Downtown-based perfumery, Le Labo, creates custom fragrances by hand in its Nolita boutique. Since opening, co-founder Fabrice Penot has earned a rep as one of the most notorious "noses" in the business, an expert in all matters olfactory.
As fall approaches and new beauty routines kick into gear, we decided to consult Fabrice on choosing the perfect "signature scent."
What do you think distinguishes warm-weather fragrances from cold weather ones?
When the weather is warm, you don't want to have to handle a heavy oriental fragrance. For you, and for the others, a more citrusy, fresh composition is often more appropriate. As a matter of fact, when the weather is warm, we are more looking for well-being than sensuality, even though one does not prevent the other.
During the winter, on the other hand, it is much easier to wear thicker, heavier structured fragrances as the comfort of the aesthetic is more important too.
How would you recommend going about choosing a "signature scent" to wear through the fall. Are there any scents in particular that you consider too strong for daily wear?
Well, it is not so much the strength that is sometimes an issue, but the perfume itself. i prefer listening to Bach with the volume up high than barely hearing Miley Cyrus in the background.
But as for fall, frankly i don't know. Perfumery is not fashion, so there is not a "what's hot this season" thing. It is about connecting, resonating with the aesthetic of a scent. It is about you, and it is about the perfume. it is not about when you smell it.
Can you give us an example of a friend or customer whose personality perfectly matched his/her signature scent?
I am thinking of the guy who I met in our NY store once. His name is Ucef. When I saw him, i thought he was the most elegant man I ever saw—Iranian, bohemian loose chic...perfect. A straight guy like me would turn on him on the street. This kind of man.
I imagined him being a writer, a poet, a guy who crosses the Atlantic only by boats and does not have a cell phone. He bought Oud 27. a very proud, intense and experimental blend. They formed a beautiful couple. I think they are still together.
What are some particular scents you're interested in for fall.
"What do I want to say about myself when I enter a room with my perfume? " That is the question you should ask yourself. I think a fragrance for fall is a non sequitur. It is a fragrance for falling in love that we need. And for that, just go to the right place, smell, spray on your skin and trust your own intuition.