Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my reviews. In this article, I’ll be reviewing my recent perfume workshop experience at the local perfume label Maison 21G.
I attended my first perfume workshop at Maison 21G’s flagship Duxton boutique back in early 2020, before the onset of COVID-19. Since then, I’ve attended the perfume workshop at its now-defunct ION Orchard boutique, as well as at its new MBS showroom. However, the Duxton boutique has always been the most popular, so after over three years I decided to return to the Duxton boutique to experience Maison 21G’s revamped perfume workshop experience.
Maison 21G – The Experience
During my first visit, the perfume workshop was conducted by Andrew, who has since left the company. This time around, I was instead attended to by Pocholo – who often simply goes by Cholo – who relayed that he’s been with Maison 21G for over three years, and is currently the Head of Retail Training, Talent Development and Operations.
The workshop starts with an introductory presentation on perfumery, which educates participants on the fundamentals of perfumery. As I’ve sat through this presentation 4 times now, we both agreed to speed through it, with Cholo opting to focus on sharing about the numerous new scents that the brand has introduced since my last visit.
With the sharing wrapped up, Cholo directed me to attempt the Maison 21G’s personality quiz. I elaborated at length on the personality quiz in my previous article, so I won’t go through it again here. The quiz has remained largely the same, with a few aesthetic updates and new scents.
When I first did the quiz, I got the personality “Free Spirit”, with the quiz recommending fresher scents. This time around, I was apparently “The Extraordinary”, which resulted in the AI-powered quiz offering bolder scent ingredients such as Sleek Sandalwood, Bergamot Blast, Vetiver Virtuoso and Ocean Odyssey. Cholo promptly introduced these fragrances for me to smell and peruse.
I gave all four scents a try, and shortlisted Sleek Sandalwood, Vetiver Virtuoso and Ocean Odyssey. I wasn’t a big fan of Bergamot Blast – the citrusy scent just didn’t vibe with me. In contrast, I loved the musky scent of Sleek Sandalwood, which I felt would make a great heart note. I preferred it over Vetivier Virtuoso, which was also a woody heart note. And while I liked the freshness of Ocean Odyssey, I had already previously used it in past perfume creations and thus wanted to try other scents.
Undeterred, Cholo promptly introduced more scents – specifically top and base notes – that he felt would complement Sleek Sandalwood nicely. One of those scents, Fervent Fir Balsam, captured my attention with its sweet and fruity scent. Cholo relayed that it’s one of the brand’s latest scents, with its ingredients sourced from Egypt. As a base note, I felt its exotic nature would elevate the luxurious Sleek Sandalwood perfectly.
I asked Cholo to recommend similarly exotic scents like Fervent Fir Balsam, to which he suggested that we explore the Black Collection. I’ve dabbled with the Black Collection previously during the MBS Workshop – aimed at perfume enthusiasts, the Black Collection is essentially the core collection on steroids. Pricier ingredients are used, and the scents are richer and more complex.
As we already had our heart and base notes, we went searching for a top note. After trying out a few from the Black Collection, I eventually settled upon Tea Temptation, which evoked the freshness of tea. Maison 21G actually has another tea-themed scent (named Tea Time) in its regular collection – Tea Temptation is basically that, but supercharged. Using more exotic tea blends in its ingredients, Tea Temptation reminds me of some of my favourite teas, and I absolutely love it.
Upon hearing that Tea Temptation evoked some of my favourite teas, Cholo quipped that another scent, Rose Taif, reminds him of the popular Singaporean drink Bandung. I had a whiff of Rose Taif, and it actually does smell quite like Bandung, even though the scent actually sources its ingredients from Taif rose flowers of Saudi Arabia. It has a sweet and exotic scent that is reminiscent of Fervent Fir Balsam, though with a freshness that’s more akin to Tea Temptation. It intrigued me, and I decided to include it in my scent creation.
Smelling all four scents together was probably akin to when all four members of the Beatles took to the stage for the first time – it was an incredibly harmonious symphony of the senses. I knew instinctively that this was going to be my favourite scent creation with Maison 21G to date.
With all four scents chosen, the only thing left to do was to mix the perfume itself. Cholo recommended the appropriate quantity of each ingredient, though the actual mixing process is left to the participants. It’s a fun hands-on activity that increases the sense of participation and ownership.
The provided apparatus (weighing scale, droppers, etc) reminded me of chemistry classes in school. Unlike chemistry classes however, participants don’t need any prior knowledge to mix their own perfume. Everything is pretty much idiot-proof, with Cholo also on hand to guide participants if necessary.
After mixing all the ingredients, it was time to test out the perfume itself. I sprayed it on my wrist (a pulse point) and let Cholo have a whiff. He feedbacked that the Rose Taif scent was overwhelming the other ingredients – which I concurred with – and suggested that I increase the quantity of the other ingredients to balance out the perfume.
To me, that is the unique selling point of Maison 21G – bespoke perfumery. Not only does the brand have over 60 scents for participants to tinker around with, but the final smell of the perfume can still differ even if participants choose the exact same ingredients as the composition (i.e how much of each ingredient) may be different. Furthermore, participants can also modify their perfume creations to their liking, ensuring that they leave the workshop with a scent creation that they are proud of.
As the icing on the cake, participants can also choose to engrave text and images of their choice on the perfume bottle. Maison 21G actually has a variety of “stock artwork” available, one of which was a lovely graphic of a shophouse. I felt it reflected the Duxton area well (one can find many lovely shophouses in the Tanjong Pagar/Outram Park area) and decided to have it engraved on my bottle, along with my initials in bold, italic script. The scent ingredients are also stated on the bottle. Participants can actually get a refill at the boutique for a nominal price – the exact composition of the perfume is saved in Maison 21G’s backend system, allowing its on-site scent designers (like Cholo) to effortlessly recreate your perfume creation.
Conclusion – so Maison 21G Perfume Workshop “shiok” or not?
Maison 21G kept the elements of the workshop that made it great – the beautiful boutique, the fun AI personality quiz, and the endless customizability – and iterated upon it over the years, resulting in a more refined perfume workshop experience. For example, the Black Collection is now seamlessly integrated into the workshop (being placed literally atop the regular scents), as compared to previously when it was sequestered away in the back of the MBS showroom. There are also more ways to personalise your perfume bottle (fonts, placement, graphics, etc), and the packaging is now more upmarket and atas. Lastly, Cholo is a rockstar in the Duxton boutique. His experience and passion are evident in equal measure, and will appeal to both enthusiasts and beginners alike.
Those interested in Maison 21G’s offerings can use the promo code “WAHMAISON20” for 20% off all workshop bookings (including both weekdays AND weekends), as well as all other products on their webstore. Simply enter the promo code while checking out online, or mention it/flash this article in-store. After the discount, the 60-minute perfume creation workshop would cost just $144, while the 90-minute advanced workshop (which includes the Black Label ingredients) would cost a mere $160. Given the marginal price difference, I recommend opting for the advanced workshop. There’s also a Love Atelier for couples, and even a Family Atelier for families – there’s something for everyone.
Book the perfume workshop or customise your own scent from Maison 21G here.
Maison 21G’s store locations:
77 Duxton Road Singapore, 089536
L1-32, The Shoppes, MBS
Takashimaya S.C., 391 Orchard Road, #B1-31A
P.S: Check out The Shiok Store here – it serves as a curation of my favourite products from my favourite brands.
P.P.S: Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.P.P.P.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.