Estrada, who opened the 1,100-square-foot Mélange Apothecary in Woodland Hills, Calif., with husband Rick in July, has built the business over the last seven months by offering not only 60 ready-made scents, but also an on-site studio for budding noses to blend their own concoctions.
Trays of fragrances are arranged by type of note — floral, essential oil, fruit, citrus, warm, woody or green. Clients are encouraged to set aside the notes they like best, and then the fun begins, said Estrada. "We have a number of suggested combinations, although customers are free to mix whatever they want," she said. "Once they've got their perfect combination, we can produce it in an eau de parfum or in a bath or body product." All concoction recipes are kept on file for reorders, or to act as a guide for the customer when they decide to try mixing another scent.
Estrada was determined to keep the fragrances affordable. "I'm not charging $3,000 for this," she said. "I really feel strongly about keeping this very accessible, and I'm fortunate in that I have been manufacturing for years and have access to sources that your average retailer doesn't. Whatever you choose from the notes I have on hand is priced the same — $42 for 60 ml." She is also at work on a blending set for those who can't make the trek to her store — it is slated to have four bottles of notes for $40 and is expected later this spring.
The Mélange product mix also includes a plethora of ready-made moisturizers, body washes, cleansers, scrubs, spa products and home fragrances — most in the $20 range. Estrada also stocks several niche brands, including Claus Porto, Lafco Home and 100 Pure. "If it's something I would take home to use myself, I will consider stocking it," she said.
For those who want to go even further into the scent creation process, Estrada also offers custom-blending classes at Mélange. Private blending events, held by reservation, allow groups of three to eight people to blend fragrances and take home two custom-blended bath and body products and a Home Ambience Diffuser, for $75 per person. A class on custom-blending skin care covers the chemistry behind cleansers, toners, exfoliators, treatment products and moisturizers and allows participants to custom blend a set of products to take home, for $120. A four-hour perfume blending course takes customers through the differences between natural and synthetic fragrances and essential oils and how they interact in perfumes, helps them to develop a set of fragrance choices and helps them formulate and pour two eaux de parfum and a set of solid parfums to take home for $150.Mélange isn't the first beauty effort for Estrada, who has been a licensed aesthetician since 1987. She has also operated the Essenza Apothecary in Brentwood, Calif., stocking a variety of bath, body and home products, and owned the 155 South Apothecary, also in Brentwood. After selling the latter in 2003, Estrada and her business partners founded Deluxe, a personal care line for which Estrada headed up product development and consulted with small companies on fragrance, product development, manufacturing and distribution. It was during that time that the inspiration for Mélange surfaced. "This store is a living lab," said Estrada. "I may think the clients want candles when they're really more interested in diffusers, for instance. Dealing with clients every day keeps me on the pulse of things." Estrada said she also has a healthy online business at melangeapothecary.com.
While Estrada declined to discuss sales projections for Mélange, industry sources estimated that fragrance sales in the first year will exceed $500,000.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast