From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Signature Scents

As smell is the most evocative of all senses, it almost seems more natural to wear a tailor-made scent than a suit. Anne McClain, the Grasse-trained perfumer behind Brooklyn-based MCMC Fragrances (the brand known for Dude No.1, a cedarwood beard oil that’s converted countless men), offers clients a personal and collaborative service based on individual sensibilities. She starts by presenting clients with scents from different olfactive families (such as florals, citruses, woods) to see what gets a response. “Next, we’ll build a formula together,” says McClain. “And because we’re building from the ground up, we don’t add in a bunch of other things, so the whole list of ingredients is only 10 to 20 items.” Each scent is based on the fragrance pyramid: the top (a fleeting initial hit, like bergamot), the middle (a longer-lasting floral) and a base note (often a wood that lingers after drying). In the end, the client comes away with a 50-milliliter bottle of his or her creation—not to mention an immersive three-hour lesson in perfume-making. For clients who can’t come to Brooklyn, not to worry: MCMC will send a tool kit of scent strips and samples to create a personalized fragrance right over the phone. None of this comes cheap—it’s $2,500 for a custom perfume and $175 for refills.


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