Olfactory Obscurities

Settling into Niche Fragrances

Seth Vaughan
May 03, 2013

Whether it’s the uncommon aromas they marry, limited availability or the ingredients used in formulating, niche perfumes are reason enough to rethink one’s approach to personal fragrance. Seth Vaughan proposes a discriminating array of scents.

Odin’s 08 Seylon 

Referencing: The otherworldly exoticism of the Sri Lankan landscape where vetiver roots thrive. “Seylon” is a Dutch translation of the island nation’s name.       

Notes: An invigorating, spicy and sumptuous union of elements including yuzu, bitter orange, nutmeg, elemi and nezoin resins, and, of course, vetiver. 

Who’s wearing it: Mystical men and women (all of Odin’s fragrances are unisex) drawn to earthy aromas. $165, at Kuhl-Linscomb. 


Guerlain’s Muguet 

Referencing: The good fortune attributed to the lily of valley during the reign of French monarch Charles IX. Legend has it Charles would present courtesans with the flower each year on May 1, a tradition that has spread throughout France. 

Notes: Lily of the valley, naturally, as well as lilac, rose, jasmine and fresh green notes. 

Who’s wearing it: Feminine Francophiles who are feeling lucky. $575, at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue. 


Arquiste’s Boutonnière no. 7 

Referencing: A bygone époque in which gentleman donned gardenias in their lapels, hoping to lure potential conquests. The brand’s founder is a specialist in historic preservation, so all Arquiste scents seek to evoke the past and transport the wearer back in time. 

Notes: Lavender, bergamot, genet absolut (a derivative of the spartium flower), vetivert, Gardenia jasminoides and gardenia citriodora. 

Who’s wearing it: Poetic and chivalrous dandies. $175, at Kuhl-Linscomb. 


Houbigant’s Orangers en Fleurs  

Referencing: The mythical bounty of the orange tree, which flowers while producing fruit. So symbolic is the tree’s embodiment of a delicate abundance that throughout history, women have adorned themselves on their wedding day with live orange blossoms (as in the case of Queen Victoria) or emblematic representations of the tree’s produce (as lavished on the gowns of ancient Chinese brides). 

Notes: Orange blossom, Egyptian jasmine, eau de brouts, tuberose, cedar wood and musk.  

Who’s wearing it: Anyone looking to add to her feminine mystique. From $180, at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue. 


Juliette Has a Gun’s Mad Madame

Referencing: The daring and scandalous nature of a provocateur.

Notes: A sweetand understated mingling of green chypre, rose oxide and blackcurrant bud with peony accord, patchouli with white musk, tolu balm and vanilla absolute. 

Who’s wearing it: A fascinating creature with her share of stories to tell. $135, at  Kuhl-Linscomb.


CB I Hate Perfume’s 106 Invisible Monster

Referencing: CB I Hate Perfume’s founder Christopher Brosius’ desire to recreate memories through scents. With 106 Invisible Monster, he alludes to childhood games of make-believe on the banks of the Susquehanna river, in the vein of his favorite TV character, Johnny Quest.

Notes: Jungle riverbanks and perfumed Chinese orchids achieved through the combination of accords including sumac, vetivert and oakmoss.

Who’s wearing it: Adventurous souls looking to relive halcyon days of yore. From $95, at Settlement Goods.


Byredo’s Inflorescence

Referencing: An Arcadian stroll through wild bowers of rambling roses, mingled with the honeyed notes of pink freesia in its prime.

Notes: Blooming roses, fragrant freesia, hardy magnolia, elusive lily of the valley and tender jasmine buds

Who’s wearing it: Wild and carefree muses. $220, at byredo.com.


Lurk’s AS01

Referencing: The beauty that results when fragrance is created in a natural manner. Using enfleurage (a process that captures plant extracts in odorless fat, either in solid or liquid form), Lurk creates concentrates free of water, alcohol, chemical stabilizers and preservatives. Composed of organic oils, including jojoba,
ASO1 is at once sweet and spicy.  

Notes: Cedarwood, tuberose and sweet rose, heightened by touches of spice.

Who’s wearing it: Eco-beauties who aren’t opposed to smelling good. $55, at Settlement Goods.


Astier de Villatte’s Eau de Cologne

Referencing: The arresting power of a true eau de cologne — an earthy combination of aromatics in the manner of the original, created at the dawn of the 19th century.

Notes: Verbena, lavender, rosemary, basil and light fleeting florals.

Who’s wearing it: Eternally chic types uninterested in passing fancies. $100, through Grange Hall, urbanflowergrangehall.com.