Fragrance Notes to Follow for 2024 (& how to get ahead of the trend)

January is a time the fragrance industry looks forward to new trends ahead of the spring and summer scent launches, and we’re fascinated by how many are following on from last year’s huge hits (and offering new twists on previous perfumery themes). Which of these do you think you’ll be most interested to try this year, we wonder? Whichever you are drawn to, we’ve also some insider-tips on the scents to wear right now to get ahead of the game…

 

 

Cherry:

Ripe and luscious, evoking carefree youthfulness and innocence via cherry lollipops and desserts or the high-shine glam of cherry lipgloss vibes, the cherry crop keeps coming for 2024. Expect to see cherry combined with contrasting notes to cut through the sweetness – such as sharp citrus or even sizzling spices and dark woods or tobacco – and combined with fluffy, creamy and sweeter ingredients to lean into the gourmand aspect of this trend.

Get Ahead of the Trend With…

 

 

Creed Carmina

Modernity is infused with charismatic elegance in this succulent scent, with rich black cherry’s piquant ripeness rippling throughout. Rose de mai and cashmere wood are joined by the succulent seductiveness of black cherry, pops of pink pepper and a richly resinous base of precious myrrh, frankincense and ambroxan; and the saffron tingles from first spritz to the lasting trail, we found. A passionate fragrance to add extra lipgloss while wearing.

(Try a sample in the Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box – 14 x samples £19 for VIPS / £23 RRP)

 

 

 

Peach:

As we reported in our Pantone Colour of the Year feature, 2024 is all about the tone of ‘Peach Fuzz’ colour trend, and we’re noting some similarly peachy fragrances in store. Succulent yet nurturing, peach can be velvety (like the soft caress of the peach’s fuzzy skin) or dripping with realistic juiciness for an instant drench of ripely refreshing notes. Peach makes us think of softness, comfort, a slightly retro scent that plays so well with florals, gentle spices, and fluffy musks.

Get Ahead of the Trend With…

 

 

Sarah Baker Bascule

Succulent peach juice sizzles on hot leather, tobacco gently smoulders amidst hay while a hint of saddle-soap, lily of the valley and cut grass are contrastingly clean. Certainly not your average peach, it retains immense nostalgia while proudly remaining rambunctious and rebellious in spirit. You could swear at time this was a vintage scent, and yet it’s so brilliantly modern. We know many who’ve long been under the spell of Bascule, and suggest you saddle up this peach pronto!

£95 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Pear:

Though pear has been sniffed in several notable launches already, it’s not gained as much olfaction-traction as the mega-trending cherry thus far. For a still nostalgic yet perhaps slightly more grown-up take on the fruity vibe, we’re looking forward to pear paired with [sorry, we had to] honey, woods and even floral notes for a fun yet still sophisticated scent. Used in citrus-fresh summer scents or adding juice to warmer autumnal fragrances, it’s a year-round

Get Ahead of the Trend With…

 

 

EAU.MG Flor Funk

Dripping with the kind of cool nonchalance we all aspire to, there’s something super happy-making about this scent that feels radiant and filled with a scented sashay. The trend of pear is up first, bursting from the top notes and then drizzling down through heady orange blossom, to nestle within the mossy chic of the sandalwood-swathed dry down. Such a delight to wear as it travels from fresh to funky, we say get your glad rags on and show them how it’s done.

(Try the sample in our Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box – 14 x samples £19 for VIPS / £23 RRP)

 

 

Vanilla:

This was THE major trend of last year, and it’s another predicted to continue apace all through 2024. Having seen brand new vanilla extractions become available for perfumers, which are far less sweet and sugary than previous evocations, we expect to see more interesting and innovative takes on vanilla. From the super soft yet sensual ‘skin scents’ trend (see below), to the contemporary twists and indulgent nostalgic takes, they’re sure to be deliciously addictive.

Get Ahead of the Trend With…

 

Parfums de Marly Althaïr

Vanilla naysayer? You’re going to need to try it to believe us, but oh wow this is a MUST have. Swoony Bourbon vanilla (deliciously dark, decadently delicious) will be to blame for your new addiction, generously swirled through tobacco smoke rings, which seduces orange blossoms to embrace praline, convinces sparkling citrus to kiss sizzling spices and swathes guaiac wood in butter-soft leather. Go on, we dare you to succumb….

(Try a sample of Althaïr in the Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box – 14 x samples £19 for VIPS / £23 RRP)

 

 

 

Skin Scents:

In the past we’ve seen so many ‘your skin but better’ fragrances, which offer the feeling of being wrapped in the arm of someone you love, or smelling clean, neutral, fresh from he shower or like white cotton bedlinen. Now, we’re noting the trend is for more sensual come-hither skin scents, where the muskiness is ramped up and the suggestion is more of the skin-against-skin caress kind, which can also be layered. Still ultra-soothing, but radiating self-confidence? Sign us up!

Get Ahead of the Trend With… 

 

4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO)

Beginning life as a bespoke fragrance for a VIP event, with a journalist declaring it to be ‘the sexiest scent ever!’ Thus, a star fragrance was born. Hints of citrus, smooth vanilla, soft woodiness and gorgeously musky ambergris form an unassuming but utterly addictive blend that will have you sniffing your wrist (or nuzzling closer to someone special) all day.

£65 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Tea:

Although tea has been a popular ingredient for many years, we’ll see many major and niche fragrance launches this year really showcasing tea as the main inspiration. Why might that be? Apart from the fact this note is wonderfully versatile – it can be green and refreshing, smoky, herbaceously soothing and floral in character; the tea trend is part of the bigger trend for comforting fragrances combined with uplifting and soul-reviving properties (which we all need, more than ever…)

Get Ahead of the Trend with…

 

BDK Parfums Gris Charnel Extrait

An intensified version of the original, patchouli has been invited to the party, a seamless ripple of noir that nuzzles at the silkiness of sandalwood and nutty tonka in the base. Cool cardamom slinks throughout, combined with smoky black tea, Bourbon vetiver, a lick of fig milk and dusting of orris. Wearing this, we know those who’ve been followed around supermarkets, begged to reveal their addictive scent.

 £220 for 100ml extrait de parfum

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Pantone Colour of the Year 2024: Peach Fuzz (+ peachy-perfect perfumes to match!)

Since 2000, the colour-trend makers and shapers, Pantone, have announced their ‘colour of the year’ – thereby triggering an explosion of that tone across fashion, art and design initiatives in all categories. And, of course, that includes fragrance trends, too. For 2024 the colour has been announced as ‘Peach Fuzz‘ – so yes, indeed, this marries perfectly with some of the scent trends we’ve already seen emerging for the year ahead.

 

Here, we explore why peach is THE colour we’ll all be seeing – and matching it with the most perfectly peachy scents we know so far (with, we suspect, many more peachy perfumes to arrive in the coming months!)

 

 

Pantone Says: ‘Subtly sensual, PANTONE 13-1023 Peach Fuzz is a heartfelt peach hue bringing a feeling of kindness and tenderness, communicating a message of caring and sharing, community and collaboration. A warm and cozy shade highlighting our desire for togetherness with others or for enjoying a moment of stillness and the feeling of sanctuary this creates, PANTONE 13-1023 Peach Fuzz presents a fresh approach to a new softness…’

 

 

 

Why was Peach Fuzz chosen for 2024?

And what does this colour say about how we’re feeling – what we need, right now? Pantone explains: ‘At a time of turmoil in many aspects of our lives, our need for nurturing, empathy and compassion grows ever stronger as does our imaginings of a more peaceful future. We are reminded that a vital part of living a full life is having the good health, stamina, and strength to enjoy it. That in a world which often emphasises productivity and external achievements, it is critical we recognise the importance of fostering our inner selves and find moments of respite, creativity, and human connection amid the hustle and bustle of modern life. As we navigate the present and build toward a new world, we are reevaluating what is important. Reframing how we want to live, we are expressing ourselves with greater intentionality and consideration. Recalibrating our priorities to align with our internal values, we are focusing on health and wellbeing, both mental and physical, and cherishing what’s special — the warmth and comfort of spending time with friends and family, or simply taking a moment of time to ourselves.

With that in mind, we wanted to turn to a colour that could focus on the importance of community and coming together with others. The colour we selected to be our Pantone Colour of the Year 2024 needed to express our desire to want to be close to those we love and the joy we get when allowing ourselves to tune into who we are and just savour a moment of quiet time alone. It needed to be a colour whose warm and welcoming embrace conveyed a message of compassion and empathy. One that was nurturing and whose cosy sensibility brought people together and elicited a feeling of tactility. One that reflected our feeling for days that seemed simpler but at the same time has been rephrased to display a more contemporary ambiance. One whose gentle lightness and airy presence lifts us into the future.’

 

 

How is peach used within perfumery?

It’s such a soft, fuzzy, sensual note. No wonder perfumers love it: peach almost gives the same velvety texture to a fragrance that you get from stroking the ripe fruit itself. Since the time of the early Arab perfumers, the flesh of peach and the kernels were used in scents and ointments.  Originally a native of China, peaches made their way to Europe after Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and brought back a botanical trophy, Prunus persica, then known as the ‘Persian apple’. The nectar-like aroma you smell in a ‘peach-y’ fragrance, though, may actually be a synthetic: aldehyde C14 (a.k.a. undecalactone) smells delectably peach-like and edible, and we defy most untrained noses to tell the difference.

 

Peachy Perfect Perfume Picks…

 

 

 

Lancôme TrésorCurrently from £52 for 30ml eau de parfum

A timeless classic, and a lusciously peachy scent that just seem to sing on the skin, Trésor is a love letter to seemingly effortless sophistication. The signature Lancôme rose shimmers with effervescent light, dancing across the fuzzy velvet of nuzzle-me-closer peach skins and apricot blossoms to a luminous heart of white flowers dusted with powder and a smooth, long-lasting trail of creamy musk. Simply divine, one you must seek out to try (for the first time, perhaps?) now!

 

 

 

SHAY_BLUE_WHITE_PEACHES_THE_PERFUME-SOCIETY

 

SHAY & BLUE White Peaches From £25 for 10ml eau de parfum

Forget the variety you might find in your fruit bowl – here, a floral delicacy exudes from the flesh of white peaches, swirled through with an elderflower granita for a freshness that feels like brightness and happy times, bottled. Shay & Blue excel at unique combinations, this one unusually grounded with a soft wintery wisp of silver birch for the woody base. It’s a refreshing sorbet of a scent to quench your thirst for something delightful to wear, no matter the weather.

 

 

 

Ulrich Lang Suncrest$185 for 100ml eau de parfum

The particular variety of peach here inspires the name, and is ultra-realistically evoked, literally like burying your nose in a bowl of perfectly ripe peaches fresh from the market, then tenderly stroking your face with the fuzzy, sun-warmed skin before sinking your teeth in and letting the juice trickle down your chin. Lucent jasmine and piquant blackcurrant slice the velvet and the creamy woodiness of the base feels like the giddy exhilaration just after laughing joyously. A triumph!

 

 

 

Memoize London Curatio£177 for 100ml eau de parfum

Fizzingly fresh orange and the exotic (almost banana-like) ylang ylang are cooly spiced with cardamom before the sweetness of the peach juice kicks in, like nectar for the soul. Love the scent as self-care message from Memoize, who say: ‘Sometimes, it is inherently clear what is needed: a comforting sweet embrace of oneself.’ The vanilla-rich dry down does, indeed, feel like a hug, being further buoyed aloft by rosy-tinged geranium and jasmine for added joie de vivre.

 

 

 

 

L’Artisan Parfumeur À Fleur de Pêche £170 for 100ml eau de parfum

Peach is beautifully embodied here by L’Artisan Parfumeur via a triptych of peach facets: the fuzziness of the skin, the lusciousness of peach flesh, and the almost almond-y stone within, which sits in the base alongside patchouli and tonka bean. Sweet, juicy, you’ll also encounter a twist of pepper, a dash of saltiness, from a note of Calone. A modern gourmand, if you like, it’s certainly very more-ish and you’ll be lusting for peaches whenever you wear it.

 

 

 

 

Tom Ford Bitter Peach From £180 for 30ml eau de partum

Don’t be put off by the name. (When did Mr. Ford ever let us down?) This is a welcome reminder of summer’s joys, luscious with Sicilian blood orange, the signature pêche de vigne (peaches on the vine) accord and a dash of cardamom in the opening, beckoning us towards a boozy afternoon with rum, cognac, davana oil and jasmine absolute, in time to enjoy a golden sunset moment with sandalwood, benzoin, vanilla, tonka and patchouli. *Happy sigh.*

 

 

 

Adscenture Secret Garden £60 for 30ml eau de parfum

Cascading sunlights tenderly caresses succulent peach swirled with coconut for an unashamedly happy-making scent that’s akin to diving nose-first through the pages of beautifully illustrated story book. Touches of sweetly delicious frangipani and vanilla-swirled sandalwood offer a warming path through amber-laden woods in the dry down. It’s as though the pastel colours of a peach’s portrait swish around you, inviting further exploration as they linger and lull.

 

 

 

Maison Margiela Replica Flower Market£57.91 for 30ml eau de toilette

Evoking the sensation of walking through a flower-market early in the morning, just after it’s rained; perhaps we purchase a dew-dappled peach from a stall as we pass through, marvelling at the silver pails of wondrous blooms surrounding us. A sense of snapped stalks and crumpled leaves amidst the floral notes, the ripe peach scent seeming to echo the warm blush spreading across the sky as daylight wins out and we suddenly remember warmer days ahead, and smile.

 

 

 

 

 

Guerlain Mitsouko £102 for 75ml eau de toilette

Of course I couldn’t go without mentioning THE reference peach-infused rapture that is Mitsouko. Inspired by the eponymous Japanese heroine of Claude Farrčre’s novel ‘La bataille’, and the passionate love triangle therein, this complex unfurling of cinnamon infused, milk-lapped plump peach skin nuzzles into a warm embrace of oakmoss that beguiles for hours. A classic that deserves to be in everyone’s collection, it’s a truly enduring romance with peach.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Coming Up Roses – the rise & rise of rose in contemporary perfumery

Roses are having such a fragrant resurgence: but why right now? Read on for our take on this rise (and rise) of rose perfumes we’ve seen launched lately – and our guide of which roses to wear right now…

There’s been a serious blooming of rose in perfumery the last couple of years – and we aren’t talking ‘chorus line’ rose notes, but fragrances which put rose front and centre in the scented spotlight, in an utterly modern style. Never have we seen so many new overtly rose-centric scents released in such a flurry, with Tom Ford and Jo Malone London launching whole collections of rose-themed perfumes, persuading us this is more than a passing fragrant fancy, and leading us to confidently declare: this is the Year of the Rose. Indeed, according to Google, rose is the most-searched fragrance ingredient in the past year, with over 50,000 searches each month.

 

 

 

 

There is, of course, an incredibly long tradition of using rose in perfumery – we’re talking millennia, not mere centuries. In his book Smell and the Ancient Senses (Ed. Mark Bradley, 2015), David Potter, the Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History at the University of Michigan, reminds us that by 116BC, ‘Roman aristocrats… were already treating roses as a cash crop.’ And you can read even more on the quite extraordinary history Romans had with the rose in our fragrant history section.

 

 

 

But meanwhile: why now this renewed desire for ultra-modern rose-powered perfumes?

Roses today in perfumery are a glorious quantum leap from those which gathered dust on dressing tables of old. In 2022, there is a rose fragrance for everyone, whether your leanings are towards easy-to-wear sun-filled scents or the more velvety, smoulderingly smoochy essences we’re reaching for now autumn’s here. And gender doesn’t come into it, either: many, many of the ‘new roses’ are gloriously shareable (we’re very glad to say!) and we urge all ages, all genders to dive into these particular rose perfumes with a fragrant abandon…

 

 

Molton Brown Rose Dunes EDP – Sultry desert air. £120 for 100ml eau de parfum Molton Brown

 

 

 

Atelier Materi Rose Ardoise – Urban petrichor pavements. £195 for 100ml eau de parfum Harvey Nichols

 

 

 

Manos Gerakinis Rose Poétique – Mysterious Sapphic jubilation. £165 for 100ml eau de parfum Shy Mimosa

 

 

 

Parfums de Marly Delina La Rosée – Aristocratically powdered passion. £200 for 75ml eau de parfum Selfridges

 

 

 

 

SANA_JARDIN_INCENSE_WATER

Sana Jardin Incense Water – Soothingly meditative meanderings. £95 for 50ml eau de parfum Sana Jardin

 

 

 

 

INITIO Atomic Rose – Rambunctiously robust eruptions. £215 for 90ml eau de parfum Fenwick

 

 

 

 

 

Narciso Rodriguez Musc Noir Rose for Her – Intimately addictive sensuality. £55 for 30ml eau de parfum The Perfume Shop

 

 

Electimuss Rhodanthe – Vibrantly voluptuous intoxication. £175 for 100ml extrait de parfum Electimuss

 

 

 

 

Parle Moi de Parfum Une Tonne de Roses / 8 – Frivolous olfactory festival. £98 for 50ml eau de parfum Les Senteurs

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Wild Rose – Daringly delicate gracefulness. £37 for 30ml eau de parfum Escentual

 

 

 

 

Obvious Une Rose – Sunshine-bathed captivation. £95 for 100ml eau de parfum Flannels

 

 

 

 

Moschino Toy Boy – Spicy leather shenanigans. £45 for 30ml eau de parfum Fragrance Direct

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

The Digital Future of Fragrance

In the just-published latest edition of The Scented Letter Magazine, we focus on The Future of Fragrance – a fascinating topic encompassing ingredient trends, design, technology and those people whose jobs bascially involve looking in to a crystal ball and working out what we’ll be wanting to smell like in the coming years.

One of the fragrance experts companies we’re regularly in touch with is CPL Aromas – a world-leading fragrance house whose focus is on innovation and creativity, forging the way fragrances smell with exclusive ingredients and fragrant design that eventually shapes what scents we choose to spray on our skin. In the Novel Ingredients feature, we explain several of their fascinating new notes – heading to your nose any day now! – but we’re also thrilled to share with you, here, the future predictions and insight of CPL UK’s Group Marketing Executive, Fomina Louis

”Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will.” Patrick Suskind in his 1985 novel, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Our digital world is soaked with moving pictures, words and sound. But scent, one of our most powerful senses from an emotional perspective, is often neglected by our online media. Whilst digital imagery uses just red, green and blue to create every other visible colour, it is considered far more complex to recreate a smell, since it doesn’t have the equivalent of “primary cartridges”. However, scent technology is making headway as the sense of smell seems to answer many of the demands of our present culture.

Enhancing uniqueness

Today we value sharing our personal experience with others around us, to claim our uniqueness. Often the consumer is presented with the possibility of ‘engineering’ individual moods for particular occasions or times of the day, in a similar way that a playlist would or making your own cup of coffee.

The answer to this in scent is a device made by the brand Cyrano. It is a scent speaker which uses a range of scent capsules to emit “playlists” of smells. Cyrano also allows users to create a mood melody and then send the combo to a friend through their app. The scent is paired with a video on the app so they travel through each scene: kind of like a scent-o-gram.

NOTA NOTA is another new concept of mixing perfume, a concept by which perfume becomes part of the user’s daily routine like coffee from a coffee machine, allowing the user to prepare and wear unique perfumes for every day, night, mood and event.

In terms of enhancing our experience, for theme park designers and filmmakers scent has long been another storytelling device, just like 3D or immersive audio. Amusement parks use scent projectors to evoke a sense that would otherwise be ignored. AR/VR developers are now investing in scent technologies. The advantage here is that to create a scent of “burning tyres” for a car racing video game, it’s not necessary to replicate every different note found in the odour of “burning tyres”, a heated rubber note along with smoky notes will be sufficient when the user sees a car racing in the VR headset at the same time the scent is released.

Subliminal Comfort

Over the last few decades, brands have used scent to give us something to associate them with, but also to make us feel at ease. We are always breathing; therefore, we are always smelling – but without us realising. The sense of smell is directly hardwired into our brain. We unconsciously use this information without awareness.

The brands doing it effectively are doing it without you realising. Take Nescafé, who have embedded the smell of ‘Nescafé coffee’ in their labels for decades, so you smell it off the shelf.

A similar tactic is also used by the London toyshop Hamleys, which pumps out the smell of piña colada during summer because it makes the parents linger longer. Smells can be distributed through a store as simply as with a fan, or via complete integration with an air-conditioning system. A lot of retail companies use this, and its purpose is to keep customers in the store, by creating this welcoming environment. And studies show that it works. It keeps people in the store longer, it helps people feel anchored in our personal space, making them feel comfortable with their shopping and in a lot of cases causing them to spend more money!

The Home & Nostalgia

Focusing on the sentimental values of individual customers is the new marketing mantra. Japanese device “Scentee Machina” is called the next generation smart room diffuser equipped with AI technology, allowing users to control the fragrance via smartphone. This diffuser can integrate with the users’ calendar to prepare the house when he or she comes home. The device has two parts; the top carries the fragrance oil and the base connects to the internet, meaning that the users can tailor the program and control it through their smartphones based on their personal preferences. And, as the world’s first olfactory alarm clock, SensorWake has the potential to revolutionise our morning experience by a smell of hot croissants or coffee rather than a loud beeping noise!

Recently at the creation site of IKEA, Sweden, Students from the Royal College of Art, London attended a 2-day workshop to find new ways to express scent in the different parts of the home. The group projected numerous ideas like framing memories by scent – using doorframes and window frames. “The swing of a door will create the smell” said the student “but it will also support the particular memory in the future when you remember entering the home”.

It’s clear that smell is always modulating our mood and experience and that product developers have ample technologies and techniques for leveraging the sense of smell. Some of those exist today, but even more exciting ones lay ahead!’

[This article first appeared in Forecast, the trend magazine published by CPL Aromas vol 16 / Autumn Winter 2018 2019.]

The Candy Perfume Boy’s Trend Report

There are many bloggers we admire at The Perfume Society, and occasionally, we like to feature some of our favourites to share with you here. Thomas Dunckley – a.k.a. The Candy Perfume Boy – is a longtime friend, award-winning writer and fellow contributor to The Scented Letter magazine. Along with a wealth of fragrance expertise he brings a completely refreshing and totally down-to-earth voice to the perfume world, offering his opinions and providing information in a way that’s not only accesible but makes us want to rush out and try all the things he’s mentioned.

And so, get ready to add to your ‘must sniff’ list, as we look back to the most interesting scent trends The Candy Perfume Boy saw in 2017. Which of these have you tried and loved, and which, we wonder, will continue to shape the face of fragrance throughout 2018…?

‘We’re officially in quarter four of 2017 and what a year it has been. By my count there has been at least 20 million fragrance launches this year, but I do have a tendency to exaggerate. In truth it has felt like a particularly busy year, with lots of behemoth launches from equally gigantic brands. I also think it has been a phenomenally good year for perfume and I’ve fallen in love with more than a handful of wonderful fragrances already. But this post is not a retrospective of the year – you can have that at the annual Candies (my fragrance awards) in December, no this is something a little bit different.

As we’re heading towards the end of this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap of the big perfume trends we’ve seen this year. I’ve certainly noticed a handful of key themes over the last 12 months and it’s kind of fascinating to look back at them at this point in the year. So in this post you will find four trends that have populated the perfume landscape in 2017. These are just my thoughts however, and I’d be more than happy to hear about any trends you’ve identified too!


Sandalwoods

Let’s kick off by talking about sandalwoods because if there is any material I’ve seen lots of this year, it’s sandalwood. I’m used to the note being treated as a gateway to the exotic, with spicy, creamy and warm facets that lead one to think of ambrée opulence. This year however, there seems to be somewhat of a shift in the olfactory lexicon of the sandalwood, with a much more minimalistic approach that sees the more intimate, softer and fresher sides of the material showcased in all their glory.

Firstly let’s take a look at Molecule 04 and Escentric 04 by Escentric Molecules, both of which showcase the sandalwood material Javanol. In Escentric 04, the traditional fragrance composition of the pair (rather than Molecule 04 which is simply Javanol in alcohol) we see a fresh, almost metallic sandalwood paired with grapefruit and cannabis to create a sharper tone. It’s a wonderfully fresh take on a note that hasn’t really known freshness before.

This year Juliette Has a Gun created Sunny Side Up, a sunny, beachy fragrance that did not focus on aquatics or florals and instead showcased a rather sexy sandalwood note. The presentation of the note was intimate, nutty and creamy, with a salty skin-like vibe that brought out the sexier vibes of sandalwood. There was even a delightfully rosy take on sandalwood from Comme des Garçons in the form of Concrete, which felt plush yet dry and smooth at the same time.

So sandalwood definitely has been the note of the year and I hope we’ll see more intriguing takes on it in the year to come.


Androgynous not Unisex

One trend that has really piqued my interest appears to be in its infancy. So far I’ve only noticed two fragrances that have done this, but I expect that we will see more over the next year. The trend is brands referring to their fragrances as ‘androgynous’ or ‘gender fluid’. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m all for removing gender labels on scents, because anyone can wear anything that they want to. I’m also a pretty liberal guy and I’m very much in support of gender identities that are non-binary or otherwise. So I see this all as a very good thing.

With the rise in discourse around gender identity it seems that brands are cottoning on to this and are using these terms to replace the description of unisex. Katy Perry described her latest fragrance, INDI, as being “androgynous” as opposed to unisex and Guerlain launched Lui with mention of gender fluidity in the press release and a description of a scent that is “not entirely feminine, nor truly masculine”. I’m totally here for this and hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to do away with gendered labels on fragrance entirely. Wishful thinking? Probably!


Decent Celebrity Scents

This trend technically started in 2016 with SJP Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker, but one scent does not a trend make – four however, do. A year or so ago there were numerous articles in the beauty press about how celebrity fragrances are dead and that consumers are no longer buying them. In that year next to no celebrities launched a new fragrance and with any kind of reality ‘star’ launching a scent, it really did feel as if we had reached ‘peak celebrity’ in terms of fragrance. Well now things are a little different and this year alone we have seen three celebrity launches that are far removed from the sickly sweet fruity florals that lead one reaching for the Gaviscon – these celebuscents are unique and actually rather good.

First off we have Shawn Mendes Signature from dreamy, put a poster of his face on your wall, singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes. Created for all of his fans, whether they be a boy or a girl, Shawn Mendes Signature is a well put together woody gourmand that feels as if it has been made with thought and links to the singer’s roots and personality. Then there’s Katy Perry’s INDI, an effortless woody musk that wears like a second skin, and finally we have Xyrena’s Scented by Willam (which I vow to review soon), a drag queen known for her acerbic wit and controversial appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Scented is really quite beautiful – a violet-tinged iris with woods and musk that channels shades of Tauer’s discontinued Pentachord White. Each of these celebrity fragrances is really good and it’s refreshing to see such care, attention and quality applied to fragrances which so often have simply been a cash cow to complete a celebrity’s brand.

It seems as if celebrities now know that they have to work a little bit harder to sell a scent. They can’t just release yet another fruity floral in a clingy bottle and call it the Emperor’s New Clothes – they actually have to make it smell good. With the continuing rise of nice and luxe, people are willing to spend more money on a bottle of perfumer, but they’re going to buy less bottles, so whatever they buy must be interesting. Celebrities have caught on to this. The biggest thing though – they actually need to be a celebrity, ain’t nobody gonna buy Eau de Tan Mom any more.


Crowd Pleasing Concoctions

What do Mon Guerlain, Gabrielle de Chanel, AURA by Mugler, Twilly d’Hermès and Scandal by Jean Paul Gaultier all have in common? Well, first and foremost they all launched in 2017 – and let’s face it, each is an absolutely massive release from some of perfumery’s biggest brands. 2017 will definitely go down in history as the year of the launch (the mainstream feminine pillar launch if we want to get specific) and these five big brands have pulled out literally every stop to make their olfactory mark on 2017. They’ve recruited big stars like Angelina Jolie (Mon Guerlain) and Kristen Stewart (Gabrielle), and have created visually stunning bottles that range from glass hearts formed in the Emerald City (AURA) to carriage lanterns topped with little bowler hats (Twilly), not to mention a pair of legs falling out of a taxi (Scandal). In the case of two of these launches, the fragrances are the first feminine pillars from their respective brands in quite some time. It has been quite the year for launches, indeed – launches that are eye catching and nose catching for many.

But the trend we’re talking about here is not the simple fact that these brands have all had big launches, no, the trend is specifically in reference to a commercial theme that has run through each and every one of them. There’s no use beating around the bush – all five of these launches are very commercial and whilst there may be some interesting work going on inside the bottles, such as the super-radiance of Gabrielle’s floral notes, the clash of smoke, vanilla and jungle greenery in AURA, and the ginger-tuberose shock of Twilly, the overarching feel of these fragrances is that they were created to appeal to a wide audience. Even MUGLER, who are renowned for their divisive compositions, could be accused of a less polarising approach with their latest output. They all smell great but they lack a sense of boldness in their signatures.

So why is this happening? Are consumers buying less? Are they moving away from mainstream to niche? If so, why aren’t these fragrances more daring? That’s a lot to answer, but I wonder whether it has something to do with the level of investment these brands have to inject into the development, marketing and visual impact of a new scent. Perhaps they are worried about their return of investment? Take Guerlain for example, they have funnelled millions into the launch of Mon Guerlain and just to be sure that the scent would resonate with consumers, they tested it as a boutique exclusive (the new discontinued Mon Exclusif) prior to its launch.

So who knows why the big brands are being commercial? They’re getting the packaging and concepts right, that’s for sure, so let’s just hope that in 2018 they will bring a little bit more innovation to our noses. I know that my nose is waiting with great anticipation.’

Originally written by, and used with permission of, Thomas Dunckley: The Candy Perfume Boy. Pictures ©Thomas Dunckley.