If you don't know exactly what it is, you've definitely heard the name. It's the cool-kid on the fragrance block, but it has legs. You might have even indulged in a fancy hotel and found some Le Labo mini toiletries in your shower, probably Rose 31.
Ah, for me, Rose 31 is the Le Labo scent that started it all. It's all I wanted to wear, and made sure I had the layering products like the shampoo and body lotion and fragrance oil (which, let's be honest, never quite smell as good as the real thing). I remember trotting into the (new at the time) Le Labo freestanding store in Melbourne, and it was so hip and there was a big bathtub and ye olde looking sinks and those massive expensive scented candles.
The brand has such a cohesive and specific look and feel - none of the Le Labo scents in the collection smell like any other fragrances, and smell earthy and rich and raw in the best way. Santal 33 is so popular now by the "in-the-know" crowd that it's even become a joke in it's own right - so typically worn by hip New Yorkers that it's now a fragrance meme if that's possible.
Still, Le Labo has something for everyone - and of course, the brand is cruelty-free and vegan. Since Rose 31 (it's hard to do justice to fragrances in words, but it's a beautiful smoked, deep rose that's incense-y while still being sharp but not cloying), I've sampled Lys 41, Ylang 49, Vetiver 46 and Oud 27. In LA I even picked up a bottle of Rose 31 which was hand-blended for me at their store at The Grove, which was such a special experience. They also don't advertise - no massive ad campaigns or celebrity endorsements.
The BUT here is that Le Labo is expensive, although it sits up there with the other premium fragrance prices at Mecca, and it's not the kind of purchase you'd want to do on a whim. You definitely want to take 30 minutes to have a sniff around all of the signature scents and know if it's your kind of vibe.
It's not really comparable to any other designer fragrance line out there, and I would say that someone who loves easy-to-wear scents, fruity or sweet notes or celebrity releases (nothing wrong with that!), won't be drawn to Le Labo at first smell. However, keep a sample on your skin for the day and you might find yourself being converted. It's also the names they print on your fragrance labels and boxes, the heavy glass bottles, the experience.
It's hard to capture Le Labo in just one post, but I love this quote from founder Fabrice Penot in 2019 when asked about where he sources his inspiration: "Inspiration to me comes from connection with nature, with silence, with solitude, with experiencing beauty through a book, a sunset, an encounter, a crack on the wall. None of that you can find in the beauty department of a department store."