There are a few places in this world where I'm in complete and utter bliss, and one of those is the perfume department at Liberty. Perhaps it is because I live outside of London and can't make regular trips to the iconic department store, but I know that fellow beauty lovers will agree with me when I say that it's one of the best places to shop and discover beauty, particularly perfume brands.
Tucked away from the bustling Oxford Circus, the Liberty store (which is a Grade II–listed Tudor building built from old ships) is a tranquil haven from the throngs of crowds outside. It's quieter than other department stores, and it has curated a brilliant edit of fragrances in its beauty hall. From the little-known niche fragrances to the perfumes worn by celebrities, it really is a fragrance lover's paradise. Some of my favourite brands that Liberty stocks include Byredo, Diptyque and Frédéric Malle, but you'll also find under-the-radar fragrance brands that are exclusive to Liberty.
Recently, I popped into the store to find a new signature scent. I hopped from counter to counter to spritz and test new favourites and older classics and got talking to the perfume experts at each brand, who know everything there is to know about fragrance. I got talking to the expert at the Le Labo counter, who asked me what fragrances I'm usually drawn to, to which I replied that I love a musky or woody scent. He encouraged me to try Santal 33, which has both sandalwood and musk notes, and it was amazing. He told me that Another 13, which is another of Le Labo's best-selling fragrances, smells a little bit different on everyone, and it takes a little while to react with your skin.
Those were just some of the fragrances I tried on my way around the store, and I came out with a handful of perfume tester papers. Of all the ones I tried, the below 10 stood out the most, and they are some of the best-selling fragrances in Liberty that are guaranteed compliment generators. Some are loved by celebrities such as Rihanna, whereas some are a little more experimental and unusual (see more on the fragrance enhancer from D.S. & Durga). Thankfully, if you're not able to make it in person to visit the store, the online perfume edit is just as brilliant and easy to shop. Here are the best Liberty perfumes that are guaranteed to have everyone asking what scent you are wearing.
1. Escentric Molecules Molecule 01
Notes: Iso E Super
Nope, that isn't a typo—there is just the one fragrance note in Molecule 01, which is Iso E Super. This fragrance molecule is unique in that it's almost unnoticeable to the wearer, but it will have everyone around you asking you what you're wearing. I've been wearing it the past couple of weeks, and I've had a lot of people ask what fragrance it is. The beauty of this scent is that it smells a little bit different on everyone; think your own unique smell but amplified and perfected.
2. Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady
Notes: Turkish rose, blackcurrant, raspberry, clove, patchouli, sandalwood, frankincense
When I headed over to the Frédéric Malle counter, I learnt that this is another of Liberty's best-selling fragrances, and I can see why. It smells like sophistication bottled. It's a grown-up rose fragrance that commands the room thanks to the addition of clove, patchouli and frankincense, which elevate it into something truly special. It's also very long-lasting. In fact, the tester that I sprayed a couple of weeks ago still smells intense. It's expensive, but if you want to invest in a signature fragrance that makes a statement, then this is it.
3. Le Labo Santal 33
Notes: Violet accord, cardamom, iris, papyrus, ambrox, cedarwood, leather, sandalwood
Ask any beauty editor about their favourite perfumes, and Le Labo Santal 33 will probably pop up in their shortlist. In fact, this fragrance gained so much popularity in New York City that articles were written on the scent. I'm ashamed to admit it, but before my visit to Liberty, I hadn't actually experienced this sandalwood-based scent for myself, but it's a great choice if you like woody scents or just want to smell downright expensive. It's one of those unisex scents that just smells great on everyone, and it works for both daytime and evening. And if it works for the fashion set of NYC, then we can totally get on board with it too.
4. Diptyque Fleur de Peau
Notes: Musk, ambrette seed, iris, pink peppercorn
Diptyque perfumes never fail to get my pulse racing (Philosykos and Eau Capitale are some of my favourites), but I hadn't yet tried Fleur de Peau, which is another Diptyque best seller at Liberty. And it did not disappoint. The name translates to "flower of the skin," which perfectly describes its scent; it's creamy and skin-like thanks to the musk and ambrette notes and is given a gentle aquatic floral twist with iris and aldehydes, which make it smell crisp and clean. Spritz and watch the compliments roll in.
5. Byredo Gypsy Water
Notes: Bergamot, lemon, pepper, juniper berries, incense, pine needles, orris, amber, vanilla, sandalwood
It's no surprise to me that this Byredo fragrance is a best seller. I've not met anyone who doesn't like it. I'd recommend it to those who prefer a perfume that whispers rather than shouts. It's airy and whimsical and feels like filling your lungs with the fresh scent of pine deep within a forest. I have the hair perfume version, and it's one of those scents that you will occasionally catch a waft of. Although it's light and breezy, the amber, vanilla and sandalwood base notes are present enough that you can still detect it after a day of wearing it.
6. D.S. & Durga I Don't Know What
Notes: Bergamot essence, Iso E Super, vetiver, acetate, civettone, Firsantol, ambrox super
The name drew me in at first, but when I spotted "fragrance enhancer," I was even more intrigued. Liberty describes it as a "fragrance enhancer with transparent radiance that can be used with any perfume, essence or oil to give it a certain 'je ne sais quoi.'" If you want to smell totally unique and unlike anyone else, then this could be your way to secure your signature fragrance as yours and yours alone. It has very few notes, but it does smell woody, musky and like warm skin. It will elevate your current fragrance or will work worn alone for something a little more minimalist.
7. Diptyque Philosykos
Notes: Fig leaves, fig tree sap, fig wood, black pepper
Philoskyos is loved by many on the Who What Wear UK team. While you might believe this fig-based scent is sickly sweet, it's anything but. Diptyque was inspired by the whole fig tree, from the earthy bark to the herbaceous leaves, so it's both creamy from the fig fruit but also beautifully down to earth with a twist of green leaves and bark. It makes a great scent for year-round wear and works for both daytime wear or as something a little bit different for the evening.
8. Vilhelm Parfumerie Peony Couture
Notes: Black pepper, aniseed, French peony, Turkish rose absolute, incense, wild cedarwood
I had an idea of what this scent would smell like (perhaps a little like Jo Malone London's Peony Blush Suede), but it was not at all what I was expecting. Think a vase of blooming peonies but sitting next to a smouldering smoky candle on the mantelpiece—it's a pretty floral but with a moodier twist that unfurls as you wear it. A sprinkling of black pepper and Turkish rose makes it feel decadent to wear.
9. Byredo Mojave Ghost
Notes: Ambrette, Jamaican nesberry, violet, sandalwood, magnolia, chantilly musk, crisp amber, cedarwood
Where do I begin? Mojave Ghost is one of Byredo's most-loved scents, and it's a must-try if you gravitate toward warm amber scents that are not too heavy and cloying. What I will say is that it does have a transient quality to it, so you might think the scent has ghosted you, but it somehow magically reappears by radiating off the skin in such a beautiful way. It's hauntingly beautiful.
10. Kilian Paris Love, Don't Be Shy
Notes: Neroli, orange blossom, marshmallow
According to reports, this is one of Rihanna's favourite perfumes. If that wasn't enough of a sign to try this best-selling scent, then keep reading. It's a sweet gourmand floral, which is is almost like candy floss but in the chicest way possible. So it's safe to say if you love a sweet aroma, then this one has both Liberty fans' and Rihanna's approval.
Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor of Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.
Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards and also contributed to Powder, winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards for her work in beauty journalism.
Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.
When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner.