I smelly like a rich, old man. That might sound strange, but it's true. I generally gravitate towards more masculine, opulent scents, as opposed to stereotypically floral, feminine fragrances. Pretty much always have and probably always will. Fortunately, this babe isn't alone. Amanda, a bezzie of mine, is also a lover of dude smellz. Le Labo Santal 33 in particular. She, a purveyor of all fine things, discovered it on a semester at NYU a few years ago and it is now all she wears. I can remember the first time I smelt it - it was when we were blabbing away over a huge cup of froyo, naturally. I caught a whiff and I was shocked. Hooked! It was this perfect, woody, smooth, almost-retro, Mad Men-y scent that was just so perfect on her. It felt like hot New York, and whiskey, and cigars, and open fires, and summer, all at once. It really is a transfixing scent of sandalwood, cedar, cardamom, violet and other bits and bobs, but what struck me was it is was so unusual, so challenging but so perfect and personal.
Obviously I asked her where she found it, and obviously she told me. So, on my first trip to New York over Christmas/New Year, Le Labo was on the top of the Places I Must, No REALLY MUST Go List. And it should be on the top of yours too, because if you're reading this, you probs like nice things. And this shop only has nice things.
Located in quite literally all the coolest parts of the world (their flagship is in NoLIta, NYC), Le Labo hand makes and labels all of their fragrances, which are all high end, unusual, modern and delightful. By hand make, I mean you order your fragrance, they pull out a recipe, a bottle, the ingredients, and pipette it all into a bottle in front of you. This is the definition of bespoke. The space in NoLIta is an immaculate balance of NYC cool and comforting edge. You can sit at the steel bar-esque counter and sniff away (testers of all fragrances are on offer for you to try), um-ing and ah-ing over all of their lust-worthy delights. The gorgeous people who work there are helpful, attentive, so knowledgeable but not at all pushy. A perfect combo when you're about to drop a fair few $$$ on a bottle of smell.
Being a lover of all things vetiver, I naturally plumped for the masculine, modern incense laden, green, woody Vetiver 46, while my sister, a more delicate, floral gal, chose a bottle of Lys 41, a very pretty jasmine, tuberose blend. What's even more lovely is they print the labels upon mixing the bottle, so each and every product can be personalised, which is even a more special touch. My Mumma was so swept away with the modern romanticism of the place that she shouted sissy and me a candle each. Sis chose a Fig, I chose a Santal 26, recminiscent of Mandy's fragrance, makes my room smell like Don Drapers bedroom... divine.
For me, smell is my strongest scent. As a child, I used to choose library books on the smell of the pages. I can tell you what type of oil is heating in a pan from many meters away. I associate all well-known fragrances with someone special in my life, and my own fragrances with where I bought them and that particular period in time. This fragrance, for me, is New York City. Bold, strong, forward, confident. And that's how it makes me feel. And that is why it is simply a must see for all those visiting one of the best places on earth.
But FEAR NOT! For those who don't want to fork out the, um, ya know, quiet $2000 to get to NYC, Le Labo is also stocked at Mecca Cosmetica. They still make it freshly for you, and prepare the fragrances with as much care, love and attention as they deserve. I so badly highly recommend a visit to the Mecca Cosmetica fragrance counter at Myer, Bourke Street, where you will be met with incredibly clever, helpful fragrance assistants who will help you find something you love. You'll probably find me there too: it is one of my Happy Places. They know me by name #noshame.