It’s a simple question and yet, bottle after bottle, celebrity fragrance after celebrity fragrance, the art of a custom perfume has been lost. Somewhere in between convenience and economy, the designer fashion houses realised their potential for profit in the cosmetics industry and it all changed overnight. One humble perfumery in Melbourne is looking to challenge the multi-billion dollar marketing industry and bring art back to bespoke fragrances.

Emma Leah of Fleurage in South Melbourne has been studying the lost tradition of perfume for over twenty years. A background in aromatherapy gave Emma her start in the industry. However, it was her passion for custom scents lead the way to years of tutelage under mentors and side projects which meant that today, Emma operates from Fleurage, the world’s largest independent range of natural perfumes for women and men. With an aptly titled “Laboratory of Flowers”, Fleaurage focuses on creating unique fragrances to cater to a variety of individuals. Just as exciting as designing your own perfume seems, Emma gives this opportunity to consumers as opposed to only allowing select Hollywood A-listers the chance to design their own fragrance.

The process involves a Q&A with Emma detailing your likes and tastes. Questions on your favourite season, locations and colours, all allow Emma to masterfully place you into a fragrance family that suits you. From the classic Floral family or the heavier Oriental’s there are over 80 individual ingredients that are narrowed down so you can begin designing. I was placed in the Chypre and Oriental family which meant that I had choices ranging from orange to apricot and seaforest to sandalwood, all of which were eventually included in my final choices. (I couldn’t go past adding some wildcards like “smoke” and “pepper” to liven things up!)

Emma’s passion for her work and the industry is clear as she educates her customers about the difference between a top and heart note, the tricks of the business, anecdotal information such as marketing budgets for perfumes costing as much as Hollywood blockbusters and what you should look for when choosing your own scents in-store (a secret I’ll let her tell you!).

The process is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and left me feeling like a kid in a candy store. It was thrilling experience to browse through so many ingredients and have the opportunity to design a custom fragrance. The session was informative beyond what I initially imagined, and left me feeling like a perfume connoisseur and expert, not to mention I now had a bottle of my taste and palette that was “custom” and only for me!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Fleurage have teamed up with the InterContinental Hotel to create an Indulgence Package, perfect for those looking for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day present. To find out more about this Indulgence Package click here. To find our more about Fleurage click here.

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Images by Couturing

About The Author

Thom Whilton

Thom Whilton is co-Founder and current Creative Director of Couturing.com. He has been published in a variety of publications for his written and styling work. Thom has been featured in Vogue.com.au, Weekend Weekly, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, M Magazine, The Vine and Everguide to name just a few. Thom was also Ambassador for the City of Melbourne (2012) has styled for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (2012) and his work has featured in Couturing and MX Magazine. He has also styled celebrities such as Delilah (Warner Music, supported Prince in tour), Nadia Coppolino and Silvana Lovin-Philoppousis.

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