Get ready to meet your scent soulmate
Crisp, heady, succulent, and downright sexy - there’s a fragrance for whatever mood strikes you. And nowadays, you won’t need to make excuses for reaching for that bottle of a woody masculine scent; where ‘feminine’ fragrances were once floral and often sickly affairs, the world of women’s fragrance has erupted to a colourful landscape that’ll encompass any preference you might have.
Before we share the ultimate edit of all the women’s fragrances you need to know about, we’re going to outline the four main types of scent ingredient. Most perfumers start with these genres, dividing scents into them as a starting point for formulating and adding notes, so knowing which floats your boat may narrow the search down.
First, florals. These can range from light and romantic wafts of bluebell to deep and heady clouds of iris and orange blossom, but they’ll all have a distinct kick of floweriness. Orientals evoke warmth and sensuality, relying on spices like pepper and cinnamon to add a core of the exotic to proceedings. Woody scents comprise earthy notes of sandalwood, cedar and vetiver. Finally, fresh scents, which are based on citruses and crisp, uplifting notes like green tea.
But here’s where things get complicated: most fragrances won’t adhere to a single kind of note, mixing them together to achieve those iconic, unforgettable blends. When picking your perfume, make sure you spray it on your skin (where it’ll react with your body’s heat and pH) and wait. Once the volatile top notes have evaporated, you’ll be left with the true scent, which is a blend of remaining notes and your skin. Then you’ll know if it’s the one. Try these for size - we love them all:
1. Gabrielle Chanel
Described by Chanel's in-house perfumer Olivier Polge as an 'abstract floral', Gabrielle is Chanel's first fragrance since Chance in 2002. Ylang ylang, orange blossom, tuberose and white musk blend together in a heightened, clean and deliciously fresh fragrance that's about to become a total sensation.
2. Gucci Bloom, £52
Gucci Bloom, £52, Gucci
A true floral through and through, this contains notes of tuberose, jasmine and Rangoon Creeper. While soft and powdery, it retains a greenness that keeps it on the fresh side of things so that its sweetness is tempered. Think freshly-watered flower garden and you'll get the gist.
3. Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Cologne, £44
Rich, dusky and bursting with ripeness, Pomegranate Noir brings raspberry, plum, pink pepper and Casablanca lily together with a touch of wood for a full-bodied fragrance that’s utterly unique.
4. Santal 33 by Le Labo, £175
Now, this is your go-to fragrance if you don’t really want to smell like everyone else. With its spicy leather and sweet iris notes, expect to be asked what you’re wearing ALL the time.
5. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb, £52
A perfectly balanced myriad of rose, orchid, and freesia flowers are the highlights of this beloved juice that has captured the hearts of thousands.
6. Byredo Bal D’Afrique, £95
Inspired by 1920s Paris, this unisex scent evokes warmth with Moroccan cedar wood and musk, while lifting the overall mood with a blend of vetiver and lemon. The odd punch of floral punctuates the other scents, making this one undeniably moreish.
7. Tom Ford Velvet Orchid, £55
Here's a feminine fragrance that is truly unforgettable. The striking oriental floral offers a memorable aroma that isn't overbearing and an undeniable classic.
8. Miu Miu L’eau Bleue, £49
Lily of the valley paired with spicy Akigalawood makes for a surprising combo, but It’s fresh, youthful and crisp thanks to the green notes.
9. Giorgio Armani Sì, £51
A sensual and modern update on the classic ‘sexy’ scent for women, Sí harnesses sweetness thanks to cassis and mandarin, rose and jasmine, adding spicy vanilla and patchouli for a kick of interest.
10. Chanel No. 5, £52
If it was possible to bottle up elegance, femininity, and luxury it would be inside the golden elixir in the timeless Chanel N°5 glass.
11. Aerin Evening Rose, £92
This one has earned a permanent spot on our dressing table with its surprising mix of voluptuous rose centifolia and Bulgarian rose absolute.
12. Stella McCartney Pop, £34
This one’s bold and sweet, making it the perfect summer scent for those who are young at heart.
13. Guerlain Shalimar, £52
Whenever you mention classics, Shalimar is on nearly every beauty expert's list. The passionate scent was created by Jacques Guerlain to capture the romance of Shah Jahan and Princess Mumtaz Mahal.
14. Jo Malone Basil and Neroli Cologne, £44
A more youthful update on their classic Lime, Basil and Mandarin scent, this cologne uses white musk for a clean, powdery feeling, basil for a sharp twist, and neroli for some citrusy elegance.
15. Chloe Love Story, £47
Orange blossom and jasmine make this a romantic scent, yet don’t think cloying - think burst of fresh flowers mingled with greenness with hints of powdery warmth emerging at intervals.
16. Serge Lutens Veilleur de nuit, £509
Veilleur de nuit smells exactly what vice feels like - we think it captures the warming and sexy scent of a hint of booze coupled with melted chocolate. It’s the ultimate in indulgence - with an appropriately eye-watering price tag to match.
17. By Kilian Incense Oud, £285
This scent is for anyone who seeks a deviation from the regular floral or sweet scents usually assigned to women. Oud incense and papyrus make it dark and intense, but the uplifting rose adds a touch of freshness.
18. Robert Piguet 'Fracas' Eau de Parfum
At the heart of Fracas you'll find intoxicating jasmine, tuberose, and gardenia notes that have made this mixture a cult favorite throughout the years.
19. Marc Jacobs Splash Pear, £38
This is the go—to fragrance if you feel like summer but are still living in a big cashmere jumper; thanks to pear, bergamot and lemon peel, it’s light and sweet, but also a tad warming courtesy of soft amber and teakwood.
20. Lancome La Vie Este Belle, £49
The French expression translates to "Life is Beautiful," and the iris gourmand and striking patchouli aroma are perfect blends that evoke the happy phrase.
21. Giorgio Armani Sky di Gioia, £48
This is a summery, fruity and feminine scent. The delicate rose adds the fresh and floral element, the lychee and pear notes instantly transport us to a Mediterranean getaway, while the blackberry, blackcurrant and white musk whisper of faraway summer holidays…
22. Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet, £42
Here's a floral scent with a seductive twist that we'll never get tired of. The pink peony mixed with white musk blend offers a light, yet sensual touch that will never grow old.
23. Atelier Bloem Black Tulip, £160
Each fragrance in the six piece range is inspired by Andrew Goetz's time in Amsterdam, with this Black Tulip scent representing the most famous Netherlands export. Both heady and fresh at once, Black Tulip embodies the whole flower, with a touch of greenness at the core.
25. Floris Chypress Eau de Toilette, £80
Chypres comprise mossy and citrussy notes, and this nod to the famous blend is sophisticated and fresh at once, and would be a perfect pick if you want something that's uplifting but also a little more complex than a simple floral thanks to the musky creaminess at the heart of it.