Le Labo Fragrances – Demystifying the 'Vegan' Perfume

Today, perfumes are mass produced and advertising campaign will try to fool us customers into thinking they are unique and all that jazz. After I found this perfume brand, I must tell you I’m having a huge crush for this amazing freshly hand-manufactured scents called Le LaboWhiff Whiff! Last week, I had a nice interview with one of Le Labo’s founders, Fabrice Penot who I found impressively passionate and witty!

Fabrice, what is the ethos behind Le Labo? Our intention is to make the life more beautiful to people through our craft: fine perfumery. The simple idea to bring the best of perfume creation to people, with perfumes are hand prepared, one by one, to the order.

We see there is a best before date put on the perfumes, does vegan perfume have a shorter life span? No, the fact to respect life does not impact the life span of our perfumes. Any perfume is fragile and can be damaged by oxygen, light and heat. It is to underline this fragility that we have a fresh until date on our labels, for you to take care of your new perfume keeping it away from natural light and heat.

Would you say Le Labo products are natural? Where do you source for your ingredients? The major part of our formulas are made of natural ingredients, but we also use high end synthetic ingredients (most of the time safer in terms of Allergens and more expensive than sore naturals) to replace animal ingredients (like civette for example, or castoreum) or botanical species that are interesting olfactively but are in danger of extinction.

How is Le Labo different from other brands? I don’t like to compare ourselves to other brands… I don’t know how it compares. I can tell you to go to our website, enter one of our stores, and most likely you’ll live an moment you had never lived before in a perfume environment.

What do you think is lacking in the modern fragrance industry? A lot of things…  but mainly: Balls. To put creation first in the process, to end the use of animal product and testing, to challenge the status quo of their business model, to recreate excitement for the people who buy their perfumes.

Having said that and since most of your readers are health conscious, there is one very serious thing about the perfume industry which is the auto regulation in terms of the safety of the ingredient used in perfumery in general. The industry auto-managed IFRA which is the organization ruling the use of ingredient by perfume brands is decades ahead from the countries own laws and regulations. I think fear of using mass perfume brands because of the ingredients they allow themselves to use in their bottle is not relevant. Do they smell good? i let you judge. Are they cruelty free? Not always. Are they unsafe, i don’t think so.

What kind of people would you say wear Le Labo perfume? People with a certain kind of sensibility… people who are looking for depth, and who are not ready to sacrifice their style for meaning. You can have both. Hopefully.

Which scent is your favourite? Why? I am wearing Santal 33… why? because i feel it smells like i should, and i feel naked without it.

We are always looking out for non-toxic and cruelty-free products for both men and women. Since all your perfumes are “vegan”, tell us about your relationship with animals and how it plays into your business? Well, my business partner and I are vegan and somehow citizen of the world. Le Labo is an extension of our lives. DO NO HARM is an ethic we have in our personal lives, and everything we do at Le Labo is ruled by the same logic. Not only with the ingredients we are using in creation, but also in the way we interact with our staff, our suppliers, clients. Talking about beauty and well being, i don’t know anything that creates more harmony than living in coherence. Well ok, after a good night of sleep.

Why are Le Labo perfume expensive? Well they actually are not if you put things in perspective: The oils we are using are sometimes 30 times more expensive than in a traditional perfume, yet we are maybe what, 3 to 4 times more expensive only for the final client. Why, because there is no cost of advertising, marketing, anything. What you pay is what you get, the juice the juice the juice!

The most toxic ingredient in perfumery? Focus groups! That’s what makes a perfume dangerous as the corporations behind perfume brands choose a perfume by testing them on focus groups… and usually the result is disastrous. Creation is not democratic. And i am saying that because to go back to what you had in mind asking your question, if the brand you are using is following the IFRA regulation, which is the case of any serious brand, no known toxic ingredient can be used.

PAUSE Team: Thank You Fabrice for such interesting and passionate insights from you. We are all fans of Le Labo here in the office. Sending you alot of love from all of us here.