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Brianna Lipovsky, Founder of Maison d'Etto, Reveals the Secret to Making Rich, Complex, and Animalistic Fragrances

Portrait by Dora Somosi. All images courtesy of Maison d'Etto.

When Brianna Lipovsky founded Maison d’Etto, her line of artisanal and genderless fragrances, in 2019, it became a creative outlet—for her passion for personal connection, intimacy, and above all, horses. The brand features a range of complex, elusive, and evocative fragrances available as both candles and perfumes. Each one is inspired by one horse that—either during the gradual blossoming of a relationship, or during one tranquil afternoon—brought Lipovsky in touch with her passions. “They tell olfactive stories about a moment in time,” she says over Zoom from her home in Miami Beach, the signature glow of a Maison d’Etto candle undulating behind her. “And they express a desire for connection—to self, to nature, to others.”

This December, to mark the arrival of the holiday season—a time of warmth and a celebration of the senses—Lipovsky has tapped Los Angeles-based digital artist Petra Cortright to design a limited-edition wrapping paper to accompany holiday purchases over $90. As a digital artist, Cortright's practice centers on the merging of multiple images through a complex layering technique, producing works that are at once figurative and abstract, celestial and contemporary. Her work, which can be found in the permanent collections of illustrious institutions including the MoMA, the Péréz Art Museum, LACMA, and the Hammer Museum, is distinct for its immersive, world-building qualities. For this collaboration, Cortright took the horse—Maison d'Etto's forever muse—as her central concept, folding together countless images of Noisette, one of Lipovsky's most treasured equine companions, to create an arresting work of functional art. The final piece possesses the unknowable and eerily familiar quality that has become the Los Angeles-based artist's calling card.

Just in time for the holidays, and to celebrate Maison d’Etto’s exciting new creative collaboration with Cortright, Lipovsky sat down with CULTURED to share the stories behind her favorite winter-friendly Maison d’Etto fragrances—an array of timeless olfactory adventures perfect for the gifting season.



“The Rotano candle smells like a dirty, glorious horse farm. It’s a leathery, dusty, woody, fragrance, inspired by the horse Rotano who I rode one day outside of Palm Beach at four o'clock in the afternoon. It has stallion sweat in it. Our perfumer, Carlos Benaïm, and his lab techs followed a freshly exercised horse around the space, capturing the scent coming off of him. They copied its molecular structure and composed an accord around it to create this very deep, animalistic, sweaty, hairy smell.

There was cedar wood lining the sand-filled arena where I was riding. Those notes are in the fragrance. There were also these beautiful cotton-candy clouds in the sky, and a beautiful breeze coming off the ocean; you could taste salt in the air. So we added an oceanic note to mimic that.

Carlos came and smelled all these different saddles—from a hot, sweaty saddle that just came off of a horse to a dusty, dirty saddle. He added an accord that evokes a freshly cleaned [saddle] with a light layer of dust settling onto it. Rotano is one of my favorites to burn. It brings that old world feel in a chic, sophisticated way.”



“This is another one that I burn throughout the fall and winter. This candle is about freedom, drive, passion, and letting the cards fall where they may. It’s about letting the universe surprise you and being absolutely spellbound by everything that happens around you. It's a very uplifting scent: tuberose, neroli, oud wood. You’ve got the floral, but you also have the wood, which makes it rich, creamy, and luxurious.

It’s more of a sensual fragrance. People described this horse, Canaan, as a sexy little Maserati. So you've got this hot, fiery, sexy, mystical, charming personality. This scent is also inspired by all the things I was going through in my life at that time. I reached a point in my career in New York where I was like, I wanna do something for myself. I quit my job and I moved my family to South Florida for six months so that I could clear my head, and figure out what was next. From from this experience, Maison d’Etto was born.”



“Of course, there is Macanudo. This one was inspired by a horse my daughter rode. While my husband was playing polo, the trainer would let us play with this mare, we’d give her treats and baths. Zoe [my daughter] fell in love with her. From this experience, we created the scent of polo and family. The same way that Carlos picked up textures from the arena to create Rotano, Mackenzie Reilly, the incredible young American female perfumer who made this scent, picked up textures from the polo field. Bergamot and citrus conjure sunshine and brightness. There’s grass, earth, hay, and vetiver.”



“So Durban Jane is my heart and soul horse. The scent is so yummy—it’s our bestseller. It’s got Orris, ambrette, sandalwood, leather, and a little pink pepper on top. Durban Jane never had a home—he was difficult and he changed hands a number of times, so he was a very anxious horse. I rode him in the fall along the Appalachian trail in the Northeast, when leaves covered the ground.

When hikers would walk by on these crispy leaves, it would terrify him. It became this cycle—he’d be on edge, I’d be on edge. After enough time riding together, a day came when the hikers crunched the leaves—he didn't freak out, and I didn't freak out, and the sun was shining, and things just clicked. The fragrance is my love letter to him and his permanent home. The scent envelops you, like a big cashmere blanket. It’s the comfort of being told, you've got this."