Floral artist and perfumer Eric Buterbaugh did the flowers for Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party in 2006. “I’ve known them since they were girls,” he says of Beatrice and her younger sister, Princess Eugenie, daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York, Prince Andrew and the former Sarah Ferguson. “They’re both lovely.”
Buterbaugh also did the flowers for actress Salma Hayek’s Venetian wedding.
So when he says he has a story about Elizabeth Taylor he’s never told anyone before, we lean in.
The earthy, compassionate Taylor — whom he says was “a broad in the best sense of the word,” one who “could get anyone to do anything” — was also one of the first celebrities to create her own fragrances, including White Diamonds, launched with Elizabeth Arden in 1991. Buterbaugh was with her when the first shipment arrived and she began spritzing everything — and, presumably, everyone. He found the results less than nose-worthy. “It was so awful,” he says of the fragrance, although he notes that “fragrance is such a personal thing.”
Buterbaugh is like that — honest, as warm as his pale pink cowboy boots and the gold rings he sports on every finger and passionate about scents. Indeed, they have been important to him from the moment he lined up Polo by Ralph Lauren, ck one by Calvin Klein and other fragrances on his bureau in Oklahoma where he grew up. So it’s no surprise that he should become not only a floral artist but a perfumer as well, working with fragrance industry expert Fabrice Croisé, fragrance powerhouse Firmenich and what he calls master “noses” to produce EB Florals by Eric Buterbaugh.
The 19 fragrances, along with candles in six fragrances, that make up EB Florals would seem to be contradictions in terms. Like fine wines, they’re complex creatures with fruity top notes and woodsy base notes. What makes these unisex scents special, Buterbaugh says, are the ingredients. Many perfume brands use a lot of chemicals. “Our brand,” he says “is one of the purest.”
Indeed, there is a filigree delicacy to these fragrances that gently invites the nostrils to explore their essence. Take Velvet Lavender, which he happens to be wearing as we talk just off of the airy, lucent new Beauty floor on the lower level of the Main Shop that anchors The Saks Shops at Greenwich. Do we detect some bergamot, apricot, sage, sandalwood and, lavender’s frequent companion, vanilla? We do but, in the end, it’s all lavender.
Buterbaugh wasn’t always a perfumer or a floral designer. He began his career in the fashion industry with Versace in London. Those were the days of the supermodels, the Naomis and Christys. It was a heady time, but Buterbaugh, a chatty charmer, didn’t like the fashion world’s bitchy atmosphere and so relocated to Los Angeles in 1998. His floral designs for a friend’s event netted him more requests, giving birth to Eric Buterbaugh Flower Design. As the designer in residence for the Four Seasons in L.A., he created arrangements that spanned the movie industry, the fashion world and nonprofits. Two years ago, he moved to a stand-alone space on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.
But the flower shop, he says, was always a way into the perfume business, which launched in 2015.
Today there is a perfumery and garden on Beverly Boulevard as well as a gallery for emerging and established artists whose work explores flowers and scents. Some of Buterbaugh’s scents play on his signature love of roses. But though he’s known as “the king of the roses,” he says that if he had to go with just one bloom, it would
be the peony.
“Peonies are pretty amazing,” says Buterbaugh, whose scents include HRH Peony. “I love that salmon pink that opens to yellow.
“You just stop and look in amazement at how nature can make something so beautiful.”