I wore Britney Spears perfume almost exclusively through junior high until I made the very elevated graduation to Victoria's Secret body mists freshman year of high school. (Anyone else?) Then, after fruity and saccharine spritzers became passé, I began to venture into the depths of Sephora's holy-grail treasure trove of designer perfumes.
Tom Ford, Chloé, Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, DKNY… I'd head home with a Juicy Couture bag stuffed with testers and a running list in my head of every lacquered bottle I envisioned atop my bedroom vanity. I cultivated the ultimate collection of designer perfumes well into college, but after graduating (and moving to L.A. to become a beauty editor!), my tastes shifted. Or rather, it was subtly insinuated my tastes should shift. Suddenly, ultra-chic indie perfume houses like Byredo, Diptyque, Killian, Le Labo, and many more were "the cool" fragrances to covet, and I started to lose interest in the designer labels I previously gravitated toward.
However, as things have come full circle and as someone who now owns at least one perfume from practically every perfume brand (designer and not), I've come to the realization that, honestly, I really love my collection of designer perfumes from houses like Chanel and Dior. They're not predictable or basic; they're classic. And more often than not, it's these fragrances that rack in the compliments faster than my olfactory coven of non-designer labels. In fact, I've noticed a designer-perfume resurgence of sorts on social media, so here I am calling an official comeback. Keep scrolling for the 10 designers I love most and the top two scents I'd recommend from each.
Key notes: iced accord, yuzu, pomegranate, peony, magnolia, lotus flower, acajou, vegetal amber, musk
Bright Crystal is arguably Versace's most iconic perfume. (It's a toss-up—Yellow Diamond is also beloved.) That said, there's something so timeless and sparkly about this designer fragrance. Fun fact: It's a concerted blend of Donatella Versace's favorite floral fragrances, but thanks to deeper hints of amber and musk, it doesn't read overly delicate as some floral scents do.
Key notes: citron from diamante, pear sorbet, neroli, bergamot, nymphea, freesia, orange blossom, mimosa, amber wood, palo santo, musk
Key notes: citrus fruit, peony, mandarin, rose, pink peppercorn, osmanthus, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla
This lovely designer perfume from Gucci can satisfy all palettes. It's basically a tri-hybrid between sweet, floral, and fruity. It's my go-to when I want to smell amazing but can't decide between my collection of bottles.
Key notes: bergamot, grapefruit, narcissus, violet, raspberry, jasmine, patchouli, amber
Key notes: peony, rose, honey, cedarwood
Chloé Eau de Parfum isn't your average designer rose perfume. At first, it does fit the classic rose fragrance prototype by smelling lightly powdery, but that soon evolves into a richer scent that's light, warm, and elegant. (In other words, this isn't your grandma's rose potpourri.)
Key notes: oakmoss, freesia, Mirabelle liquor
Key notes: yuzu, pineapple leaves, litchi, mandarin, grapes, pink peony, peach blossom, nashi, white musk, creamy amyris woods
The best word I can think of to describe this best-selling perfume from Burberry is juicy. It has lush hints of the tropics—think mandarin, yuzu, and pineapple—but it's lightly sweetened with floral nods from peach blossom and sweet pea.
Key notes: blackberry, jasmine, benzoin
Key notes: black plum nectar, lychee, grapefruit, heliotrope, vanilla orchid, jasmine, roasted tonka bean, benzoin, sandalwood
This designer perfume does its sweaty name justice. It's warm and addictive, and I swear it gets better and better the longer you wear it. I discovered it years ago, and it's still what I wear on nights out thanks to the unique alchemy of floral and gourmand notes.
Key notes: pear, sweet Italian orange, tiger orchid, Indonesian patchouli, caramel
Key notes: grapefruit-quince, citron, jasmine, teakwood, white musk
People get very obsessive about Chanel perfumes. And for good reason! Chanel is the OG where designer perfumes are concerned. In fact, we devoted an entire story to the designer as an ode to the brand's cult-classic collection of scents. That said, Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Toilette will always be the love of my life where Chanel perfumes are concerned.
Key notes: aldehydes, jasmine, neroli, sandalwood
Key notes: Grasse rose absolue, Italian mandarin, white musk accord
You might be sick of hearing me talk about this perfume, but my obsession is still at large, and by far, it's my favorite rose fragrance to ever exist. (And I've smelled them all!) The magic is in the way it's balanced with Italian mandarin and white musk accord
Key notes: ylang-ylang, Damascus rose, jasmine
Yves Saint Laurent
Key notes: lavender essence, orange blossom, musk accord
I'm such a huge fan of this fragrance from YSL. I'll be honest. A lot of designer perfumes can smell predictable or basic, but this herbal and earthy blend of this one is truly unique and unexpected. It's intricate! People always used to ask me what I was wearing when I would spritz it at the office.
Key notes: coffee, orange blossom, absinthe
Key notes: tobacco leaf, ginger, cocoa, tonka bean, vanilla
Choosing the best perfumes from Tom Ford is like having to choose a favorite child! You really can't go wrong no matter the direction, but Tobacco Vanille is so damn dreamy. People are also infatuated with Fucking Fabulous, Black Orchid, Santal Blush, and Oud Wood, but this is one of the best scents (hands down) for those looking for something warm and spicy.
Key notes: black truffle, bergamot, black orchid, black plum, noir gourmand accord, patchouli
Key notes: strawberry, violet leaves, jasmine
I'm not ashamed to say that as a 27-year-old lady, I STILL love my collection of Daisy perfumes from Marc Jacobs. They're iconic! And honestly, they score me more compliments than some of my favorite scents from Byredo and Diptyque. (So there's that!) The OG Daisy is timeless and beautiful and chic. I'm always drawn to scents with notes of violet and jasmine, and the hit of fruity strawberry makes this one all the more divine.
Key notes: crystallized cloudberries, daisy tree petals, cashmere musks, driftwood