Making scents: Robert Gerstner and Miguel Briceno, at the Giambattista Valli show. Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Something new caught our eye while perusing the credits at the threeASFOUR and Chris Benz shows this Fashion Week: a "Room Fragrance" credit. A few delicate sniffs confirmed it. There was indeed a subtle but pleasing aroma in the air. The credits indicated that Aedes de Venustas, New York's sensual West Village shop known for its superb selection of fragrances, was responsible.

"We've done it for threeASFOUR several times, but this was our first time working with Chris Benz," Aedes owner, Robert Gerstner, informed StyleList. "It's subtle and almost a subconscious thing; it's really to put the showgoers in a particular mood or frame of mind."

Sounds a little like brainwashing to us! But it's a common practice in retail and food service; even trade show booths are often scented. And the custom is gaining popularity with the fashion set. Gerstner has also worked with Bill Blass, Giorgio Armani and Giambatista Valli.

How does it work? "We usually meet with the client and they give us a short brief on their collection and inspirations," Gerstner said. He then goes to work preselecting several appropriate scents for the designer to choose from. The final outcome varies. Sometimes it's a single note, or it can be a bouquet of several fragrances.

Then what? We pictured a modern scent-distributing gizmo working some high-tech magic at the corners of the tents, but no, Gerstner said, "We do it in a very old-fashioned way. A few people walk around the space spraying the scent for about 15 minutes at a time." They repeat the process every 10 minutes or so for a few hours before the show starts. The alcohol in the fragrance vaporizes, the pure scent naturally rises up, and the hot house lights intensify it.

When the doors open and guests pour in, they're hit with a subtle aroma, which serves as an instant mood modifier and (hopefully) enhances their experiencing the collection. There you have it, designers: one more way to help the chips fall in your favor.

Meanwhile, check out Oscar-nominated actress Natalie Portman in the new Miss Dior Chérie commercial.