If your personality could be turned into a scent, what would it smell like? Lilacs and cheerfulness, mixed with a dash of fresh-from-the shower? Rain on hot cement in July, with just a hint of rose? Or perhaps the clean laundry, mixed with freshly mown grass and vanilla frosting? Fragrance speaks to us and the people around us every day, so it’s fun to imagine what the ultimate “you” scent might be like.
Now there just might be a way to find out. The renowned London department store Selfridges recently ran a temporary pop-up called The Fragrance Lab—a first-of-its-kind way to skip the intimidating, confusing perfume counters and find exactly what you want and like in a perfume. Go custom or go home, y’all! In this era of bespoke suits and custom-built everything, scent is the natural next-big-thing on the personalized shopping horizon.
The Fragrance Lab was a collaboration between Selfridges, the London design studio Campaign, and the UK trend consultancy The Future Laboratory. Chris Sanderson, co-founder of The Future Laboratory said: “Fragrance Lab was designed to do two things; to help you explore the outer reaches of scent, and to offer a product tailored to your personality, behavior and mindset—your essence distilled into a scent. The future of retailing will be less about choice, and more about selection. In Fragrance Lab, we’re inviting each visitor to be part of an experiment, putting this to the test.”
And oh my lord, it sounds like it was seriously cool. Visitors started off by taking a simple-seeming personality test on Selfridges’ main perfume floor, and chose images that appealed to them from a set. Then, they went on a private, audio-guided trip through a strange warren of four rooms, some light, some darkened, and all filled with random-seeming objects to touch, smell, and think about. (Does the room with the scented books remind you of anything? Is there a scent in the mirrored room that triggers a memory you love?)
After the 15-minute journey, an assistant asked shoppers about their experiences, taking the time to talk and actually listen (omg what next, weird shopping experience?!) and then worked out an individual personality profile. With the profile, scent likes and dislikes, and memories noted, a perfumer from Givaudan (the people behind Angel, Lola, Armani Code, and Obsession) then went to work crafting a “prescription” of the custom fragrance, before handing over a fancy 1.7 ounce bottle of it. The whole experience—including the lab visit, tour, assessment, and the resulting scent, went for $110.
The Fragrance Lab officially closed its doors on June 30, but I’m absolutely dying to know what my personality smells like. What fragrance notes do “bossy” yet “lazy on a house-cat level” translate to? Is it actually possible that “usually pretty happy” and “shockingly bad at basic math” could turn into the perfume that speaks volumes about me without saying a word? We’re hoping the folks at Selfridges and their cohorts bring back the lab permanently, because we’re all buying plane tickets to London. For now, enjoy these awe-inspiring photos of the project!
All photos by ©Hufton+Crow