I’ve become a bit of a perfume hoarder since I started working in beauty, and while fragrances such as Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540 and Maison Margiela’s Autumn Vibes remain some of my favourites, I’ve started to get the feeling of perfume déjà vu.
It might happen when I’m walking down the street and smell it on a passer-by, or perhaps when I spritz a fragrance and it takes me right back to that first date with someone. While it can be nice, it can also signal it’s time to switch it up and opt for something entirely different.
The thing is, the world of scent can be a pretty mad place. From perfumes that are supposed to smell like sex (yes really, more on that below) to scents that only other people can smell on you, fragrance is an olfactory playground for expressing your personal desires.
So why not take the opportunity of the new year and try something a little unorthodox? I’ve found six of the best unique perfumes to expand your olfactory horizons, but be warned, they’re not for the fragrance faint-hearted…
Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 Eau De Toilette, £50
This fragrance is an example of the very best in perfume science; created with a molecule called Iso E Super (an aroma molecule that doesn’t exist in the natural world), Molecule 01 is perhaps the OG unique fragrance.
The synthetic nature of the molecule means that when spritzed onto the skin, it reacts to our individual pheromones and therefore can smell different for every person.
Molecule 01 was one of the first ‘skin scents’ on the market and has led to the popularity of perfumes that mimic our body chemistry and elevate our individual and subtle differences. Pretty cool, huh?
Akro Night Eau De Parfum, £140
Remember that fragrance I said was supposed to mimic the scent of sex? Well, it’s this one.
When I first smelled the perfume I couldn’t put my finger on what it was until the person showing it to me pointed out it is supposed to smell, well, just a tad like sweat.
If you’re slightly grossed out, I wouldn’t blame you, but this fragrance is much more complex than that. Its main accords are a mix of rose and warm spice, with the cumin providing that ‘human’ element to it.
It’s definitely a marmite scent; some people believe Night smells like a sweaty nightclub while others find it completely intoxicating and sexy, so maybe try out their Discovery Set first, to make sure you like it.
Vyrao Witchy Woo Eau De Parfum, £135
I’m a magnet for anything witchy, so when I came across Vyrao, I knew I was going to be obsessed.
So, what makes Vyrao quite so magical? Well, it’s the first fragrance brand to bring together “energetic healing with master perfumery.” Intrigued?
Vyrao’s founder wanted to bring elements of wellness and energy healing to perfume, so every bottle of fragrance has within it a “supercharged, ethically sourced Herkimer diamond crystal, known for purifying and raising energy.”
But the scents themselves are pretty out of this world too; the combined notes have an element to them that feels very close to nature and are unlike any other fragrances I’ve come across.
Phlur Missing Person Eau De Parfum, from £26
The idea of a perfume going viral on the internet (where, you know, you can’t actually smell it) is pretty wild, but that’s just what happened with Phlur’s Missing Person. 2022 much?!
When I was introduced to the brand, I was told it’s supposed to smell like your lover’s skin. Interesting. What makes this more interesting is that like Molecule 01, it smells different on every person that tries it: case in point, when we gave it a go in the Eliza office.
For me, it’s an incredibly subtle, warm, comforting perfume. Its main notes are musk, bergamot, jasmine, neroli and sandalwood, but as we found out, it reads completely different on some people than others in terms of scent and silage.
I completely get why it’s gone viral (who doesn’t want a perfume that smells completely unique on them?), but it’s one you should try before you buy to avoid disappointment.
Gabar No.II Ground Eau De Parfum, £120
Gabar’s fragrances, though still a limited edit of three, are pretty special. Rooted in nature and the landscape of Myanmar from which the brand originates, the scents are “holistically inspired by our Southeast Asian heritage,” which Gabar hopes to share with the world through its olfactory offering.
Ground is a warm and soft, spicy fragrance, with notes of wood bark, saffron, sandalwood and fig. The other two fragrances in the line-up are equally as complex, including a floral musk and aromatic fruit scent.
If you like your perfumes to have a story and a cause, Gabar is the brand for you; 10% of the brand’s profits go back into rebuilding Myanmar, and it is currently working to establish its own Foundation.
Aesop Karst Eau De Parfum, £130
Aesop get an honourable mention in this piece because I think its fragrances are vastly underrated. I fell in love with Karst on first smell and receive compliments on it from both men and women almost every time I wear it.
Karst is an aromatic, fresh spicy scent with notes of pink pepper, bergamot, sage, vetiver and cedar. There are not many fragrances I find I can wear all year round, but this one just feels right every time.
I describe Aesop’s perfumes as aspirational: every time I spritz one, they make me feel like a more successful, powerful version of myself. What’s more, the scents are truly unique and like nothing else I’ve come across: I’ve yet to have anyone correctly guess what I’m wearing. A gold star in my book.