Home Fragrance Guru Daniel Benedict
BY JEFFREY SLONIM
FROM LEFT: Daniel Benedict; The Beach House Collection
If packaging is everything among top luxury brands, home fragrance guru Daniel Benedict’s sporty-blond personal appearance deserves a mention. He’s tall and immaculately groomed, and his pocket square remains perpetually perky. Benedict has that habit of dressing so well, he looks as if he just walked out of an advertisement.
His line of fine candles, bath salts, body creams and diffusers is similarly well-presented in crocodile embossed wrappings, available at Barneys New York and 200 specialty stores inthe US, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Dubai. Benedict’s work is so distinctive that a well-known sheik once snapped up 2,500 Benedict gift packages; social brides have ordered as many as a thousand candles to give away on their wedding day. He also designs products for Calvin Klein and Starwood’s W hotels and is currently consulting with a key French luxury brand on scents and stores for the West Coast.
Benedict, who grew up among the Boston Brahmins with jet-set genes (his father was English; his mother, Italian), began his career at Ralph Lauren. He creates his bespoke fragrances like a chemist. “We build home fragrances with top perfume houses and perfumers who have been doing this work for generations,” he says. “Sitting at the table with them is like decorating a house until one gets the exact shades of the original vision.”
|The Penthouse Collection|
One of Benedict’s latest Hamptons-inspired fragrances is called Driftwood. “It’s a memory-built fragrance, evocative of a smoky beach bonfire,” he says. “The Hamptons are dewy at night. We captured the dampness of the sea grass, the salt air coming off the water.” (This writer recalls spotting Benedict sitting on the rocks by such a fire, a guitar strumming nearby, on the beach at the base of the cliffs below Donna Karan’s house in the Northwest Woods.) For those who live to vacation, his Seaside collection candles mix bergamot, sea air and lemon blossom. For destination scents, he has both coral reef and sand dune candles.
Known for his masculine scent palette, Benedict considers the notes in Yves Saint Laurent’s gardens in Marrakesh “a perfumer’s paradise.” “Martha’s Vineyard is a treasure trove, and in Capri there are so many pine trees and lemon trees, and they bake all summer in the hot Mediterranean sun,” he says. Other inspirations have included the night-blooming jasmine at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “I remember sitting down with the perfumer, trying to re-create that feeling of walking through the grounds.”
Like Proust and the taste of his madeleines, explains Benedict, “fragrance memories stay with you forever.” danielbenedictdesign.com
Benedict's Hamptons Favorites
1. Polo Country Store: “They do such a great job rigging the store.” 31–33 Main St., East Hampton, 324-1222
2. Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee: “It’s like a movie set. He did a very good job making it feel authentic.” 146 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett, 267-5555
3. Tutto Il Giorno gardens: “Gabby Karan designed the garden, and it captures what everyone wants in a garden on the East End.” 6 Bay St., Sag Harbor, 725-7009
4. Turpan: “It’s the perfect place to find chic design gifts.” 55 Main St., East Hampton, 324-2444
5. Toms Shoes, available at Flying Point Surf & Sport: “Chic and very comfortable.” 69 N. Main St., Southampton, 287-0075; toms.com