I often feel that scent is the neglected sense, overshadowed by its popular sister, taste. But olfaction is actually quite important. Anatomically, the part of our brain that processes smell is close to the memory hub; smell has the ability to evoke strong emotional memories. And without it, we wouldn’t be able to taste our food as well as we do. I’m a firm believer that not smelling bad is an essential courtesy to others and that smelling good is a worthwhile indulgence for yourself.
I am picky when it comes to fragrance. I generally like “clean” scents. Some perfumes that are too strong, often in the gourmand category, will make me nauseous (Brazilian Crush Cheirosa 62, I’m looking at you). Some of my preferred categories of fragrance are: woody, herbal, musky, floral, and citrus. I am always looking to expand my collection into the scented delights the perfume space has to offer — if only I could afford them. Below is a list of fragrances that I love but cannot buy because of their cost-prohibitive nature.
Thé Noir 29 by Le Labo
Ah, the “it girl” of the perfume world. I actually do own a knockoff of this perfume by a copycat fragrance house, and while it is mostly similar to the real thing, the actual Thé Noir from Le Labo is so much better. It’s like comparing an iPhone 7 photograph to the same shot from a Leica camera. The iPhone will get the job done fine, but it pales in comparison to the Leica. Like its name suggests (thé is French for tea), black tea is the primary note of this perfume, but there is also bergamot, fig, bay leaves, cedar, vetiver, musk, hay, and tobacco. This really reminds me of the entire sensorial experience of drinking a cup of black tea. First, you smell the fragrant steam, which is lighter and fruitier than the drink itself; then you take the first sip and taste the actual tea; finally, the dregs at the bottom of the cup are the most bitter and strongest part.
Tears From the Moon by Gucci
I love the name, and I confess it first drew me to this fragrance. When I smell this perfume, the image of blades of grass laden with dew on a moonlit night pops into my head. This is a very delicate and clean floral scent, with a top note of peony, a heart note of lily-of-the-valley, and a base note of stephanotis. There’s a touch of green amongst the flowery notes. To me, there’s something cold and impersonal about it, but in a way that contributes to its allure rather than detracting from its appeal. But $350 for one (albeit gorgeous) bottle?! I’m not at a place in my life where I can justify spending that much on a fragrance, no matter how good it smells.
Erémia by Aesop
This is a very warm citrusy scent. It’s similar to the smell of an Aesop store itself: spa-like, herbal, and luxe. It has top notes of yuzu, bergamot, and grapefruit; middle notes of mimosa, green tea, and guaiac wood; and base notes of galbanum, iris, and patchouli. I always feel uplifted whenever I smell citrus, but I often find that citrus fragrances can have this bright quality that’s a little too in-your-face sometimes. With Erémia, you still get that pleasant citrusy aroma, but it’s toned down by the other notes. I am patiently awaiting the release of an affordable dupe or for a generous rich friend to come into my life.
Wood Sage & Sea Salt by Jo Malone
The only thing I don’t like about this fragrance is its staying power, which is pretty underwhelming. You get around 2–4 hours of wear time before it dissipates off your skin. But man, do those 2–4 hours smell amazing. This cologne has a top note of ambrette seeds, a heart note of sea salt, and a base note of sage. It reminds me of driftwood in the sun or walking along the Pacific Coast in Northern California with a breeze from the ocean blowing through the dry grasses. I expected this to be a “cool” smell, but it reads as more warm to me, probably because of the ambrette. It’s a very calming and grounding scent that I can’t imagine anyone disliking.
Young Rose by Byredo
If you read my article about Phlur a few weeks back, you will know that I am very disappointed about the reformulation of Améline. This rose scent also contains notes of pink peppercorn, bergamot, patchouli, and sandalwood. I went to Nordstrom in search of a substitute, and while I, unfortunately, have yet to find one, I did discover Young Rose. If I could afford it, Young Rose would probably become my new signature scent. It has top notes of ambrette seeds and Sichuan pepper, heart notes of orris (iris root) and Damascena rose, and base notes of musk and ambroxan. Even though it’s in the name, I find the rose to be more of a background note. I mostly smelled the Sichuan pepper when I inhaled, even after several hours of wear. It gives the perfume a crisp quality that I love. It reminds me of that just-out-of-the-shower clean feeling. Fun fact: Sichuan pepper is not really a pepper — it’s a citrus! I also found that the perfume tingled in my nose, which was kind of nice. A tingle I will remember until the day I can actually afford it.