Opinion52 Fragrances and How to Think About Them

52 Fragrances and How to Think About Them

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Black Opium Eau de Parfum (2014), Yves Saint Laurent

In 1977, Yves Saint Laurent launched Opium, a powerful, sensual scent filled with ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, clove and cinnamon that despite, or perhaps because of, the fury caused by its name, would come to define the ’80s. The brand removed the scent’s shoulder pads, so to speak, with its 2014 launch of this refined, slightly subtler take. What is actually missing is the clove, while additions of coffee, pear and pink peppercorn tie it all together. Yves Saint Laurent Beauté Black Opium Eau De Parfum, $155 (150 ml), yslbeautyus.com.

Dries Van Noten (2013), Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle

Dries Van Noten is known as a hyper-intellectual designer, and Bruno Jovanovic, under the creative direction of Frédéric Malle, honored that side of him perfectly with this warm, spicy scent that forces you to rack your brain in order to place what it is you’re smelling, namely sandalwood, vanilla, saffron and sacrasol. Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Dries Van Noten, $330 (100 ml), fredericmalle.com.

African Rooibos (2021), Chris Collins

Rooibos, meaning “red bush,” only grows in a small mountainous region of South Africa’s Western Cape province, and is usually used to make a sweet, smoky and vanillic tea. Chris Collins has managed to turn that wonderful taste into a fragrance, one that is sweet when it hits the skin and, after it dries down, becomes more smoky and dusty. World of Chris Collins African Rooibos, $175 (50 ml), chriscollins.com.

Rima XI (2012), Carner Barcelona

Sara Carner founded her brand, which seeks to create fragrances that unearth memories and emotions, in 2009. Rima XI was inspired by a love poem by the 19th-century Spanish writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, and reads like an explosion of spices. It contains cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as vanilla and saffron, mint and coriander. Carner Barcelona Rima XI, $120 (50 ml), carnerbarcelona.com.

Taosi (2016), Therapeutate Parfums

Taosi was created by perfumer Rodney Hughes, who wove three kinds of freshness around each other: citrusy (lime, bergamot), floral (fundamentally lavender, with some rose and ylang-ylang for good measure) and herbal (nutmeg, black pepper and oak moss, with a woody and astringent vetiver to support them). Altogether, they create a delicate, airy quality that makes this a good gourmand for spring. Therapeutate Parfums Taosi Eau de Toilette $430 (100 ml), tpeta.com.

Cierge de Lune (2016), Aedes de Venustas

Aedes de Venustas is a jewel of a New York City boutique that’s filled with candles, creams and all manner of intoxicating perfumes, including those of the house line, which the shop’s very helpful owners, Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner, launched in 2012. Cierge de Lune, created by Fabrice Pellegrin, translates to “moon altar candle” and is a homage to night-blooming cereus, which smells like a spicy vanilla. I think it is one of the strangest gourmands I’ve ever encountered — akin to a baked alaska still in flames. Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune, $245 (3.4 oz), aedes.com.

Saint-Germain-Des-Prés (2019), Celine by Hedi Slimane

Named for a Left Bank quartier in Paris, Saint-Germain-Des-Prés is perhaps too elusive for any one fragrance category — orris root makes it powdery, vanilla and almond make it delicious and petitgrain and neroli make it citrusy. What is certain is that it’s a rich, heady construction that, above all, channels a certain sort of French glamour. Celine by Hedi Slimane Saint-Germain-Des-Prés Eau de Parfum, $220 (100 ml), celine.com.

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