a note from our founder & CEO Elizabeth Gaynes
the story behind strangelove
I’ve always appreciated handcrafted, high-quality products over mass production. During my years living in Rome, I was able to witness Italian families’ dedication to their particular crafts. Many towns seemed to have designated products that they would produce lovingly by hand, with one town making only wedding dresses, another ceramics, other shoes for the gondoliers in Venice, and so on. I was so inspired by the great pride these families took in their work creating some of the highest quality products in the world. Their respect for craftsmanship and love of the process of creation informs my work every day.
Around the time that I moved from Rome to New York, a Bornean friend of mine asked me to help her with business development and marketing for sustainable farming. Her family owned agarwood tree plantations in Borneo that were producing sustainable oud. I was already intrigued, but as I began learning more about this cherished ingredient, the history behind it, and the fact that it was a rumored aphrodisiac—I couldn’t help but become more intrigued.
How could I not dive into this adventure?
During my three years working with Bornean farms, major fragrance houses were vying to do business with us. Customers were drawn to us, asking for transparency and sustainability, which, at the time, not many suppliers could offer. Eventually, we partnered with a major fragrance house, creating a 600-acre patchouli and vetiver plantation. Thus began my introduction to ingredients for fragrances.
By the time our partnership came to an end, I had decided I wanted to start a perfume house purely dedicated to quality and sustainability, specifically using oud and other rare and unusual ingredients. I was committed and eager to learn more, leading me from farms in Borneo to boardrooms in Geneva. I knew if we created something amazing, we would find our audience.
We launched strangelove in 2014 at Harrods’ Salon de Parfums with one pure perfume oil we called deadofnight. This was an incredible way for our brand to launch and such an honor to be included in what is widely considered the most luxurious department store in the world.
Our customers realized we were different, and discovered us quickly, largely, by word-of-mouth. In the subsequent years, we created a deadofnight eau de parfum, then added four more oud-based eaux de parfums and perfume oils to our collection: meltmyheart, silencethesea, lostinflowers, and most recently, fallintostars. All five scents combine two types of sustainable oud with other exciting ingredients like ambergris, orris butter, red champaca, gardenia enfleurage, jonquil nectar, sandalwood, and Peruvian balsam.
Sourcing these ingredients outside the purview of major fragrance houses has been a wonderful, rewarding adventure—it feels like finding secret treasures. I will never stop searching for the jewels that make our perfumes so special. The high quality of our ingredients is what we believe defines strangelove as a premium luxury brand. I enjoy pushing the limits of perfume wearers towards something more daring. It’s exciting to see people try something that doesn’t smell like anything they’ve ever tried before.
Christophe Laudamiel, our rockstar master perfumer, is so creative, dedicated, and passionate about the industry. Helena Christensen, our fantastic creative director, works closely with us inside and outside the lab on everything from product development to outreach.
I do not rest until the team reaches a scent that we’re all thrilled with, even if it takes us a whole year to get there. I have a brilliant team of women who work closely and meticulously to spread the magic to our “strangeloves.” We know that not everyone will gravitate to our perfumes...and we’re OK with that. To be worn properly, these perfumes require confidence, independence, and a desire to feel empowered and sexy.
I hope that you appreciate the joy and wild adventure of our perfumes as much as I have.