Aroma M Atelier Visit with Maria McElroy & Alexis Karl

Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl at work in their studio.
Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl at work in their studio.

So often we think of creativity as a solitary endeavor – the artist toiling away in private, jealously guarding the secrets to her vision. But for Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl, sharing space to both collaborate and work out separate concepts trumps sweating out the details alone. Their shared perfume workshop in Brooklyn, New York is both laboratory and showroom – and now you can visit them there as well.

I went to the Aroma M Atelier on a sweltering Friday in August to ask them more about their perfumery and their open studio concept. Both Maria and Alexis are accomplished artists and perfumers on their own, so they’re fascinating to talk to both separately and together.

Alexis is a perfume historian, Gothic rock singer and painter as well as a working perfumer: when I first met her she was giving a talk on Marie Antoinette’s perfume preferences at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also teaches courses on perfumery and fine art at New York’s School of Visual Arts. Maria is also a painter, and she spent several years living in Japan, absorbing as much as she could of its geisha culture and studying incense ceremony, a rarefied sensual game of poetry and aroma. Both of them have a love of history, art and literature, though they express them differently: Alexis channels the Gothic Sci Fi Fantasy loud and clear, and Maria’s refined femininity brings things back to planet earth in a kinder, more beautiful place than their DUMBO loft environs would suggest.

Each has their own perfume line, and together they created House of Cherry Bomb, where they could combine their sensibilities. They’ve created indie favorites Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac, as well as a fragrance inspired by a 19th century vampire novel: Immortal Mine, whose night blooming flowers, ouds and resins create a darkly romantic atmosphere of longing, desire, and antiquity.

Maria and Alexis have opened up their studio for visits on Mondays and Fridays, from 1-6 pm, where you can meet with one or both of them, try and buy their perfumes (many of which are limited edition), and occasionally sample one of the secret liqueurs they concoct for their social events. In this video they tell me about how art and perfume combine, why natural essences aren’t always the best, and why you should come by on open studio Fridays:



So what are you waiting for? If you’re a perfume lover in NYC or planning a visit, definitely make plans to stop by:

Aroma M Atelier – 59 Jefferson Street #213, Brooklyn, NY.

Monday and Friday 1-6 pm and by appointment, email for more details.

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