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I am hands down a perfume lover. My sizable perfume collection houses both the conventionally popular scents (the kind you get a whiff of every now and then while traipsing around Orchard Road) and unique fragrances that can literally turn heads.

I’m not a one-scent-woman for sure, because I believe that like with makeup, perfumes should be fun and varied. The more the merrier really. And there’s a time, place and occasion for every trend. With perfumes, in general, I would say wear something universally pleasant and “comfortable” for regular days the office or when going for a dinner party at your BFF’s house.

For the potent potions that are a mix of unique notes that stand out and pique the olfactory interest, save them for days when you have a work presentation and want to feel more energetic or effective, or if you want to stand out in a social setting like an event. I personally would spritz on one of my unique perfumes simply when I feel sassy, or just to match a quirkier outfit.

This brings us to the “how”. How do you unearth these unique scents that will have people around you asking what you’re wearing? The scents that have the power to turn heads because of their uncommon olfactory.


Always smell before you buy

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Unlike with accessories or clothes, you can’t really shop online when you’re buying new perfumes because you need to smell it to know if you’ll like it. Of course if you’re making a repeat purchase, that’s a different case.

Head to stores that carry a range of perfumes and that curate a unique scent selection. Here are some niche fragrance stores in Singapore you can pop into

  • Escentials stores, which carries fragrance brands like Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Byredo, Memo, Serge Lutens and Le Labo.

  • Fragrance Du Bois at Scotts Square, which offers its in-house signature oud-based fragrances as well as other niche brands like Jovoy, Illuminum and Strangelove NYC.

  • The Hourglass boutiques may be a luxury watch retailer but it also offers a range of Frederic Malle perfumes, some of the most outstanding niche fragrances around. Only at Hourglass Malmaison, Knightsbridge boutique.


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Look harder

Even if you don’t head to one of those niche fragrance shops, you can also find unique fragrances at beauty retailers like Sephora and Tangs. You just need to look a bit harder or even ask the sales assistants if they stock the brands’ lesser known perfumes.

You’ll find Tom Ford fragrances, Mermaid No 1, and Zadig & Voltaire in Sephora. And Tangs has Thierry Mugler and Maison Martin Margiela, all lesser known gems of fragrance brands you need to get a whiff of.


Old is gold

You might also want to try the “older” offerings from the classic fragrance brands. There’s a reason these classic scents are still being sold, they are different from what the brands are rolling out recently which are catering more to the trends in perfumery, and most of them feature olfactory notes that are unique in today’s perfumery scene in the sense that they are less widely used.

Check out Guerlain’s Shalimar launched in 1925 an exotic floral scent, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium which was originally launched in 1977 as a mysterious floral and myrrh blend.

There’s also Christian Dior’s Pure Poison, an enigmatic fruity floral with berries, tuberose and opopanar which made an appearance in 1985, and Sisley’s Eau Du Soir from 1990 which marries citrus notes with warm florals on an amber-patchouli base.

The juices have been tweaked and updated along the way, but the brands have all tried to retain the essence of the scents, which are mostly powerful, heady concoctions that will definitely get you noticed.


Privacy please

Classic fragrance brands like Dior, Chanel, Armani, Tom Ford and Estee Lauder also have private collections, which come from, or are inspired from, the brands’ archives as they started making perfumes over the years. These are usually available in the various brands’ boutiques instead of over the counters.

You might unearth some unusual gems here like Chanel’s Les Exclusifs Beige, La Collection Privée Christian Dior’s Leather Oud and Grand Bal – all prime examples of unusual scents done the right way.


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