Like any broke student worth their weight in vodka cranberries, my beauty product journey started with free samples. On a mission to switch out my Hello Kitty body spray to something a little more ‘mature’, I trawled the Myer cosmetics counters looking for women to spray me with scents I couldn’t afford. Covered in a sickly mix of vanilla, white jasmine, musk and bergamot, I left feeling dejected and a little lightheaded.
I was waiting for that olfactory ‘a-ha’ moment, that one scent I’d want to sniff for the rest of my days. There were other perfumes before I found the one – I’m only human– but I finally found my fragrance forever in the form of Malin and Goetz’s Dark Rum.
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Trawling beauty retailers for samples again (nothing’s changed, clearly), I doused myself in it on my lunch break. When I returned, I was met with an abundance of compliments (three or so) and I lapped them up. I was the most aromatic queen in the building – for a time. Now that I work at Fashion Journal, I’m constantly surrounded by sweet-smelling people. And because we don’t believe in gatekeeping, here are the FJ team’s tried-and-true signature scents.
Genevieve Phelan, FJ’s Lifestyle and Careers Columnist
Signature scent: Sundazed by Byredo
I’m all about seasonally switching up fragrances, or pairing them with the mood/occasion. Byredo’s Sundazed is on my dresser at the minute (and was all summer), but a mini spritzer of Roemy’s Forest fragrance is warming my handbag right now. I’m dying to secure the full size for a more sultry, Santal-esque winter scent.
I chose Sundaze for the opposite reasons, being such a bright, zesty cocktail of lemon, mandarin, neroli, jasmine and musk. After depleting my current perfume stash, Dear Polly by Vilhelm is another sample I’ve savoured. Desperate to wear this yummy bergamot and black amber treat every single day. And that bottle! A sight for sore eyes.
Maeve Kerr-Crowley, FJ Contributor
Signature scent: Gold by Commodity
For about a year straight, I’d go into Sephora whenever I passed, spray this perfume on myself and leave. After hearing me bemoan not being able to afford my dream perfume for so long, some very kind and beautiful friends all chipped in to buy it for me as a birthday gift a few years ago.
It’s somehow rich and super light at the same time, with an ambery-vanilla scent that I have to resist just pressing to my nose and breathing in all day. It’s the most luxe perfume I’ve ever owned, but it’s also really fresh and sweet – so I don’t feel stuffy or like I’m unconvincingly cosplaying as a rich bitch when I’m wearing it.
Giulia Brugliera, FJ’s Managing Editor
Signature scent: Autumn Vibes by Maison Margiela
Like everyone who wore Britney Spears’ Fantasy as an adolescent, I’ve fallen in love with Baccarat Rouge in my adulthood. It’s not my signature scent (I’m not made of money), but I mention it to give you a sense of my palate when it comes to fragrance, so you know where I’m coming from when I write the below.
At work, we’re lucky to have access to lots of fragrances, and I’ve been rotating through quite a few in recent years, waiting for ‘the one’. I actually think I finally found it last week, after I cracked open Autumn Vibes from the Replica range by Maison Margiela. It’s the right balance of woody, spicy and sweet, and settles so beautifully onto the skin. I wore it for the first time just a few days ago and kept pausing throughout the day as my nose kept noticing the scent as it evolved.
Eliza Sholly, FJ Contributor
Signature scent: Vanilla Vibes by Juliette Has A Gun
In high school, I used to hoard my pocket money to buy Gwen Stefani’s (problematically branded) Harajuku Lovers G scent from Chemist Warehouse. In the years since I’ve experimented with others, but consistently find myself returning to the vanilla/coconut moments that smell like you’ve been at the beach all day.
I’ve tried them all, recently landing on the cringely-titled ‘Vanilla Vibes’ scent from Juliette Has A Gun – a brand I’d never heard of until I went browsing in the perfume section at Sephora. If you’re looking for a cheaper dupe, Jennifer Aniston’s Chapter One is a dead ringer. Or, if you’re a material gworl, Tom Ford Soleil Blanc hits for a $335 price tag.
Kaya Martin, FJ Intern
Signature scent: Fun Things Always Happen After Sunset by Kilian
I like my perfumes to be a little perplexing, which is why After Sunset absolutely does it for me. Friends have offered feedback ranging from ‘old lady’s tea cupboard’ to ‘purple gummy snake’. It opens with a juicy black currant note, reminiscent of sipping crème de cassis on a freshly-cut lawn. It fades out to a rosy, animalistic musk, like the end of a long night out. It’s fun, complex and long-lasting enough to stick with me through all of my escapades. When I die, spray my casket with After Sunset.
Ella Taverner, FJ’s Accounts Manager
Signature scent: Bal D’Afrique by Byredo
I’m a firm believer that smell is the matriarch of all senses. Let’s be real, receiving a “hey, you smell really good” from a friend or stranger is one of the highest forms of flattery. That said, no perfume I’ve owned has invited such compliments as Byredo’s Bal D’Afrique. I have the EDP, roll-on oil and was most recently gifted this sniffy treat in the form of a fancy hair perfume.
For someone with an aversion to washing their hair (goblin mode who?), I love spritzing this all over my freshly hair-sprayed slick bun as a nice little pick me up. The scent is floral but woody, featuring notes of Moroccan cedarwood and fresh bergamot.
Cait Emma Burke, FJ’s Digital Editor
Signature scent: Wonderwood by Comme Des Garcon
The first scent I recall being really, truly captivated by was Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her. I was introduced to it via the brand’s perfume ribbons – every second girl at my high school had one tied around her wrist or fashioned into a bow and fixed to her top bun or ponytail. The ribbons were, of course, entirely free. The trick was to absolutely douse them in perfume so the musky floral scent would linger in the corridors and locker rooms. I was no stranger to perfume prior to For Her – Chloe’s Signature and Marc Jacobs Daisy both hold a special place in my heart – but this perfume made me feel like the woman 15-year-old me longed to be.
In the years since, I’ve never forgotten the transformational power of a memorable fragrance. I’ve cycled through numerous scents in my twenties, but the one that I keep coming back to is Comme Des Garcon’s Wonderwood. As the name suggests, it’s a wonderfully woody fragrance, but the notes of pepper and vetiver inject a little freshness. Several times while wearing it, strangers have chased me down to ask after its name –if that’s not the sign of a memorable signature scent, I don’t know what is.
Sienna Barton, FJ Contributor
Signature scent: Smoking Rose by Ayu
I first discovered Ayu’s range of perfume oils back when I worked in retail. Our store carried two of their oils, and at the beginning of every shift, I’d apply a few drops of our Smoking Rose tester to my wrists. Since then, I’ve been an absolute Smoking Rose devotee. The obvious notes of rose are sweet and romantic, while also being grounding and warm – I think that might be the patchouli.
It’s guaranteed to elicit a “Wow, you smell good!” every time I kiss someone hello. One of my friends told me it reminded him of his family back in India and desserts eaten on special occasions. Perfume oils are great because they can be used sparingly and still pack a punch, and I can always smell them on my clothes the next time I put them on. When I do, I’m hit with faint notes of rose and it makes me feel warm and in love (even if it’s just with myself).
For the best scents to sniff right now, head here.