Café Forgot, an underground New York City fashion boutique that has become a destination for its assortment of on-the-fringe designers, will launch its first perfume next week. The fragrance, Eau de Parfum No. 1, has notes of pink peppercorn, dried roses, new stockings, and almond milk — the latter ingredient playing to the store’s status as an arbiter of next-gen retail.
The oil-based formula will be sold in a rollerball format for $65 and was created in collaboration with Moscow-based nose Maria Golovina. For Café Forgot cofounders Vita Haas and Lucy Weisner, the appeal of launching a perfume lay in both the ironic and mundane.
“Perfume seems, in some ways, like the most generic kind of product you can make. But then, I guess I also like how it’s sort of this elusive kind of thing that can work for different people in different ways,” said Weisner.
Haas added that she likes “the idea of a scent because it’s ephemeral and abstract — kind of like our shop. It’s so hard to describe a scent sometimes, and I feel that way about Café Forgot and I like that you can’t put your finger on it. Also I like the idea of the shop having a smell, so even if you are not there you can still smell like it.”
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The scent was formulated remotely between New York and Moscow. Rather than describe specific smells that they wanted the perfume to derive from, Haas and Weisner sent over a bunch of photos as inspiration — hoping to primarily base the fragrance on aesthetic senses. “We sent different reference images to describe Café Forgot so I feel like it’s interesting that the scent pulls so heavily from images,” Weisner said.
The duo produced their first fragrance commercial in collaboration with rising photographer Monika Mogi, who is relied on by Japanese-American mega model Kiko Mizuhara for her more artful projects. Mogi, who splits her time between New York and Tokyo, filmed the campaign in Japan, featuring models-slash-accessories designers Marland Backus (she of past Celine campaigns) and Hanano Momose.
Since the pandemic’s start, Café Forgot launched a web store — inviting shoppers to peruse its niche stock from anywhere. Haas and Weisner said that sales are now evenly split between their East Village storefront and e-commerce.
“We have adapted the format a bit so now we have been adding new work on a weekly basis. It’s interesting seeing the way that people in different locations, not in New York, are shopping and it’s nice in terms of growing our audience,” Weisner said of Café Forgot’s e-commerce.
Haas added: “I think the things that sell online are different than in the store. They are less likely to buy really statement pieces, they buy trinkets and more accessories so it’s nice to have a fragrance. It’s not something you have to try on and you can connect with the shop without being here.”