Tucked in a quaint district along Duxton Hill is a Maison dedicated to the olfactory senses, this new establishment is called Maison 21G and it is the brainchild of Johanna Monange, who has over two decades of experience under her belt as a fragrance designer for numerous brands and companies like Lancôme, Armani and the International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF). In 2019, Johanna left her job at IFF to launch her bespoke perfumery house, which she’s confident will be a disruptor within the industry.
If you were to buy a bottle of fragrance, where would you go? Chances are, you will probably head to a mall along Orchard Road to make your purchase. Places like these are packed with numerous brands and you will be spoilt for choice. From fragrances with floral scents to woody undernotes, there’s bound to be one that will appeal to you. But that poses a problem as well. We are bombarded with too many different perfumes and that can confuse our sense of smell, thus, inhibiting us from picking up a scent.
For Johanna, the essence of perfume making lies in the creation of a scent that’s uniquely yours. Many famous brands, in pursuit of appealing to a wide range of consumers, are not particularly adventurous with adding distinctive perfume ingredients, one of such is orris, as it will segment the consumers into two different camps—they will either hate it or love it. It is almost impossible to create a revolutionary perfume that holds as much character as the Chanel No.5.
“The scent is like the soul, it’s ethereal and an important component of what makes a person whole,” Johanna shares as she explains why she has named her new start-up Maison 21G, a process that took a year long. “When we die we lose exactly 21 grams, and that represents the weight of the soul that has presumably left the body.” Johanna wanted “21G” in the brand name to represent the idea of encapsulating the scent of our souls. Furthermore, it also equates to the percentage of perfume concentrate used in creating a bottle of perfume.
Stepping into the Maison is like entering a cosy space, a home almost, where you will be put at ease to embark on a journey of discovering different scent combinations. But before you start on your scented adventure, an artificial intelligence-powered personality quiz will guide you towards learning what your favourite perfume ingredients are. Then, different scent combinations will be suggested which you can further explore with the staff present at the boutique, who are aided by the brand’s La Source technology, a patented machine designed by Johanna. The proprietary machine works just like a Nespresso coffee maker; pop a perfume capsule in and it will distil the concentrate into the perfume bottles, the entire process takes just 30 seconds. Else, you could have it hand-mixed by the boutique staff.
Following which, you can even take customisation to the next level by having your own images or designs UV printed on the bottle. Personalisation is really the key differentiating factor for Maison 21G and Johanna thoroughly understands this point. “A lot of brands have realised they cannot push their scent to just anyone,” shares Johanna. The old marketing tactics no longer work as consumers now are more astute and have different expectations compared to the past.
Johanna and her team are constantly developing new scents so you can expect to see more than the 35 standard, pairable, perfume essences that are currently available when you decide to pop by. Beyond creating bespoke perfume, Maison 21G has recently launched their new Home Scent Collection. Each scent contains a minimum of 80% of alcohol, effectively killing germs while offering sanitation and protection in the home. Johanna even jested that we should spray more perfume, so we can stay safe and smell nice (I think that’s a great idea!).
“As we are spending more time at home, it is important that we are surrounded by a scent that makes us feel good,” says Johanna. The new collection also comes as a scented candle, either as a set of two or a half-moon—both of which fit elegantly as decor for your room.
“Sustainability is the new luxury.”
– Johanna Monange
As the luxury sector reimagines itself post-pandemic, shifts in consumer behaviour have already begun to surface, revealing a newfound focus on creating a memorable experience. And what better way to commemorate this journey than to have a bottle of personalised perfume. Studies have shown that our memories are closely linked to our olfactory senses and Maison 21G, with its extraordinary attention to detail coupled with a commitment to sustainability, makes it an up-and-rising contender within this closely guarded industry. No doubt, it will be a hit amongst the new generation of consumers not only in Singapore but also across Asia.