I love a good secret, but I find beauty secrets particularly invigorating. Celebrity makeup preferences divulged by artists, intel on undetectable lash extensions, and A-list-approved dermatologist recommendations are all facts that I collect and hoard like a magpie. That's why I was completely bowled over when I discovered iconic fragrance brand Krigler — how had I never heard of it before?
Krigler started in 1879 when brand founder Albert Krigler mixed up his first scent, Pleasure Gardenia 79, as a gift for his fiancée. In 1904, he opened his first shop, and by 1931, when the company opened its first American outpost in New York City's Plaza Hotel, it had already become a favourite of celebrities, politicians, and royalty around the world.
For example, John F. Kennedy wore the brand's America One 31, a blue-tinted cologne with notes of vetiver, mandarin, and cedar that smells powerful but not overwhelming. (According to Ben Krigler, the brand's fifth-generation owner and perfumer, fraternities at Ivy League universities provide bottles of this scent to their members on graduation day.) The delicate white floral English Promenade 19 was Audrey Hepburn's favourite fragrance. And Grace Kelly's signature scent, Chateau Krigler 12, is an elegant concoction of rose, mimosa, and lily of the valley. Need even more name dropping? One of its most noteworthy current fans is Kate Middleton (who loves Extraordinaire Camelia 209); the current royals of Monaco are as well.
One of its most noteworthy current fans is Kate Middleton, who loves Extraordinaire Camelia 209.
The brand is still producing new scents to this day, using the same meticulous blending methods and high-quality ingredients that made its products so beloved. This year, Krigler is reintroducing Subtle Orchid 10, a scent originally developed in 1910 that blends the sweet scents of a patisserie with the heady aroma of a flower shop. Vanilla-lovers will covet this one, as a true baker's vanilla anchors other notes of patchouli, coffee, and blossoms.
It was hard to pick a favourite from Krigler's hundreds of legendary perfumes, and I didn't — it picked me. I've never been inclined to wear a male fragrance before and have typically only worn white florals or citrusy scents, which is why I was shocked that I was immediately captivated by Oud For Highness 75. This was originally a bespoke fragrance made for King Hussein of Jordan in 1975. After he passed away, the Jordanian royal family allowed Krigler to add it to its permanent collection.
It's warm, woodsy, and covertly sensual, with a zippy top note of bergamot that opens into lush patchouli, rose, and (of course) oud wood. There's a subtle sweetness from honey with a spicy heat from saffron. It's the kind of fragrance that makes me feel like a grown — but not overly mature — woman who can take on the world, just like royalty.
My new obsession will end up being a pricey one, as a 1.7-ounce bottle will run me back $578. But it seems reasonable to me that being a part of one of the beauty industry's best-kept secrets should come at a cost. Luckily, you can snag samples of Krigler's legendary fragrances for a fraction of the cost of a larger bottle on the brand's website. And, if you're lucky enough to live near The Plaza, I highly recommend you stop into the company's atelier, just like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn did. Beauty shopping doesn't get much chicer than that.