This Gertrude Street perfumerie with a cult following hails all the way from Manhattan.
LE LABO NEVER advertises, and it doesn’t need to. The perfume brand that started out in NYC’S Nolita district in 2006 has birthed a large cult with its unisex scents, stripped-back aesthetic and personalised service. Beyoncé burned a couple of the the Santal 26 candles in her ‘Sandcastles’ video on her Lemonade record, and everyone from Alexa Chung to Justin Bieber has been known to wear the brand’s most popular scent – the woody Santal 33 scent with masculine notes of sandalwood, musk and leather. Today, Le Labo has more than 20 stores around the world, including their first Australian store in Fitzroy. The main focal point is the fragrance lab in the back of the room. This is where perfumes are blended on purchase to ensure the fragrances are at their peak when customers take them home. To finish, labels can be printed with the recipient’s name or a custom message. “The [fragrance making] process starts with an inspiration,” says Le Labo founder Fabrice Penot. “Then you go to the lab to shape this inspiration with a perfumer… then it is a back and forth of a few years of wearing, smelling, feedback... some of our perfumes require over 400 modifications – some less than 50. You never know when the magic will happen.” Part of Le Labo’s appeal is its exclusivity: founders Edouard Roschi and Fabrice Penot have always avoided advertising and celebrity endorsement and, despite being recently acquired by Estee Lauder, the company makes just 15 ‘fine fragrances’. A 100ml bottle of the eau de parfum is $389, and the roll-on liquid balm costs $132, but the scent-curious can try a sample pack from $44. Among Le Labo’s most sought after scents are the city-exclusive perfumes, such as Paris’ Vanille 44 or New York’s Tubereuse 40. The Le Labo team are keeping tight lipped, however, on whether Melbourne will be getting a signature scent. 183 Gertrude St, Fitzroy 3065. 03 9417 1522. Mon-sat 10am-6pm; Sun 11am-5pm.
“Some of our perfumes require over 400 modifications”