When he was a young boy, Michal Gilbert Lach dreamed of creating a signature perfume. As an adult, his career took him down the path of external beauty — starting out as a hair and makeup artist, becoming a salon owner and culminating in significant success as a clothing designer and founder of his own Warsaw-based fashion brand, BOHOBOCO.
With a pivot back to his childhood fantasy, Lach moved away from a purely visual articulation of his creative vision, resulting in the launch of one of the most exciting fragrance collections we've smelled in recent years. And the critics agree, with awards earned from the Fragrance Foundation UK, Vogue Beauty and Elle Style, to name a few.
We have so many questions about BOHOBOCO • PERFUME, and Michal Gilbert was kind enough to answer a select handful...
Q. When you were a young child, what caused you to want to create a signature scent? Was it something you became obsessed with or a fleeting fantasy?
A. It was my great childhood dream to create a perfume signed with my personality — which I managed to realize as an adult, and I am very happy about it. In the 90s, in gray Poland, where no one used perfume, I told my parents I wanted to create my own perfumes. Everyone laughed at me, and some thought something was wrong with me. I dreamt of perfumes signed with my surname because it was an escape from the gray reality; fragrances added colors to my life.
Q. You had a notable career as a clothing designer with BOHOBOCO before it became a fragrance brand. Why did you leave fashion after achieving success?
A. I left fashion because perfumes opened the door to an international career for me. In perfumes, I found the perfect way to communicate with the world in an olfactory way.
Perfumes gave me a space where I can fully realize myself. There is no madness or pace like in fashion. For a perfectionist like me who loves to release the perfect work, composing perfumes turned out to be the ideal space. I just fell in love with the world of perfumes!
Q. How would you describe the BOHOBOCO • PERFUME olfactory aesthetic, and what first inspired your approach?
A. Each of my perfumes is inspired by an experience important to me. I build a whole story around it as a narrative. The olfactory aesthetics of my perfumes are based on contrast, sometimes strange and uncommon combinations, playing with non-obvious ingredients.
Ingredients often are symbols of memories for me, they release emotions and take me back to those experiences. The aesthetics of BOHOBOCO • PERFUME is a combination of classic minimalism with power and modernity.
Q. We read that once you started in fragrance, you quickly fell in love with the process of perfumery. Can you describe this process?
A. I fell in love with this process because it is similar to painting. Just as a painter has a color palette at his disposal, which, by mixing, releases emotions, creates moods, and achieves unusual, completely unexpected shades, so it is with creating perfumes. A painter releases a painting when it is ready when he considers the work finished. In fashion, I didn't have such freedom; there were rigid frames.
As a perfectionist, for me quality and readiness are very important. The process is complex and indefinite in time; it starts from verbal-visual and emotional inspiration, which we transfer to a brief for the perfume house. Then the composition goes through a long phase of tests, designs, choices, refinements until we get the final result, in the form of a magical composition.
Q. BOHOBOCO scents are intended to be unisex. How do you define a unisex fragrance?
A. I would like to reverse this question, our perfumes are inclusive, it's more than unisex. The best way to convey what I mean is my claim:
BOHOBOCO • PERFUME is an extension of my soul. They tell a beautiful story of freedom, where gender orientation, skin color, faith, or interests do not matter. The fragrance does not impose rules, it allows entry into one's inner temple and discovering one's life path, enabling existence in harmony with oneself. Each bottle is a different story, inspiration, amazing experience, a wonderful way to communicate with the world. Perfumes allow for a complete narrative of oneself, for a dialogue on a non-verbal level.
Q. You've spoken of the idea that perfumes create an invisible energy that affects not just the senses but also the soul, and that it can be a way to find personal harmony. Please elaborate!
A. Perfumes operate in a metaphysical space. They cannot be seen or touched, only felt. They act on spheres close to spirituality, energy, consciousness development.
Remember, olfactory memory transports us to our memories, emotions, or experiences the fastest. Perfumes can add energy and awareness. People often tell me that they had identical experiences with our compositions that match my story; they can then process them in their own way, in the energetic and emotional sphere.
Q. Our customers are already going wild for Jasmine White Leather and Dark Vinyl Musk — how did you conceive of these fantastic, unusual combinations?
A. I am glad that customers are delighted with these compositions, and I hope they will also love the others. These perfumes are particularly close to me because I love them and often use them myself. I created them, as always, inspired by my personal experiences and emotions.
Dark Vinyl • Musk tells about my childhood memory of a vinyl record, but also about my work in the fashion industry, where I felt I was stuck in one place and spinning like a worn-out record. It is also a memory related to my mother, the room in the family home, incense, and a jazz record.
Jasmine • White Leather tells about my life journey, moving from Poland to the United States, it is a symbol of farewell to the snow, a new chapter in my life. And white leather is like parchment on which I will write a new script for my life. Jasmine is a flower that has the strength to break through the snow, symbolizing energy, power, strength, and the courage to grow.
Each composition is my way of communicating with the world, where each scent conveys my experiences, which I share in the hope that they will move the hearts and souls of the audience.
Q. Which one of your fragrances was the easiest to complete, and which was the hardest (what were the challenges)?
A. The most difficult are those compositions that I am still working on, which are not yet on the market. Each of them is a different story, a different process, a different length of creation, a different level of engagement.
Of those already on the market, Wet Cherry • Liquor was a very long and tedious process. I wanted to precisely recreate my memory associated with the cherry tree so that the composition would convey all my emotions related to that story. It was a fascinating journey where only the work counts. When the work is ready, I forget about the difficulties and am glad that it is already there.
Q. What are the top sellers in the collection so far, and why do you think they're the most popular?
A. Our timeless first composition, Vanilla • Black Pepper, from which everything started, is still our top seller, even though it has been on the market for 11 years. People loved this composition for the contrast of sweetness and piquancy. Similarly, with our bestseller Sea Salt • Caramel, which has been loved and adored by new customers since 2016.
Wet Cherry • Liquor, which continues to bring us the greatest fame and recognition in the world, is also hugely popular. In the USA, it is a definite icon in sales. I am pleased that every day there are many mentions of this magical composition around the world, which is the highest form of recognition for me.
Recently, there has been a lot of interest in Red Wine • Brown Sugar, especially in the Persian Gulf region. I am also pleased that Dark Vinyl • Musk is gaining more and more recognition, as
is the recent premiere of Eternal Lily • Amber and Jasmine • White Leather, which are also breaking through to the top. In my collection, there are many compositions that achieve great sales results and have become popular, which pleases me greatly because I create for people, not just for myself.
Q. What's your favorite positive thing someone has said about BOHOBOCO fragrances, and your favorite negative thing someone has said?
A. The favorite positive word I hear most often is 'Unique'. I thought long and hard about why it is so often said, and I came to the conclusion that it is because I create perfumes through my olfactory memory associated with Poland. Each country has its own scents, and since Poland is still perceived as quite exotic on a global scale, my compositions stand out against those created in France or Italy.
As for negative opinions, my favorite is the statement that my perfumes are too strong, too intense. For me, that's a compliment because I personally love intense and strong perfumes. If they are too strong for someone, it is a sign for me that I have achieved the intended effect.
I don't like the term that something is OK, that something is alright; that is not a compliment. I prefer clear and strong statements. Either you love or hate, kind of a love/hate approach. Our fragrances leave no one indifferent.
Q. Which BOHOBOCO fragrances are you wearing these days, and why?
A. Currently, I wear all the new compositions that we plan to introduce to the market. This is the main part of my work - I test, check, correct, and refine each of them. I love to test all on my own skin, not just for a moment but for whole days, to feel how these perfumes work with me and how their energy affects me.
There are compositions that I fall in love with right away, but there are also those that quickly lose their attractiveness. That's why I constantly test new things that we are working on, which are to appear in the coming years.
Sometimes I regret that I can't use different compositions from my collection more often, such as my Wild Carrot • Oud mixed with Wet Cherry • Liquor, or Olibanum • Gardenia mixed with Dark Vinyl • Musk and Red Wine • Brown Sugar. I love to mix different compositions depending on the mood, creating unconventional stories.
For special occasions, I choose different mixtures because I’m long gone from using only one composition. I mix at least three or four with each other, which allows me to create unique combinations.
Q. Anything new coming up that you can tell us about now?
A. We are working on many projects, but as the saying goes, plans and dreams should not be talked about too loudly until they are realized, so as not to jinx them. Therefore, I will not talk too detailed about our future ventures. However, I can reveal that we are intensively working on various new products. The nearest premiere of our perfumes is already planned for the end of January.
I quietly hope that all our plans will be realized and that 2024 will be full of fruitful, magical, and surprising moments for both me and the BOHOBOCO • PERFUME brand.
Q. What is the #1 thing you'd like to say to people who are new to BOHOBOCO • PERFUME?
A. I hope they will love the magic of my perfumes and become part of the olfactory family of BOHOBOCO • PERFUME.
Thanks, Michal Gilbert! We look forward to sharing the magic of BOHOBOCO • PERFUME with our community.