Best Parfumerie - 2012
Strange Invisible Perfumes
No animals were harmed in the making of the scents at Strange Invisible Perfumes, although a bunch of greenery did give up the ghost. Each bottle of Black Rosette or Musc Botanique smells as if the very soul of the plant and flower has been harvested. Clients refer to the shop's perfumer, Alexandra Balahoutis, as an "olfactory poet," and what she's pulling off with these scents is no less than eco-luxury. Not only is the perfume organic, it's also sustainable and made only with botanical essential oils — no sulfates or binding agents or other synthetic chemicals. The jasmine in the Fair Verona scent (inspired by Shakespeare's Juliet) is pulled, by hand, from the vine at dawn at a small farm in Ojai. After a master distiller plies his craft, the perfume is blended using 100 percent beverage-grade grape alcohol as a base. This is why a tiny 1.7 fluid ounce vial in eau de parfum form costs $150. The scent consultation at Balahoutis' minimalist shop, however, is complimentary. A woman brings out trays of perfume in the 19th-century parfumier mode, and you winnow your choice down to a single scent. After which, you and your credit card will weep at the beauty of it. 1138 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. (310) 314-1505, siperfumes.com.