This Homegrown Brand Has a Brilliantly Democratic Approach to Bespoke Fragrance

Oo la Lab

You don’t have to know a thing about top notes, middle notes, base notes, or tonalities to know what fragrances you like. You don’t have to be a professional “nose” and you don’t have to have a clue about how ingredients are sourced. Human responses to scent are complicated, and innate. You like what you like, and there doesn’t have to be a reason for it. However, whether you’re a newbie or fragrance fanatic, there is something both deeply personal and deeply thrilling about creating a combination of your very own.

Enter: Oo La Lab. This genderless craft fragrance lab, found right in the heart of Alserkal, was established by Singapore-based Artisan Perfumer Dan Terry. Receiving a mixology kit from Oo La Lab was an absolute delight, allowing me the ability to mix and combine fragrances to my heart’s content. Prior to receiving the kit, I selected from a fragrance table broken down into constituent bases like Aq (aquatic), Ro (rose), Os (orris), and Mu (musk). I picked 12 favorites, and the kit was sent containing little vials of each, with droppers and tubes for combining them together, labels, and screw-in mistifiers so I could spritz my bespoke creations.

Oo La Lab - Fragrance Table
Photo: Courtesy of Oo La Lab

I had so much fun with the mixology kit that I suddenly wondered if I’d gotten into the wrong field and should change career directions to become a perfumer. My poor husband, who is terribly allergic to fragrance, walked into our house after I spent hours putting together my ideal scent and mused out loud, “What fresh hell is this?” But for me, it was heaven

Not only is the Oo La Lab mixology kit an amazing gift to give this festive season, but the brand’s location at Alserkal offers all kinds of group and private workshops, classes on deconstructing crowd pleasing favorites like ‘Ck One’, and other experiences. Oo La Lab has effectively created a universe of fragrance that puts the power of discovery directly into your hands.

In wondering how such a brilliant company came into existence, I had the pleasure of speaking to Terry himself about the creation of Oo La Lab, and its goals for bringing more people into the folds of the fragrance world.

Oo la Lab
Photo: Courtesy of Oo La Lab

Your fragrance and mixology kit is beyond brilliant. Where did you get the idea to do this?
Thanks so much! My background is in designing fragrances for brands. I loved this process, but what kept me intrigued for so long was the unexpected and highly unique ways people responded to fragrances, how it could evoke powerful and personal memories and emotions. It was this that convinced me I needed to find a way to shed more light on the process of creating a fragrance, rather than only the end result inside a bottle; and that I would open up this process to anyone who was interested.

What is your personal favorite mix of notes?
Ah, good question! My perennial go-to notes are Orris, Violet, and Woody. Add some accents of Amber and Citrus and we’ll be golden all day long!

How did you come to choose the notes that clients can select for their kits? 
Our core 27 notes are a concise summary of the key ingredients that go into making almost any kind or style of fragrance on the market today. The structure of our fragrance table makes it is easy enough for a newbie to get started in a short amount of time, but also allows for hours and hours of fine craft and eventual mastery. There really is something in it for everyone.

All of your ingredients are sustainable. Where do you source them from?
As it is with hunting down the best raw materials, we source from all over the world.

If someone devises their ideal fragrance with the mixology kit, are you able to make larger bottles for them?
Absolutely! We have larger sizes available in 20ml and 50ml.

What are some of the most popular notes in the Middle East? I’m assuming Oud is a big one!
Spot on! Amber, Oriental, Fougere, Vanilla, and Aromatic are all high on the list.

If someone is just starting their fragrance journey, what is a good jumping off point for them? How do they figure out which scents work best with their body chemistry?
Well, the best answer is to follow your own nose and trust the process. We as humans already have an intuition of what scents we are drawn to and how we like to express our styles, occasions, or emotions through fragrance. It’s a matter of starting here and committing to the creative journey. Your journey could be safe or you could try to push the boundaries and experiment… or perhaps even find yourself somewhere in between. Self-discovery is never boring!

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