Courtesy of EX NIHILO
Ex nihilo may be Latin for "out of nothing," but the indie French fragrance line with the same name is anything but vapid. Created by three impossibly chic French individuals with varying backgrounds (all cool and worldly, obviously), EX NIHOLO seeks to exist as an alternative to stuffy storied fragrance houses of yore by offering luxurious, avant-garde, and edgy scents that waft by and make you do a double-take—or two.
There's Sweet Morphine, a sticky-sweet, carnal-tinged blend of lilac, iris, wood accord, and vanilla. If your desires are more clandestine, there's Venenum Kiss, an alluring, unexpected blend of notes like neroli, saffron, and nutmeg with a sandalwood base. Fleur Narcotique wins for best name but also delivers on scent—it's a slinky, airy floral that pairs bergamot, jasmine, and peony with a sweet shot of lychee and peach. These are scents that beckon, seduce, and linger, and they're unlike anything you've ever smelled.
But wait—there's more.
EX NIHILO also offers a semi-secret feature for its customers who frequent Bergdorf Goodman in NYC or Saks Miami Dadeland: "We wanted to offer a luxurious, exclusive, and intimate experience in our boutiques, inviting customers to create their own demi-bespoke fragrance," the leather jacket-wearing, well-coiffed co-founder Benoît Verdier informs me. "You tell us your emotional preferences and we will translate this by proposing a slightly modified but very personal formula validated by our team of perfumers from Paris."
My emotional preferences vary greatly based on things as fleeting as the weather and whether the Starbucks barista spells my name correctly, so I was curious to see if the brand could live up to its promise. What would my perfect, personalized perfume smell like? Keep scrolling to find out.
The first step of the demi-bespoke experience involves choosing a base fragrance. You can choose from all nine of the original fragrances, including the newest addition, Amber Sky—the idea is that you can then adjust and fine-tune certain notes in the scent to end up with a slight variation that is all your own. Rather than spraying perfume onto fragrance sticks like a commoner, EX NIHILO allows users to inhale each event through their vases de senteurs (French for “smelling vases”). These special vases allow you to smell the scents without developing what Verdier charmingly calls “nose fatigue.” I leaned over and inhaled each scent, finally deciding on Fleur Narcotique—the bubbliness reminded me of champagne, something I love dearly.
Next, Verdier asked me some questions about my fragrance preferences. He did not ask me about my emotional preferences, which was slightly disappointing because it had been a stressful day at work, and I had a lot to vent about. He explained that I could choose from three individual notes and add one of them to the fragrance. These aren’t only three random notes, but specifically selected for Fleur Narcotique; if I had chosen a different fragrance, those notes would have been different. I decided to bring out the jasmine note in the perfume and settled on that as my “special” sauce.
Finally, it was time to play mad scientist—well, watch as a giant gold machine played mad scientist. The Osmologue robot blended the Fleur Narcotique with the extra jasmine note, whirling away the precious liquid more impressively than I would have. Once my fragrance was mixed, an official-looking man seemed to appear from thin air and proceeded to carefully place a cap on my new treasure, as well as present me with a seal of authenticity (lest anyone DARE claim my signature fragrance as their own).
At last, the true test—I gave the fragrance a spritz on my wrists. At first, it smelled almost exactly like the original Fleur Narcotique. But after a few seconds, the scent seemed to settle into my skin (I was also slightly perspiring from excitement at this point so perhaps that helped), and I caught a distinct floral note—that exquisite jasmine. Was it, as Verdier said, a reflection of my emotional preferences? Hard to say, but it certainly is what I hoped my emotions smelled like: sparkly, juicy, and slightly sweet.
Demi-bespoke program pricing:
Eau de parfum 100 ml: $365
Eau de parfum 100 ml (adding Absolu de Rose de Mai): $390
Eau de parfum 100 ml (adding Absolu d’Iris): $415
Demi-bespoke program pricing for Amber Sky, the newest addition to the Babylone collection:
Eau de parfum 100 ml Musk Accord: $580
Eau de parfum 100 ml (adding Absolu Rose de Mai): $620
Eau de parfum 100 ml (adding Absolu d’Iris): $660
Would you try a demi-bespoke fragrance? Shop Fleur Narcotique below!