Back In 2019, I was traveling to London to style a cover shoot when I had a run-in with customs officers at the airport. Sans any check-in luggage, I had chucked a 6.8oz bottle of Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 in my carry-on. I slid through the first baggage check, but at the second one at the gate, the officer somehow unearthed the perfume I had tucked under a pile of sweaters, and confiscated the bottle. Pleading that the bottle was clearly more than half empty, and hence less than the limit, did nothing; asking if I could pick it up when I got back to Kuala Lumpur elicited a snicker from the officer. I’m sure his wife loved the perfume. It was a hefty investment (at around $600!) and, ergo, I simmered with resentment and regret for hours after, for losing a huge bottle of a fragrance I so coveted.
It also got me thinking about a travel-friendly hole in the fragrance industry that needs to be addressed—not mini bottles that consumers would have to buy in addition to their usual perfume, which are not always available anyway—but a fragrance already in light packaging that can go anywhere with you.
Abby Wallach and Caroline Fabrigas, co-founders of Scentinvent Technologies, are answering this call by doing away with the old idea of perfume. The beauty-reinventing duo recently launched Sparti Scents—fragrance sticks that are super portable, have skincare benefits and don’t cost a bomb.
“We thought beyond bottled perfume, that it would be wonderful to have something that could be pocket-ready, easy to apply and affordable,” says Fabrigas. “And at the same time a fine fragrance that is non-alcoholic, clean, and inspires joy and fun.” Wallach says the S in Sparti stands for scent and self—think, a scent party that celebrates everything olfactory and new beauty tech, targeted at the younger crowd who would rather have a wardrobe of fragrance than commit to one or two bottles.
Currently available in three scents and in two sizes (priced at $28 and $14.97 for the mini), the twistable sticks are reminiscent of NARS’ Orgasm blush sticks. Perfumer Laurent le Guernec picked notes for each scent, each coded into color, mood elevation and emotional triggers. Spring Sparti, packing citrusy accords of mandarin and nectarine, softened by peony, musk and vanilla, in bright yellow, invokes an invigorating, fresh vibe. In an ambery-orange tone, Love Sparti’s combo of patchouli, lavender and woody notes imbue comfort, kindness and self-care. Dark purple screams owning your stuff, being confident and bold, embodied within Dance Sparti’s musk, amber and sandalwood scent. I’m slathering Dance Sparti on my wrist as I write this; the scent bursts through once the cap is opened, and the intense concentration of the fragrance makes it smell just as luxe as bottled perfume.
While solid perfumes aren’t new, Sparti is taking the concept to a whole new level. Fabrigas says the tech behind the sticks is brand new and theirs alone. “We wanted to reinvent the idea of solid perfumes—traditionally they are a bit waxy and oily, they don’t always hold the fragrance for a long period of time,” she elaborates. “So we went to our chemist and we created an unusual substrate that can not only hold a high load of fragrance, making it like a perfume, but it could also hold color and be put on a stick, making it very portable.”
Also, unlike a normal perfume, where you spritz it on, wait for the alcohol to dissipate, and the scent dries down to the base notes over the day, Sparti sticks don’t dry down. “I feel we’ve created a new category—something in between eau de parfum and eau de toilette,” explains Wallach. “It’s not a perfume, but it has this wonderful concentration, not diluted with alcohol, and an instant, immediate release when you put it on.”
Wallach adds that alcohol in most perfumes can be very drying, especially when sprayed onto mature skin or delicate areas like the wrist and neck. On top of being alcohol-free, the sticks pack a tour de force of skincare ingredients. “We’ve covered every base imaginable in one little stick,” says Fabrigas. “Green tea is an antioxidant, chamomile extract which is soothing to the skin, and there are also moisturizing agents.”
After years of investigation and curation—from poring over a database of fragrance to conducting focus groups of Hollywood A-listers and beauty and fashion industry insiders—Wallach and Fabrigas have unleashed something truly nouveau. “We see Sparti becoming all the rage. It’s blowing up,” Wallach surmises. “Like a perfume high we could all use!”