The fragrance industry is not widely associated with innovation. Unlike the rest of the rapidly evolving beauty world, it favours classicism and tradition over Next Big Things. But there’s a shift in focus on the horizon, thanks to a host of disruptors that refuse to conform to tried-and-tested methods, opting to think outside the faceted glass bottle instead.
We now demand more from our beauty products than ever before, so it seems only right that the heritage-steeped world of perfumery should follow suit. In the same way a heavily retouched photo of a 17-year-old supermodel no longer has us running to the shops for the latest mascara, a budget-busting fragrance ad – think same supermodel, candy-floss dress, Parisian balcony – doesn’t quite sell us another powdery floral scent. A fragrance revolution couldn’t have come at a better time. Click through for our roundup of the cutting-edge brands to have on your radar.
For his namesake perfume line, Zarko Ahlmann Pavlov rewrites the rules of French perfumery with a purist approach to molecular science. Inspired by the landscapes of his Scandinavian hometown – he claims to be Denmark’s only practising perfumer – Pavlov’s sensual yet restrained blends see long-coveted notes presented in a fresh new guise.
The brand’s most innovative launch, Perfume Serum, is based on the belief that the beauty of a fragrance is only truly revealed when it comes into contact with the skin. Each scent in the trio is formulated into a light, watery serum that is applied via a skincare-style dropper. A highlight, Supercharged Molécule is a riff on the label’s cult original scent, Molécule 234·38, which is based on a single molecule that interacts with your pheromones to create a personal fragrance that evolves over 10 hours.
The serum formula works with the warmth and oils of your skin to create a truly unique and flattering scent. What’s more, it lingers longer than a traditional juice, so you can leave the Insta-worthy glass bottle on your dressing table.
Zarko Perfume Serum, £95, available at Space NK More
Created by skincare heroes Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz, it’s hardly surprising that Atelier Bloem is set to rip up the olfactory rulebook. This spectacular line of twisted florals is the duo’s homage to Amsterdam’s blossoming flower market, yet there’s not a single saccharine note to be found. Don’t be fooled by the ultra-modern concept, though, because these are incredibly beautiful scents. Where many conceptual fragrances find themselves in the ‘acquired taste’ zone, Bloem’s concoctions are so gorgeous they’ll have people stopping you in the street.
Each scent has its own backstory, with every unusual note steeped in depth and meaning. The sparkling green Half Moon is an ode to the ship once sailed by Henry Hudson in search of a rapid route to China – a story that resonates with the duo, who now live in the Hudson Valley – while Black Tulip is a sultrier affair, inspired by Amsterdam’s most exclusive and mysterious bloom.
Atelier Bloem Eau de Parfum, £160, available exclusively at Liberty More
Ben Gorham has long been shaking up the niche fragrance game but it’s with his latest launch that he truly breaks the mould. Byredo’s Kabuki brushes are inspired by the powder rituals of Japanese actors in a theatre dressing room, where application signals transformation.
Each glossy black retractable brush is filled with an ultra-fine powder version of one of the brand’s most coveted scents – Gypsy Water, Blanche and Bal d’Afrique. It’s perfect for dusting over shoulders or in the hollow of your neck, but also great for layering with the original spray formula to intensify the effect. And if you’re not already at the checkout, here’s a little practical persuasion: as there’s no liquid involved, there’s no chance of that heartbreaking handbag breakage.
Byredo Kabuki Perfume, £42, available at Byredo More
Maison Francis Kurkdjian
If you’re often left disappointed by the staying power of your favourite fragrance, this one’s for you. Hair perfumes are making a strong comeback this season, and Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s offering is one of the most covetable. The line encompasses three of the brand’s most coveted scents – Amyris Femme, À la Rose and Aqua Universalis – in a conditioning, alcohol-free formula. As hair fibres are more porous than skin, the scent will linger from your morning commute right up to after-work drinks. Want to double the impact? There’s an equally decadent body oil, too.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Hair Mist, £55, and Body Oil, £65, available at Harvey Nichols More Story continues
Niche perfume line Jusbox is inspired by the connection between music and scent, making it the perfect fit for
MusicMatters, Selfridges’s summer celebration of music.
As a sense, smell is directly linked to the limbic system, which is responsible for processing memories and emotions – hence why smelling a fragrance can transport you to a specific time or place.
To mark the event, Jusbox launches two exclusive new fragrances, both inspired by this connection between smell and emotion. Live ‘n’ Loud is the olfactory equivalent of your favourite mood-boosting playlist – it’s an energetic fusion of spices, woods, amber and leather. On the flip side, Feel ‘n’ Chill contains soothing notes of bergamot, pine needles and musk to fully zen you out.
Jusbox Eau de Parfum, £140, available exclusively at Selfridges More
True, Jo Malone may sit happily at the more traditional end of the fragrance spectrum, but the long-loved label’s newest launch demonstrates its mastery of new, niche trends. Star Magnolia Hair Mist boasts a fresh, summery scent of orange blossom and magnolia leaf with fizzy sparks of ginger, lemon and shiso that’ll make you feel like you’ve just skipped through a meadow – even if you’re really perched outside the pub. The clincher? It’s packed with nourishing extracts that impart a
seriously glassy shine. Jo Malone Star Magnolia Hair Mist, £38, available at Jo Malone More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? The Nicest Home Fragrances For When You're Playing Grown-Up This Is The Best Thing To Happen To IKEA Since The Meatballs This Is What Every Type Of Guy On Bumble Smells Like