There is no greater artist than nature. Alexandra Balahoutis, owner and perfumer behind Strange Invisible Perfumes, knew this on an instinctive level for years before she dedicated herself to the art of botanical fragrances. As a child, she was enthralled by the collection of her mother's perfumes stored in antique crystal bottles lined carefully on the dresser. They charmed her from an early age and as she grew older, her love of perfumes also grew. Yet she soon found it was the natural perfumes that captivated her most. Their tender scents and complex combinations filled her creative imagination. They excited and challenged Balahoutis to draw out their depths, blend them in new, innovative ways and create something completely original, luxurious and alive.
In 2005, Balahoutis established her botanical fragrance line Strange Invisible Perfumes. The name was derived from Shakespeare's play Antony and Cleopatra, describing the scene in which the two lovers first meet. Cleopatra's elegant barge is approaching a port on the river Nile, her scented sails making even the air lovesick in its wake. No mortal is unmoved by the beguiling fragrance, "a strange invisible perfume" carried on the breeze to Mark Antony. The Roman general's heart is already captured by the beautiful Egyptian queen even before they set eyes on each other that very night.
Inspired by romance and dedicated to natural ingredients, Strange Invisible Perfumes is a breath of fresh air in an age where markets are dominated by mainstream fragrances relying heavily on synthetic aromas. Balahoutis takes extreme time and care to create the essences for her perfumes. She works closely with a full-time master distiller who hand-blends the organic ingredients she selects or sometimes even grows herself. They use a method of distillation in water that is rarely used today due to time consumption and low production of essential oil. Balahoutis, however, sticks by hydro-distillation because of its ability to capture the full aromatic profile of a plant where steam-distillation often fails to extract finer nuances. They are then set into a custom-made alcohol base called 'esprit de Cognac,' which was originally used by French perfumers between the 16th and 18th centuries. Balahoutis acquires it specially from a 12th generation master distiller in Napa Valley.
Though a plant's distillation may take hours, days or weeks only to end up a mere fraction of a percent of the final product, every small detail produces the prestigious quality Strange Invisible Perfumes is known for. Few can boast the certified organic, biodynamic and hydro-distilled signature of Balahoutis's creations. Combined with her creative flair and outstanding nose, she designs fragrances that have captured the hearts of many. Her permanent, signature collection is loved by well-known celebrities such as Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Scarlett Johansson. In addition, she has a series dedicated to the zodiacs, infused with her fascination with astrology and the vastness of the cosmos.
Though some have criticized Balahoutis for limiting her palette by excluding synthetic aromas, this could not be further from the truth. Balahoutis likens her unique art of perfumery to wine-making and cooking – no sommelier or master chef would be thrilled to work with synthetic chemical flavors after all. She takes perfumery all the way to its roots when water distillation of plants was the only way to acquire the pleasant aromas. The fragrances of Strange Invisible Perfumes are beautiful and elusive. They aren't overbearing scents that scream, "I am here!" Instead they quietly whisper, "I was here."