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Is this the Tom Ford of indie perfumes?

ellis_brooklyn_verb_pseudonymBeauty writer Bee Shapiro was on a mission. Testing product after product for the New York Times, she wanted to find an ultra-clean fragrance that was also ultra-wearable, day or night—a high-end scent that didn’t feel contrived or like it was trying too hard.

She was looking for the Tom Ford, the Diptyque, of indie perfumes. Soon the hunt propelled her into a new career: perfumer. And Ellis Brooklyn was born.

To design the “98 percent natural” scents, Shapiro enlisted Jerome Epinette, the master perfumer behind Byredo’s cult fragrances. “I didn’t show up with tons of ideas,” recalls Shapiro. “We just had a conversation.” Her requirements? “I wanted really high-end scents but nothing too weird.”

With years as a beauty writer informing her decisions, Shapiro (a self-described “fragrance obsessive”) had specific requirements for the delivery system, too. “If you read tips on how to make your fragrance last, the first thing everyone says is to put body oil or lotion on first and spray the perfume over it,” she explains. “I just decided to cut out the extra step.”

ellis_brooklyn_ravenSo, instead of a traditional spray, all of Ellis’ fragrances come in the form of body milks. The result: The scent absorbs better and stays on your skin longer. “In the end, it was a very personal decision, because that’s how I use fragrance,” she says.

The collection began with just two fragrances: Verb, a bright mix of bergamot and green notes and Pseudonym, a warm, complex combination of fig and earthy sandalwood and tonka bean. This month, two more—Fable, an elegant orange blossom and petitgrain mix, and Raven, a sexy patchouli and peony blend that Shapiro calls her current favorite—will hit the market.

Up next? “We’re working on candles,” Shapiro says. “But, as with all of our packaging and products, we want them to be sustainable, so we’re still working on the wax formula.”

For now, you can find her body milks online at or Shen Beauty in Brooklyn. And at $55 a bottle, they’re certainly more affordable than most other luxury fragrances on the market. Plus, when you run through the fragrance, the gorgeous bottle doubles as a pretty flower vase or shelf ornament. The very definition of green beauty. —Victoria Lewis

For more information, visit

(Photos: Ellis Brooklyn)