I love a fragrance that is floral and fresh. It has to be natural and subtle, not cloying or overly sweet, the kind of way flowers really smell when you’re outside in the sunshine with them. I own three extraordinary niche/luxury fragrances by Diptyque, Serge Lutens and Byredo. I wanted to talk about them because they really are something special, and if your preferences fit the description I just gave, I think you’ll love them too. The right fragrance can lift your mood and make you feel amazing even when you’re squeezing onto the Jubilee Line at 7am on a Monday. Fragrances are extremely personal and the right one can transform you, but it’s so hard to find ‘your scent’ with all the choice out there. I’ve also given some advice about how to make the right choice at the bottom of this post.
Inflorescence by Byredo is the least subtle member of my collection, because it’s inspired by the intensity of spring flowers; the first blooms of the year, filling gardens with their fragrance. I love its bold, complex notes of freesia, lily, rose and jasmine. I think that Inflorescence is the best fragrance Byredo have created, I find their others smell a bit run-of-the-mill, could be by anyone. Inflorescence smells like nothing else. It’s phenomenally complex, intoxicating, heady, but fresh and uplifting at the same time.
Serge Lutens Fleurs d’oranger is still my favourite of all time, so fresh and sweet, with orange blossom (obviously), jasmine and tuberose to round out the floral side, and citrus to give it a lift. This fragrance is regarded as a masterpiece by some and isn’t hard to see why – not only is it without question the best orange blossom scent that’s ever been created, few fragrances are this upliftingly fresh whilst also retaining a gorgeously sweet, lush, summer feeling. Although I adore the other two and thoroughly enjoy wearing them, this one is ‘my scent’, and I get the compliments to prove it, too!
Finally, Philosykos by Diptyque is inspired by the scent of the leaves and fruit of the fig tree under the hot Greek sun. It is peppery and fruity, really unusual, but intoxicating. There’s freshness from fig leaves, sweetness from the fruit, and even woody notes from fig tree sap; extraordinarily well balanced, and ‘figgy’ to the core. This was the first premium fragrance I ever bought and I still absolutely adore it; but I’ve actually given it to my boyfriend to wear so I can still smell it whilst wearing my others. It suits him down to the ground and lasts all day on his skin. Diptyque fragrances are also all unisex, although I don’t buy into such nonsense …it’s a smell, as long as it suits you and you love it, just wear it!
Buying niche and luxury fragrances
I know that these aren’t cheap (trust me, I KNOW), but I really do think fragrances are something worth investing in (I have genuinely spent a total of £330 on these three over the years). There is some absolute shite out there in the fragrance world, with so many lazily designed, recycled ideas, so much overpricing, so many cheap formulations and imitations. These three fragrances are the best of the best in terms of quality, uniqueness and artistry, but I didn’t just trip and fall on them, I had to look.
The first step is obviously to find out what you like. I began this by spending an long time in Liberty’s fragrance section a few years back smelling everything, thinking about what I liked and I didn’t. Both of my grandmothers and my mum had awesome fragrance collections, so I was already firm on some likes and dislikes, and I had been given a few mass market perfumes as gifts in my teens (Clinique/Chanel etc), but it was good (and fun!) to have a look for myself, without necessarily looking to buy. Whenever I smell something I love, I douse myself in it and leave the store. If I’m in the right place financially to potentially invest, I go back three or four more different times and spray it again. As a result of freebie hunters, you might find a lot of resistance when you ask for a sample (I bloody do, is it just me?) although with the rise in online shopping I think it’s getting easier. If you can get a sample, do that instead, but if not, and you truly love a scent, keep going back until you either don’t like it anymore, or you cannot stop thinking about it. Then it’s time to think about buying. You don’t have to buy from somewhere like Liberty, and it is possible to get luxury fragrances on sitewide sales like on Feelunique. But you’ll struggle to do that with niche fragrances, which is why it’s so important to make sure you are head over heels in love with it before you buy.