Like most Brooklynites, I take extreme pleasure whenever something cool lands in our borough. Mostly recently we scored a major retail coup when Atelier Cologne opened an outpost on Atlantic Avenue, just blocks from my Cobble Hill apartment. I popped by to welcome them to the neighborhood—and smell their new Silver Iris Cologne Absolue, a sparkly balance between bright fruit and rounded amber notes. The slim boutique has handsome exposed brick and antiqued mirrors, enticing displays of candles under cloches, shelves of vintage books, and, of course, a long testing bar featuring the entire Atelier range. But my favorite part is the sewing machine where they’ll engrave mini leather perfume pouches with your name. I asked Atelier Cologne co-founder Sylvie Ganter about opening the boutique.
What factors do you consider when you are designing one of your boutiques?
It's important that the boutique feels like it's always been there. We want you to feel as though you are visiting a friend, and your friend is sharing with you some of her treasured finds. Our boutiques give us the chance to express our DNA, from the engraving atelier to the bar at the back.
Do you stock each of your boutiques around the world differently, or notice trends in different places?
Our boutiques always have everything we create. For example, in the USA, Gold Leather from our new Collection Metal is exclusive to Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, but is available in our boutique as well. Ironically, we don't see much difference in best sellers from market to market. Orange Sanguine, Rose Anonyme, and Vanille Insensee always perform well, and Silver Iris and Gold Leather have been equally strong since the launch.
The Atelier Cologne collection includes a number of unisex scents. How do customers respond to that?
Our client is very knowledgeable and understands fragrance—they never apply a gender to a scent and they appreciate the specialness of our Colognes Absolues.
What's the first thing a customer should do when trying scents at your fragrance bar?
Our clients often liken the experience they have at our fragrance bar to a wine-tasting. They should always try the ones they are most interested in on their skin, live with it for a bit to see how it works with their chemistry and make a decision after that!
As the seasons change, are there rules of thumb for changing your fragrance?
I think people naturally gravitate to citrusy scents in the summer and transition to woody, heavier scents as the fall and winter arrive.
What fragrance trends are you seeing right now? (And what are you currently wearing?)
There is a clear trend to fragrance that have character and that are different. People are moving away from the designer brands and celebrity brands. We find clients appreciate us because our fragrances are very wearable, yet have character and staying power. Silver Iris has been the fragrance of choice lately...but it changes often, really depends on my state of mind that day!