If you’re reading this, its likely that you either already know what a ‘niche perfume’ is, or you want to find out what the fuss is about.
For those in the dark, a niche perfume is a fragrance produced in smaller quantities, often by small companies, and with a higher quality than the big-name designer brands.
They tend towards the more distinctive, individual end of the market, with a wider range of fragrance notes (individual scents that combine to make up a perfume) to choose from.
Niche fragrance can be classic and refined, or modern and edgy.
With little to no presence in large department stores, they can generally be found in specialist shops or high-end boutiques, thus earning themselves the ‘niche’ tag.
If you’re tired of wearing something generic – scents that many others also favour – then investigating your niche perfumery options is the way forward.
How to choose your fragrance
Perhaps you’re enticed by the many manifestations of rose; or woody, creamy and exotic sandalwood (my obsession) gets you going; or maybe something heavier, more dominant – and even slightly dirty – like oud captivates your nose.
Either way, investigating these notes through niche perfumery allows your own sense of smell and olfactory style to develop.
While the expense tends to be greater than the mainstream lines, the quality can often mean that you need to apply less for the same impact. Niche perfume lines (and shops) are also much keener to provide free samples. They want you to return, to be satisfied with your fragrance and to enjoy the whole process from selecting to wearing. They recognise that choosing a new perfume can take time, and that the best way to decide is often to live with it for a while – to see how it develops on your skin, and how it works for you as an individual.
Individuality is the key on several levels – perfumes often combine in different ways with your unique skin chemistry, and what may smell wonderful (or indeed awful) on one person may have the opposite effect on you.
First think about what qualities you want from a perfume. Is it something powerful and dominating, or something more subtle yet distinctive? Which notes do you particularly like? Do woods, florals, or spices get you going? When do you want to wear it? At work or play? Winter or summer? All these considerations can help you narrow down your choices.
When the habit takes hold (and once you start it can be hard to stop)there are several online services that provide a wide range of niche samples to continue your journey with.
Getting to know your scent
Once decided, visit a parfumerie or order some samples online (tip: It’s worth the effort to visit in person if you can. You will pay for most samples obtained online, but visiting a parfumerie may well result in free samples – and expert advice too).
After a few weeks of using your new fragrance, what you previously considered as interesting or well made may no longer seem so. Your newly refined sense of smell will set new standards for your expectations.
As they tend towards the more complex, nuanced and layered compositions, niche perfumes can teach you to identify certain scents, allowing you to focus in on the notes that work for you. This also allows you to develop and refine your own sense of smell, in turn heightening the enjoyment of using such fragrances. As the sense of smell and taste are connected, you may also find that your palate also improves.
No longer satisfied with the often muddled and poorly blended designer fragrances, the near infinite possibilities of niche perfumery allows for a much deeper exploration. Not only is this journey a pleasure in itself, and one that never really ends, you will find yourself commanding a presence simply by the fragrant cloud that surrounds you.
Perfume makes you feel better
Perfume can make you feel good about yourself. It can change your mood. The right fragrance can envelop you, making you feel you’re wrapped up warm, cosy and content. While it tends to be a seasonal thing – a heavy oud or incense based fragrance can be cloying and overpowering on a hot humid summer’s day – there are times that a contrast with the environment can really help you mentally. A spritz of something summery – for example Caligna with its soft fig, subtle woods, heady jasmine and soothing clary sage – can be a wonderfully sunny uplift to your spirits on a dark, wet, winter’s day.
Instead of following the herd, be an individual and use your imagination. Investigate, smell more, and train your nose. With the right fragrance you can be more alluring, more distinctive and will stand out from the crowd.
Your journey starts with opening the door to a world of individual, complex and arresting niche perfumery and all its treasures.