Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean article! On this shiok Saturday, I’m reviewing my experience of attending a perfume workshop at local perfumery, Maison 21G.
Unlike most other fragrance labels, Maison 21G allow customers to personalise their scent by combining ingredients and customisable bottle designs. For those who seek a more bespoke alternative, Maison 21G also offers perfume workshops whereby participants can tailor their own scent! The brand kindly invited me down for a hands-on experience of their perfume workshop – let’s see how that went!
Maison 21G – the Brand
Maison 21G was founded by Johanna Monange in 2019. Prior to founding Maison 21G, she spent over two decades working and developing scents for many prominent luxury brands, such as La Vie est Belle for Lancôme, One Million for Paco Rabanne, Acqua di Gioia for Armani, Spicebomb for Viktor&Rolf, and La Nuit De L’Homme for YSL. However, she grew increasingly disheartened with the mass produced nature of these perfumes, and felt that they lacked soul. As such, Maison 21G was started to empower every individual to design their own signature scent and have loads of fun during the process.
For those wondering, the name Maison 21G is inspired by the study conducted by physician Duncan MacDougall, which popularised the theory that the soul weighs 21 grams. Thus, Maison 21G promises you a perfume that will “speak to your soul and your innermost desires”. In addition, the brand also offers bottles with 21% of perfume concentration, which is one of the highest (if not the highest) level of concentration in an Eau de Parfum today.
Alright, without any further ado let’s delve into this review!
Maison 21G Perfume Workshop
Maison 21G invited me down to their beautiful boutique along Duxton Road to experience their Perfume Creation Atelier workshop.
Step into Maison 21G’s well-lit boutique, and you will be greeted by rows upon rows of scents. I later learnt that there are 33 solo scents available, which customers can either use on their own or combine to form their own unique concoction. I must admit, the sheer amount of scents blew my mind from the offset – I felt like I was in a chemistry lab! The scents all possess alliterative names such as Cosmic Coke, Immortal Incense, Oud Outshine, etc, which I found to be a cute touch.
Andrew – the scent design manager of Maison 21G – noticed my fascination towards some of the solo scents that were on display. I must admit, some of the rather creative names (such as Cannabis Cloud and Amber Affair) caught my attention, and I was curious as to how they smell. He lifted up the domes that covered the scents I was intrigued by, and invited me to inhale deeply. I have to admit I was a tad skeptical at first, but surprisingly the scents were quite prominent in the domes. The method of presentation was interesting to say the least, and built up my wonderment as to how the actual perfume workshop was going to be.
After making me a cup of English Breakfast tea (there was green tea and chamomile tea available as well), Andrew proceeded to sit down with me and shared with me about the brand story of Maison 21G, which I had tried my best to recount in the previous section. He then explained to me the fundamentals of perfumery, such as the difference between an EDT and an EDP, as well as how top, middle and base notes come together in perfume. Thereafter, he asked me: “What does perfume means to you?” I pondered for a moment, before replying that I viewed perfume as the final piece of my armour – a nice fragrance is always a confidence booster. He smiled, and elaborated that the goal of the perfume workshop (and Maison 21G in general) is to create a fragrance that means something to the customer.
With the sharing session wrapped up, we moved on to the personality questionnaire. Andrew handed me an Ipad, and I spent about 5-10 minutes clicking through the questionnaire. The questionnaire included questions on personality – such as whether I’m searching for freedom or stability – but also more practical aspects, such as asking me what my favourite perfume is, if there were any ingredients I particularly liked or disliked, etc. At the end of the questionnaire, it generated a scent combination (mine was Cannabis Cloud + Bergamot Blast) which Andrew promptly mixed and let me try out.
I’m usually skeptical about such personality questionaires – I always view them as more of a gimmick than anything else – but here with Maison 21G I think it laid a good foundation for Andrew to recommend and show me scents that I could experiment with. For example, I found that I actually pretty liked the Cannabis Cloud + Bergamot Blast combination, especially the Cannabis Cloud aspect. Andrew then proceeded to ask me what sort of scent I’m looking to create, to which I replied: “A mix of woody and freshness.” I relayed to him that while I liked the combination, I didn’t love it, and I felt that a more musky, woody ingredient would add more depth to the scent. And thus, our experimentation began.
As I mentioned earlier, there are 33 solo scents (or ingredients) for participants to experiment and explore. That’s a lot of scents, and a lot of potential combinations. I felt that I really liked the way Cannabis Cloud smelt, and thus we decided to explore ingredients that would complement it nicely. As you can see in the above picture, Andrew constantly recommended me several ingredients that he felt would evoke the feeling I was aiming for, and we really did go through quite a few combinations. One thing that stood out to me here was how Andrew would spray a scent, let me smell it, and then emphasize for me to smell it again after 5-10 minutes to see how the scent had changed. I thought that was very intriguing – we often buy a perfume because we like how it smells when we try out the tester, but we tend to neglect how the scent transforms after the initial top notes has faded even though that is what others will smell on us. For example, Andrew encouraged me to smell Bergamot Blast again. Whilst the initial impression was fresh and citrusy, the scent had evolved to a deeper intensity that reminded me of freshly squeezed orange juice.
After experimenting with a multitude of ingredients, we eventually decided upon a combination of Cannabis Cloud, Sage Supreme, and Cedar Caviar. We started off by first searching for a woody, more masculine ingredient that would complement Cannabis Cloud. Andrew recommended me a few ingredients that he felt fit the bill, such as Immortal Incense, Oud Outshine, and Cedar Caviar. Out of his recommendations, Cedar Caviar stood out to me the most – it had this timeless, yet still contemporary scent that simply spoke to me. The other scents were a tad too exotic for my personal preference. Thereafter, Andrew suggested incorporating a lighter, fresher ingredient to elevate the overall scent. I asked him which “fresh” scent was his favourite, and he immediately pulled out the Sage Supreme for me to try. It was love at first sight – or rather, smell – for me. The Sage Supreme smells undoubtedly refreshing, but it also has a potency that differentiated itself from the other “fresh” scents. Combined with Cannabis Cloud and Cedar Caviar, it was truly, in my opinion, a match made in heaven.
With the ingredients chosen, all that was left was for me to add them in! Andrew played an instrumental part in guiding me along here as well by giving me his recommended amounts of each ingredient. I had assumed that all three ingredients were going to be added in equal proportions, but that turned out not to be the case. Depending on whether you like a woodier or a fresher scent, the composition of the fragrance can be altered accordingly. I really deferred to Andrew’s expertise in this regard. An interesting aspect I should also point out is that the ingredients were measured and added by weight (therefore the presence of the scale) rather than by drops. The measurements were rather specific – Andrew told me to add 2.1 grams of Cedar Caviar into the bottle. According to him, this is substantially more accurate than if he had told me to add say, 10 drops into the bottle as each drop may not be consistent in volume. At Maison 21G, I really could sense that they were pretty serious – but in a good way – about their craft.
The final step of the process is for participants to christen their bottle with a name of their choice. I decided to name my creation “SHIOK”. Not only does it pay homage to the website, I think it also expresses the feeling I get when I smell and apply the perfume. Hopefully, it’s the feeling others get when they smell the scent on me too! Interestingly, the ingredients that I chose are stated on the bottle as well. Andrew states that this is by deliberate design – Maison 21G wants participants to remember what ingredients they enjoy/have tried, so that when they come back again they would know what scents delighted them previously.
Conclusion – so Maison 21G “shiok” or not?
In case the name of the bottle didn’t give it away, I would say that I had a blast of a time at Maison 21G’s perfume workshop! I thoroughly enjoyed the 1-2 hour process. Their Duxton boutique is beautiful, and I felt that I really learnt a lot about perfumery after going through the workshop. As someone who is relatively clueless about fragrances, I enjoyed the guided exploration which I believe led to a terrific creation in the end. Furthermore, given that I’m someone who is very much into tailoring, I also really liked Maison 21G’s brand mission of offering personalised scents that are custom made to the individual’s preferences.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK15” will grant readers 15% off perfume workshop bookings from Maison 21G online, 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 perfume workshop would cost just $118.50, while those under 21 can enjoy a student price of $94.80. I think that is a great price considering that most off-the-rack departmental store perfumes already cost that much, if not more. It’s also a memorable experience for those who are curious about perfumery, or simply looking for a nice date idea.
Book the perfume workshop or customise your own scent from Maison 21G here.
Maison 21G Address:
77 Duxton Rd, Singapore 089536
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!