Fragrances can bear very personal things. It was a cold blistery ice stormy day when I went to Scentarium to meet with Sue Phillips, the Queen of Fragrances. At first I thought I might have been in the wrong place, but as I wound my way down the stairs, I found myself in a cozy warm oasis dedicated to fragrances and perfume. The walls were decorated up to the high ceilings with original paintings of flowers and animals, evoking the owner's South African roots, and a luxurious tufted leather crimson sofa invited me to sit and drink in all the surroundings.
Sue Phillips is on a mission to free perfume from its bottle with her company Scenterprises and her Scentarium, an appointment-only custom parfumerie located on Franklin Street in Tribeca, New York City. Traditionally, to make a custom perfume it could take as long as six to twelve months and cost you US$10,000-20,000. At the Scentarium, you can make a custom scent of your own.
Phillips claims she is not a chemist or a parfumerie, she is the Queen of Fragrances and wants to take you on a fragrance journey if you are lucky enough to nab an appointment at the Scentarium. She showed me her proprietary technique of creating a Scent Personality Profile™ and her innovative way of simplifying the custom scent-making process.
Traditionally, eight main categories are used for fragrances: citrus, florals, fruity, oriental, chypre, woodsy, fougeres and animalin.
These eight categories can be a bit much for non parfumerie experts to understand so Phillips created her own way to make it easier for anyone to understand and create their custom scents. The Queen of Fragrances created eighteen custom fragrance blends that are themselves a perfume. The eighteen fragrances represent all of the smells from the eight main categories listed above. She further simplifies and organizes the eighteen custom blends into four categories: fresh, floral, woodsy and oriental.
She then has you smell all of the eighteen blends separately and then in conjunction with the ones you like to create your custom bespoke perfume. She educates you on the top notes, that is the smells that hit you first but dissipate quickly, the middle notes, also called the heart notes that mix with your body temperature and the base notes that last for hours on the skin. Normally she suggests you choose three to four of your favorites and then combine them to make your one-of-a-kind scent.
Even corporations have enlisted Sue Phillip's help. Acadia Pharmaceuticals used a Scentarium custom blend to help illustrate the calming attributes of a new Parkinson's Disease drug they were launching. Twelve executives from the company went on a fragrance journey and chose the smells that they believed evoked the attributes of their new drug. In Austin, Texas, during their presentation to over 200 salespeople, when they were trying to illustrate the healing properties of the new drug, they had the custom scent waft through the air so that everyone in the room could smell and feel the attributes of their new drug.
Disney Channel actress, singer and dancer Zendaya is also a fan of Scentarium and was there recently making her custom blend that she says, "Smells like Success". NY-Z is what she named her scent.
Phillips recommends choosing three to four fragrances to blend, but rules were always meant to be broken. Nathalie Guillaume, an acupuncturist and musician, chose nine or ten scents to be blended for her custom scent. She named her fragrance "Kashikoi", which is Japanese for "Clever". The super complex fragrance was 100% Guillaume, and when I saw her last she couldn't stop talking about the compliments she received on her custom perfume.
I personally chose a mixture of fragrances that reminds me of oxygen, the warmth of a hearth and overall spunkiness and named my fragrance "Mas", Spanish for "More" and more of my custom blend is what I want. I can't get enough of "Mas" and I am already in need of another bottle.
So the next time you need a gift, give the unique gift of a fragrance journey to your significant other, or treat yourself and go with a few pals. Contact and book an appointment at Scentarium 1 917 449 1134.