A fragrance is the most personal part of a woman’s beauty routine, the one that can bring back a vivid memory or instill confidence in one spritz—so why do we keep buying the same ones as everyone else? That’s a question that can easily be solved by The Harmonist, a chic new fixture nestled in L.A.’s Melrose Place that turns the idea of a “signature fragrance” on its head. Like more niche fragrance lines Le Labo and Byredo, the products fit the criteria for cult-favorite status to a T: The packaging is chic and minimal, the scents are unique, and the store itself is incredibly luxe, with an artisanal touch. But The Harmonist has another added element (pun intended): Its fragrance selection process is based on feng shui or the energies of the universe. With The Harmonist, you don’t choose the fragrance—the fragrance chooses you. As a Harry Potter fan and a firm believer that someday, somehow, the wand of my dreams will indeed choose me, this notion sounded right up my alley. Thus, I embarked upon a journey to experience the sleek, modern fragrance boutique and learn about how one special fragrance can balance my inner chi and lead to creativity, prosperity, and more.
Keep scrolling to learn about the fragrance line The Harmonist.
First, a little background on feng shui: It’s a centuries-old Chinese philosophy rooted in the belief that everything in the universe is just a matter of energy. “We are just energy—at the end, everything is pure energy,” explains the très chic Virginie Amourelle, the chief operating officer for The Harmonist. “This energy is influenced by five elements in feng shui: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal.” She tells me that these five elements influence the energy throughout the universe and all come in two faces: yin and yang. “They’re opposite but building a whole,” she says. And what exactly does this have to do with perfume? I’ll explain.
The Harmonist features 10 fragrances, each housed in either a white or black glass fragrance falcon designed by Parisian product designer Alnoor, and each based on a facet of the five elements. Amourelle explains that the perfumer, Guillaume Flavigny, was told to create 10 scents that represent each side of the elements, with no limits on price or commercial appeal—the only thing he was given for inspiration was an image. For example, for the yang side of the water element, he was presented with an image of an ocean; the yin side of the water was illustrated with an image of morning dew. For fire, the yang element is represented by a radiant sun; the yin side is represented by a flickering flame—“mysterious, elegant, and feminine,” as Amourelle says. You get the idea.
Oh, and did I mention that each of us has our own personal element as well, defined by the time and date of when we were born? The Harmonist believes that all five elements interact within you and around you and that by wrapping yourself in a scent that embodies a specific element, it can interact with your own personal element. In non–feng shui terms, the idea is that wearing a specific scent can affect the way you see yourself and bring balance. “If you feel in harmony in yourself, with people around you, and you feel confident, this charisma is the real beauty,” Amourelle tells me. “It’s more attractive than physical beauty.”
As for the personalization part, once you know your inner element (e.g., yin water or yang earth) thanks to the handy link above, The Harmonist can guide you to a scent based on the area of your life you want to enhance. Those areas are wisdom, creativity, prosperity, socialization, and seduction. Think of it as a scent-oriented horoscope of sorts.
The actual act of smelling each of the fragrances is an experience in and of itself. There is no spritzing a scent on a fragrance card or, worse yet, into the air—how gauche. No, The Harmonist houses each of its scents in glass spheres with circular cutouts, which you lean over to inhale and experience the depth of each one. And they are good. As someone who hoards fragrances both mass and niche (but mostly niche), I was blown away by how layered and distinct each scent was, and how the yin and yang to each element were both opposite but complementary. My favorites were the Hypnotizing Fire ($225), a warm, flickering blend of rose, patchouli, and vanilla that represented yin fire; and the Metal Flower ($225), a gleaming, flinty mix of three different types of rose to express yin metal.
Settling on the scent that best describes your element is free, but purchasing it to take home with you will set you back a pretty penny: a 1.75-ounce bottle sells for $225. But with prosperity and creativity on the horizon, how could you not? I’m wearing Metal Flower as I type.
Would you wear a fragrance to balance your feng shui? What’s your favorite niche fragrance line! Tell me below!