Le Labo’s Gaiac 10.
While at Sniffa earlier this Fall, I was on a mission to go to Le Labo. I had to choose between going to the newly renovated Diptyque or missing a good chunk of the Sephora Sensorium just so I could make it to this store!
So I walked, really fast, through Soho (the one neighbourhood I always get lost in) towards Elizabeth street. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone- I had met a super outgoing Vegas-based perfumer called Vilma (You can find her here), who told me about her life over there and we tackled finding this place together.
So we finally find this teeny store, with just a print on the cement outside the door to identify it.
As we walked in, I was truly touched by such a simple yet inviting space. The guy behind the counter, Isaac was his name I believe, was incredibly helpful. We smelled almost everything including Neroli 36, Oud 27 (surprisingly not too overpowering), Ambrette 9 was just too good for words and the City Exclusives were a treat. We were allowed only one sample each, so I went nuts and tried to smell whatever I could find in the store, for the fear of missing out on the next big thing.
As I was discovering the store, customers would walk in with empty bottles and would have a new batch reblended for them. I remember how impressed I was with the personalized feel Le Labo offers - while I was there and when I posted another perfume of the week for Rose 31 earlier this year. People keep coming back! They love that one perfume, and they get it redone, by hand! This is some excellent customer service.
There were jars of precious raw materials lined against the walls, there were old school leather seats in the back, cluttered files, organized vials. It looked like a place I would like to see everyday, it was almost as if I were exactly in my element (and I didn’t want to leave.)
So, all this to say, I found my way to Gaiac 10, one of the City Exclusives - representing Tokyo. This collection includes Tubereuse 40 (New York - very well put together, my second choice), Poivre 23 (London), Musc 25 (LA - didn’t get a chance to smell this but will be ordering it for sure), Vanille 44 (Paris), Baies Rose 26 (Chicago) and Aldehyde 44 (Dallas).
Gaiac 10 starts off with a hint of sweetness on my skin. It gets a little more ‘sec’ or dry but not in the way that it tickles your nose (the cedar works its magic here.) The incense is SO good, and if you read all my mumbo jumbo, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with it.
Now onto the Guaiacwood. Found in Paraguay, it is steam distilled into the oil that is used today. Apparently, the trunk is made into 25% powder and 75% water (so when it is used in pure, it has a gooey texture, and needs attention.) It is a strong, characteristic base note. It is one of my favourite ingredients in perfumery because it is versatile, powerful and can give a fragrance the kick it so desperately needs. The fact that it has a delicious smoky facet doesn’t hurt either, who doesn’t like the smell of burning wood on the fire?
So in the end, it was a pretty easy choice for me. I was so excited to see a perfume revolving around Guaiacwood. It is done well, it is tenacious, and just really riveting. The fact that it was made with the imaginative Annick Menardo gives it that extra oomph. It changes on your skin, but not in the way that it is no longer recognizable, but more that it matures, so it changes into different versions of itself. Therefore, keeping the main character of the fragrance but still making it interesting for the wearer.
Gaiac 10 has notes of olibanum, guaiacwood, cedar absolute and a blend of musks.
Well done Le Labo, I love you, I really do.