On a recent afternoon, the setting sun sparkled off 20 glass perfume bottles on a silver platter at Culina restaurant in the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Fifth-generation perfumer Ben Krigler sat cradling and caressing the bottles, ready for an olfactory tasting of his family's most prized scents.
"The Number 19 is so rich, fresh and floral with orange blossoms and a touch of musk," said Krigler, whose great-great-grandfather Albert opened his first Krigler fragrance house in 1904 in St. Petersburg, Russia and for many years had a sophisticated, mostly European clientele. "Audrey Hepburn wore this perfume on the set of 'Roman Holiday,'" he added.
He is preparing to open a location of the Krigler perfume house at the hotel sometime in November, in a small spot just off the main entrance. The new location will be the first on the West Coast for the company, which is now based in the U.S., and will be the third in the world. The original hotel shop opened at New York City's Plaza Hotel in 1931, closed in the mid '70s and was reopened by Ben Krigler in 2008. The second is in Monte Carlo at the Fairmont Monaco.
The perfume is synonymous with Hollywood royalty, and for Krigler, it made sense to open a shop in Los Angeles. Grace Kelly was a fan of the Chateau Krigler 12, and Krigler said F. Scott Fitzgerald favored the Lieber Gustav 14, with its aroma of leather, black tea and lavender.
"The Four Seasons has a lot of charisma; the atmosphere is elegant, it's exclusive, unique and a destination," said Krigler. "It's real Hollywood, and it's perfect for Krigler."
The feeling is mutual. "I am thrilled about the Krigler boutique opening at Four Seasons, especially given the perfume company's rich history with Old Hollywood icons, along with impressive quality and presentation of the perfumes," said the hotel's general manager, Mehdi Eftekari.
The bulk of Krigler's business is in custom scents. For $50,000 to $60,000, clients can meet with Krigler in a hotel suite to create their very own olfactory trademarks. After a series of questions about client preferences, Krigler will spend months blending and tweaking materials for the fragrance.
"It's not expensive — it's costly," said Krigler. "It's haute couture perfume, and it takes a lot of work to get it right."
The shop will feature a haute perfumery section with a crew of Krigler's in-house perfumers who can help clients create bespoke scents and candles or choose from a selection of more than 300 existing Krigler scents.
Prices for the perfumes are $210 for the 1.7-ounce bottles and $310 for the 3.4-ounce bottles. The perfumes all come in handmade Austrian crystal, and the candle jars are fashioned by French artisans.
A client can also have the right to be the only person to use a fragrance from the Krigler archive for a period of six months to a year for $5,000 to $10,000.
Krigler said he is working on a California-inspired scent and is looking forward to the beginning of a long history in Los Angeles.
"Maybe a young celebrity will come in, love one of the scents, and in 30 to 40 years it will be linked to her," said Krigler. "Like a fine wine, fragrance should have the identity of its time, a part of history."