30 Jul Makes Scents: Visit Eric Buterbaugh’s Fragrant New L.A. Digs
Florist Eric Buterbaugh is the man who keeps Hollywood in stems. Opulent, modern and rosy, his designs are how fashion and entertainment’s top names (Valentino, Gwyneth, Vuitton) say things like thank you, congrats and let’s party.
Now Eric’s making his favorite — and not-so-favorite! — blossoms sing in a new way. Earlier this year he launched Eric Buterbaugh Florals, his line of perfumes “powered by flowers.” Allow us to introduce you: Regal Tuberose was “born from a rainforest memory.” Velvet marries lavender, apricot skin, clary sage, and musk. Celestial Jasmine is a scent that will enter your dreams like a sexy nebula. (That was our favorite. Such transcendence is spendy; perfumes start at $300.) There are seven unisex fragrances in all, plus candles and a sampling kit. Eric and business partner/former Lancôme exec Fabrice Croisé turned to the renowned noses of perfumery Firmenich to formulate the scents.
Eric Buterbaugh Florals opened its flagship last month on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. Just get a whiff of these party pics! For decades the space was home to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and today its Midcentury Modern heritage is dazzlingly apparent. The courtyard includes an intimate, playful garden carpeted in mondo grass, where contoured lights hang from tree branches and a Sputnik-era fountain levitates above a line of ferns.
Out front, a row of bluish Agave parryi gel well with the gray facade, which turns up the volume on the two bougainvilleas at the entrance.
The interiors by Brigette Romanek of Romanek Getty are glam but irreverent: Angular brass mingles with marble, and neon signage mingles with scented taxidermy roosters.
Ryan and I stopped in to nose around. (Right before we dove into some more bougainvilleas down the block.) Eric — who grew up outside Oklahoma City and has also lived in Dallas and London, where he worked for Versace — is a wonderful host, so welcoming, so stylish yet relaxed, just like his surroundings. He tells us he wants the studio to be a place where people come to hang out. The shaded benches and rotating art exhibits are certainly inviting!
Below, we ask Eric a few Qs by email about his vision for his space and scents.
What inspired you to go into perfume?
I always knew I would explore fragrances one day. They are a natural extension of flowers and also a form of art I have always loved. I had been toying with the idea for a long time and when Fabrice and I met, I knew the time had come.
What was it like developing the fragrances? Did you have flower parts you always wanted to explore (e.g. stem of the hyacinth)? Were there plants that surprised you?
We gave a list of my favorite flowers to the perfumers [at Firmenich] — as well as a list of the flowers I like less and do not use in my compositions. Then we let them work. We told them two things they literally never hear: that we would not make any change to their creations and that there would be no budget restrictions on ingredients. They came back with the most beautiful creations.
Hmm…what’s a flower you liked less that you decided to throw into the mix?
I never liked the smell of geraniums or Casablanca lilies.
And what are some of your favorite flowers to work with — in your designs and your fragrances?
The roses are what I became famous for, but my heart also goes to peonies, freesias, dahlias…It changes all the time.
What do you look for in a fragrance?
The same thing I look for in a floral composition: beauty with a twist, a little surprise that highlights the whole creation and makes it shine.
What is the history of the new space, and what was your vision for it? How did the taxidermy roosters come into play?
It was built in 1953 and received multiple awards back then. We tried to respect the Midcentury Design feel of the place while allowing ourselves to be creative in our choices of furniture and design elements. The roosters are part of that, a piece of our brand crest brought to life as an original way to diffuse a scent in a room. The first scented roosters ever…
Why do we go nuts for flowers?
They are just generators of emotion. They induce smiles, happiness, gratitude. And more than any other gift, they make the giver as happy as the receiver.
What’s the top thing you learned from working with master noses?
That they are true artists. There are so few of them in the world, it’s a very closed, rarefied world. And they are amazing human beings, with a unique take on life and beauty. They read the world through scents, constantly imagining new associations, new contrasts, new ideas. It all happens in their minds first. They are just incredible.
Anything that you’d like to add, that we might have missed?
I don’t think so, but if you think of anything, please come see us at our beautiful space on Beverly Boulevard and hang out with us; we would love to have you back.
Eric Buterbaugh Florals, 8271 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA