Saturday, September 27, 2014

Having a Custom Made Fragrance: an Experience to Savor

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).

via beautifuldayphotography

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.

via beautifuldayphotography

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).

I was therefore wondering: Have you ever had this experience of having a custom made fragrance? Do you recommend it? Please share the aspects you enjoyed in the comments.


  1. We had Karen Gilbert in Sydney and she did a One Day Perfume Class. I went hoping it would be a fun day out but got a LOT more than I bargained for. History, Ingredients, Insider Gossip, Blending, Naturals & Synthetics, and so much more.
    At the end we created our own fragrances with a Top, Heart & Base. Though I was extremely dubious about this part and really didn't believe I could make anything even nice enough to use as room spray it turns out I was wrong. I have been wearing my fragrance quite a bit and people have noticed it. My BFF has been wearing it too so I can smell it on someone else and it is very nice.
    Would I give up the rest of my colection for it? Hell no, but I will wear it often.
    Portia xx

  2. Ellen16:48

    I had three crafted in Denver,CO and loved every minute of it. DSH in Boulder was closed and I found this studio by accident. Great fun. I got to put as much incense/frankincense and smoke into my scent as I wanted. What could be bad!

  3. Anonymous17:02

    I don't have enough understanding of the notes to want to do this, but I'd love to be able to order tailored versions of existing fragrances in order to tone down or amp up certain notes. For example, I'd love Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle with the musk cut to one-tenth (or one one-hundreth?). And I'd certainly get rid of those horseradishy woody notes in so many new fragrances these days. nozknoz

  4. ElizabethC04:54

    I went to an evening lab at Sweet Anthem in Seattle. Meredith gave us access to a variety of notes and set us free to build a perfume (with her expert advice). I set out wanting to build a perfume based on honey and linden with a warm and comfy dry down. I ended up very happy with a perfume that included cognac, tonka, honey, neroli, civet, cardamom and white patchouli. It was wonderful fun to explore the different scents and see how they all worked together!

  5. i have always longed to have a bespoke perfume created for me! it seems like a tremendous amount of fun, and the perfect marriage of mind and body. i love the idea of having a long conversation (like psychotherapy, but less depressing?), and testing a myriad of scent components/notes, and then seeing if the perfumer can create a scent that captures the essence of me. or perhaps several perfumes, to match my moods...

    i would enjoy working as an assistant in such a business as well. i often make facial serum oils and body oils for my friends that are based on ones i created for myself, but tweaked to include essential oils specific to their skin concerns and also scented to their preferences, both therapeutically and sensually. it's terrific fun to figure out what they will like best from what i know about them; and people, myself included, like to have things used daily that are not generic---things that reflect their own uniqueness or preferences, or lift their spirits in a tangible way.

  6. Loved reading all your stories.

    @Portia, I only belatedly found out you had your birthday on the 25th. Happy belated birthday and many happy returns!

  7. Since I am a soapmaler hobbyist I have a wide variety of fragrance oils, essential oils and otjer supportive materials and equipment and I have been enjoying making my own concoctions for a few years now. One day I hope to fulfill my dream and take a comprehensive training in basics of perfumery. Hopefully in Grasse! Till then I am collecting literature on the mater and reading a few selected blogs like yours.

  8. Thank you Ksenija,

    hope you get to fulfill your dream, sounds ever so much fun!
    Thanks for visiting and for commenting. :-)


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