"I think it's important now more than ever to continue our personal beauty routines," says stylist Cassandra Dittmer of her quarantine fragrance habit. It's no surprise that the L.A.-based sustainability expert considers fragrance a final step of getting dressed, and even less so that her personal fragrance wardrobe consists of an eclectic mix of African apothecary finds mixed with cool-girl staples, like Byredo and Le Labo. Dittmer, who has worked in fashion for years, grew disillusioned with the industry's immense carbon footprint and lack of awareness of sustainability practices. She vowed that if she were to stay in fashion, she would be a force for change, helping bring awareness to larger brands about their ecological and social impact, as well as connecting smaller brands at the forefront sustainable technologies and practices. These days, she styles the likes of Laura Dern and Bebe Rexha, and is regarded as a voice of sustainable fashion. Ahead, get to know Cassandra Dittmer and her quintessentially L.A. fragrance wardrobe.
How would you describe your fragrance style?
My fragrance style has always been unique. I got really into fragrance when I moved to Los Angeles—I vividly remember going to Original Scent in Pasadena where you could create your own custom fragrances. It was really cool to have blind smell tests and see all of their beakers with any scent you could possibly imagine. I have always loved something that is a bit masculine meets feminine. The first fragrance I created I called the "Cassbomb." It was a citron, amber, musk, and patchouli combo that was subtle, but also really interesting and deep. It was one of those that softly lingers throughout the day which I love. I’m also very into notes that are earthy and spicy. Growing up, I was always very into cologne and strong scents. I definitely wasn't a floral girl!
What was the first fragrance you ever bought and why?
To be honest, I had to confirm with my mom before answering this question. I could have sworn it was the Coach Summer Edition fragrance, but she insists that Limited Too's "It Girl" was an even earlier first choice. (She also said, “Of course, you liked the mens too.”) I vividly remember that I was pretty crazy for everything with the colored "C"s from the Coach line growing up, however, I am not surprised that Limited Too was my very first fragrance because I was completely enamored with that store. Growing up in the midwest it was a big deal to go to the mall and the fragrance counter. I definitely took my sweet time going through all of the fragrances at the Von Maur counter. I imagine that back in the day I was really into whatever bottle looked the coolest versus the actual scent!
Do you still wear fragrance even when you don't leave the house?
I absolutely still wear a spritz of fragrance while at home! It’s probably mostly habitual at this point, but I think it's important now more than ever to continue our personal beauty routines. I think I've consciously worn a bit less knowing that I likely won’t be leaving the house, but I do still think dressing up and feeling good for yourself is the most important thing!
Your WFH fragrance:
My favorite fragrance right now is Terra Flora from Wild Olive, an African apothecary. This parfumerie was established by a chemist in the '70s. I was in Cape Town last year and, while I was there, I met one of the women who works there and got a tour of the facility. Their products are 100% natural, created in house, and are inspired by the Floral Kingdom of the Cape of Africa. I was completely fascinated by their entire process—I have never seen such artistry and science all rolled into one. They function as champions of sustainable, innovative, and socially responsible entrepreneurship which is everything I stand for as well. They respect the tradition of the craft while also implementing new technologies. They say their products are made with integrity and purity of purpose. I think it is so important to understand different markets and products to try and understand sustainability holistically.
Your cozy sweatsuit fragrance:
Clean Reserve White Fig & Bourbon. This has been a staple fragrance for me this last year. I wore this a lot when I was working in Seattle so I have a cozy and rainy association to this fragrance. It makes me think of late nights and early morning drives in and out of the Seattle drizzle. It also gives me some major flashbacks to looking at Mount Rainier right as the fog lifts. This fragrance was definitely a girlboss moment for me in my life.
The fragrance that brings you comfort:
I became obsessed with all Maison Margiela fragrances about seven or eight years ago. I love REPLICA Beach Walk. I started to wear this when I lived in Venice Beach with a couple of girlfriends in an old house a few blocks up from the water. I love the carefree memories this fragrance brings me back to. It definitely makes me close my eyes and smile: I am reminded of long bike rides to Hermosa, summer concerts on the Pier, and early morning workouts on the sand before the tourists would come in for the day. There is a comfortable and stable ease that evokes such fond memories with this fragrance.
The fragrance you spritz to bring back good memories:
After Beach Walk, my next favorite fragrance is Le Labo Santal 33. I first discovered this in candle form and eventually made my way to the perfume. To me, this fragrance is the quinnessential "L.A." smell. Now it’s almost too recognizable, but it still makes me feel connected to the city in a charming way. I wore it when I lived in L.A. alone for the first time and started my own styling company so it’s my entrepreneur scent for sure. The height of my obsession with it was around the time I started to change my whole mindset to favor a more natural beauty routine with more of an ease. Starting my own business was the scariest and bravest thing I have done to date. Santal 33 was my go-to during this time and I will never forget it.
The candle you're currently burning right now and why (include what it smells like)
I am currently burning Byredo Bohemia in my studio as I type this. In a weird way, this candle gives me such wanderlust and is a bit of an escape. I really pick up the sandalwood and rosemary in this blend. It also has this Opopanax and mossy tones to it that make it a perfect transition from summer to fall. I can almost feel the seasons change when I light it.
What you smell when you want to unwind/destress:
I have been lighting a bunch of Northwest Sparks candles lately. I particularly love the oakmoss and amber one. It’s a small Seattle candle brand that I found last year. They only use environmentally responsible materials in their candles and they have an eco-friendly woven cotton wick and last for a really long time.
The scent you'll associate with this time:
I have a Valentino fragrance that got sent to me earlier this year. I had all of my stuff in storage and was planning on moving to London when the pandemic hit. It is a bit sweet and romantic, but it has completely grown on me. I feel like it makes me pause a bit more and evokes a bit of reflection since it’s such a new scent for me. With everything that is going on in the world today, I totally don't mind that my fragrance has a bit more sugar than before. It has been a warm touch that I didn't know I needed.