboro man in the advertising in the 80’s… this guy was our symbol of freedom when we were kids in Europe.
Woods, leather notes, smoky side, and rum accord… all inside is a attempt to embody the idea of the ultimate sensuality that embodies someone who is truly free!
You talk a lot about preservation of perfume so how should we be storing our perfumes so that they last?
There is no better place than a fridge to keep your perfume from aging. Light and heat are the worst enemies of perfume.
How long should we be keeping perfume, in terms of shelf life?
Behind a window during the summer: a month… not even. In your fridge, a few years, depending on the perfume (a fresh one is more fragile than an oriental for example). As a base, we put on our labels fresh until one year from the date of creation.
Rose 31 is one of your big sellers, and contrary to what the name may indicate, its unisex. What was the idea of making most/all of your perfumes wearable for both men and women?
Yes… our perfumes are genderless but not sexless. I love the idea of a man wearing a floral perfume. A great scent has no gender.
What are other top sellers especially among your celebrity clientele? Well, who are your biggest celebrity clients?
Our new scent, Santal 33, is getting a lot of attention right now, and of course Rose 31 is still very strong.
We are not so much about talking about all the celebrities who wear our fragrances. At the beginning, we kept a list of them… now we kind of gave it up. Every person who wears Le Labo is on her/his way to become famously sexy anyways 😉