LOS ANGELES — Perfect Perfumes were perfect inside, but not out.
Operating on a shoestring, perfumer Sarah Horowitz-Thran tried five different versions of the packaging for the Perfect collection since launching it with Perfect Gardenia in 1996. Each version brought complications: One required her to pain
-stakingly glue rhinestones on the bottles and another forced her to take a Sharpie to white seams mistakenly put in the front of black boxes.
"I bought 10,000 of them. Do you know how insane that made me? I started going crazy," exclaimed Horowitz-Thran, recalling the seam mishap while sifting through bottles and boxes from Perfect's past in the House of Creative Scentualization's Agoura Hills, Calif., offices.
For the sixth attempt at Perfect's packaging, Horowitz-Thran saved her sanity by bringing on Jill Liebmann, a packaging specialist with Jill by Design in New York. The two had worked together on What Comes From Within fragrances that kicked off exclusively at Barneys in April, and Horowitz-Thran was pleased by Liebmann's personal approach to the packaging process.
"She did with me what I do for people on a fragrance journey," said Horowitz-Thran, whose multipronged business consists of branded lines, perfumer's palettes for Nordstrom, private label and fragrance journeys to individually customize perfumes. "I sent her my favorite jewelry, and I just talked to her. She just got it."
The new Perfect Perfumes packaging, hitting stores this month, is a blend of luxury and hippie. Retailing for $75, the 1.7-oz. eau de parfums are in bottles with screw tops in the classic Brosse manner. A stylized lotus on the back of the bottles is visible from the front, which has simple black cursive and print lettering. Perfume oils in 0.2-oz. roll-ons sell for around $40.
"Whenever something is repackaged, there is a buzz that's created," said Victoria Sainsbury-Carter, who handles press and vendor relations for Beautyhabit.com, one of 120 online stores and high-end boutiques, including Fred Segal Apothia, Studio at Fred Segal and Planet Blue, where Perfect is available. "It is definitely a look that comes across. It is more cohesive."
At one point, Horowitz-Thran produced as many as 12 varieties of Perfect Perfumes but has pared the number down to five: Perfect Gardenia, Perfect Vanilla, Perfect Nectar, Perfect Bliss and Perfect Veil, a clean musk-based fragrance with top notes of lemon and bergamot that is the collection's top seller. Fragrances are identified by color (Gardenia is pink and Veil is blue) in the bottles' lotus design and on the lid and bottom of black boxes that have the inscription "Remember yourself, and be remembered" on the back.A sixth variety, Perfect Kiss, will be introduced for Valentine's Day in February. Horowitz-Thran described Kiss as a "delicious fragrance" with a chocolate-vanilla base, jasmine freesia middle note and rosewood top note. For the entire Perfect collection, industry sources estimate Horowitz-Thran's annual take could be $300,000.
With the possible exception of adding Japanese, Italian and other languages when she broadens her wholesaling territory, Horowitz-Thran insists the newest version of Perfect Perfumes' packaging is the last. "When it's done right, you don't need to change," she said.
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