SAGE MACHADO If the West Coast had a distinctive air, perfume-oil purveyor and jewelry designer Sage Machado would bottle it. Her one-of-a-kind necklaces and bracelets made of semi-precious stones are standard accessories for L.A. starlets who appreciate Sage's feminine, bohemian aesthetic. Her earthy oils (sold at Bergdorf Goodman) conjure up the overgrown gardens of old Hollywood Hills bungalows or incense wafting from a Malibu beach house.
Signature Scents: Machado has a knack for fusing familiar elements with exotic accents. Her perfume oil Garnet is a blend of Moroccan red rose, watermelon, blackberry, and Tunisian amber. Peridot combines fresh lime from Mexico with cucumber, fig, and freesia. "I think of fragrances in terms of color," Machado says. "For my Amethyst fragrance, I used notes from purple flowers like lilac, African violet, and iris root."
Early Influence: "I grew up near the beach, in Hawaii and California," Machado says. "So the smell of your hair after you've been swimming in the ocean and it's dried in the sun always makes me feel like I'm home." Shopping at the Sunday farmers' market on Hollywood Boulevard is a weekly ritual for Machado, and the scents of fresh produce—lemons, lavender, and, of course, sage—have found their way into her 11 oils.
Favorite Place: Machado gravitates to the ocean. But her most cherished destinations are the plumeria and hibiscus gardens on Kauai; Playa del Carmen, Mexico; and Italy. Absorbing the rich culture of Rome from the Spanish Steps, seeing the endless sunflower fields from the train between Florence and Venice, and appreciating Italian men all left strong impressions on the California girl when she visited last year. "From the architecture to the people, the trip couldn't have been more inspirational," Machado says. "I couldn't get enough of the ancient pottery, the textiles, and the African markets."
LYN HARRIS Sampling the scents created by Lyn Harris, the English perfumer for London-based Miller Harris Fragrances, (sold here at Barneys New York) is like walking through the wildflower patches of Scotland and the fig-tree orchards along the Mediterranean. Each has had a distinct influence on the perfumes she blends.
Signature Scent: Figue Amere reimagines the ambience of Es Cubells, Ibiza, where Harris once rented a villa, by blending green figs with sea moss and angelica and adding amber and vanilla. "These unusual fields of fig trees grew on the sea cliffs of Ibiza," she says. "The air was still, but it was filled with powerful smells."
Early Influence: Harris learned to appreciate nature during trips to her grandparents' farm in the Scottish Highlands. "I got my passion for fragrance from the wildflowers and the vegetable garden," she says. From her carpenter grandfather, she also learned to love the musky smell of wood.
Favorite Place: Like all perfumers, Harris is reminded why she chose her profession every time she goes to Grasse, the French town that has long been the industry's center. Never does she visit without spending hours in the traditional, family-owned perfume distilleries. Nor does she pass up a night at La Bastide St.-Antoine hotel, with its vibrant gardens and Provençal allure. But even wandering through her hometown can conjure up forgotten olfactory moments. "A writer might walk down the street and a story will come into her head," she says. "For me, life is fragrance, and certain scents—just walking down a London street, sometimes—will remind me of a place from long ago. "
LEV GLAZMAN AND ALINA ROYTBERG The stories told by Russian-born Lev Glazman always sound compelling. Maybe it's the accent, which dominates his speech despite his 19 years in Boston. No one can make a tale about flowers blowing into his breakfast sound as momentous as Glazman, the co-creator (along with his wife, Alina Roytberg) of Fresh cosmetics, a bath, skin-care, and makeup line (sold at Fresh stores in Boston and New York) known for its clean-smelling products.
Signature Scent: "It was late May or early June and I was sitting at La Bastide St.-Antoine café in Grasse, drinking tea," says Glazman, who also cherishes his stays (and meals) at Les Muscadins in Mougins. "And these linden blossoms blew right into my cup. The scent and flavor were so overwhelming, I had to take more petals from the tree and put them into my tea." Linden, one of Fresh's original "single-note fragances," was envisioned that morning.
Early Influence: Glazman loves to spin tales about the apple trees at his grandfather's house outside St. Petersburg, the spice markets where he shopped when he lived in Israel, and the scent of bergamot carried on Italy's coastal breezes.
Favorite Place: The villages of Umbria have cast a spell on Glazman. "It must be the air and the earth in Italy that makes everything so fragrant and intense," he says. A summer spent near the Red Sea also left a lasting impression, and made its way into his Cucumber Baie fragrance. "Your senses are keener when you travel," says Glazman. "You observe things more than you would in a familiar environment. You're filled with emotion, and you want to take it all in."