In recent decades, niche and specialist fragrance brands have topped the the perfume charts—the likes of Diptyque, Creed, Le Labo, and Jo Malone have become household names, while TikTok has sent new and lesser-known brands such as Maison Francis Kurkdjian and Escentric Molecules viral. Even more recently, we've seen influencers dabble in the fragrance space—take note of Huda Kattan's Kayali and Michelle Lim's Phlur—two extremely successful brands which have quickly established themselves in an industry typically rooted in heritage.
While the landscape of fragrance is changing, it's important to pay homage to that heritage. Rewind thirty years and designer perfume brands we all we knew. Putting their names to perfumes and beauty products was a tactic that fashion brands (think: Chanel, Dior, YSL) have used for decades to market their brands to the masses. Granted, a Tom Ford lipstick or a Gucci perfume may still be expensive, but they're a lot more accessible than say, a Tom Ford handbag or a pair of Gucci loafers.
Perfume has long since been a way for us to treat ourselves to the finer things and experience a small slice of luxury on an everyday basis. And after all, some of the master perfumers behind your favourite niche perfumes built their careers creating some of the cult classic designer perfumes that we still know and love today.
More recently, however, our trustworthy designer brands have seriously upped their game. In fact, as some of our niche cult favourites become more and more popular, designer perfumes have had to rise to the challenge of maintaining their popularity—which means releasing new, trend-driven fragrances, and updating old-school classic to feel modern and relevant.
Now, it seems, designer perfumes are more impressive than ever—and not to be overlooked or underestimated. After all, these designer brands have been in the game for a long time, and they know how to make a really good perfume. From forgotten classics to up-and-coming stars, these are the 14 best designer perfumes to buy right now.
1. Marc Jacobs Daisy
A cult classic that you're probably already familiar with—Marc Jacobs Daisy is fresh, light, and the very definition of crowd-pleasing. A soft floral with powdery notes and a musky, woody base, it's inoffensive and incredibly addictive. While there are now multiple versions of Daisy—some more fruity, some more citrusy— the original can't be beaten. I'd go as far as to say that this is one of the best perfumes ever made.
2. Dior Miss Dior
Dior's iconic Miss Dior perfume collection has been popular for years (over 70 years to be precise, it was first launched in 1947), but it's got every reason to be. Floral notes of rose, peony, lily, and iris make it light and uplifting, while deep tonka bean and sandalwood give it an alluring warmth that lingers on skin.
3. Chanel Chance
Chanel is responsible for some of the most iconic fragrances ever created, but if you're after something fresh and modern, Chance could be just the ticket. It's bright, aromatic, and uplifting, and contains notes of lemon, cedar, pink pepper, and jasmine for an altogether clean, fresh, citrusy aroma.
4. Byredo Bibliothèque
If you thought Byredo was simply a fragrance brand, you'd be mistaken In fact, Byredo is also known for designing luxury leather accessories, which technically does make is a designer brand. There are so many incredible Byredo fragrances that it's almost impossible to choose just one, but if you're after something underrated, check out Bibliothèque. It's simultaneously fruity and leathery—two fragrance families which are rarely paired together, but, it totally works.
5. Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia
Although there are multiple iterations of Gucci Flora, Gorgeous Gardenia has to be the winner. It's perfect for spring and summer—the concoction of sweet and floral notes is warm and fresh. Plus, it also happens to have potentially one of the prettiest perfume bottles we have ever seen—in a world of chic and minimalist packaging designs, it will stand out on your dressing table in the best way possible.
6. Tom Ford Black Orchid
Tom Ford is arguably more well-known for its extensive collection of perfumes and lipsticks now than it is for fashion. In fact, the designer brand is regarded as one of, if not the, best perfume brands out there—the scents are bold, unique, and always incredibly luxurious. Black Orchid is one of the stars of the collection—it's warm, spicy, earthy, woody, and so addictive.
7. Loewe Solo Atlas
Loewe could potentially be one of the most underrated designer perfume brands out there right now. But while the brand is most well-known for its statement handbags, the fragrance collection is not to be overlooked. Not only do the bottles look seriously chic, but they smell equally as beautiful and unique. This particular spritz is simultaneously floral and citrusy, but with a warm amber base.
8. YSL Libre
When you think of YSL fragrances you probably think of Black Opium—but if you prefer lighter, fresher fragrances, try out Libre. Warm and feminine, but not overpowering or too heady, it combines classic notes of mandarin, orange blossom, and jasmine with lavender and blackcurrant.
9. Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey
To me, L'Eau D'Issey is the fragrance equivalent of a plain white tee or a really great pair of jeans. It's a wardrobe essential that works for everyone, no matter what the time of day or season. Inspired by spring water, it's fresh, aquatic, and very subtly floral.
8. Maison Margiela Replica Lazy Sunday Morning
Few perfumes evoke memories and inspire nostalgia quite like Maison Margiela's Replica creations. Inspired by specific places and moments in time, each one is totally unique and unexpected. Lazy Sunday Morning is a true crowdpleaser—warm, fresh, and clean.
10. Narciso Rodriguez For Her
Before Francis Kurkdjian turned his hand to his own eponymous fragrance brand and birthed modern classics like Baccarat Rouge 540 and 724, he created perfumes for brands including Burberry, Dior, Lancome, and Narciso Rodriguez. For Her was first created in 2003 but has stood the test of time. In typical Francis Kurkdjian style, it's a complex and multi-layered scent which combines musky, floral, powdery, and woody notes.
11. Chloe Atelier Des Fleurs Santalum
You might be familiar with some of Chloe's more popular scents such as See and Nomade, but the brand's Atelier Des Fleurs line is where you're sure to find some more unique and less well known gems. Not only is this bottle a total work of art, but Santalum heroes sandalwood, an incredibly trendy fragrance note right now. As you'd expect, this is a warm woody fragrance, softened by sweet, milky notes.
12. Prada Infusions Oeillet
Prada also has some really iconic cult classics, but the newer Infusions collection is the one to try if you're typically a fan of more niche fragrances. The collection heroes notes such as ylang-ylang, fig, vetiver, and vanilla, but this particular blend is more complex. It's spicy and woody in the very best of ways, soft and airy with a warm patchouli base.
14. Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia Cologne
One of the most gorgeous, and popular, scents of all time. Autumnal but also timeless, it is rich, luscious and warm.
Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines.
While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.
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