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Ben Krigler makes fragrances generations of royals and Hollywood stars continue to cherish

Donning his signature newsboy cap, Ben Krigler was busy working the counter at the closet-sized Krigler fragrance boutique, located just inside the front doors of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills in Beverly Grove.

The 36-year-old New Yorker is the fifth-generation owner of the famed Cap d’Antibes, France-based perfumery, which dates to the early 20th century. He crafts fragrances alongside his mother, Liliane.

“Similar to a vintner, we make our perfumes like wine in the south of France, where we extract the materials and let them rest in barrels for up to two years before we start mixing them with alcohol,” Krigler said. “They have a high concentration of 25% fragrance, compared to a market average of 9% to 18%.”

Only 3,000 bottles of each Krigler fragrance are annually produced, and the label’s collection of goods includes 35 eau de parfums (most starting at $255 for 1.7 ounces), 15 scented soy-based candles (ranging from $105 to $125) and six scented soaps ($35 each).

From left: Krigler's Sierra Vista 2142 eau de parfum, $230 for 1.7 oz., Subtle Orchid 10 eau de parfum, $255 for 1.7 oz. and Champfleury 132 perfume, $255 for 1.7 oz.
From left: Krigler's Sierra Vista 2142 eau de parfum, $230 for 1.7 oz., Subtle Orchid 10 eau de parfum, $255 for 1.7 oz. and Champfleury 132 perfume, $255 for 1.7 oz. (Krigler)

A fragrance journey

“Krigler is known as the perfume of palaces and voyagers,” Krigler said. “It has been our trademark to only be located in hotels since the beginning. In 1904, my great-great-grandfather Albert was invited by the general manager of Hotel Victoria in Berlin to open the first store.”

Since then, Krigler’s family has set up shop at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Grove, as well as in Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, the Plaza Hotel in New York, the Dorchester in London and the Peninsula Hong Kong in China.

Scents of stars, royals and presidents

The company has long catered to a haute clientele, including Hollywood legends Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and modern-day acting phenom Annette Bening. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel once wore Pleasure Gardenia 79, while Patchouli 55 has been a scent of choice for Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and the late Jackie Kennedy. (As for the numerals in the names of those fragrances, they signify the year of the perfume’s creation last century.)

Krigler's America One 31 perfume.
Krigler's America One 31 perfume. (Krigler)

Oud for Highness 75, the brand’s first official royal fragrance created for King Hussein of Jordan, contains more than 200 ingredients and takes three years to make. As for other royalty wearing Krigler perfumes, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Princess Charlene of Monaco are said to spritz on Extraordinaire Camelia 209. And the spicy, citrusy aroma of America One 31 attracted former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and past U.S. Presidents Kennedy and Clinton.

Krigler said he has a fragrance ready if President Trump desires one.

“President Trump has his own cologne, but we do have a fragrance called Splendid Gold 211 that is an interpretation of what gold would smell like,” Krigler said.

To afford A-list clients ultimate privacy, Krigler often dispatches trays of perfumes or trunks filled with extracts and raw ingredients for custom blending sessions at hotel suites.

The epitome of bespoke

Appealing to connoisseurs, Krigler’s custom-made scents start at $50,000 and are presented in crystal bottles handcrafted by Austrian artisans. The company produced 13 bespoke fragrances last year and 19 in 2014, when Krigler booked its largest order to date — about $1 million worth of custom his-and-her fragrances and candles presented in a tailor-made trunk to a bride and groom from India and their 1,000 guests for their lavish wedding at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Precious perfume for rent

Also, the fragrance house launched a unique For Your Eyes Only leasing program in 2014, allowing exclusive use of one of nearly 500 archival perfumes for six months ($5,000 to $7,000 for three 3.4-ounce bottles). Some scents have the cachet of having been adored by Pablo Picasso, Zelda Fitzgerald, Rudolph Valentino, artist Max Beckmann and French writer Colette, whose Limone di Bordighera perfume was leased in May to a renowned Hollywood producer to present to his wife, along with a dozen scented candles, on her birthday earlier this spring at their Beverly Hills home.

Fifteen of the 40 individuals who have leased Krigler fragrance in the past year are Angelenos.

Krigler's new Charming California 215 candle has a scent inspired by blooming Jacaranda trees, $105.
Krigler's new Charming California 215 candle has a scent inspired by blooming Jacaranda trees, $105. (Krigler)

We wanted a fragrance that smelled like a fresh wave from the ocean and the natural green mountainside, a delicate and beautiful caress.

— Ben Krigler

To deliver on the demand within a few weeks — rather than the six months previously required — the fragrance house opened a new laboratory in April in the basement of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles, where Krigler himself hand-blends perfumes and candles with raw materials delivered from France.

Re-releasing the classics

Once in a while, Krigler re-releases a scent from its archives to the public. For example, June marked the revival of the Subtle Orchid 10 Eau de Parfum, which translates the scents of a cafe frequented by Albert Krigler on the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris with notes of bourbon vanilla, sandalwood, almond, coffee and white florals.

“I don’t know if it’s because of the political climate, but a trend we’ve noticed for the past two years is that people want to feel cozy and more secure, so they keep asking for vanilla,” Krigler said. “We didn’t want something sweet like a cake. This fragrance smells more noble, with a bitter vanilla that’s one of the best in the world from the Réunion Island near Madagascar.”

The scent of California

A candle rendition of Krigler’s Charming California 215 perfume, which debuted in 2015, was added to the line in May. Inspired by the bloom of “cheerful jacaranda blossoms,” the sunny mix juxtaposes orange blossom with lily of the valley, jasmine and Bulgarian rose flowers.

“People consider California to be very outgoing, a beacon of culture and light and freedom and openness,” Krigler said. “We wanted a fragrance that smelled like a fresh wave from the ocean and the natural green mountainside, a delicate and beautiful caress.”

For the record, 1:01 p.m. Aug. 11: This article says that the fragrance Pleasure Gardenia 79 was created in 1979. It was created in 1879. The article also implies that French fashion designer Coco Chanel was alive in 1979. She died in 1971.

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