New niche scents that are very, very nice! (Because who REALLY wants to smell like a Britney, Celine or Beyoncé?)

woman applying fragrance

As much as I enjoy it when someone identifies a designer article of clothing on my person, whether correctly or not (Them: “I love those Chloé boots!” Me: “No, they’re Joe Fresh!”), I can’t stand it when it happens with fragrance. A signature scent is one thing, but when it’s also the signature of three other women on the streetcar, it sort of loses its appeal, non?

This is why I tend to run from the big-name, mega-popular, heavily-branded scents for my own personal wear. Think Eternity. Calyx. Angel. No offense to the fans because they really are all very pleasant…. But unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in one of those workplaces where they’ve actually banned fragrances altogether), then a whole lotta people are gonna know exactly what they’re smelling. And so for a particular subset of people like me, who like to be “different” (and whom you could maybe also call “selfish”), it’s far more exciting to hunt for a niche scent that nobody—except maybe a beauty editor—can positively ID. Another bonus? Many of these products, even the ones that aren’t specifically natural or organic, are made with higher-quality ingredients instead of cheap fillers. (My non-scientific test is whether or not the scent makes me sneeze at first spritz. In my experience, niche ones don’t… mainstream ones do.)

So, fellow selfish ones, here are three new discoveries that I’m totally digging lately. And I promise I won’t be weird about it if you start wearing them too.

Augustina Fragrances by Susanne Lang Parfumerie

Augustina Perfume Oil Rollers New niche scents that are very, very nice! (Because who REALLY wants to smell like a Britney, Celine or Beyoncé?)

If you live in or have visited Toronto, then you might be familiar with Augustina, a little jewel of a boutique in the Yorkville hood that carries a lot of nichey clothing I would very much like to own. Instead, I tend to head down the street to the kinder-on-the-wallet Anthropologie. But now—breaking news!—the two brands have paired up.

Yep, while Augustina’s trio of scents has been around for a while now, they’ve just made ‘em available at—and I’ve even seen them in-store. They’re definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of Susanne Lang, the Toronto-based perfume designer behind Sula and her own eponymous line. I’ve long been a fan of her work, and particularly these. Each one is named for a different Toronto street: Roxborough is a powdery musk, Woodlawn is a green citrus and my favourite, Avondale, is a jasmine-neroli blend. I love that they come in oil form, which tends to last longer, and in roller applicators—so handy for the purse! $30 each for the 7 mL rollers.

Agape & Zoe Naturals

Agape Zoe Naturals New niche scents that are very, very nice! (Because who REALLY wants to smell like a Britney, Celine or Beyoncé?)

Remember when hippies only got to wear patchouli oil? No wonder they were shunned from polite society. Thankfully us eco types have got OPTIONS now—the most recent find of mine being this line of natural, pthalate-free perfumes. Why are pthalates not our friends? Because according to the Environmental Working Group, they can disrupt our hormones and are linked to reproductive abnormalities and liver cancer. (If you ever feel like scaring yourself, head over to their Skin Deep cosmetic safety database and have a looksie for your favourite mainstream scent. Yikes!)

Happily, this brand’s offerings, made sans chemicals with organic grain alcohol and 100 percent pure essential oils, all get a coveted “low hazard” rating. There are seven varieties—Aftos, Beauty, Botanica, Green, Peace, Pure Innocence and True—and I’ve gotta say that I find every single of them quite pleasing. (My favourites are Peace and Pure Innocence.) The price is right too—just $6 per 5 mL roller ball. Yes you did read that correctly. Find them at (they do ship to Canada!).

Incense Oud by Kilian

Incense Oud by Kilian New niche scents that are very, very nice! (Because who REALLY wants to smell like a Britney, Celine or Beyoncé?)The very essence of the By Kilian brand—as in Kilian Hennessy of the LVMH Hennessys—is niche. That’s why the brand’s previous scent, Love and Tears, Surrender, grabbed the top spot in my round-up of the best fall 2010 fragrances. And that’s why I HAVE to mention the newest one, Oud Incense. It’s number three in the “Arabian Nights” collection—which also includes Pure Oud and Rose Oud—and is a tribute to the spicy, oriental olfactory harmonies of the Middle East.

The juice is extremely, extremely pricey ($395!), but what I love about the brand is that they clearly state that the money goes into the products (i.e. essential oils) instead of paying celebrities to give endorsements. Respect. So that $395 is buying you precious oud oil (from Agarwood, the resin in the southeast Asian Aquilaria tree), which is believed in some Middle Eastern countries to be worth more than its weight in gold. Anyway—if you like your fragrance on the oriental side, then you could very well fall in love. Find this one at Holt Renfrew.

Check out these posts to read more about two other niche scents that I lurve…

  • Red Flower’s Guaiac, which is totally organic and also loved by famed scent critic Chandler Burr. (I’m patting myself on the back for that, because I only discovered his review after I fell in love with it.)


  • Child, which really shouldn’t have that name because it is a man-MAGNET. I’m telling you.

Are you into niche fragrances?
Or could you care less how many other people are wearing “your” scent?
What’s your current favourite fragrance?


Monday, April 18/2011 at 1:40 pm

I love niche, vintage and mainstream scents. I wear everything from my beloved Love & Tears, Surrender, Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, vintage Chanel Bois des Iles to Balmain Ivoire which is available at cheapo perfume outlets or online for less than $30 a bottle. And Mugler Cologne, at the men’s counter, also fantastic and pretty mainstream. And, I always have a bottle of Coty Wild Musk in my perfume cupboard. You’d be shocked at the compliments this one gets!

I have found lately that most mainstream releases are copies of each other- just go to Sephora and start sniffing. After a few minutes they all the smell the same. I blame the loud synthetic laundry musks that are ubiquitous in most mainstream scents, Bath & Body Works being the worst offender. They amp up the notes and make them last longer. A lot of people can’t smell certain musks but I can spot them a mile away. Blame my perfume addiction…

Add to that the gorgeous scents of the past that have had their gorgeous pure ingredients replaced with cheaper synthetic ingredients rendering the modern versions unrecognizable. My mother nearly wept when she tried Guerlain Shalimar after not having worn it for over 25 years. Thank goodness for ebay and estate sales, as she now has a 1970 bottle of Shalimar and is happy as can be.

Why don’t I have a bottle of Child? White floral lover that I am I need it! Child and Kai are my fave “California” florals. Lush and sexy yet squeaky clean girl next door at the same time.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, May 1/2011 at 2:24 pm

Oh wow, they mucked with Shalimar? For shame…

I know what you mean about that gross synthetic musk note – it gives me a headache and is in EVERYTHING now. I used to really love J. Lo Glow but 10 yrs later can’t wear it due to overkill.

I am dying to get my hands on some Kai. I haven’t smelled it in forever; I remember liking Child better but now can’t remember why…. do you recall the difference between the two?


Monday, April 18/2011 at 2:28 pm

I love and splurged on Liasons Dangerous by Kilian typical me. I thought for sure I wouldn’t smell like everyone else, it’s unique and because of the steep price but I was on a blind date and he said to me, “You smell exactly like my ex-girlfriend.” Turns out she wore the same scent.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, May 1/2011 at 2:25 pm

OMG! What are the chances? I was going to say maybe that was (subconsciously) part of the attraction, but if it was a blind date… crazy!


Tracy@Beauty Reflections
Monday, April 18/2011 at 8:03 pm

I agree with Jane. Most of the popular fragrances smell the same to me, which is why I usually go for Jo Malone. I love the whole mixing and layering aspect to make it my more my own.


Friday, April 22/2011 at 12:52 pm

Jo Malone layering is so fun! A great way to personalize. Plus the scents are quite soft and easy to wear in a public environment. And, not full of the migraine/nausea inducing laundry chemicals.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, May 1/2011 at 2:27 pm

I used to like Jo Malone but did you know Jo herself isn’t involved anymore? I don’t know if it’s all in my head but I feel like the scents aren’t as good now. Although Nectarine Blossom & Honey is one of my faves.


Tuesday, April 19/2011 at 12:48 am

Armani Acqua di Gioia was the first perfume in a while that I actually considered shelling out on, until the woman in Sears told me it was #1 in North America.

I’m always intrigued by cheapo Demeter, but I worry that spritzing Gin & Tonic on in the morning might confuse people into thinking I’ve got a problem with the drinky drank.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, May 1/2011 at 2:28 pm

Haha! I like some of Demeter’s stuff too, but it doesn’t last at all. Interesting re: Acqua di Gioia, I didn’t know that!


Tuesday, April 19/2011 at 1:06 pm

Have you checked out Jo Malone’s scents? I love her new tea fragrances!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, May 1/2011 at 2:30 pm

I haven’t smelled those but I love tea… Earl Grey and Sweet Milk both sound cool!


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