Happiest New Year. I am excited about something new to kick off 2023: a candle. Three of them, in fact. This is something we have been working on for many months now. We traveled to Grasse this fall to develop the scents, but before we went, the perfumer wanted to learn about Sid and me. Her task was to tee up a group of scents that we could begin to experiment with and create something that was not just beautiful, but personal. The translation process from idea to perfume seemed daunting.
Of course we started with the scents we loved most. For me, orange blossom; for Sid, vetiver and smoke. We converged on herby fresh scents and the familiar fig. Images were easy — our store moodboards serve as a time capsule for our likes and influences and inspirations. But there is no knowing Sid without music, so he made a playlist and sent that along too. Music and pictures and scent intertwined. That felt just right.
We developed three scents. One more feminine scent that represented me – one more masculine for Sid – and then one for both of us that is more neutral (although all three scents are pretty unisex if you ask me.) His, hers, and ours. You get the picture. We are crazy about them… and I hope you will love them as well. We went back and forth for a long time about the identifiers and ended up numbering each scent as an ode to home. Our homes.
This scent is the most feminine of the three. The name comes from the first apartment in New York that was truly mine. By that, I mean it actually had my name on the lease (there were a lot of sublets and couches that came before.) 308 Mott Street, tucked between Soho, Little Italy and the Bowery. It was a classic tenement-type building, where you would enter the apartment through the kitchen (with a bathtub!) and look left to find the toilet in a closet. There were two tiny bedrooms, one for me and one for my roommate Meg, plus a main room big enough for a television and something like a couch. I slept on a futon on the floor and kept my clothes in a built-in cupboard original to the building. All girl and all independence. When my Aunt Janet came to visit from Denver, she took one look around and said “Oh, Annie, I promise NOT to tell your mother anything about this.” It was rough but it was mine. 308 is infused with orange blossom and white flowers. Coincidentally the first scent I remember being mine was also orange blossom – purchased as a souvenir at a gas station on a road trip to Florida as a kid. Tough decision between a baby alligator jaw or the pretty little bottle of perfume.
The masculine scent. This one is named for Sid’s first apartment in New York on West 76th Street, a brownstone that could have been the setting of a Walker Percy novel. It was practically like a boardinghouse for all the young male Mississippians. They would make their pilgrimage to NYC and move into the vacated room of the last guy that had passed through town. There seemed to be a string of them. Sid’s room was up two flights of stairs and shared a bathroom with the whole floor down the hall. Andrew, who was from Oxford, Mississippi and worked as a manager at Love Drug, had a slightly better situation with a makeshift kitchen built into a closet. He let Sid heat up ramen and cheese toast any time he wanted. Sid (Sidney, if you knew him prior to 1990) lived on hot dogs from the street and anything small enough to be heated up in a closet. The best part of this arrangement was access to the roof. Is there anything better than fresh air and optimism when you look out at the city from above? And that is 150. Vetiver mostly... fresh and masculine.
Our “combined” scent, named for the first home we combined. This was a loft on Duane Street that I pinched myself to get to share with him. Technically, it was the back of a loft… the more spacious front half had an elevator (we had to take the stairs). It had these huge windows that we loved, even if the view was just the buildings behind us. It was around the corner from the Odeon and felt just as cool as I longed to be at the time. Our clothes were hung on rolling racks that served as a kind of division for the bedroom. It was heaven. The year was 1987 and I took a stab at every design trend of the moment. A chintz duvet cover (a la Mario Buatta) that I sewed myself for the futon that had come along from Mott Street. This time we elevated it off the floor by cinderblocks salvaged from the street. A Southwestern nod with a really awful cow skull on the wall that also looked like it came off the side of the road. We painted a faux bois-ish wash on the window frames (why? they were already wood – to look more like wood?) And worst of all, for the Ralph Lauren country Americana element, I stitched up these blue ticking stripe curtains that were nowhere near big enough for the massive windows. When I proudly showed a Polaroid to my very chic boss at Glamour, she asked, “oh… were you being ironic?” I was too naïve to be crushed. 138 is a bit of a jumble of scents we love: lavender, fig, artemisia, mint, thyme, patchouli. We were a bit of a jumble at the time ourselves.
Homes are where we create so much of our lives, and we fill them with symbols and tokens and memories. We might look back and have a laugh at a few of the choices we made along the way, but they stand as a snapshot of where we were at the moment. Anyone who has taken a psychology class knows that a familiar scent can transport you right back to where you were. Just like music, it pulls a trigger in your brain. Sid has provided playlists for years – you can find them on the site — and now we hope to fill your homes with scent from us as well. We burned them almost nonstop over the holidays and they already feel familiar. Happy memory-making and happy New Year.