Health & Grooming: Scent of a Woman

  • Elizabeth Helman Minchilli

While many perfumers have ventured into the realm of bespoke fragrances, London’s Creative Perfumers goes one step further by describing itself as haute couture.

Creative Perfumers is the brainchild of Anastasia Brozler, the former head of perfume marketing in Europe for L’Oréal and Estée Lauder. Brozler, who possesses a doctorate in fragrance marketing from the University of Vienna, points out that it is the right side of the brain—the limbic system—that speaks to us when we choose a scent. “Scent goes right to the heart of the limbic system, bypassing our conscious brain,” she explains. “That is why the reaction to scent is so strong and so immediate—it’s almost irrational. At the same time,” she continues, “the limbic system is mysterious, like the black box of the senses. We attempt to unlock this box through our fragrance profiling, and get you to tell us your true desires—even if you aren’t aware of them yourself.”

After a series of interviews and exercises that include color profiling, taste associations, and, of course, sessions in the “olfactorium” sniffing some of the more than 4,000 rare and precious oils and essences, Brozler brokers a marriage between the client and one of her master perfumers. In fact, what truly sets Creative Perfumers apart from other custom perfumers is that Brozler has gathered 14 of the world’s greatest “noses” under one roof. Among them are Jacques Chabert, who created Guerlain’s Samsara and Chanel’s Cristalle; Norbert Bijaoui, who developed Givenchy’s Organza and Tiempe Passate; and Philip Montague-Peters, whose private clients included the late Princess Diana.

These master perfumers were enticed by Brozler’s brilliant concept of haute couture perfumes. “What we offer the client is clear—a personalized scent crafted by a master perfumer—a far cry from the mass-produced perfumes worn by millions,” she says. “But what we offer the perfumers is even greater: the chance to practice their true art, without being constrained by marketing briefs and commercial restrictions.”

The process of creating a custom fragrance is slow and painstaking. Over several months, rough drafts are created, and each one is presented to the client and fine-tuned by the perfumer until a perfect, unique, and utterly personal perfume is achieved.

The creation fee, which begins at around $3,900 (depending on the rarity and availability of ingredients), includes the profiling, essence samplings, sessions with the perfumer, and the fragrance itself—either a perfume in a 30ml crystal flacon engraved with your name or a 50ml eau de parfum spray, with your name hand-engraved on the sterling silver cap. Refills, plus bath oil, body lotion, and even candles and incense sticks can always be ordered, since your personalized formula is registered and kept safely locked away.

My own Eau d’Elizabeth sits in its sparkling bottle on my dresser. It is a mélange of citrus notes—bergamot, grapefruit, and lemon—that I discovered in the olfactorium. To this bright bouquet my perfumer added the essences of herbs that I love to cook with: thyme, basil, and rosemary. But it was the addition of loamy oak moss that proved the stroke of genius—providing a lingering, almost musty scent that pulls it all together. When I dab it on my wrists and neck, thoughts of hot sunny climes, herbs at my feet, and fruit-laden orchards run through my head. It is me in a way that no other perfume has ever expressed.

Creative Perfumers, +44.20.7629.8468, www.creativeperfumers.com

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