Goest Perfumes

A Lesson in Scent Seduction

Goest Perfumes is a boutique fragrance house that offers unisex, unique perfumes

Courtesy Goest Perfumes

Those deep and often unexplainable sensations triggered by the sense of smell have intrigued women and men alike for centuries. Some of the most brilliant minds in the world have studied the phenomenon, many even claiming to have mastered the science that makes it all so captivating. But the wild unpredictability of human nature, which is so intimately tied to our sense of smell, can often make it difficult to tame.

But a boutique unisex fragrance house, Goest Perfumes, is looking to prove that some of the most stimulating scents tend to be those that are far less conforming, free to meld a more natural connection to the body and mind. The Los Angeles-based company, founded by Jacqueline Steele, prides itself on crafting unique fragrances that are sure to be timeless, as opposed to the countless other perfumes that line department store shelves. “The way people tend to buy a fragrance is, they walk into a department store and smell the bottle, or they smell it, just sprayed on something,” explains Steele. “Those companies really engineer that first impression. But sometimes that effort can compromise the way it smells later in terms of melding with someone’s body.

"Certain ingredients smell good out of the bottle, but bad like one hour after showering,” she continues. Steele says the idea for Goest initially started as a hobby, after she graduated from college and spent a summer abroad studying scents in France. “In the beginning I was doing a lot of one-offs for clients and commissioned stuff,” says the perfumer. “I also did some art installations.” The Goest collection, available in a few select specialty stores and online, now includes six unique classic fragrances: Dauphine, Lartigue, Grand Tour, Realism, Silent Films, and Jackal, all handcrafted from rare and natural materials.

“In one of our fragrances we have something that comes from India, in which they take seashells and put them into Sandalwood Oil, then burn it and cook it. You only get native, small amounts but it has this unbelievable smell. There’s not a lot of it in the world,” Steele says. “If you go to a big company, they usually have a palette of stuff they are okay with using and putting in their machines, but something like that would not be in that palette. If you want to use it, you’d have to use it by hand.”
It’s deep in our genes to appreciate the way people smell. It’s evidence of some real sexual landscape and universe that’s really powerful and draws you in.
The unisex element of Goest is an important part of the fragrances’ profile because "one thing that makes fragrances seemed dated" is gender. “It’s kind of like a lot of great fashions are unisex. Everyone can wear a great sweatshirt and they’ve been wearing it since like 1930. In Steele's opinion, it simply doesn't make sense—beyond marketing—to determine that the same special scent for a woman wouldn't work as well on a man.

Instead of deciding which scene works for which customer, Goest explores approaches to fragrances that are more conceptual in format and purpose. For example, instead of attempting to mask a cigarette's trademark scene, the Smokers' Perfume—which took two years to develop—works with the habit. It has been designed to be meld with the smell of a cigarette smoke, meant for a user to apply before or after smoking. “This product is kind of our philosophy in a nutshell: that when you apply a fragrance, you don’t just smell like the fragrance,” explains Steele, noting that the scent is intended to cover up the smell of cigarette smoke. “

You smell like the fragrance, plus whatever you already smell like, so when shopping for cologne, it’s important to embrace the natural smell of the human body. It’s an approach with sexier results.” The concept of Smokers' Perfume is also intended to be a bit of a nod to Andy Warhol, says the perfumer, in that Goest takes an everyday consumer object—the cigarette pack—and celebrates it as an interactive work of art. “I love to celebrate some of the unexpectedly elite objects in consumer culture,” notes Steele.
For Steele, finding new ways to experiences fragrances is also part of the allure of smell, an attraction that she says never grows old. According to Steele's smell is one of the human experiences that isn't filtered. "It’s primal in the way that it is installed in our body, like smelling fire and knowing that it’s dangerous,” she says. The key to capturing the essence of that primal appeal lies in finding a fragrance that really accents your natural body scent, explains Steele.

“It’s deep in our genes to appreciate the way people smell. It’s evidence of some real sexual landscape and universe that’s really powerful and draws you in. So, finding that fragrance that really goes well with your body is one of the coolest and most effective ways to enhance your sexiness, way more so than having a fresh T-shirt or a well-tailored suit.” That idea holds even truer in today’s post-technology culture, says Steele. “So many things that we see and do everyday are visual things and information. And technology is really about getting more of that, faster and faster…things that really don’t change how you feel. Smell isn’t like that at all. You can’t deny it and you can’t ignore it,” says the perfumer.

Steele would eventually like to expand her unique approach to creating specialty perfumes to other mass-produced consumer products. “There’s room to grow and do things in different spaces that aren’t just fragrance, but I would still want to be in the very space that we occupy in terms of having control over unique formulas.”

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