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Where Fashion Veteran Melanie Brandman Customizes Scents

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New York City has more stores than anyone could physically tackle, but somehow we always keep returning to the usual suspects. To break out of the rut, we've asked some local shopping and fashion gurus to provide their hidden retail gems—those unique stores around our fantastic city that we might not all know about. Cue the Beatles: We're about to get a little help from our friends.

Image via The First Few

Melanie Brandman is the founder of The Brandman Agency, a PR firm specializing in the global luxury travel market. She says she's been obsessed with fragrances since she was an employee at Vogue Australia, a place she worked "back in the dark ages when your salary was cash in an envelope and we had manual typewriters." But she really became infatuated with scents while working at twice-a-year magazine Vogue Men. The '80s may have been a bad time for shoulder pads, but it was a great time for nightclubs, and Brandman and her girlfriends would spend time playing with different fragrances before they would go out, usually experimenting with the men's colognes from photo shoots. What she found was this: Men were attracted to both Brandman and her clique when they would spray themselves with masculine dominant scents, such as her favorite, Nino Cerrutti. Now based in New York, she still gets to play mixologist at Le Labo.

Le Labo is one of my favorite shops. It's a small shop tucked away on Elizabeth Street in Nolita so it is a bit off the beaten path but surrounded by high-end boutiques. The store has very friendly staffers who wear lab coats and mix your fragrance in-shop.
At Le Labo, you can create a custom scent using ingredients like anis oil, iris oil, clove leaf oil, grapefruit oil, and more, but I'm particularly partial to scents that remind me of souks. I also love their Santal 26 perfumed notepad. It's handcrafted in France and is completely eco-friendly, and the pages are infused with the store's cult favorite fragrance, Santal 26. They also have gorgeous eco-friendly packaging; you can create your custom scent in a glass bottle labeled with your fragrance name along with the date it was created and can send your bottles back to be refilled with the ingredients you hand-picked during your visit.
· Le Labo [Official Site]
· Brandman PR [Official Site]
· The Travel Curator [Official Site]
· All Shopping Confidential Posts [Racked NY]

Le Labo

233 Elizabeth Street New York NY 10012