Heaven Scent

Hong Kong Tatler Homes - - CONTENTS - By Annabel Nourse

Per­fumeries with decor that ri­vals their fra­grances

Next time you hit the road, don’t for­get to stop and take a whiff of some of the world’s finest per­fumeries—and check out their de­signs for ideas for your own home

As per­fume is such a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s only nat­u­ral that per­fumers are very par­tic­u­lar about the de­sign and am­bi­ence of their stores. And with so many of the rea­sons we buy or are at­tracted to a new fragrance con­nected to mem­o­ries and sub­con­scious de­sires, it’s not sur­pris­ing that we are drawn to cer­tain shops for this most pri­vate of plea­sures. Jo Fair­ley, co-founder of The Per­fume So­ci­ety, says, “For me, sniff­ing out new smells and scents has al­ways been part of the joy of travel: the serendip­ity of stum­bling onto new stores and small bou­tiques, and even souks, to shop, or sim­ply to waft new and dif­fer­ent fra­grances un­der your nose. They are places that might just make your heart beat a lit­tle faster as you search for your ul­ti­mate scent—or scents.” In essence, part of the fun is the hunt it­self.

Le Labo

Nes­tled among the bou­tiques of Man­hat­tan’s El­iz­a­beth Street, this small bou­tique feels like a cross be­tween an old­fash­ioned apothe­cary and an ul­tra-mod­ern neigh­bour­hood bar. Founded in New York in 2006, Le Labo was some­thing of a revo­lu­tion in the world of per­fumery. Its cre­ators, Ed­die Roschi and Fabrice Penot, aimed to re­claim per­fume from what they saw as a mass mar­ket of uni­for­mity, and the de­sign of the hip Nolita store re­flects this.

“We couldn’t af­ford the US$200,000 quoted by ar­chi­tects, so we de­signed the store by our­selves,” they ex­plain. “We are al­ways look­ing for the beauty of im­per­fec­tion, the aware­ness of the im­per­ma­nence of things. It is more of a feel­ing, a vis­ual and al­most spir­i­tual im­pres­sion, than a ra­tio­nal con­cept. That is the quiet beauty we try to achieve in our perfumes and bou­tiques.”

What this trans­lates to is a mix of vin­tage fur­ni­ture and flea-mar­ket finds that give the bou­tique a cool, industrial feel. Si­dle up to the bar to test your nasal prow­ess with the res­i­dent per­fume mixol­o­gist and watch your spe­cific fragrance mix be­ing con­cocted out of ma­te­ri­als flown in from Grasse.


De­sign in­spi­ra­tion: Head to a shop that spe­cialises in vin­tage items—or look on­line for industrial pieces that will give your home an edge.

Roul­lier White

This back-to-ba­sics shop is in the leafy Lon­don sub­urb of East Dulwich, on a high street with bustling shops and a Satur­day mar­ket. It’s well worth the visit for hardto-find house­hold prod­ucts from long­for­got­ten man­u­fac­tur­ers, as well as the brand’s range of nat­u­ral prod­ucts (named af­ter the owner’s great-grand­mother, Mrs White) that in­cludes their best-sell­ing mos­quito-re­pelling eau de cologne, Un­stung Hero.

Lon­don is be­com­ing some­thing of a per­fume mecca and the very tal­ented Lawrence Roul­lier White, who cham­pi­ons new and in­no­va­tive per­fumers from around the world, runs this store. He has gath­ered an amaz­ing col­lec­tion of in­ter­na­tional per­fumery tal­ent. Cut­ting-edge Los An­ge­les fragrance house Smell Bent chose Roul­lier White for its ex­clu­sive launch—who can re­sist a scent called Tipsy So­cial Blah Blah? It stocks many perfumes from small ate­liers, in­clud­ing Slum­ber­house, Neela Ver­meire Créa­tions and Jimmy Boyd, that are un­avail­able any­where else.

Dec­o­rated with wooden floors and Vic­to­rian-style dis­play cab­i­nets, the con­cept here is sim­ple: take a look around, then sit and smell the fra­grances on dis­play. There are no coun­ters be­tween you and what is on of­fer, and the shop even of­fers a sam­ple phial ser­vice so you can try a va­ri­ety of scents be­fore you buy. Just be warned that you may come away with a cook­book and some fine china, too.


De­sign in­spi­ra­tion: Think pared back, with gor­geous un­var­nished floor­boards and your favourite items on dis­play in an­tique glass­fronted cab­i­nets.


Set in the heart of one of Buenos Aires’ luxury res­i­den­tial ar­eas, Reco­leta, the Fueguia store is lo­cated in front of the Duhau Palace.

Ju­lian Bedel, the founder and per­fumer at Fueguia, per­son­ally de­signed the store with the aim of gen­er­at­ing an in­ti­mate, sen­sual ex­pe­ri­ence that fo­cuses on scents. Af­ter pass­ing through the dark navy fa­cade, heavy vel­vet drapes cover the store, with a small wall of orig­i­nal botan­i­cal en­grav­ings from the 17th cen­tury. No de­tail or fin­ish has been over­looked.

The low light­ing was specif­i­cally de­vel­oped in Ger­many with Erco, us­ing a spe­cial fre­quency to pro­tect the scents and avoid any degra­da­tion. Bedel has also de­signed a par­tic­u­lar way of scent­ing the perfumes us­ing a glass lab­o­ra­tory flask, so you can eas­ily try the scents with­out hav­ing to spray each time. Mu­sic is an im­por­tant el­e­ment of the over­all am­bi­ence, so en­joy a se­lec­tion of Brazil­ian bossa nova and Ar­gen­tinian tango while you browse. The sim­ple wooden pack­ag­ing, re­flect­ing the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment, adds to the sump­tu­ous el­e­gance. fueguia.com De­sign in­spi­ra­tion: Think about how the light­ing in your home af­fects each space and en­sure it is ap­pro­pri­ate for the room. Kitchens need strong task lights, but the bed­room and living room light­ing should be softer and lower.


This church-like phar­macy in Florence, Italy opened to the public in 1612 and has been in busi­ness ever since. Prepa­ra­tions were orig­i­nally de­vel­oped by the Do­mini­can fri­ars of the monastery be­hind what is now the shop, and its prod­ucts were in­tended for the fri­ars and other mem­bers of the com­mu­nity in pro­mot­ing good health.

When the phar­macy orig­i­nally opened, it was given the ti­tle “Officina Pro­fumo: Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella” and was soon cater­ing to the whims of Catherine de Medici, who was crowned Queen of France. For her, the fri­ars cre­ated Ac­qua della Regina (“Wa­ter of the Queen”), which is still avail­able to­day as the Wa­ter of Santa Maria Novella.

The Old Apothe­cary’s Shop, to­day the herbal shop, is where the prod­ucts were dis­played and sold from 1612 to 1848. The main shop was orig­i­nally part of the con­vent, a chapel ded­i­cated to Saint Ni­cholas of Bari. The style is neo- Gothic, with the ex­cep­tion of a few wooden stat­ues and the Ro­man­tic fres­coes on the ceil­ing. There are eight wal­nut cab­i­nets for dis­play­ing prod­ucts.

There’s still a dis­pen­sary hand­ing out po­tions and ton­ics at the back of the store— ev­ery­thing here is the real deal. Don’t leave with­out look­ing at the ceil­ing and snaf­fling a bot­tle of Mel­o­grano (pomegranate), one of its most sought-af­ter colognes. sm­novella.it

De­sign in­spi­ra­tion: Give your bath­room a makeover with a dis­play of gor­geous glass jars filled with your favourite bath oils and other po­tions. Clear glass is great, but look out for other coloured glass bot­tles and jars as well.

THIS PAGE and op­po­site

The Le Labo store in New York City com­bines pieces typ­i­cally found in an old-fash­ioned apothe­cary with industrial fur­nish­ings


The colour scheme and clever use of light­ing helps Fueguia cre­ate an in­ti­mate space where cus­tomers can fo­cus solely on the fra­grances

op­po­site page

The Vic­to­rian-style cab­i­nets at Roul­lier White are a great way to show­case the wide va­ri­ety of per­fume from around the world



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