Le Labo Fragrances

I remember it well: the day I discovered cologne.

The gasoline-colored liquid came in an unmarked glass bottle, a hand-me-down of questionable origin from my brother. It smelled about like it looked. I slathered it on…a couple of sprays on the neck...a spray on each wrist...another for the neck again. For a kid about to enter the ninth grade, it seemed like a magic bullet—the perfect tool to make me stand out as I tried to get the girls at my new school to notice me. 

I was exactly right.

Later that day, I took my lunch and approached a table full of girls. 

“Mind if I sit here?"

"What's that smell?" they asked, crinkling their noses. 

I stuck with deodorant from then on.

Fast forward about 15 years, to the discovery of Le Labo Fragrances. (And the knowledge that eau de parfum isn't just for impressing potential love interests.)

This is no average perfume or cologne; it’s “soulful fragrance,” compounded—by hand—in New York City. There’s philosophy, literature, and art behind this stuff. And though they produce about two dozen scents, I’m partial to Santal 33, a blend of cedarwood, cardamom, iris, violet, ambrox, and sandalwood—which was inspired by the Marlboro ads of old that symbolized freedom and masculinity.

A single spritz on a pulse point is all it takes (as I later discovered, a person should leave behind only the memory of a scent rather than telegraphing his or her arrival). 

Before you decide, perhaps a sampling is in order. And remember: scent is the strongest memory. — Seth Putnam