The most discerning perfume lovers will tell you that scent is an emotion that holds the key to your memories. With such a strong relevance, would you want the fragrance that you pick to be common or distinct?
It is this quest for a one-of-a-kind soul scent that is leading to a visible spike in the popularity of niche fragrances that have exclusive price points, an artisanal approach (small batches, superior quality and unusual natural ingredients, and higher concentration of perfume extracts), and limited points of sale.
We’ve rounded up 12 of the best niche perfumes and brands to initiate you into finding your special scent.
12 best niche perfume brands in India
Hero image: Courtesy/Clive Christian Parfums
Featured image: Courtesy/Le Labo
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Founded in 2000 by professional perfume evaluator and critic Frederic Malle, this perfume house is a result of generations of expertise in the field.
Malle’s grandfather created Parfums Christian Dior for the fashion brand with the launch of the classic Miss Dior. Although Malle doesn’t create perfumes himself, he acts as an editor collaborating with world-renowned perfumers to craft artisanal scents without being limited by a particular brand style.
Gallery of creators, where recognition is given to the perfumers behind the formulations, is one of the USPs of his stores that makes his offerings some of the best niche perfumes.
Image credit: Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle
The name behind this radical brand is Italian perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri, who has created scents for Versace, Valentino, Helmut Lang, Fendi, Diesel and many more brands.
Gualtieri established his Amsterdam-based brand in 2007 and called it Nasomatto (Italian for ‘crazy nose’). The notes are shrouded in secrecy except for the perfumes’ intriguing descriptions such as ‘evoke degrees of hysteria’ or ‘enhance all the manifestations of male strength’.
Image credit: Nasomatto
Clive Christian Parfum’s Clive Christian Imperial Majesty is believed to be the most expensive perfume in the world.
Sold in a Baccarat crystal container, with a 5-carat white diamond on its 18-karat gold collar, each bottle was sold reportedly for USD 215,000, which means one ml of the perfume cost USD 430.
The brand’s predecessor, the Crown Perfumery Company, established in 1872, is the only house to use Queen Victoria’s crown on its bottles.
Image credit: Clive Christian
Once you select your Le Labo scent, your bottle is freshly hand-blended. This boutique fine fragrance company (literally meaning ‘The Lab’ in French), founded in 2005 in New York, is best known for its irreverent scents.
The name of each perfume is composed of its most prominent note, and the number next to it represents the total notes it contains. For instance, Rose 31 has 31 notes and the main one is rose.
Not to miss the minimalist almost apothecary-like bottles. High on sustainability, this eco-friendly, cruelty-free and vegan brand has a refill programme where customers can bring in their empty bottles to replenish them.
Image credit: Le Labo
Interior designer Christiane Gautrot, painters Desmond Knox-Leet and Yves Coueslant, a theatre director and set designer opened Diptyque at 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain mainly to display their own prints and furnishings.
Today, the brand is best known for its fresh and lively unisex fragrances and artisanal candles. The blends use extremely high quality, rare and precious raw ingredients.
Image credit: Diptyque
Each composition is imbued with the voluptuousness of oudh embedded in earthy notes of flowers, roots and herbs. A brainchild of the Perfumer’s Workshop, Amouroud is one of the first luxury brands to offer custom-blended scents at Bloomingdales. The bottles are regal with black glass and golden caps, but never over the top.
Image credit: Amouroud
Maverick founder Ben Gorham, half Canadian and half Indian, draws from his mother’s Indian roots, creating scents that fuse the East with West.
The fragrances are made of raw materials sourced from around the globe but assembled by hand in Sweden. Not formally trained in perfumery, Ben partners with some of the most prestigious perfumers to bring his unique ideas to completion.
For instance, he collaborated with the art directors at M/M Paris to create M/MINK, a unique scent that is meant to smell of ink and paper, and one of the best niche perfumes today.
Image credit: Byredo
This started as a collaboration between musician David Sath Moltz (DS) and an architect, Kavi Moltz, in 2018. The founders started out making small handmade batches of aftershaves for friends out of flowers, herbs and spices. Soon, the pair began to blend oils and plant extracts and was selling to high-end boutiques in New York and California.
All of their scents are handmade, unisex and made in-house. Best of all: They recently started retailing in India and Scentido.
Image credit: DS & Durga
Named after James Henry Creed, the legacy of the House of Creed began way back in 1760. The journey of the perfumery started when James Creed concocted a mixture of ambergris, sandalwood and mandarin to create a fine aroma for King George III’s glove. The king’s fascination for the scent led to the creation of Royal English Leather, Creed’s first official fragrance.
The house reserves the task of creating the fragrances for a father and the son. Currently, Olivier Creed and his son Erwin continue to follow the tradition. Founded in Mayfair, London, the brand now has boutiques spread across the globe, from Dubai to Miami.
Image credit: Creed
When Roja Dove auctioned an empty bottle filled with a bespoke scent, he had no idea it would lead to the foundation of one of the world’s most luxurious perfumeries.
Right after the auction, Harrods reached out to Roja with the idea of starting a fragrance house and the rest is history. Roja likes to call his brand a type of ‘haute perfumery’ as it uses ingredients of the highest possible standard. Be it the rustic essence of Vetiver or the sensual aura of Enigma, Roja Parfums is known to create scents that can suit any personality type.
Image credit: Roja Parfums
If you’re into fashion, there’s possibly no chance of you not knowing Coco Chanel. Her journey to becoming one of the most revolutionary stylists of the 20th century wasn’t a fairy tale, though.
Prior to the inception of House of Chanel in 1909, Coco made her entry into fashion by opening a hat-making shop at the tender age of 18. However, her finesse in the art of fashion showed, and she gradually ventured into making clothes. This eventually led to the birth of her own brand.
In 1921, Chanel became the first major fashion house to introduce their own perfume with unique packaging. After almost a century, Chanel no. 5 continues to woo people across the globe with its eccentric simplicity.
Image credit: Chanel
Before he ventured into creating the eponymous brand, Tom Ford was known for his remarkable influence at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. But when he left Gucci in 2004, the fashion world hardly had any idea of what was next in-store.
Well, that’s when his line of niche fragrances saw the light of day. Crafted from the world’s most precious ingredients, these fragrances didn’t take long to steal the hearts of fashionistas worldwide.
From tobacco to leather to black violet, Tom Ford has experimented with a host of exotic substances to create long-lasting, iconic scents.
Image credit: Tom Ford
Frequently Asked Questions
What are niche perfumes?
‘Niche’ perfumes refer to fragrances created by independent perfumeries and not sold as by-products of larger brands. Niche perfume companies focus only on making perfumes and other scented products.
However, they are not to be confused with indie perfumes which are operated by the perfumer themselves. On the other hand, niche perfume brands usually hire external perfumers to curate their products.
Are niche perfumes better than designer perfumes?
As niche fragrances are handcrafted, they tend to cover a wider range of notes. Each artisan has their own taste and style, which makes them create unique scents, unlike designer brands that produce perfume collections in masses.
However, there are also designer brands that try to be creative with fragrances by experimenting with quirky ingredients. There are fewer chances of finding glitches in niche perfumes as compared to mass-produced designer perfumes.
Are niche fragrances worth it?
Niche perfumes are usually high on cost, but they are definitely worth all the money. The ingredients are more pronounced, and they are crafted with a unique finesse that most mainstream scents lack. A lot of time and effort goes into making niche perfumes as they are supposed to be unique and out-of-the-box. This makes their aroma stand out from the rest.
Why are niche perfumes so expensive?
Since niche perfumes are crafted with a focus on quality and integrity rather than eye-catchy packaging and high-end marketing, they can be classified as ‘luxury fragrances’.
The ingredients used to make these scents are mostly not readily available and procured from exotic locations. Additionally, the process of creating niche perfumes can be lengthy. All of these factors add up to the cost of the perfume.