Bespoke Fragrances Are the Ultimate Luxury — Here's How They're Made
Scents have the power to evoke strong feelings, memories, and desires. A whiff of a sensual perfume, for example, can make the hairs on your arms stand up straight, while another can transport you back to your 19th birthday party and a guy named Greg.
That said when it comes to choosing a signature fragrance, of your own, it's good to keep in mind that the scent will be linked to how people remember you. And for that reason and several others, the idea of having a one-of-a-kind fragrance created exclusively for you is more than appealing.
Bespoke perfumes are the ultimate luxury, but patience and money is needed to make them come to life. "It's like when you request an artist to create a painting or sculpture for you — you're working with the artist on a piece of art," explains perfumer Ben Krigler of the esteemed Krigler perfume house, who adds the process can last up to two years. However, it can take longer depending on how long it takes to nail the scent.
How Do I Get Started If I Want to Create a Bespoke Perfume?
If you decide to move forward, first things first, you'll need to start with a questionnaire. Krigler begins by going through the Proust Questionnaire, while Amy Yang, sensory designer and found er and curator of Perfumarie, begins by asking her clients to fill out a form that details what type of scent they're looking for, references they have, ingredients they're drawn to, and so forth. These, of course, are just a starting point. The real details come forth through conversations about memories, goals, and feelings with the clients.
"The client's personal preferences in scents will ultimately come into play, so I spend a lot of time with them, smelling my archive of thousands of perfumes and raw materials over many sessions," says Yang. "I must know how my client defines success."
What Goes Into Getting the Fragrance Just Right?
Once a starting point is established, note-testing begins. "The first session lasts for several hours, and is typically followed by subsequent meetings over the next few months that set the plans and inspire the process," explains Krigler, adding that they start by smelling individual notes and established fragrances to see what sticks. Yang says she even goes on field trips for inspiration: "To write a brief to capture specific moments, I may travel for amenities, ingredients, and/or space-inspired projects."
Both Krigler and Yang say that from there, they schedule several follow-up meetings with their clients to narrow down the scent. Krigler says that he schedules a meeting every two to three months and that it typically takes four to five meetings before the perfume is completed. For Yang, she adds that she typically begins the creation of the final formula within three rounds of refining a fragrance from a winning "aroma sketch" — aka raw concepts of direction in juice to confirm the direction and raw material requirements.
VIDEO: Here's How to Apply Perfume For a Lasting Scent
How Long Does It Take to Create a Bespoke Perfume?
Depends. But generally speaking, you'll want to be patient.
The stretches between sessions, while they may seem eternal for the eager customer, are a vital part of creating a bespoke fragrance. "Time is crucial between sessions to process and live with the various scents," explains Krigler. To know if you'll love a scent, you want to see how it wears on your skin, if the fragrance changes over time when it blends into your skin's pH, and how you feel while wearing it. All good things take time, and a personalized fragrance is a process you want to sit with before finding the best perfume for you.
How Much Does It Cost to Create a Bespoke Perfume?
Considering of all the work that goes into creating a personalized fragrance, the price is hefty. A session with Yang starts at $20,000, but completing it is much more expensive. (Krigler recently completed a project worth $250,000!) However, the price depends on who, or where, you go to. Famous fragrance houses, such as Krigler, are solid places to start. Additionally, you can go straight to a respected perfumer, such as Yang. Either way, make sure you feel a connection with the expert and that they truly understand what you want from.