The Nose Knows: Crafting Custom Fragrances at GALIMARD Pittsburgh

The Nose Knows: Crafting Custom Fragrances at GALIMARD Pittsburgh

Become a perfume and cologne creator at this only in Pittsburgh experience

I have to admit, when I got the invite to go to GALIMARD Pittsburgh, I was nervous about how the trip would go. I don't know much about cologne and most perfume ads leave me more confused than when I started. So, could I attend GALIMARD's Le Studios des Fragrances and create a one-of-a-kind scent I'd love, or was I up to my nose in trouble? 

Welcome and First Impressions

From the instant I entered the House of Handsome (located in Dormont right by Tal & Bert and other great shopping), I immediately knew I was in for something special. The waiting room glimmers from polished tile up past golden sconces and chandeliers to a gilded ceiling. Farther in, three gentlemen are getting the most upscale haircut I've ever seen, accented by a list of Best in Pittsburgh awards they've won over the past four years.

But our journey brings the group upstairs to the newest offering, GALIMARD's Le Studios des Fragrances, an Only-Of-Its-Kind experience in the United States where visitors create their own scent from start to finish, aided only when necessary by their expert Nose.

Photo Credit: Jordan Beckham, courtesy of House of Handsome

Meeting Our Nose

Just as restaurants have sommeliers to pair top wines with their dishes, perfumeries rely on their experts, affectionally called noses, to meticulously engineer each scent to perfection. Enter Michael B., owner, proprietor and our resident nose for the day.

It's here when this experience begins to completely defy my expectations. Despite the glamour that surrounds us, Michael is approachable, provides down-to-Earth explanations and talks like any other Pittsburgher you might run into on the street. I can feel myself begin to lighten up, and by the end of the two-hour experience, Michael feels like a new friend.

Photo Credit: Jordan Beckham, courtesy of House of Handsome

Getting to Work at the Organ

After a brief history of GALIMARD (one of the first French Houses of Perfumes) and cologne in general (I've been wearing it wrong my whole life), I'm seated at the organ. Bottles of different scents surround me, and I'm armed only with some chemistry beakers, a delicious espresso and my own sniffer.

This interactive experience is now almost entirely reliant on our own noses. Each row of smells makes up different layers of the scent, and your next task is to go through, one row at a time, and rank which scents are you favorites. It was a powerful reminder of how memorable certain smells can be, as some triggered memories of childhood, homes or people in my life the second I had a whiff.

Photo Credit: Jordan Beckham, courtesy of House of Handsome 

I ended up choosing notes (another word for these bottled fragrances) that ranged from green moss and rose petals to ginger and bitter lemon, eventually selecting my five favorites from each row. I really loved how little hand-holding was part of this experience; I had the knowledge and was given all the tools to make my own decisions and create something I'd be proud of.

Insider Tip: Don't fret about picking the wrong thing. If you pick something that might clash with or overpower your fragrance, your Nose is there to help.

Photo Credit: Jordan Beckham, courtesy of House of Handsome

Chemistry Has Never Been So Fun

I was never a chemistry fan in high school, but GALIMARD's unique approach gave me the confidence I needed as I handcrafted my scent. With my selections made, Michael whipped up a secret formula of exactly how much to mix of each one. Then, it was my job to measure, mix and blend everything together note by note.

My favorite part of this was saving the strips we used to test the scent each step of the way, making it apparent even to me how we were building increasingly complex fragrances as we went.

Photo Credit: Jordan Beckham, courtesy of House of Handsome

The Final Touch

Before you know it, the two hours has evaporated and you are left with perhaps the toughest challenge so far: naming your unique scent. My advice here is not to go in with a plan. Instead, all of our names came from the conservations and laughs we shared while I was making my cologne. With my newly crafted and labeled bottle safe in a velvet bag, I was now the newest graduate from this prestigious experience. 

As I reflected on the drive home, the main theme I kept coming back to is how everything I did at GALIMARD subverted my expectations. While the luxury appeal is there from the moment you walk it, it's never stuffy or pretentious. Instead, it's obvious that from our Nose to each step of creation, the experience here has been finely tuned for fun and accessibility. Anyone can come here, enjoy GALIMARD and have a memorable night out.

Pro Tip: Need a new bottle? Le Studio Des Fragrances keeps your unique recipe in their system and can always make you another batch.

My custom fragrance "Make No Misteak"

Booking Info

Ready to book your experience at the exclusive Galimard Le Studio Des Fragrances? It's easy to book straight from their website and reserve your two-hour timeslot.

I did this experience with my coworkers, but you can easily customize your visit based on your group. This intimate experience is great for date night or bringing mom or dad to for a special occasion. But, this space is also big enough to host a bachelor party, girl's night out and any small group!