Much like in present times, it is believed that ancient Egyptians and Mesoptamians created fragrances with natural ingredients like flowers, herbs and resins and used them as means of worship, escapism and even self expression. And just like what they did in the past, seasoned artisans today are dreaming up one-of-a-kind niche scent offerings in small batches from the finest (and some of the rarest) ingredients in the world.
In recent years, niche perfume brands have expanded their presence in Singapore. Just this year alone, French fragrance house L’Artisan Parfumeur opened its first Southeast Asian store in Takashimaya.
But what exactly are niche perfumes and how do they differ from their mainstream counterparts? “Unlike mainstream perfumes designed for broad appeal, niche fragrances prioritise individuality over ubiquity. Crafted in limited quantities by passionate and innovative perfumers, each bottle represents a singular masterpiece, offering wearers a sensory experience that goes beyond the ordinary,” explains a spokesperson from luxury beauty products distributor Luxasia group.
Back to basics
Another point of distinction is the dialogues established between these small-batch perfume brands and their consumers. “People are on a quest for sincerity and authenticity, and this is exactly what L’Artisan Parfumeur proposes; to go back to the essence of creation in perfumery, detached from marketing demands and instead offer a sincere and organic olfactory dialogue with the perfumer, “ says Reyes Lezcano Penalva, general manager of L’Artisan Parfumeur.
Mr Edouard Dorize, General Manager of Aura Prestige Singapore echoes her views, “niches fragrances are gaining popularity as a result of the increasing lack of richness of mass market perfumery. People are looking for genuine communications that create strong bonds.”
According to David Benedeck, founder of BDK Parfums, part of the appeal of such fragrances stems from the desire to find a signature fragrance that not many people would possess. “To create your own signature sillage. I think that is why niche fragrances are getting more and more popular right now. For example, at BDK Parfums, our idea is to explore the sensuality of someone, by creating deep and sensual fragrances.”
Unsurprisingly, compared to classic, heritage perfume brands, boutique fragrances tend to carry hefty price tags for their artistry and craftsmanship. “Higher prices are linked to the quality of raw materials and the fact that they are produced in smaller quantities and usually distributed in a selected number of doors,” explains Penalva.
That said, Penalva shares that “you are often paying for tangible benefits that can be smelled in the elegance of the fragrance or its longevity. As consumers become ever more educated about fragrance, they seek out fragrances with higher quality ingredients.”
While pricey, “they are definitely worth the investment for someone who is looking for something unique not only in terms of scents but also for the design, the history and overall philosophy the brands have to offer. Once you find your brand and scent; you will likely stay with it for a lifetime. It becomes part of your identity,” shares Dorize.
Niche fragrance brands that are hitting all the right notes
At the helm of this perfume house is Paris-born David Benedek who embodies a mix of Moroccan and Romanian heritage. His olfactory creations are a reflection and representation of his diverse background. A creative at heart, he aims to create “creative, contemporary, and high-demand fragrances.”
Shop: Pas Ce Soir Extrait, $384 Aptly named, Pas Ce Soir (which means not tonight in French) has top notes of black pepper, ginger, mandarin and pear for a sexy, flirty edge. Cashmeran, amber wood and patchouli sourced from Singapore grounds the scent.
Founded in 1700s Britain by an owner of a tailoring firm Henry Creed, the heritage brand has a rich history of supplying fragranced leather goods to the royal family. Today, Creed still harnesses pricey, laborious infusion techniques from centuries ago to create one-of-a-kind fragrances that stand the test of time.
Shop: Carmina Eau De Parfum, $485; Bold and confident, Creed’s newest launch is truly a modern take on the sensual rose de mai. The warmth of saffron is balanced out with the sweetness of black cherries and the spicy heat of pink cherries.
The story of the brand started when chemist, botanist and perfumer Jean Laporte created a banana forward fragrance in the 1970s. As one of the pioneering niche fragrance houses in France, L’artisan Parfumeur prides itself on “sublimating and transforming fine ingredients and precious raw materials. We craft fragrances in a very direct and readable way leaving space to experimentation,” Penalva says.
Shop: L’artisan Parfumeur Passage D’enfer Ext Eau De Toilette, $240; With a delicately spicy translucent lily at its core, this balsamic, smoky scent makes a statement without being overpowering. White musk adds to the scent’s cool, soothing quality.