By  on June 24, 2008

LOS ANGELES — For her newest scent, called Musc Botanique, Strange Invisible Perfumes founder Alexandra Balahoutis focused on one note — musk — with a botanical twist.

"I wanted to do something clean that also had that subtle animalistic quality," she said of the fragrance, adding, "You can't really draw that line between the person and the perfume."

Musc Botanique, which is due out in September, derives its muskiness from a mix of geranium, white amber, angelica and frankincense. The fragrance is meant to appeal to both sexes and can be worn in tandem with the Los Angeles-based niche marketer's other 22 scents and six eaux de parfum.

"This perfume is one of the first that I have ever done that is excellent for layering because it is very focused," said Balahoutis. "Usually, my perfumes are much more eclectic [and are] about telling a story with all these essences that no one else would have thought to put together."

Musc Botanique will be priced at $135 for a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum and $185 for a .25-oz. perfume version. It is expected to generate $150,000 to $200,000 in first-year sales.

Strange Invisible Perfumes' products are available in 13 stores worldwide, including a namesake, 750-square-foot boutique on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, Barneys New York, Turpan and In Fiore.

The firm has been having a breakout run of late. After introducing a bath and body line and a line of eaux de parfum in 2007, Balahoutis reported the firm has doubled its business in the last seven months.

"The natural luxury connoisseur is new," she said. "People's palates are evolving and they are a lot more interested in what is behind a fragrance. The products that have been pure in the past were special interest, a little bit crunchy. I definitely feel I was one of the first to make a distinction between aromatherapy and fine, natural perfumery."

Industry sources estimate Strange Invisible Perfumes will reach $500,000 to $1 million in sales this year.

Balahoutis, who is the stepdaughter of movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer and founded Strange Invisible Perfumes in 2000, believes the time is right to expand the company's retail distribution network and is eyeing spas as another possible outlet. She is considering opening a second Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique — in New York — within the next two years as well."I like to be in places that are well attended by the owner. I really think that model of fragrance [rotators] in department stores is old-fashioned," said Balahoutis. However, she added, "I definitely would like for these perfumes to be slightly more accessible to people that don't just stumble upon them in Venice or Barneys."

— Rachel Brown

Vo Ready for 'Shear Genius'

Hair colorist Kim Vo feels he's up to the challenge of filling former judge Sally Hershberger's shoes on Bravo's "Shear Genius." Viewers will be able to decide for themselves when the second season of the reality hairdressing contest starts airing Wednesday.

"I stand on her shoulders. She is amazing," said Vo, "but I wanted to have my own spin. I wanted to make it more consumer-friendly."

Although he didn't give away the winner, Vo hinted that there's plenty of juicy moments during the show's 10-episode run. "I took no prisoners," said Vo, who described his judging style as a cross between Simon Cowell's and Gordon Ramsay's. "There was a situation where everyone ganged up on me because of someone's technical screwup."

— R.B

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