Los Angeles Sniffing: Part I

The reason for my Los Angelean journey was two-fold; to visit dear friends and attend Yosh’s perfume exhibit at the natural perfume studio, Blunda. Persephenie Schnyder, the owner of Blunda, has been hosting these events which allow perfumers to showcase their natural perfumes, discuss them, and most importantly, engage with us essence loving scent hounds.

SIP Boutique

But my Southern California adventure did not begin there. When my partner-in-sniffing-crime, duVergne, (who wrote about Ayala’s Blunda event here) picked me up from the airport, we headed straight for Venice. As some of you may know… this meant our destination was Strange Invisible Perfumes. I had never been to the SIP boutique, but immediately felt at home in the shop’s environment and plunked myself down at the bar which beautifully displays their Eau de Parfums and Pure Parfums. I knew duVergne and I would be there a while, and indeed we were. This was in large part due to Nic, one of the best, if not the best sales associate I have ever had the pleasure to meet. She was well versed regarding every scent and had intelligent and thoughtful comments about the fragrances whether they were on the test strips or on our skin. So yeah, we hung out with our new BFF for quite a while.

I finally got to experience SIP’s Black Rosette, an incredibly dry and resinous, leathery rose. Very unique and beautiful, but not quite what I wanted in the summer heat. (Come winter time, I could imagine wanting to cozy up to that one). Prima Ballerina is another rose offering from SIP, but entirely different from Black Rosette. It’s a pretty, rosy floral, with some sage and the subtlest of botanical musk making it an original rose, yet familiar and comforting at the same time. I’m in love with it and was this close to buying a bottle. What finally won the full bottle contest was Magazine Street, that perfect blend of vanilla and vetiver, with just a smidge of patchouli to really bring out vetiver’s herbal quality. I wrote about how much I adore Magazine Street here, so it’s no surprise that’s what I chose. Not to mention that in the Los Angeles summer heat, Magazine Street’s soft vanilla blossomed so elegantly. Yes…the deal was done.


We begrudgingly said our goodbyes to Nic and looked forward to the next day which started on the late side at The Little Next Door. (Many thanks to Ayala for that recommendation!) As fate would have it, Le Labo was unknowingly just a few blocks away. I had no idea I’d glean so much sniffing pleasure from a visit there. Again, a fabulous sales associate, Ellie, made all the difference. She was delightful to work with and allowed me to experience everything in the store at my own pace. Even though Le Labo does use synthetics, this is not always a deal breaker for me if I really love a fragrance and I am pleased to report that they do not use phthalates in their products. While most of the fragrances were interesting and unique, Iris 39 had me in its grip from the moment I sniffed it on the scent strip. So on the skin it went via their dry body oil. Le Labo’s Iris 39 brings forth the violet facet of iris that I love, but it’s not sweet or too precious. It’s also not powdery or soapy, but gently crisp without being woody. I need to spend more time with it, as well as the Oud 29 sample I received.

Le Labo was like a candy store as they have single essences, dried roots and herbs, as well as their Olfactionary for customers to explore. The Olfactionary contains vials of 40 essences, many of which I had never smelled. Tonka bean was probably my favorite single raw material. Alone, it smelled of tobacco, almond and vanilla. It was sweet and intoxicating. Ambrette oil had a beautiful contrast of sweet florals and boozy earthiness. Apart from the Olfactionary were jars of dried ambrette seeds which compared to the oil was much more tannic, similar to that of Hibiscus tea.


Galbanum is not a part of the Olfactionary, but is available behind the counter to smell as well as at least 50 other raw materials. I was particularly enthusiastic about having the chance to partake in this cherished resin which blew me away with its grassy, bitter, herbal woodiness. It packs a mighty punch and I loved every inhalation! Smelling Le Labo’s iris root (orris) was also an extraordinary experience as I was stunned by its warm, mushroom-like quality and its simultaneous tang. It was not overly floral like the iris oil, and just the sight of these dried gems will take your imagination to an enchanted forest.

In the interest of keeping this post a reasonable length, I’ll continue it in a couple of days with more essence discoveries at Blunda as well as the details on Yosh’s exhibit!

Posted by ~Trish

SIP Boutique image from Citysearch
Iris image from http://www.herbarium.com/images/oldflowers/
Galbanum image from I Smell Therefore I Am