June 15, 2009

Two perfumers are giving new meaning to the phrase signature fragrance. L.A. cult favorite Strange Invisible (1138 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/ 314-1505; www.siperfumes.com; $2,100 for consultation and quarter-ounce perfume) has reopened in an expanded space just steps from its original outpost. In a walnut-and- steel enclosure designed to look like a carriage, Alexandra Balahoutis captures her clients' philosophies and desires in a scent. Customers can also taste floral waters made from the essences of Balahoutis's therapeutic blends. At his appointment-only Boston studio, Neil Morris (221 Massachusetts Ave.; 617/267-2315; www.neilmorrisfragrances.com; $350 for consultation and two-ounce eau de parfum) spends an hour or so getting to know your likes (such as sleeping in) and dislikes (artichokes). He then chooses from 700-plus essential oils and bottles his creation in an apothecary-style brown jar. —ERIN BYERS

Neil Morris

Neil Morris brings over 30 years of fragrance designing experience and a passion for creating unique scents to his Massachusetts Avenue store, Neil Morris Fragrances. A light, airy space with an expectedly ambrosial aroma, the appointment-only shop showcases the Neil Morris Signature Collection, a line of eight non-gender specific fragrances inspired by the proprietor’s own memories and experiences, from a Cape Cod thunderstorm to a summer breeze. Patrons can also have a custom fragrance created during an hour and a half consultation with Morris himself, who then packages the scent in a dark brown apothecary-style bottle.

Strange Invisible

At home amidst the boho-chic atmosphere of Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard, this perfume boutique combines the romance of old-world fragrances with a modernist design featuring sleek white counters, mirrored walls, and simple, vibrant displays. On the counters, miniature marble busts sit beside small wooden trays lined with scents, while dark wood shelves house more bottles interspersed with bright flower vases. Owner Alexandra Balahoutis is a perfume purist, shunning synthetic components for fragrances comprised of organic botanicals, such as tuberose, ginger, and cedar. Her fragrances feature names like Fair Verona and Narcotic and are artfully displayed in understated glass bottles.

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