“I Designed My Own Fragrance For $100”

It was a game changer
Courtesy of L’Atelier Parfums et Créations, Bali

No woman ever wants to smell her signature fragrance on another woman. It’s the sensory equivalent of arriving at a party feeling like Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars only to see somebody wearing the same dress as you. And they got there first. And they are Jennifer Lawrence. Ugh.

It’s this quest for originality that’s led to the rise of the bespoke fragrance, ones that reflect exactly who you are. But DIY can easily become DIY-do-not if you don’t know what you’re doing – plus a unique scent can set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. So when I was offered the chance to design my own fragrance for under $100 at L’Atelier Parfums et Créations in Bali, with my hand held by master parfumier Nora Gasparini, I knew this was a chance not to miss.

The workshop: I was sceptical at first: perfume making in Bali? Would I walk away with an overpriced, cliched island floral scent that I could have just bought at the airport? My fears lessened as I entered Nora’s serene studio with over 45 different essences, fragrances and raw materials including frangipani, lavender, jasmine, citronella, coffee, cempaka, vanilla and clove to choose from. Nora gave us a surprisingly-accurate and revealing multiple-choice questionnaire to uncover our personalities and fragrance preferences. She then guided us along the way as we blended our scents but the decisions were ultimately up to us.

Perfume Workshop Bali
We started by creating three trial fragrances. (Credit: Photo: Larissa Yu)

The fragrances: I named and created two scents: the smoky mysterious night scent “Isle de Bois” (excuse my terrible high-school French, it’s meant to be “du Bois”!) which contained notes including bergamot, tobacco and green tea and the eau de toilette “Aqua de Mer”, a fresh scent made up of aquatic, green tea and smoky. While they were like nothing I had ever smelled before, they felt exactly like me in a bottle, and the combinations were surprisingly sophisticated and complex. My fears about ending up with something that smelled like synthetic frangipani incense were put to rest: even a novice like me can make something that smells like it could have come from a top French fragrance house. I was impressed.

Perfume Workshop Bali
The serene studio space makes everybody feel like an artisan. (Credit: Photo: Larissa Yu)
Perfume Workshop Bali
A customised questionnaire helps you narrow down the top, middle and base notes that you prefer. (Credit: Photo: Larissa Yu)

The final touch: Each fragrance you decide to keep is given a boutique letter-press hand-stamped name label, and boxed up for you to take home. The Atelier will also keep your fragrance recipes in their database so that you can re-order whenever you like (shipping to Australia is approx. $15). Scent is so evocative: could there be a more meaningful souvenir?

Perfume Workshop Bali
My two creations: “Isle de Bois” and “Aqua de Mer” with gorgeous hand-stamped custom labels. (Credit: Photo: Larissa Yu)

Location: AYANA Resort & Spa, Bali. Visit for more info.

Price: US$80 (approx AU$104) for the 90-minute workshop – open to both AYANA guests and visitors staying elsewhere – includes a 30ml bottle of your chosen fragrance. If you like all of the scents you create, you can buy extra 30ml bottles for around AU$60 each. 60ml bottles are also available for an extra cost. Visit for more info (all website prices are in US$).

TOP TIP: AYANA is a popular choice for hen’s getaways, weddings and babymoons and the personalised fragrance workshop is the perfect gift for bridal parties or wedding guests.

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