Le Labo City Exclusives / by Didier Young

le labo

I will forever think of my dearly beloved mother each time I get a whiff of Coco by Chanel. It was the same scent that her mother used before her, and my own mother would choose to wear the Chanel perfume for special occasions. She had other favourites that she wore on an everyday basis, but Coco by Chanel was so unique, so powerful, elaborate and elegant that it remains the one perfume that reminds me of her without fail. It became her signature scent. 

I remember the first fragrance I purchased. I had saved up my allowance just so I could buy a bottle of Crave by Calvin Klein. Although the perfume seems a tad juvenile in retrospect, it became the foundation upon which my future fragrance choices would be built. Its notes of bergamot, pimento,  sandalwood, tonka beans, oak moss, vetiver and birch are often present in the perfumes that I still gravitate towards. While I still have a fondness for certain of the more commercial fragrances on the market, I have come to realize that they often start to blend together into bouquets of florals, sachets of spices or bunches of citrus fruits. In the recent years, I could count on one hand all the designer fragrances that managed to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. After going through bottles of L’eau D’Issey, Bleu de Chanel and Voyage by Hèrmes, I slowly started to delve into the world of niche parfumerie and it turned into an eye opening experience.

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In an attempt to find a fragrance that truly reflected my personality, I started to browse through the shelves of Frédéric Malle, took a detour to the Byredo counter and ended up in the gardens of Le Labo. If you follow me on social media, you would already know that I have become a fervent advocate of the brand, not only due to their gorgeous branding but also because of the quality of their products. It was with Le Labo that I truly discovered the evanescent and effervescent nature of fragrance, of its true power to evolve over time and take you on an olfactory journey. Not unlike most fans of the brand, my first bottle of Le Labo perfume was Santal 33. With its sensual notes of cedar wood and sandal wood mixed with leathery notes, it became an instant hit for both men and women. Unfortunately, that also meant that two thirds of the people I knew started wearing it, which completely defeated the purpose of having it as my signature scent.

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Four bottles of Le Labo later, I think that I have finally found a new one that might become my signature scent. Not only because it smells unbelievably good, but also due to its exclusive nature. There are key cities throughout the world who have Le Labo stand alone stores and if they have been opened for long enough, a signature fragrance will be created for the city. Once a year, during the month of September, Le Labo releases those city fragrances worldwide. This year, two new fragrances joined the family to create a beautiful set of eleven limited eau de parfums. While the Tokyo exclusive Gaiac 10 had previously been my favourite out of the lot, the newly added Amsterdam exclusive Mousse de Chene 30 stole the show this time around. Notes of moss and patchouli are spiced up with cinnamon, pimento bay and pink pepper. The perfume has a sweet green scent with a gentle kick in the background, resulting in a fragrance that you won’t be able to stop smelling, trying to discover all its subtleties and changes.

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The question remains: are the city exclusive scents worth splurging 350 Canadian dollars for a 50ml bottle? While the pricing is a tad steep, I do believe that if you have the disposable income, it is a great investment. Being recognized by the scent that you wear is no easy feat nowadays after all.

-Didier