Fragrance Vault 4000 South Lake Tahoe, California
Walking into the Fragrance Vault is like walking into history – shelves decorated with factices from every decade and brand, glass chandeliers welcoming you into a time filled with more glitz and glamour. The Fragrance Vault sits nestled underneath the Sierra Nevada mountains that surround Lake Tahoe, bathed in alpine sunsets in the summer, and pristine white snow in the winter. The owner, Jana Menard, is a true aficionado of perfumes vintage, rare, niche, and everything in between. It has had several homes in its 10 years, but the newest is tucked away in the back of the Village Center Lake Tahoe and is a space entirely of Jana’s creation.
Interior of Fragrance Vault 4000 South Lake Tahoe, California
After one location too small, and one location larger, but decked with purple carpets from the previous tenants, Jana’s new location was given to her in July of 2021, during the height of the pandemic. In the midst of building her online business, she found time to remodel the space from top to bottom. Now, with light, ashy wood floors, glossy gray cabinets lining the walls, and blown glass lamps surrounding the store, the space is truly a step into the past.
Meet Oliver, a Malumute Mix
Entering the Fragrance Vault, you are greeted first by this customized space, and second, by one of a variety of northern breed dogs. In her little spare time when she’s not running the brick & mortar store, packing online orders, and communicating with perfumers all over the world, Jana finds time to not only run a northern breed and wolfdog rescue, the Lupine Canine, but to be as much of a name in that community as she is in the world of perfume. Much of the Fragrance Vault’s profits go to funding this philanthropic venture – to keeping her dogs, the ones only she is qualified to take, fed, cared for, and living lives of absolute indulgence.
MendittoRosa Albatross, Orlo and Ithaka
Of course, for that to happen, Jana’s inventory has to be nothing short of impressive. Spanning from small, artisanal perfumers from across Europe and North America, like Les Indemodables, MendittoRosa, and Rogue Perfumery, to rare, vintage finds and Shalimar dating back a hundred years, to of course, the commercial classics of YSL, Dior, Chanel. Perhaps most striking about this collection of 10,000+ fragrances, however, is Jana’s ability to match any person that walks through the door to their “signature scent.” Not only does she know the scent profile of every single perfume in her shop, but she can find a scent on little more than a feeling that a customer wants to invoke.
One simple phone call or email to the store to set up an appointment, and people from all over the country are able to benefit from Jana’s expertise – from arranging flights of Chanel No. 5 from every decade, to introducing the perfume enthusiast to new brands not available anywhere else in North America. Of course, more casual visitors are welcome to walk through the front doors and explore and sniff to their heart’s content. For those not within driving distance, Jana’s website offers a similar experience. Customers can buy samples of nearly every vintage, rare, and niche offering in the store, delivered straight to their front door.
Fragrance Vault display (we spy the Ramon Monegal and Karl Topham’s favorite Ocean Oud)
There is no doubt that the Fragrance Vault is a unique find – a perfume “vault” of world class quality, tucked away in a small town in Lake Tahoe. This, perhaps, adds to its charm. It is so unexpected to see such elegance in a town best known for its winter sports offerings, and yet, backed by towering mountains and just a few minutes’ walk from the shores of the clearest lake in the United States, the Fragrance Vault is able to claim something that not many stores can: people are drawn in from all over the country to visit the store, with the vacation in Lake Tahoe little more than an added benefit.
Fragrance Vault is preparing for one of its biggest events ever: Scent Xplore, in Manhattan, on December 2nd and 3rd. Jana will be showcasing 13 of her most special niche lines, including Grossmith London, Les Indemodables, MendittoRosa, and Art de Parfum. If you’re not already planning on tuning in for this special event, it will almost certainly be worth it!
It’s Black Friday and Fragrance Vault has not forgotten – anyone who purchases a full bottle, online or in person, will receive a free 5ml decant from the same line. We are also proud to announce that Rogue Perfumery is now available in store and soon online
–Devina Stone, Guest Contributor
all photos courtesy of Fragrance Vault©