C California Style

Eric Buterbaugh and business partner Fabrice Croisé. PHOTO: LAURE JOLIET.

Petal Pushers

by C California Style

Eric Buterbaugh and Fabrice Croisé are creating the most exquisite floral fragrances, changing the landscape of the perfume industry in the process.

On paper, Eric Buterbaugh and Fabrice Croisé could not be more different. Buterbaugh (pronounced “booter-bah”) grew up in Oklahoma and landed a job at Versace in Dallas, which led to a director position in London before he traded in fashion for flowers: For the past 17 years, he’s been one of L.A.’s most in‑demand florists, operating out of a studio at the Four Seasons on Doheny Drive. Croisé, a dapper French-born former Lancôme executive, moved with his wife and four kids to Park City, Utah, from Chamonix, France, so they could be near the mountains, while he commutes back and forth from L.A. (Buterbaugh, in his Southern twang, succinctly describes himself and his partner as “Lazy Spice” and “Sporty Spice,” respectively.) But together they have forged common ground with the launch of a new perfume line, Eric Buterbaugh Florals.

“I always wanted a business partner. I wanted it to be like Giancarlo Giammetti and Valentino, where someone could take care of the business stuff and I could…” Buterbaugh searches for the right word when Croisé offers, “Where you could bloom.”

The pair met through Mike Jones, former CEO of MySpace, and within a few hours had developed the key concept of the brand: that it would be exclusively based on flowers—surprisingly, a unique idea in the niche perfume space, populated with the likes of Serge Lutens, Frédéric Malle, Kilian and Le Labo. In the past year, they have developed 10 fragrances with the world’s master noses, including Firmenich’s Alberto Morillas out of Geneva. Come June, violet, tuberose, orange blossom (in its later stage), lilac, jasmine, lavender, lily of the valley, hyacinth and rose (the flower for which Buterbaugh is famous) will be freshly bottled. The company’s growth potential is as infinite as the number of different botanical expressions, even within the same varietal. For example, the pair will launch with the note of a Provençal rose and plan to release a Bulgarian rose later in the year.

The subtle, gender-neutral scents are currently available through their website as the pair put the finishing touches on a jewel-box parfumerie set to open early this summer in West Hollywood. It’s a far cry from duty free: The duo stumbled across a midcentury bungalow on Beverly Boulevard and took it down to the studs. When it’s completed, the space will feature an art gallery (“There’s one criterion to do a show in the gallery: It must have something to do with flowers,” says Buterbaugh), offices and a parfumerie bar. The label’s heavy crystal bottles feature a touch application, instead of a spray nozzle, to preserve the integrity of their contents. Even the samples are special (drops are placed on ceramic tablets stamped with the brand crest, a crowned rooster).

Buterbaugh hopes the new digs, complete with a catering kitchen, will also provide a meeting ground for his international circle of friends—say for an intimate book signing or a 90-person dinner party in the private garden. House-made scented candles and collaborations with artists and fashion houses are in the works. And while Buterbaugh will maintain his business at the Four Seasons, he and Croisé will be at the parfumerie each day to help clients navigate and understand the complex notes.

Croisé, for example, encourages clients not to limit themselves to just one expression: “The orange blossom, which is very effervescent and light, is more for day, and the tuberose, which is a more assertive, opulent scent, would be for evening,” he says. Drought or no drought, here you can pick as many flowers as you’d like. Candles, from $70; fragrances, from $300; ebflorals.com

By Kelsey McKinnon.
Photographed by Laure Joliet.