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The Scent of Paris

PARIS — In France, wine and cheese tastings have long been à la mode. But now, a new, highly interactive venue has set up shop for "fragrance tasting" here.<br><br>It’s called Iunx (after the ancient Greek word referring to the...

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PARIS — In France, wine and cheese tastings have long been à la mode. But now, a new, highly interactive venue has set up shop for “fragrance tasting” here.

It’s called Iunx (after the ancient Greek word referring to the fascination with, and seduction, of aromas). The 3,330-square-foot, Shiseido-backed beauty boutique showcases a signature line through newfangled dispensing systems.

Want to try an Iunx eau de toilette? No traditional spray bottles are on hand. Rather, customers activate a centrally located, sleek ticket dispenser by pressing a button. Out pops a rectangular card freshly spritzed, which also gives the scent’s name and number in the 10-item series and key notes.

The brand’s four skin care products may be smelled through individual large metallic cones, which release scents from their bases after being twisted. And the home fragrances are to be tried individually by turning a lever that causes each scent to be diffused as a vapor in a funnel.

“Shiseido gave us carte blanche to do the project,” explained Fabienne Conte-Sevigne, makeup artist and one of the founders of Iunx along with photographer Francis Giacobetti. “We wanted to create perfumery of the third millennium.”

That’s to say, a mix of something old and something new — for men and women.

In many ways, the Iunx concept is ultramodern. There are the dispensing systems created by Daniel Menu. And for the design of the store on Paris’ Left Bank Rue de l’Universite, architects Jacqueline and Henri Boiffils created a sleek black, white and gray space.

The boutique contains a series of sliding-door stock closets running down its length, so products are hidden from view. It’s a minimalist strategy antithetical to today’s open-sell stores, where items are in consumers’ reach.

Yet there are other elements of Iunx that hark back to traditional perfumery. Generous 200- to 300-ml. bottles — rather than today’s typical 50-ml. flacons — are the norm here.

Service, which became secondary in today’s open-sell stores, is also a priority. Sales staff is on hand to answer questions, show products, even to slip samples in small plastic pouches for clients.

Flowers, a nod to perfumery in its most raw form, are often floating in a pool at the store’s front.

“The idea is for the store to bring serenity,” explained Conte-Sevigne.

Iunx is divided into numerous areas, where customers can discover its more than 60 products and their olfactive elements created by perfumer Oliva Giacobetti.

There’s a counter showcasing the macaroons for which she developed fragrances and, across the way, the eau de parfum, called L’Ether de Iunx. It comes in a 50-ml. dark resin bottle that lays flat and reveals the mathematical formula for light when tilted. The 50-ml. spray goes for $92. All dollar prices are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

The fragrance lineup also includes the 300-ml. Iunx Water eau de toilette sprays, which carry a $96 price tag each.

Hair care comprises four shampoos and two conditioner types, while for the body, there are shower gels, creamy lotions and bath milks, among other items. Dispensers, plus diffusers for the home and candles also make up the collection.

Company executives would not divulge projections, but industry sources estimate Iunx could generate $326,200 in first-year retail sales.

The store — whose concept is expected to be introduced in Tokyo, London, Milan and New York — is among numerous Shiseido-backed beauty retailers in Paris, including Stephane Marais’ makeup shop.

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