The mightiest of senses

by Charles David

The charming little perfume shop Le Labo, on Elizabeth St, is a delightful olfactory experience.

After being at Le Lebo I felt I’d walked into the world of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, from the book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. My sense of smell was awakened and it was as though I was seeing the world from a whole new perspective. Everywhere I went, I noticed the subtle smells, making me more aware of how and why I was perceiving my environment.

While I was there at Le Labo talking to their extremely helpful staff, and taking these pictures for my blog piece, in walked a gentleman asking for a fragrance to help cheer him up from his winter depression. Such a testament to the power, smell has over us! Smell is a sense we tend not to think much about. It is largely ignored in comparison to taste or sound and especially sight. Fragrances are only really considered when purchasing a luxury perfume, when we have to put up with a bad one. But smell taps into our deepest, most abstract emotions, dreams and memories; it is inexpressible, intangible, ephemeral. In Patrick Süskind’s book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the omnipotence of smell is demonstrated by the unveiling of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s final perfume – those who smelled it experienced God!

So it makes sense that this surreptitious little sensation of ours has power over who we are attracted to; we are much more likely to fall in love with someone who smells wonderful than someone who looks wonderful. Moreover, fragrances can make us feel emotionally and physically connected (or disconnected) to those around us. Le Labo also has scented candles, which are a subtle, but powerful way to create an enchanting atmosphere in your home or the bedroom.

The FAQ section of their website is quirky and very informative about the processes of creating, selecting, storing and using perfumes. Here is just one example:

Q: Are there erotic perfumes?

A: Here we go… “Well literally not, at least on in the sense of direct-action aphrodisiac. Pheromones in fine fragrances are a myth. Nevertheless, some raw materials reproducing notes of an animal musky nature, and which somehow may unconsciously stir our ancient memory of sex attracted pheromones expelled… At Le Labo, we love animalistic/sensual notes, not only for the sensuality, the long-lastingness and the very special signature that they bring to our perfumes, but also because they bring back the animal within us! All perfumes are created keeping this in mind: don’t forget fine fragrance is about seduction, and seduction is ultimately about sex”.

The other thing that’s really unique about Le Labo is that they mix the essential oils and alcohol together only once you purchase the fragrance. This ensures the fragrance’s longevity and they even put your name and date of purchase on the label. I only wish I could include the experience of smell to this blog post, but the images will have to do for now. I highly encourage you to go into Le Labo to smell the beauty for yourselves.