… and if you have heard of them, then you’re likely a niche fragrance addict and you and I would be good friends. Y’see, I am totally over the mainstream fragrance offerings – cloying candy, predictable and instantly identifiable scents.
There are exceptions; I’ll always keep a bottle of Thierry Mugler Alien for old times sake but for the most part, I steer away from the boring Britney Spears hype (sorry Britney, I do love you) and instead favour nuanced, carefully curated creations more often found in niche perfumeries.
While travelling in San Francisco and Los Angeles, I stumbled across some niche perfume stores – what better time to beef up my already bloated fragrance assembly? I’m no expert but here are my feels.
Atelier Flou – Paradis Paradis
Atelier Flou is a niche French line which launched in 2010. It pains me to admit that this bottle drew me in. LOOK AT IT, it was made for my vanity. Dat lid makes a satisfying sound when clasped shut, I can’t even.
Delicate and feminine, Paradis Paradis is like an authentic iris bed, brightened with bergamot. Iris creations are often super-duper powdery and there is definitely a powdery element in play here, although plenty of green and cedar notes prevent soapiness.
Top Notes: Jasmin, bergamot, baies roses
Heart Notes: Iris
Base Notes: Vanilla, cedar
Paradis Paradis strikes some resmblance to Estee Lauder White Linen, though the former is more airy. I often associate fragrances (and people) with colours: if Paradis Paradis were a colour, it would be white.
Available at: Lucky Scent for 245USD. Selfridges may or may not carry it.
Tauer – Rose Flash
Tauer Perfumery is a Switzerland-based independent perfume house founded by chemist, Andy Tauer. The oh-so-lovely sales assistant described Rose Flash as a ‘jammy-rose’ and I couldn’t have described it better myself! Rosehip jam is a big thing in my culture (any other Eastern-Europeans feel me?) so Rose Flash feels like home, very nostalgic. Despite the foody reference, there are sufficient balsamic resin notes goin’ on as to not veer into edible territory.
The honeyed viscosity softens as it wears, leaving a sweetened woody rose with a dash of spice (clove, perhaps? Andy opts not to list notes). A good example of a contemporary rose that retains some old school glamour.
Rose Flash has phenomenal longevity on my skin and trails nicely (to those who entered the lift after me, you are WELCOME).
Available at: Lucky Scent for 63USD
I Profumi di Firenze – Vaniglia del Madagascar
This brand has a cute story, artist Miryana Babic created a line of fragrances based on recipes commissioned by 16th century Queen of France Catherine de Medici, using the same ingredients used during the renaissance.
Vanilla has developed a bit of a bad reputation; synonymous with plasticky fragrances reserved for teenagers. Vanilla del Madagascar is a genuine vanilla bean, sharpened with top notes of lemon and sexified (making up words now) with notes of amber. Though there is no mention in the note breakdown, I maintain that there is some smokiness in the dry down.
Top notes: Lemon
Heart notes: Floral notes, amber notes
Base notes: Vanilla
Yes, this is a sweet one and yes, vanilla is the predominant note throughout but it’s bloody easy to wear and I recommend it to all vanilla lovers.
Dame Perfumery – Mate, Heliotrope & Patchouli
Founded by a father/son duo (awww), Jeffrey Dame is a fragrance veteran, having worked with Estee Lauder and the like before launching a niche perfumery in 2014.
Story time: I am forever searching for the perfect heliotrope. Some years back, I did some work in niche fragrances (vague, aren’t I?) and I noticed that heliotrope is more prevalent in masculine creations but I adore it, so the never-ending quest began. If you’re unfamiliar with heliotrope, it’s a magnificent purple flower that smells much like almond or marzipan, but (when done well) much crisper and less gourmand/foody.
Invigorating and sparkling on first spritz, MHP matures with a soft powdery undercurrent that is distinctly ‘clean’ – so unobtrusive that it could easily be mistaken as ‘my skin but better’. I must admit, the label had me hesitating; I dislike patchouli with such a passion and thankfully, this doesn’t pull any patchouli on my skin.
Top notes: Mate, lime peel, aldehydes
Heart notes: Heliotrope, iris, rose, tiare flower
Base notes: Patchouli, amber
If you loved Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver, be sure to check out this Dame perfumery offering, both are creamy heliotropes that evolve into delectable skin scents. Both would be holy grails for me IF ONLY they exhibited better longevity, but I’m not averse to an extra evening spritz.
Available at: Dame Perfumery
Niche perfume stores in Los Angeles & San Francisco
If you are ever in San Francisco, you MUST visit Tigerlily Perfumery. Ask for Ashley, she spent almost two hours educating me on various brands and she’s so passionate about fragrance 🙂 I purchased three of the four fragrances at that store! They will be introducing US shipping on their site soon but put that store on your bucket list, it’s blissful.
I purchased one fragrance at The Scent Bar LA (Lucky Scent is their site), the store is well stocked but if I’m honest, the service was mediocre and I picked my fragrance alone. Maybe I came at a bad time, it was a little busy. They do sell samples on their site, which is handy.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what your favourite fragrances are in the comments!