Grasse, a city in the south-east of France on the Côte d’Azur is known as the capital of perfumery; New York City, and to be specific Elizabeth Street in Nolita is a busy shopping neighbourhood. It may not seem obvious, but there is a connection between the two places. The internationally renowned and celebrated perfume brand Le Labo was conceived in Grasse but came to life in New York. Even though there is no physical border between the two cites, they are forever bound to each other in the world of this unique perfume brand. Read more here Grasse Via New York.
All images Jason Yates.com
In 2006, two french perfumers, who met whilst working at L’Oréal Edouard Roschi et Fabrice Penot, decided they wanted to break away from the boundaries of existing big-brand perfumes that emphasized mass marketing commercial fragrances. The idea was to have more initiative and more emotional experiences behind what they would go on to create. Hence, the birth of Le Labo, which is the french for the lab.
Le Labo this small niche elegant company set out for itself clear borders within which they wanted to create. Breaking away from the constraints they found in working with big brands, paving the way for new approaches to home and personal scent.
These two creators are driven, by emotional experience, with a clear brand philosophy, based on the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi.
Wabi-Sabi draws a fine line between perfect and imperfection this philosophy makes you learn to love your imperfections in a simplistic and minimalist way. Wabi” means either “rustic simplicity” and “understand elegance” with a distinct less-is-more mentality, and “Sabi” means “taking pleasure in the imperfect”. Wabi-Sabi becomes the balance between the two.
Also, the team only works with craftsmen such as perfumers, lab technicians, woodworkers, metal workers, candler pourer, or even rose pickers. The brand known for its perfumes, and candles, but it also makes other products such as body, hair, and face items.
Le Labo has a variety of 18 products in their classic collections, going from the iconic Santal 33 to Ylang 49. In addition to this classic collection, there is a collection named the city exclusives. These exclusives are perfumes that reflect the unique distinction of major cities in the world, from New York and Paris to Dubai, Tokyo, and Amsterdam. Plus, to increase the exclusivity of this collection, it is only available to buy in their own stores.
Faithful to the brand name, the products look like they have just come out of the lab as if they were experimental items. The perfume bottles look likes a chemist flask, plus, the label is in coherence with that looking like a scientific note. Whereas, the vintage candle collection resembles the first attempt at something experimental with the metal packaging instead of a glass container. Moreover, the packaging also appears with an almost scientific label like the bottles, plus it comes in a simple utilitarian cardboard box.
However, one question not so oft-discussed when reading their product names, is what does the number mean? The answer is quite simple. The name states the primary scent note, and the number indicates the total amount of combined ingredients in the final fragrance. For instance, in Baie 19, there are 19 different ingredients that together make up the scent.
Perfumes were their starting point, and the rest came along the way. But here is a fun fact, the iconic perfume Santal 33 was inspired by the candle of the same name, unusually it was the candle that came before the perfume.
One of the very first of the niche fragrance brands to breakthrough, Le Labo draws a line between them and other smaller perfume brands with their personalisation. On any product, the label will contain information such as the name of the products, the size, and what the product is and then, additional information such as the compound place, who compounded it at what time, and of course, any chosen name can be added to the label. Meaning should you want it can be personalised for you or the name of the person you may well choose to gift it to.
But wonderfully, if that was not enough, when the product is bought in-store, the order will be freshly hand-blend in front of you, as if you were a part of the process. There is no boundary at that moment between the customer and the brand.
As already shared, Santal 33 is the most iconic perfume of Le Labo. Launched in 2011, it was a wonderful unexpected word of mouth hit and has become something of a cult secret.
This most magnificent of scents that explores the great American outdoors a spicey woody scent that starts at the top with Cardamom, Iris, Violet, then join in its heart with Australian sandalwood, Cedarwood, Papyrus, Ambrox, falling finally into Leather accord, and warming soft Musk.
Another iconic perfume from Le Labo is Rose 31, a perfume that breaks boundaries with a scent of Grasse Rose known as a symbol of femininity and yet, the scent has an assertively virile fragrance that can be worn by both men and women.
There is a wonderful ambiguity behind the name that can hint to customers that this perfume is for women, yet, this perfume has no gender. The Grasse Rose scent is accompanied by notes of cumin, olibanum, cedar, and a touch of amber, giving the floral rose a masculine hint.
One of their newest products is dedicated to Seoul, an iconic city of the world, it is an eau de parfum named Citron 28. This scent will fill you up with a real lemon perfume that is not just lemon, but a twist on this icon of citruses.
This perfume is a mix and match of freshness and structure. It is also a balance between the original and the conservative. Along with the citrus freshness, find sparkling ginger, alongside majestic jasmine, which all rests on cedars and musks.
From Grasse to New York via Seoul and London, Le Labo has had a huge impact with classic and cult favourites over time and now with its latest the new Citron 28 the company is bound to have yet another hit.