Years ago bespoke perfumery used to be a service reserved for the rich and famous and if you were short of either denominator it meant getting a designer fragrance off Macy's was the height of glamour in the perfume shopping stakes. Things are very different today, thanks to the market evolution and the emergence of a new consumer that is highly savvy thanks to the Internet, and the differentiation between lines, niches and customer demand demographics have opened up the horizon to services that do cater to an individual's innermost desires. My personal viewpoint has always been that going for a specially made perfume one lost a part of the mystique that a carefully woven story and an exquisitely designed flacon (and advertising) carried alongside for the ride. Plus what Jean Claude Ellena ~in a zenith of honesty~ quipped as serving an already formulated in the perfumer's mind mod to no one's being the wiser. Yet I can certainly see the appeal; there are lots of things to recommend it, and one thing that isn't brandished enough in the media (so read on, I reveal it along the way).
One perfume lover describes an experience at La Jolla, California in these terms: "I especially loved our time with Lyssa at Tijon. This was a sensual experience with tantalizing sight, smell, touch, sound and taste!
- The shop is adore-able offering a european resort feel. They offer fabulous and unique gifty items for yourself and your favorite people.
- The fragrances made by Tijon are memorable. The experience of creating our own personal fragrances in their laboratory is unforgettable. We learned so much and had tremendous hands-on fun - all while dressed to impress in our lab coats!
- The music was classical offering some sophistication and creative inspiration.
- Yummmm. The fragrance class ended with a toast of champagne. Cheers!
Both of us love our custom and personalized fragrances. Mine was named Summer Stroll and my mom's was Santa Cruz Sand."
The mere opportunity to sit one-to-one with a dedicated team of specialists and discuss perfume is a perfumephile's idea of heaven, isn't it? Our resident sponsor, Tijon Fragrance Lab & Boutique has collected a cluster of testimonials showcasing the best elements of such an experience (with an emphasis on "the fragrance lab being incredibly well stocked and the employees/teachers being very knowledgeable", in the words of CoriB from San Diego):
According to Chu530459 from Phoenix: "I proceeded to the perfumery lab and learned how to go about handcrafting my own Fragrance. That was very interesting to say the least. I wished I had known about TIJON when I was planning a bridal shower for my daughter since the theme was "anything Paris". They have a large array of oils, 300 in all, for both men and women, that there's no way one could leave TIJON without having concocted something special!"
"My thirteen year old daughter and I spent a wonderful hour and a half here yesterday. The mix and match class was very informative and relaxing!" says Clsingh.
Interestingly the prices are moderate: 95$ for 1,5 hour of guided instruction and up to 150$ for 3 dedicated hours.
One of the crucial factors that have me thinking about custom fragrance making is something that only a dedicated and informed perfumephile might think of: bypassing the constant let down of the fragrance industry, i.e. having one's beloved "jus" reformulated to a shadow of its shelf.
Surely having one's personal formula on file and the opportunity to have an endless supply of that particular formula is the surest way of bypassing that vexing situation? I read Bonnie V's testimonial with rapt attention (and salivating at the prospect of making my personal ultra-spicy, ultra-jasmine-y blend): "This is an absolutely, over-the-top experience. Very few people have had the pleasure of not only crafting their own perfume, but also learning about the history of perfume and the fascinating science of scent. Here is something super cool ... you get to name your perfume! Once you've created your perfume, the instructors then label the bottle (a classy glass atomizer.) Great news ~ they will save your personal "formula" in their database so that you can order more anytime."
Of course there are more options available (including Ayala Moriel in Canada, and in Europe too, where smaller fragrance boutiques and the private consultation to go with them are getting increasingly widespread).