Nestled into a serene corner of the West Village lies an immaculate fragrance shop by the name of Aedes De Venustas. Opened in 1995 by owners Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner, the store houses the highest quality fragrance products ranging from perfumes, incense, candles, and room sprays. Walking inside feels as though you have been transplanted into a more opulent past where you are surrounded by rich burgundy tones, an elaborately molded ceiling and lush foliage. It’s no surprise that stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Liv Tyler frequent this West Village establishment. Here you can find many brands from around the world that you wouldn’t normally come across in the states.
We got to meet Robert Gerstner together with the beauty queen of Germany, Corinna Mosler Jakobsohn at her shop Belle Rebelle in the heart of West Berlin. Gerstner discussed his West Village establishment after the launch of his new fragrance, Œillet Bengale. His fantasy land shop of smells didn’t come to fruition over night, and a culture of people in the US had to be built that would come to know and love high quality European products. When Aedes De Venustas was still young, there was a Vogue article written about the store that caught the attention of Naomi Campbell. The supermodel was amazed to find in Manhattan somewhere that housed all of the brands she used in Europe. Owners Bradl and Gerstner obviously didn’t let Campbell leave empty handed. This encounter set the tone for a new endeavor, involving the development of corporate accounts with notable tastemakers in the US that were gifted products in order to create a reputation and expose the American market to European brands. Business exploded after this, and the store became a rooted part of New York City’s fabric. A feature in InStyle brought even more attention. One notable instance in which a customer from Los Angeles flew out by private jet to New York for no other reason than to visit the store puts into relief the notoriety and reputation for quality inherent in Aedes De Venustas. Marketing products that were well known in countries throughout Europe but not in the US was a gradual process, and success was achieved by being highly selective when choosing which brands to carry. Customers of the store knew when they were introduced to something new that it would be of the best quality, and a level of trust was built between owner and clientele that allowed for a smooth introduction of European brands into the American circuit. The US market is also known as being more open-minded in general, especially towards all things European, so Aedes De Venustas‘ concept to bring in foreign products was a business model that could and did succeed. Brands like Frederic Malle, Diptyque and Santa Maria Novella flourished in the states and continue to be among the best sellers for the company.
Photo by Ulfar Loga
The Fragrance duo doesn’t have plans to open another shop in the US with the idea that by focusing on doing one thing, they will do that one thing right. The West Village shop is open 7 days a week and only closed 8 days a year, already making it a highly accessible business. Not wanting to spread themselves too thin the owners would rather grow their company slowly and steadily. With that said Aedes De Venustas has recently released a new fragrance, the third under their own name, with the title Œillet Bengale. It is described on their website as “a flower on fire,” and “a rose that wants to be a carnation, set ablaze by an exotic spice explosion.” Developed by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, the fragrance has top notes of Bergamot and white pepper, middle notes of rose and cinnamon, and base nots of tolu balsam, vanilla, and benzoin. For our German readers, the scent can be bought at Belle Rebelle. For those of you in New York, you can of course stop by the West Village and pick it up.