These Fragrances Smell Just Like That Vacation You've Been Dying To Go On

I’ve never been to Tokyo, or Dallas, or Los Angeles, but I have been to — and, yes, live in — New York. Because of this, I can confirm that it does not smell anywhere near as good as something you’d want to bottle up and purchase for nearly $500. Le Labo begs to differ.
In addition to its usual lineup, the luxe olfactory brand also offers a collection of city-specific fragrances, each one sold exclusively in the city by which it was inspired. Fortunately, these adaptations are much more appealing than the actual stench of any given metropolitan area; to my surprise, New York's Tubereuse 40 smells more like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (one of the city's only true oases) instead of the counter of a Papaya Dog past midnight, and Dallas' Aldehyde 44 isn't a mixture of hay and the inside of a cowboy boot but composed around the same iconic note found in Chanel No. 5.
With that said, don't get your hopes up quite yet that you'll own one of these niche fragrances any time soon — at least, not until September, when the scents go worldwide for the month. You can shop sample kits of the fragrances on Le Labo's site now, and starting September 1st through the 30th, you can purchase full-size versions of each city exclusive whether you live in Tokyo or Tennessee. To help you prepare, we've rounded up all 11, so start gearing up to smash that piggy bank. (At least they're cheaper than a plane ticket... well, most of them are, anyway.)
1 of 11
Countless classic fragrances include some component of aldehyde, ranging from citrusy to soapy scents, like Dior Miss Dior, Guerlain's Vol De Nuit, and Chanel No. 5. But what makes this particular aldehydic fragrance different from the rest is that first of all, it's not French; it's Texan, and riddled with floral essences like jasmine, tuberose, and narcissus. Although there's a slight musky underbelly to the notes, it's flowery enough to convince you that a trip to the Dallas Arboretum might be in order.

Le Labo Aldehyde 44, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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If you're a a married socialite in the midst of a tumultuous affair with a wealthy Count, shunned by your peers, suffering from a deep-rooted despair that eventually leads to your tragic and untimely death, then you just might be the ghost of Anna Karenina — or, at least, a very big fan of this fragrance. Inspired by Leo Tolstoy's 1878 novel, and the passionate spirit of his Russian protagonist, the olfactory experience of Benjoin 19 hopes to be as heady as Anna's rebellions and last longer than the 864 pages of the real thing.

Le Labo Benjoin 19, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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A Tokyo-inspired perfume could smell like yakitori, smog, and underground transit, but instead Le Labo bottled up the Japanese humidity and made it tense, earthy, and woody thanks to a handful of rural notes, like cedar and frankincense. So, the next time you're trapped in a metro tunnel, gripping the only empty inches of free pole space in sight, hoping you have hand sanitizer in your purse, sniff your wrist and transport yourself to the Japanese forest floor where the soul-crushing pain of your daily commute is nothing but a distant memory.

Le Labo Gaiac 10, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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Depending on where you are in San Francisco, you might find yourself engulfed by a number of different scents. But Le Labo's Limette 37 doesn't seem to capture the bay breeze you smell, feel, and unfortunately, taste on the top deck of the ferry, or the "garlic cloud" that haunts North Beach. Instead, it's a strong wave of lime and petitgrain (an essential oil that is extracted from the leaves and green twigs of the bitter orange tree) before landing on a smooth wake of tonka bean and vetiver.

Le Labo Limette 37, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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This rosy Midwestern blend is far from the pungent aroma that swirls through the last train car on Chicago's CTA. Some would even beg to argue the only note Le Labo does better than its cult-favorite santal is rose — and Baie Rose 26 is all the proof you need to convince you of exactly that. But before you're turned off by something that's too powdery, know that all that rose is perfectly balanced out by two different kinds of pepper, amber, and a hint of cedar.

Le Labo Baie Rose 26, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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Visit Dubai once, and you'll never forget the evocative air in the Spice Souk and exactly how it swirls with the haze of shisha smoke and the musky essence of freshly-dried leather. That's also exactly how Cuir 28 smells, a true replica of what your trip would be like if you could ever afford traveling to the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf (and maybe getting a haircut from Jen Atkin, while you're in the area).

Le Labo Cuir 28, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
7 of 11
GQ once said that L.A. is the smelliest city on the planet; a nightmarish mix of aspiring actors' broken dreams fused with air pollution, car exhaust, and green juice. But you don't have to be on a billboard in the City of Angels to encounter rejection or melting asphalt. You've got Musc 25 — with its unusual but pleasantly musky concoction of cedar, amber, and lily-of-the-valley — to help you forget all of that exists, so your dream of Making It is still within reach... even if you never make it out of Oakwood.

Le Labo Musc 25, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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As one of the newer city-inspired perfumes, Mousse de Chene 30 should smell like Amsterdam's Heineken museum, bicycle tires, and that old couch in your parents' basement that still has a few weed stems between the cushions, but instead it resembles the taste of a warm cinnamon stroopwafel, spicy rum, moss and, yep, still weed.

Le Labo Mousse de Chene 30, $305, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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Never been to London? The fact is that the city itself doesn't smell a whole lot like anything, besides rain — and maybe soggy fish and chips, depending on what street corner you're standing on. But bottling up that specific, albeit elusive scent of how the wet cobblestone smells just after a rainstorm would've been too predictable for Le Labo. Instead, the brand decided to make its Poivre 23 a robust cocktail of pepper that's spicier than anything you'll likely ever find on that side of Britain.

Le Labo Poivre 23 10, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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For every delicious smell in New York (the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, the corner of West 11th street, any Eli's location on a Sunday morning), there's about three nauseating follow-ups (the Union Square subway station, the unidentifiable murky water that leaks down the side of your apartment building, Coney Island) right behind it. But that's not what Tubereuse 40 is here to remind you of: It only wants you to think of flowers, like you spend every waking moment inside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The floral note is balanced out by tangerine, orange blossom, and rosemary for a citrus aftertaste.

Le Labo Tubereuse 40, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.
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Vanilla can be a sickeningly sweet scent — so sugary and suffocating that it's hard to believe the scientific theories claiming that it's an olfactory aphrodisiac. But Le Labo's 44 notes of it aren't your typical vanille — it's your grown-up vanilla that's versatile, likable, and downright sexy. Fit for the City of Love, no?

Le Labo Vanille 44, $470, available September 1 at Le Labo.

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