When Roja Dove was preparing to open his first eponymous store in 2004, he used his considerable reputation as a world-class nose to choose from the brands he admired most. Rather than committing to entire lines, he focused on Xerjoff perfumes swathed in amethyst, one-of-a-kind Nina Ricci fragrances in their original Lalique bottles and antique Guerlain perfumes in hand-painted bottles that were originally a present from Napoleon III to his wife, Empress Eugénie—in other words, the absolute best and rarest finds from the world’s top perfumers. With the curatorial decisions made and the decor selected (old-world European glamour, of course), it came time to decide on a name for the new enterprise.
“I thought, most perfumeries sell the equivalent of prêt-à-porter, but this will be like haute couture—a haute perfumery,” says Dove. “And so the name was born: the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie.”
According to Dove, he was the first to invent the nomenclature, and perhaps even the concept, of the modern haute perfumery. Since that time the idea has caught on all over the world. From Singapore to Venice to Los Angeles, master noses and artisan perfumers are finding new and increasingly elegant ways to elevate the experience of selecting a scent.
At Fueguia in Patagonia, devising a perfume is a way of storytelling—a nod to the culture and region the company calls home. A new creation often begins with an evocative piece of literature, a quote or a character from a Borges story or a vivid image like “a 16th-century Jesuit church lost inside the living landscape of the Misiones rainforest.” The laboratory, located in Buenos Aires, is similarly romantic, making the perusal of the hand-mixed potions and rough-hewn wooden boxes lining the walls a mysterious, almost dramatic experience.
A visit to Lorenzo Villoresi’s atelier in Florence is an adventure of a different mood. Situated in Villoresi’s family ancestral home, the space is light and airy, with gorgeous views of the city. Hundreds of amber bottles line the shelves, plush rugs cover the hardwood floors and personal touches abound, with antiques and relics that his great uncle collected during his travels covering the walls.
At their best, perfumes take you on a journey, and so should the perfumeries where they come from. Here are ten that are guaranteed to do just that.