Fragrance is such an integral part of a beauty routine. It isn’t just a scent to simply not smell bad, we have deodorant for that. Instead, fragrances are often a reflection of our personalities and essentially an extension of ourselves. Whether it’s a soft and feminine rose or a deep and seductive vanilla, we match our fragrances to the different stages of our lives and even different moods we have during that time. Often, we will pick a signature scent that is so quintessentially “us” in every way possible. Whenever your friends and family get a whiff of that scent, they’ll instantly think of you.
When choosing a signature scent, everyone wants to have one that is uniquely their own. Designer houses are great for mass appealing fragrances that tend to garner compliments. But it isn’t a great to catch a whiff of someone on the street and realize that he/she is wearing the exact fragrance you have on. Or worse, to go for dinner and your date is suddenly reminded of his/her ex. Yikes!
This is where niche perfume houses come into the picture. In recent years, we have seen an incredible spike in popularity and demand for niche perfumes as more and more people are discovering unique scents that speak to them, beyond just crowd-pleasing fragrances. Everyone wants to be distinct in every aspect.
These are the niche fragrance brands that you might never have heard of before but should totally get your noses on. Their artistic and one-of-a-kind scent offerings will leave a memorable trail that’ll linger in the air for you and others to enjoy.
Scroll through and we might just have a signature fragrance for you.
Hailing from the UK, Penhaligon’s has been in the perfumery business circa 1870. It started off as a barbershop and debuted its first fragrance in 1872 called ‘Hammam Bouquet’, a scent inspired by the Turkish baths that is still available today. Since then, Penhaligon’s has released a wide range of collections and types of fragrances within them. Be it something dark and sultry or refreshing yet complex, you’ll be able to find a scent for you among the 77 in their line up. Whatever the scent profile, Penhaligon’s scents are all about authenticity. Nothing brash and synthetic about any of their creations.
Their latest Portraits Collection is particularly creative and unique as each scent in within the collection is a character in a story set in the Victorian era. The caps caps are shaped like the animals that represent their characters too and the whole collection outlines a story filled with love, betrayal and infidelity. You can find a character that best represents who you are and find the perfect scent fo you. The fragrances in the Portraits collection are richer and more multi-layered compared to their other lines, with a complexity of well-blended notes to create a character via scent.
Must Try Scent: Halfeti, Lady Blanche
Find It At: Penhaligon’s Store
An ultra luxurious niche fragrance brand from Oman, Amouage is almost always associated with impeccable quality and unrelenting potency. Established in 1983 by the Sultan of Oman himself, Amouage seeks to allow the world to dive into the world of Arabian perfumery. Expect to experience heady aromas of oud, incense, rose, musk and spices in their impressive library of 86 concoctions. Their fragrances are often inspired by one word (ie. Jubilation, Honour, Reflection, etc) and two creations are made—one for him and one for her.
Their bottles also pay homage to the Middle East, from the crest at the front to the lavish-looking caps that look like grand buildings in that region. Their scent profiles are not for the faint of heart. While they do have some mass-pleasing compositions in their range, the overall scent is still far superior due to the ingredients used to create them. Those who are looking for a bold scent that will distinguish you from the crowds instantly, and basically make you feel like Arabian royalty, this is the niche brand to look into.
Must Try Scent: Lyric Woman, Reflection Man
Find It At: Escentials
Low-key and showcasing beautiful restraint, The Different Company is one to check out if you are looking to be quietly different. Nothing loud or obnoxious about this French niche brand at all, which started in 2000 and now has a collection of over 20 fragrances to choose from. Their unique bottle design is both simplistic yet eye-catching, encapsulating the very essence of the brand. They aren’t fussed about marketing and concepts to draw people in, they let their fragrance creations do the talking. With a mission to just create luxurious scents that make your feel like a million bucks, The Different Company works with world-renowned perfumers such as Jean-Claude Ellena and Bertrand Duchaufour. While they have a wide range of scent profiles in their range, each one is never too loud or brash, giving you the air of that French je ne sais quoi that we all want.
Must Try Scent: Adjatay, After Midnight
Find It At: Maven
The Italian niche perfume house, Nasomatto is known for their distinct looking bottles. Their bottle caps, to be more specific. Each scent in their line has a unique bottle cap that is made of different materials (eg. cork, wood), in different finishes. No two caps are exactly the same as they are made organically from real, raw materials.Their caps are as large as their bottles which houses 30ml extrait de parfum concentration of fragrance. These fragrances are powerhouses and one spray is all you need! Be it the boozy, whiskey notes of ‘Baraonda’ or the dark oud notes of ‘Black Afgano’, Nasomatto’s fragrances make a statement every single time.
Must Try Scent: Baraonda
Find It At: Maven
Their fun and colourful aesthetic makes them the perfect addition to your vanity tables. Parfums Berdoues was founded in 1902 by Guillaume Berdoues in Toulouse, France. Since then, the house has added over 59 perfumes in their database though their most recognizable line would have to be the Grand Crus one. The scents take you on a journey to different parts of the world, from the streets of Brazil to the small town of Yoshino, Japan. The cologne concentrations are never too overbearing but each fragrance encapsulates notes that will remind you of these exotic locations. Did we mention how gorgeous the artwork on these bottle are?
Must Try Scent: Somei Yoshino
Find It At: Escentials
Though many in the fashion world are well-versed in all things Frederic Malle, few outside of the beauty and fashion realm are quite as intimate with the brand. Probably the end all be all of the niche fragrance industry, Frederic Malle has employed some of the greatest noses of our time and had them create without any boundaries or restrictions. An editor of fragrance, as he affectionately calls himself, he has collaborated with Dominique Ropion, Maurice Roucel and more to create potent, creative and intoxicating scents with the best ingredients available in perfumery. They cost a pretty penny and prices differ depending on what goes into each perfume, but the result is a lingering trail that will stand out and be seared in the memories of many.
Must Try Scent: Musc Ravageur, Carnal Flower
Find It At: Malmaison by The Hour Glass
An Australian perfume house that recently gained a lot of hype and recognition in the fragrance world, Fort & Manle will be a force to be reckoned with in years to come. With a dark, gothic, old-worldly type bottle, each plate on the bottle are embossed with intricate illustrations that indicate the fragrance within it. Perfumer and founder, Rasei Fort meticulously blends and creates with artisanal oils and raw materials to create authentic scents that do not lean sharp or synthetic. With strange names like ‘Confessions of a Garden Gnome’ and ‘Mr Bojnokopff’s Purple Hat’, his eccentric approach to fragrance is refined by the high quality ingredients he works with. Thus creating fragrances that are not only beautiful, but utterly imaginative as well.
Must Try Scent: Mr Bojnokopff’s Purple Hat, Fatih Sultan Mahmed
Find It At: fortandmanle.com
DS & Durga is a relatively new niche fragrance house from the US, created by a male-female duo, DS & Kavi. They started out from humble beginnings, mixing and creating scents from scratch in their Brooklyn homes before finally building their brand to the cult status it has reached today. Inspired by artistic expression, each fragrance in their line tell a distinct story. For instance, ‘Burning Barbershop’ tells an olfactory story of a fire that broke out in the Curling Bros. barbershop in Westlake, N.Y. in 1891. Hence, smoke, spearmint, lavender and shaving tonic come together in a bottle to tell this tale. With so many stories to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a story you won’t fall in love with.
Must Try Scent: Debaser, Radio Bombay
Find It At: dsanddurga.com
An indie fragrance house from the States, Kerosene’s aesthetic create nostalgic minimalism, with its typewriter embossed font over a dark, black bottle. The perfumer used to be a Youtuber and has since created a successful fragrance line that is both innovative and exciting. With names like ‘Blackmail’, ‘Broken Theories’ and ‘Unknown Pleasures’, Kerosene fragrances paints a picture through the olfactory. Prepare to get a melange of notes, skillfully blended to take create something completely unique. For those who are looking for the perfect coffee scent, their fragrance called ‘Follow’ might just be the one you are looking for.
Must Try Scent: Follow
If you are looking for something truly unique and quirky, this French house is all about being different. Calling themselves the ‘Free State of Orange’ in French, the house celebrates freedom of expression through scents, away from societal norms and boundaries.
Priding themselves in creating avant-garde scents, Etat Libre D’Orange is all about standing out. With controversial names such as ‘Putain Des Palaces’ (which translates to ‘sluts of the palace’) and ‘Fat Electrician’, their fragrances are cheeky, carnal and have an unusual composition of notes. Despite that, they are still uber wearable and add an aura of interest around you.
Must Try Scent : Tilda Swinton Like This
Find It At : Escentials Singapore, Maven At Takashimaya
Tauer Perfumes is a Switzerland-based independent perfume house founded by Andy Tauer in 2005. The powerful juice is housed in minimalistic hexagonal bottles that are evocative of Andy Tauer’s structural and methodical approach to perfumery. His scents are often heavy, heady and deeply complex, made with high quality ingredients.
His classics line caught the world’s attention with scents like L’air Du Desert Morocain that transport you to the Middle Eastern desert. The Homages line features exclusive ingredients and a high concentration of natural oils; PentaChords, which emphasizes a “less is more” philosophy; Collectibles, a low-volume line featuring precious raw materials whose availability fluctuates from year to year. There is something for everyone, particularly the perfume connoisseur who appreciates the different layers and nuances of every scent. Tauer perfumes will take you on a ride!
Must Try Scent : L’air Du Desert Morocain
If you are all about feeling like royalty, this is the niche brand for you. Created by Prince Murat (yes, an actual prince) in 1930, this French perfume house exudes that je ne sais quoi in buckets. From the understated elongated bottles, to the simple logo that pays homage to their Napoleon-esque roots, Le Galion is aloof, austere and proud. With scent names like ‘Snob’, their fragrances are made to feel light in the air and leave an alluring trail behind you. Most importantly, they smell expensive. If you love vintage scents that have a heavy French, aristocratic touch, you will love this niche brand.
Must Try Scent : Snob
Find It At : Maven At Takashimaya
A niche brand hailing from London, Ormonde Jayne is elegance in a bottle. Employing the experienced and talented nose of Geza Schoen (creator of cult brand, Escentric Molecule) to create the 28 perfumes in their line, Ormonde Jayne has a versatile library of dense and effervescent perfumes. As with their luxurious packaging, their scents are equally decadent using a rich melange of notes to create a perfect blend. The prices of each bottle may vary due to the number and quality of the ingredients that go inside it, but one thing’s for sure, you are paying for quality with this one. From ethereal florals to deep, sweet amber, you may well find your signature scent here. And trust that no one else will smell like you.
Must Try Scent : Ormonde Woman
Find It At : Maven At Takashimaya
Though Amouroud itself is a relatively new line that started in 2016, the company that created it is no stranger to the perfume industry. Amouroud is born out of The Perfumer’s Workshop, a respected fragrance company from the US who has created iconic fragrances such as Tea Rose. This is their more niche offering that is catered to people who are looking to smell different and intriguing. Amouroud boasts high quality ingredients that are both natural smelling but also long-lasting. This brand is not for the faint of heart. The juice is so strong that one needs to go easy on the trigger. Pick a day time oud scent such as their Oud du Jour or a sensual syrupy rose in Midnight Rose, all their offerings are labelled as unisex for both you and your partner to enjoy.
Must Try Scent: Oud Du Jour
Find It At: Escentials at Paragon
One of the most underrated perfume brands that is actually well-respected in the field of perfumery is Jovoy Paris. For those of you who often take trips to Paris, you might recognize this as a multi-brand niche perfume shop at rue de castiglione. What you didn’t know is that Jovoy has their own line of fragrances and it is high-perfumery at its best! The perfume house was started in 1923 and was given a new lease of life in 2007. Now, they have over 26 perfumes in their new line and they are all the epitome of Parisian perfumery. With names like Rouge Assassin and L’enfant Terrible, they combine the French quirk with a host of heady notes to create interesting and luxurious scents. Each fragrance in their line is very distinct and thus, are likely to be a love-it-or-hate-it sort of situation. However, when you do find the one, trust us, you will fall head over heels for it.
Must Try Scent: Gardez Moi
Find It At: Fragrance Du Bois at Scotts Square
Imaginary Authors is an indie perfume company that has blown up in America, thanks to its unique concept that marries storytelling and perfumery. As their names would suggest, each fragrance in their line is inspired by an imaginary story told by an imaginary author and inside each scent is an imaginary note. The note breakdown and scent composition are evocative of the stories told. You can read more about the story and the author that inspired the scent on their website. All their fragrances have an incredible backstory create by the perfumer, Josh Meyers. Expect interesting notes of shipwrecks, evening air and burnt match. This is one for those who want to be taken on an olfactory journey every time they spritz their perfume. It’s an escape in a bottle!
Must Try Scent: Memoirs Of A Trespasser
Find It At: Imaginaryauthors.com
Histoires de Parfums is a luxury French fragrance house founded by perfumer Gerald Ghislain in 2000. Their bottles are reminiscent of an old encyclopedia which is exactly what the brand represents. Inspired by history, this brand creates scents that are based on famous people in the past or a specific era. From Ernest Hemingway in 1899 to the Moulin Rouge in 1889, their fragrances are time portals to days of yore. Histoires de Parfums calls their fragrances volumes in a library of scents and you can collect a bunch to line them up like actual books. Scent stories aside, their fragrances are rich, opulent and long-lasting. For those who want to travel to a different era, this niche house is exactly what you should check out.
Must Try Scent: This Is Not A Blue Bottle 1.2
Find It At: Histoiresdeparfums.com; Sephora at Ion
A local indie perfume house that you might’ve chanced upon thanks to their pop-ups at Singapore Fashion Week and other locations. Oo La Lab is most known for their perfume workshops that you can attend solo or with a group. There, they teach you how you can concoct your own perfume using their library of fragrance notes. At the end of the course, you walk away with your very own bespoke scent. Otherwise, you can pick and choose from their own signature collection or their limited edition ones. We love the apothecary style bottles and their scientific approach to perfumery. They have a whole host of wearable scents you can choose from, whether you prefer something sweet or something floral and fresh. There is a scent for everyone!
Must Try Scent: Suede
Find It At: Oolalab.com; Oo La Lab Store at Delta House
Based in Canada, the founder of Zoologist Perfumes, Victor Wong works with esteemed and highly regarded perfumers to create scents that are truly one-of-a-kind. Each perfume in their line is named after an animal. Once you spray the juice inside, Victor aims to transport you to the habitat of these animals. Imagine the lush rainforests where the elephant resides or the floral garden where the nightingale flourishes, these are the landscapes these perfumes will take you to. Each scent is eerily realistic and natural smelling too. Not to mention, the bottle design and illustrations of each animal are just to die for. The perfumes are all extrait de parfum concentration so, it’s going to be mega strong and long-lasting. Explore the animal kingdom with Zoologist perfumes.
Must Try Scent: Nightingale