Fragrances in department stores are undeniably mesmerising. Pretty bottles, glittering on mass; gorgeous models and celebrities peering out of polished posters with beguiling eyes; elegant, coloured boxes with shiny wrapping… One becomes so enamoured with the visual drama surrounding a fragrance, that it is easy to forget the actual purpose of perfume; the beautiful smell. This is something that surprisingly few commercial labels and fashion houses actually manage with any great success.
In Paris, it seems there is a boutique parfumerie on every corner, rivaled only by the abounding patisseries and chocolatiers. These beautiful, little shops are laden with love, individuality and aesthetic majesty. They do scents very well. Not one commercial perfume graces their shelves. Instead they are lined with glass vats of perfectly distilled, essential fragrances; pretty, hand crafted crystal bottles; boutique candles in simple glassware, and very knowledgeable staff that expertly guide your sensory journey.
Libertine Parfumerie is equally as tiny and pretty as it’s French predecessors, it is filled with blissfully unrecognisable, romantic glass bottles, hand crafted candles, and quality fragrances, but it is in Brisbane. It ushers you into a dreamlike state where beauty abounds. It fills you with a longing for times gone by, when shopkeepers cared for the products they sold and were proud experts in their chosen craft.
The staff at Libertine know by heart, the top notes, middle notes and base notes of every perfume hidden throughout their beloved store. They weave through the shelves like ancient perfumers, effortlessly regaling customers with the history of each perfume. They have an air of French arrogance (despite their Australian accents), which is somehow perfectly befitting. I was told that one fragrance range is derived from the maker’s expertise in cognac. It is the oldest surviving family-run business, and their history in cognac making is translated into the distilling process of their perfumes. This history is also reflected in the shape of the bottle, which is reminiscent of ancient cognac bottles.
The perfumes in Libertine, like the parfumeries in Paris, are made from combinations of pure fragrances, not beefed out by synthetics or chemically enhanced like their commercial sisters and brothers. If the perfumer discovers a scent that you love, and you try a little spray on your arm, it will linger on your skin until the next day, developing and changing with each passing hour, evocative and gentle. Surely this is proof enough of this vast disparity in quality.
Shopping at Libertine is an experience in and of itself. It is a retreat for escapists and romantics. A little piece of Paris, hidden in humble Brisbane.
Where: 181 Robertson Street, New Farm Q 4005
Image source: Libertine Parfumerie