The mix & match solution by Comptoir Sud Pacifique was a pioneer in the 70s. These creations usually contained only one flower and few ingredients, which made it possible to recreate an olfactory pyramid, and enabled well-informed people to compose as many of their own creations as they wished. When Valérie Pianelli bought out the brand four years ago, she brought the concept back to the forefront and offered smaller, 30 ml sizes for a multitude of combinations. Jo Malone’s Fragrance Combining™ is inspired by the same concept: one chooses their favourite Cologne among the fruity, floral, woody, or another category of the collection, and then combines it to another, fresher or warmer, to vary the effect.

And with their creations made “in situ” and on demand, Le Labo or Ex Nihilo also bank on perfume personalization. The recent acquisition of Le Labo by Estée Lauder shows the growing interest in these concepts that cultivate the difference.

Their public often yearns for olfactory emotions, and enjoys both seeking a differentiated perfumed identity and getting involved in the creation process. “We live in a hedonistic society, and creating one’s own perfume puts people in a good mood”, Valérie Pianelli emphasizes. Sophie Roger, of Parfums d’Orsay, notes that “the concept is intended for customers able to understand what this can reveal”. And among them can be found Middle East women consumers, who represent a flagship market in prestige perfumery, and for whom fragrance alchemy is a tradition. The Arabic origin of the word Alchemy is actually Al Kimiya, the name of the new Parfums d’Orsay line of combined fragrances. Amber & Musk and Oud & Wood, two extracts with intense hints to be matched or not, depending on the moods and the seasons.

Whether they target curious customers or others familiar with the concept, all these brands share the fundamental notion of guidance. “Even if some mixtures are more obvious and well-known than others, we ought to give customers the means to learn how to make them”, Valérie Pianelli concludes.