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
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 anthropologie.com—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
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 agapeandzoe.com (they do ship to Canada!).
Incense Oud by Kilian
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?