For perfume nerds, it’s easy to classify the most commonly utilized notes in a given scent. Spicy, woody, floral, powdery — the adjectives are plentiful. But when I heard that a brand was bringing a fragrance to market made of (wait for it) air, my mind skidded to a halt. What does air smell like, I wondered on a particularly existential train ride home — which in New York City can most often be described as “pungent” among other less appealing aromas. But the aptly named Air Company, best known for its vodka, had other ideas for its debut scent, Air Eau de Parfum.
Gregory Constantine, co-founder & CEO of Air Company, clarifies that the brand’s vodka and fragrance production is actually rooted in CO2. “We take carbon dioxide and convert it into ethanol [by combining] it with hydrogen at our facilities in Brooklyn,” he says of their patented technology. He explains that the only other byproduct of the solar-powered process (aside from the alcohol) is water, which is then recycled, leaving only oxygen to vent into the atmosphere. Up until this point, that leftover ethanol was funneled into the brand’s signature spirit (which is typically made from corn, grain, or potatoes) as well as a hand sanitizer, but according to Constantine, a fragrance was always in the cards.
“The type of alcohol that we create is what goes into things like spirits and fragrances,” he explains, “and because of the way in which it's made from carbon dioxide, not only is it far more sustainable, it's much higher quality because there's a lack of impurities.”
As an avid fragrance wearer for many years, he saw the potential for a perfume with a new approach to sustainability — especially given the renewed interest in perfume safety and its place in the clean beauty movement. To date, no other brand — spirits or fragrance — can claim that they actually remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere with every liter of ethanol they produce.
For the juice itself, the brand worked with Joya Studio, a fragrance design and development firm in Brooklyn. “I went to them with a pretty direct vision on what I wanted the scent to be like,” says Constantine. “I wanted it to be emulative of the elements — air, water, and sun — the three major things that make up our entire technological process.” He also cites his upbringing in Australia and on the beach, as well as his decade in New York, as inspiration for the scent. “We wanted people to feel like they are out amongst nature, [especially] when we had to spend an entire year indoors.”
That translates to a citrus fragrance, with top notes of fig leaf and orange peel, a heart of violet, jasmine, and sweetwater, and grounded in a base of powdery musk and tobacco. Although I wouldn’t go so far to say the scent is crisp or tangy (as is common with citrus perfumes), the dry down is much warmer and well-rounded. The tobacco comes through most notably, but not in a smokey bar type of way — it’s much more subtle, as if you’re leaving a crowded room and walking back into the blazing sunshine.
Air Company also made the conscious decision to formulate with synthetic scents, rather than naturals, as the harvesting of those ingredients is often more detrimental to the planet. “They're actually more sustainable, higher quality, and you get a level of consistency [for] the product that is just better across the board,” says Constantine of synthetics.
The brand’s recyclable packaging also goes a step further with the new fragrance by offering a variety of bottle caps for customers to choose from, including a cap-less option. “[It’s] just a pump with a very small clip,” says the co-founder. “It’s an innovation in design but more importantly there’s a lack of waste. We’re not over producing or over materializing these products.”
So is the fragrance the essence of air? Perhaps not. But there is a sense of peace knowing that the Air Eau de Parfum is working harder than any other beauty product you might be wearing to minimize the disastrous effects of climate change and pollution. It’s more like an invitation to inhale the scent and breathe deeply, while you still can, since, as Constantine says, “The planet will survive and live on, but it's going to become really tough for us to be able to stay here if we don't act ASAP — as in yesterday.”
The limited edition Air Eau de Parfum is currently available for pre-order and will ship in early 2022.
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