Le Cherche Midi, a 20-year-old New York fragrance company that specializes in scented candles, has recently expanded from its initial scent and relaunched, selling eau de toilettes, candles, and “fragrance cubes” online at lecherchemidi.com.
No. 1, the company’s first scent, created by perfumer Robert Loiseau, is a very traditional masculine. The re-launch introduced a handful more. Nos. 5 (floral and pine), 9 (sweet and fruity), 14 (soft mandarin), 21 (spiced tea), and 57 (an exclusive for Bergdorf Goodman offered only as a candle) were created by perfumer Cecile Hua. No. 20 was done by Bertrand Dor, who was one of the perfumers who did Nautica’s Oceans men’s scent.
Like CB I Hate Perfume, another small New York firm, it markets fragrances as experiences. In LCM’s words, No. 20 (my favorite) “reveals warmly lit corners where whispered conversations are surrounded by dark wood, leather-bound books, and a cedar-wood fire.” More specifically, it starts out with citrus, powder and spice, and then turns to pine.
No. 20’s notes include armoise, bergamot, lemon zest, black pepper, rose water, soft cedarwood, sandalwood and dark amber. In the candle, the cedar and citrus are dominant, and they’re warmed by the amber and sandalwood. In the eau de toilette, powdery and pepper notes are stronger, and the dry down is much less of the earth and leather experience that the candle gives.
The fragrance cubes (which we didn’t test) are LCM’s alternative to the reed diffuser. It’s essentially a bottle of alcohol-free fragrance that uses an absorbent wooden top to scent a small room. Each one ($45) should last at least a month, maybe two.
The candles, offered online for $50, come in handsome light wood boxes with sliding tops. Inside, the three-inch square candles are covered with fabric-bound lids and feature the LCM logo and fragrance number discreetly on one side. Each 7.8 oz. candle should last about 40 hours.
If you like the candles, there’s good news: the eau de toilettes are an incredible value at a mere $39 for a strong 12% concentration in 3.4 ounce bottles.
By contrast, a typical mass-market men’s fragrance sells for about $70 for 3.4 ounces. CB I Hate Perfume’s 3.4 ounce water perfumes start at about $65. Smaller boutique brands often sell for about $110.
I asked LCM’s founder, Nathan Motylinski, about how the company prices them. “We work directly with our perfumers and consumers, allowing us to offer our luxury products at a better price and value to the consumer,” he told me via e-mail. “Without expensive marketing budgets and overhead, we can focus our time and resources on what we do best: creating unique, sophisticated fragrances unlike anything on the market.”
While the company may not have an exorbitant marketing budget, it’s obvious that they’ve put quite a bit of effort into the website. It’s beautiful, easy to navigate and full of videos designed to introduce the public to the company and its range. There’s also a blog with some engaging commentary by Motylinski.