Perfume is not like fine wine. Unlike a bottle of bordeaux, the older a perfume is, the worse it will smell.
Made-to-order fragrance is exactly what New York label Le Labo has built its reputation on –earning a cult status at home and abroad. Just 50 millilitres of this perfume costs $278 – yet it can be smelt the world over.
Once a customer has selected one of the label’s pared-back fragrances, shop assistants blend the scent on the spot, compounding eau-de-parfum oil with an ethanol component and sometimes a little water, to give the freshest possible result. The final touch is a personalised label, which can be printed out on the spot with your name or a personalised message .
Since opening in 2006 in Manhattan, Le Labo has been very selective about where it opens stores abroad, often taking years to scout the perfect location. In 2017, the label opened its first Australian store in an industrial building on Gertrude Street in Melbourne. Now, it has expanded its footprint to Bondi.
The design of the Sydney flagship follows its universal philosophy, which is driven by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi.
“We open in places that really love Le Labo and we have a lot of clients in Sydney. But we always take time because we want to find the right location,” says Le Labo’s global communications and partnerships manager, Mia Champetier de Ribes, who is based in New York. “The process is usually about finding areas that are a little bit downtown and Bondi seemed like the right place. We really tried to keep this same industrial design to match this idea of the downtown lifestyle.”
Le Labo aficionados can expect the label’s full range of products, from classic perfumes including the Neroli 36 and Jasmin 17. Scents are named after the primary ingredient used and for the number of notes used to create the genderless fragrance. Travel tubes and room sprays are also available, beside giant concrete candles that burn for 150 hours. And yes, you will be able to buy the Santal 26 candle that Beyoncé burned in Sandcastles.
“At Le Labo we do not have an exclusive approach where certain products are only available in certain boutiques,” says Champetier de Ribes. “We are not constantly releasing new scents because we want to keep it simple and [high quality]. In every single creation there’s a story, and we always make sure to work with very specialty people. For example, our [Rose 31 fragrance] uses a very special rose called the centifolia from Grasse in the south of France. It is the rarest rose in the world and we were in France a few weeks ago to harvest it, because the harvest is in May for three weeks only. This is why the design of our bottles is so simple: it’s all about highlighting the ingredient.”
Le Labo Sydney
68 Gould Street, Bondi Beach