On an overcast day in May, I’m sitting in a black SUV, driving up a winding road to a jaw-dropping cliffside Malibu mansion. I’m here to discover Louis Vuitton’s new fragrance, Pacific Chill, a scent inspired by L.A.’s wellness culture, and more specifically, fresh-pressed juice. (A beverage so ubiquitous in California, it might as well be a Diet Coke in 1985.) On the agenda: yogic breath-work, energy healing and a sound bath, all with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and plenty of celebrity sightings (it is L.A., after all).
Now, I’m a gal who loves a treat. Online shopping from bed? Yes, please. An iced latte a day? Of course. Bi-weekly mani-pedis? A fixed expense. But treatments that slide more to the holistic side of the scale? Not historically my thing. Despite my slight skepticism about the woo-woo I’m about to experience, I decide to dive in head-first. When in Malibu.
Louis Vuitton’s Pacific Chill is the fifth fragrance dedicated to California that master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud and artist Alex Israel, who designs the perfumes’ packaging and artwork, have collaborated on together. Its inspiration is a fresh juice composed of carrots, oranges and ginger that Cavallier Belletrud drank on the patio of the Beverly Hills Hotel, surrounded by the somewhat sour, verdant smell of blackcurrants. And so, Pacific Chill, a bright, citrus-forward scent that whispers summer with its sophisticated blend of carrot seed essence, blackcurrant, orange, mint, basil and apricot, was born. “Creation and inspiration in California is just like that,” Cavallier Belletrud told us.
Before entering the modern space for an afternoon of mindfulness, I’m offered a choice between Champagne and a juice the colour of a California sunset. I oscillate and choose the Champagne, wondering what this says about me. I walk through mirrored rooms with walls projecting swaying palm trees, the sound of waves crashing, and a plush rug underfoot meant to mimic soft sand. At a grassy area overlooking the ocean, a tall man in gauzy cream pants is sitting cross-legged. Yogi Cameron guides us through a meditative breath-work session, teaching techniques designed to keep you in the present. He asks us to think about how we’re feeling and what we want in life. I think about an iced latte and resist picking up my phone to order Uber Eats. Instead I practice deep breathing with the sounds of birds flying overhead and waves lapping the shore, while sneaking sips of the beautiful Champagne perched at my side. If this is how L.A. does wellness, I think I can get on board.
Eventually I swap my bubbles for a fresh juice that tastes a lot like how Pacific Chill smells — bright, fruity, herbaceous — en route to my private reiki session. I’m greeted by a gentleman in a beige tank top and wide-brimmed hat named Gabriel and, dear reader, the next 30 minutes of energy healing were nothing short of transformative. It’s true! I arrived in the Golden State as Jerry Seinfeld and left as Gwyneth Paltrow.
Gabriel explains that the thoughts we put out in the world gather “charge” and become more powerful. This is particularly true of negative thoughts. (Guilty.) (Is that a negative thought?) The energy clearing will help wipe out these thoughts and leave me with a clean slate. I lie on a massage bed, close my eyes and concentrate on my breathing as this gentle healer slowly clears my chakras — by the way, I say things like “chakra” now — using a firm yet tender touch. On the left side of my body, he holds my hand and places his other hand on my ribcage. I clutch his hand involuntarily and feel an unmistakable rush of emotion. When the session is over, I look at a monogrammed LV towel perched on a travertine wall while telling Gabriel about this overwhelming feeling, aware of this co-existence of luxury and wellness. He says he felt it too and that it was my solar plexus chakra, the one responsible for our sense of power and self-worth, and that he was clearing in that moment. He explains that perhaps, practical Taurus that I am, I’ve pushed some feelings to the side in order to “get on with life” and that those feelings are there, waiting to be healed. Gabriel, don’t make me cry before heading back to a function where Miranda Kerr, the face of Pacific Chill, is in attendance.
That night, I receive a follow-up email from Gabriel. “Reflecting upon our shared encounter, I am moved by a profound sense of gratitude. Your beautiful Taurus energy, grounded and resilient, like a sturdy tree standing tall amidst life’s varied seasons, was a privilege to connect with.” And here I thought I was coming to L.A. to smell Louis Vuitton Pacific Chill!
I leave California feeling like I finally get L.A. wellness culture. It’s not simply about militant mindfulness and $18 USD Hailey Bieber smoothies (turns out Cavallier Belletrud is a fan). It’s about putting yourself and your wellness first, while still enjoying the decadent pleasures of life, if that’s what you fancy. Champagne and green juice. Parfum and reiki. This self-indulgent and newly healed (!) Taurus wholeheartedly approves.
Back in Toronto, I spritz Pacific Chill and am instantly transported back to my healing session with angel Gabriel, and I feel content. After all, as Cavallier Belletrud told us, scents are supposed to make you happy. “When you choose a fragrance, you’re connecting with yourself,” he said. I decide I’m going to book another reiki session. It’s not cheap, but I’m worth it. Isn’t a commitment to wellness the ultimate luxury?
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