Veronique Gabai introduces the next frontier in scent, bringing the benefits of aromatherapy to three powerful perfumes. By Jamie Rosen.
“I wanted to see if fragrance could make you feel not just good, but better.”
What makes you reach for a fragrance? Is it habit, a desire to shift your mindset, start the day, or simply experience something new? For the Antibes-born, New York-based beauty legend Veronique Gabai, it’s all of the above and more. “Fragrance in general makes you feel good, it’s a pick-me-up,” says Gabai. “I wanted to see if fragrance could make you feel not just good, but better.” Her new collection Aroma takes the principles of mood-altering aromatherapy and the structure of perfume to create a hybrid she calls “perfume therapy.” The category is new, but Gabai says that she’s been unknowingly working towards it all along. “In my earlier work, there was always a desire to connect with nature. The perfumes I worked on were never composed to really help you from a benefit standpoint. Just make you happy, for sure, because they’re beautiful,” she says. To go deeper, she worked with an aromatherapy doctor and master perfumer to develop three scents that are named for the areas they nourish: Heart, Body and Soul.
Each one begins with a blend of essential oils chosen for specific benefits that align with different chakras (these pure aromatherapy Essential Blends are available in roll-on form.). Using these aromatherapeutic cores, Gabai worked with a master perfumer to build long-lasting fragrant compositions using only vegan materials extracted using methods that wouldn’t interfere with their intrinsic odor. “You have the pleasure of perfumery, the performance of perfumery, the diffusion of perfumery, which aromatherapy doesn’t give you,” she says. “And at the same time, the benefits of aromatherapy on your well-being.”
Heart is about opening up, Gabai says: “The core principle is to give you joy and confidence, the courage to move forward.” Lemon, grapefruit, bergamot and citronella encourage optimism and vitality; cedarwood balances emotions, and clary sage calms. “If you smell it deeply you will feel your chest opening up, your solar plexus, the center of your emotion, your heart,” she says. “Smell it really deeply and let the fragrance go in, you’ll feel it traveling in your body.”
The next is Soul. “This is the one that’s going to plant you in the earth” and allow for elevation, she says, remarking on how its rooted but high-reaching ingredients like sacred cedarwood and elemi, cleansing lavender and tension-releasing olibanum, mimic the scent’s intended effect. “Sometimes you need the anchoring so you can connect spiritually. It grounds you so you can open up to the greater force of universe.”
Body is about connection to yourself and others, a warming and rich blend of geranium for stress reduction, rose for compassion and patchouli for expression. “It gives you this unbelievable sensation of sensuality,” she says. “There’s also a light aphrodisiac, from clove, to give the sensation of your body feeling alive”
Like many wellness-centric ideas, this one was born out of the pandemic. “I’m not an activist. I’m not a brain surgeon, or a researcher but I know how to make scents, and I felt, okay, I need to do it in a way that truly is good for people,” says Gabai. “I need to use my knowledge and my passion to help people, to go beyond.”