Posted on: January 29, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

I may be a beauty editor with an impressive collection of niche fragrances and indie perfumes, but I’ll be the first to admit that when posed with the question ‘what is your favourite fragrance brand?’, my answers are nothing but predictable. In fact, some of my most worn perfumes are from classic, heritage perfume brands such as Chanel and Penhaligon’s. I’m also admittedly obsessed with Phlur (like the rest of TikTok), and I’ve yet to meet a Byredo fragrance I haven’t fallen in love with.

However, that said, my favourite fragrances from these well-known brands are probably not the ones you’d expect, which is where my answer might verge a little more unconventional… While I love iconic brands like Diptyque and Maison Margiela, it’s their niche fragrances and not their bestsellers to which I’m most drawn.

You might wonder how a fragrance could be classed as niche when these brands are basically household names, but most people only really know a brand for their hero products. For example, Chanel and Dior are famous for Chanel No5 and Dior J’Adore, but both have entire ranges of ‘exclusive’ perfumes which can only be purchased from certain stores. Likewise, Maison Francis Kurkdjian has a lot more to offer than just Baccarat Rouge 540, and cult perfume brand Jo Malone has over a hundred scents to choose from beyond the obvious suspects of Pomegranate Noir and Lime Basil & Mandarin.

If you’re looking for a new scent that smells unique and not at all like anybody else (I’m looking at you Santal 33), keep scrolling to discover my favourite niche fragrances from the most famous perfume brands.

One of the fascinating things about Byredo perfumes is that you will read through the fragrance notes, think you know exactly what it will smell like, only to take a sniff and be totally (but pleasantly) surprised. Black Saffron is the kind of scent I would disregard on paper—it has notes of leather, grapefruit, raspberry, and violet—which makes me imagine it would be rich and boozy (not my cup of tea). However, the leather is subtle and smoky and the fruity notes are much fresher and crisper than you would imagine. Overall, it’s smooth, clean, expensive, and not to be overlooked.

Not only is this one of Byredo’s bestsellers but it’s also my favourite perfume of all time. I first wore this vibrant woody fragrance on holiday in Australia, so smelling it now always transports me back to hotter, sunnier climes.

Byredo’s spin on a classic floral is a real crowdpleaser. It sees notes of magnolia and violet paired with ambrette, sandalwood, and cedar, which gives it a warm, powdery base. 

Gypsy Water was the first Byredo fragrance I ever wore and I remember thinking ‘this brand is going to be huge’. It stars one of my favourite ingredients, juniper, supported by a cast of woody, aromatic notes like pine, sandalwood, bergamot, and pepper. The result is both sweet and woody, so it’s easy to see why Gypsy Water is such a hit.

Maison Margiela’s Replica perfumes are created to capture places and moments in time, and while rich and boozy scents like By the Fireplace and Jazz Club are especially popular, Springtime in a Park is the real hidden gem. The perfect floral for people who don’t think they like florals—it’s light, fresh, and musky, with a smooth powdery base.

A classic winter perfume and a Maison Margiela bestseller, By the Fireplace is truly addictive scent. It features some unusual notes—including cloves and chestnut—which add to its allure. 

Key notes: pink pepper, neroli, lemon, rum, clary sage, tobacco leaf and vanilla.

Phlur is a relative newcomer to the fragrance game (it only launched in 2022), but has already become a favourite amongst beauty editors and fragrance aficionados alike. Mood Ring is the latest launch from the brand, so it’s still fairly unknown, but in my opinion is certain to become a classic. With vibrant, fruit top notes of fruit gummies, dragonfruit, and orange flower, it certainly stands out more than the brand’s bestseller, Missing Person, but it still has a similarly warm, comforting base—thanks to notes of amber.

Missing Person is almost always sold out, thanks to its TikTok virality. This barely-there skin scent is warm, musky, and familiar. Founder, Chriselle Lim, created it to evoke the closeness of a loved one, while going through a painful break-up.

Key notes: bergamot, lemon, saffron, jasmine, sandalwood, amber and moss.

Dior have years of experience creating perfumes and is home to some of the world’s most iconic fragrances, but they also have an impressive collection of niche scents known as La Collection Privée. These ultra luxurious perfumes feature some of the world’s most unique and precious ingredients, so they’re far from conventional. I particularly love Gris Dior—it’s intensely woody, but with notes of citrus and moss which keep it fresh.

Chances are, when you think of Dior perfumes, you automatically think of J’Adore Dior. Working on fragrance counters as a student, this was my first introduction to the brand—and still a firm favourite.

A floral bouquet of iris, peony, lily-of-the-valley, and rose. This cult classic also has the fruity additions of peach and apricot, plus vanilla which lends it a warm sweetness once it settles on your skin.

A heritage perfume brand with a legacy of iconic scents, Penhaligon’s bestsellers are typically powerful stand-out fragrances which evoke times, places, and personalities. Personally, I’m more drawn to softer, subtle scents, which is why Juniper Sling is a favourite for me. Juniper is definitely the stand-out note in this perfume, but I also love the additions of pepper, vetiver, and cardamom. It’s quite crisp at first, but becomes sweeter and more mellow as it settles onto skin.

Ever since it first launched in 2015 Halfeti has been a crowdpleaser, and the fact that it’s now available as a hair mist, body oil, soap, body wash, and hand lotion, is testament to its popularity. This is definitely a perfume for those who like statement-making scents—it’s spicy and aromatic with a rich oud base.

Key notes: green tea, fennel, bergamot, licorice, myrrh, benzoin and vanilla.

Most people don’t know Maison Francis Kurkdjian beyond the brand’s most famous perfume, Baccarat Rouge 540. However, if you’re after something that smells equally as good (but that won’t put you at risk of smelling like everybody else), I’d urge you to try out Aqua Celestia. Although it has top notes of lime, mint, and blackcurrant, it’s impossible to identify any of them individually. Instead, they meld into a deliciously sweet, green scent which smells at first fresh, but then warms up on the skin thanks to its musky base.

If you’re at all invested in TikTok beauty trends then you’re no doubt familiar with Baccarat Rouge 540, a fragrance which to me, smells like expensive candyfloss. It’s deliciously sweet but simultaneously luxurious, and is one of the most long-lasting perfumes I’ve ever worn. Spray it on, and you’ll still be able to smell it on your skin 48 hours later. Well worth the hype.

Key notes: violet, rose, vanilla, amber and oud.

If you’re looking for a new Jo Malone scent, don’t worry, you’ve got plenty to choose from. The issue can be that when faced with such a wide array (there are well over 100), it can be hard to know where to start. However, if you’re after something unconventional, I’d highly recommend Earl Grey & Cucumber. Tea is an unusual fragrance note, which was what drew me to this perfume in the first place. Combined with fresh, watery cucumber and notes of bergamot, and jasmine, this is a beautiful, uplifting fragrance, which deserves just as much hype as Jo Malone’s bestsellers.

Lime Basil & Mandarin is a fragrance so iconic that countless cheaper perfume brands have attempted to dupe it—none of which, in my opinion, come close. To me, this is the perfect spring/summer morning scent. 

Key notes: pomegranate, rhubarb, plum, clove, pink pepper, musk and amber.

Vanilla and pepper are two notes that you don’t often see combined, and you might find yourself wondering if they really work… The answer is yes, they do. Simultaneously sweet and spicy, this addictive scent is warm and comforting. It’s impossible to draw comparisons between this and any other perfume, but if you’re after a truly unique scent, look no further.

Key notes: aldehydes, pink pepper, iris, Turkish rose, musk, sandalwood and leather.

Key notes: African orange flower, iris, tuberose, pink pepper and musk.

Chanel is another heritage fragrance brand with over a hundred years of experience in the perfume industry. Alongside their most classic scents, they also have a niche range, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, of which Le Lion is, in my opinion, one of the standout scents. Warm and aromatic, this perfume combines powerful notes of amber, leather, and patchouli with softer vanilla and bergamot. 

Possibly the most famous perfume in the world, ever? Chanel No5 needs no introduction but needless to say, between its iconic bottle, captivating scent, and legendary history, it’s a Chanel bestseller for good reason.

Key notes: orange, mandarin, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, patchouli and musk.

Serge Lutens isn’t (yet) a mainstream perfume brand, but if you’re in the know with fragrances, you’re probably familiar with these iconic bottles. After working for Dior and Shiseido, Lutens utilised his experience to launch his own collection in 2000–it now features an impressive lineup of over 50 fragrances. While I’ve always tended to avoid rose-based scents, La Fille de Berlin totally reinvents the classic floral note. The headiness of the rose is totally balanced out by fresh, green geranium and a base of honey, moss, and patchouli.

Key notes: orange blossom, jasmine and rose.

Key notes: incense, castoreum and musk.

After departing Jo Malone London, the perfumer created Jo Loves, a brand which has already become a favourite for fragrance obsessives. As in her (arguably) most famous creation, Lime Basil & Mandarin, in this fragrance Malone pairs a zesty citrus (orange) with an unconventional herbal note (coriander). Add black pepper and moss into the mix and you get an intoxicatingly aromatic perfume which is guaranteed to turn heads.

Key notes: vetiver, pomelo, patchouli and pomelo zest.

Key notes: grapefruit, lime and guaiac wood.

Le Labo’s fragrance collection includes a number of perfumes built around hero notes—my favourite of which is Labdanum 18, a musky, animalic amber created by famous perfumer Maurice Roucel. Others in the range include iris, patchouli, and oud.

Santal 33 is so popular that it’s almost infamously famous and has been been name dropped by the likes of Alexa Chung, Ryan Reynolds, and Justin Bieber. That said, I totally get the hype surround this milky, spicy, sandalwood blend—it’s warm, sensual, and alluring.

Le Labo’s take on a skin scent sees the iconic Iso E Super molecule (think woody but skin-like) combined with pear, apple, amber, and jasmine.

This bright and zesty take on Marc Jacobs’ bestseller is perfect for spring and summer. It features the same classic floral heart notes, topped off with bright, citrusy ones.

The original Dairy is a light, powdery floral with nots of violet, gardenia, and jasmine, and a warm, musky base.

Perfect is more green and woody than the Daisy fragrances. At the same time, it’s quite mellow and creamy—it’s easy to wear and suits just about everyone.

This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

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