Should you find yourself on the West Coast of the US (as Jo did last week), there are several good reasons to head for Abbot Kinney Boulevard, in Venice, L.A. The first is that it's become probably the hippest shopping street in the States. (Shabby to chic in just a few years.) The second reason, specifically, is one of the boutiques that's helped put Abbot Kinney on the map: the gloriously (and aptly) named Strange Invisible Perfumes.
If you think that botanically-based fragrances are all earthy, hippie-dippy and patchouli-heavy, SIP (for short) is the proof: it just ain't so. In this exquisitely minimalist boutique, you will find exquisite scents such as you have never smelled, created by super-talented botanical perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis. (The store itself slightly reminded us of being inside a Japanese birthday gift: everything perfect, with little touches of colour and all done with the greatest delicacy and elegance.)
As Aussie Vogue put it: 'A must-visit international destination for the true fragrance connoisseur' - and we couldn't agree more. We suggest you set aside an hour - preferably more - to be talked and spritzed through the Strange Invisible Perfumes themselves, with their evocative names: dewily lush Aquarian Roses, dangerously sexy Narcotic, or soothing, grounding Lyric Rain. (Keep your fingers crossed that you're served by Shannon, the charming and patient SIP perfume pro.)
It is, you will find, almost impossible to choose between them - though make sure you're in funds: SIP doesn't come cheap, but you'll end up with a fabulous signature scent you're unlikely to smell on anyone this side of the Atlantic. Jo's chosen SIP? The airily rosy L'Invisible - and you can read her review at The Scent Critic by clicking here. Which - until you've got that flight booked to California - is alas the closet you can get, for now.
Strange Invisible Perfumes, 1138 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291/310.314.1505