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2017 Resolution: No More Buying Very Expensive Fragrances


In 2017, you have to be a Rockefeller to buy a friggin' perfume. This is thanks to the ascent in popularity of the Atelier Fragrance—you know, the scent that comes with an origin story? The price tag that resembles a credit card payment? The bottle that is a study in Very Fancy Minimalism?

I, a mere mortal, have been seduced by them. (One time, a Le Labo salesperson flirted with me, which is very good customer service and a different kind of seduction, so I bought an Oud 27 solid perfume that I promptly lost.) This is because expensive fragrance is, in my opinion, the keystone of an aspirational lifestyle. They're sexy, strange, and small batch. The interesting-looking person at the end of the bar is never wearing Curious by Britney Spears. Who is she? What is she wearing? (It's Frédéric Malle l'Armpit and you can't afford it.)

The problem with It Fragrances—especially now, when expensive perfume is having a heyday and people will shell out—is the same problem you sometimes come across with It Bags or It Coats or It Doily Socks; they reach critical mass and inspire fatigue, forever entering a graveyard of trends forgotten. Not to say there aren't exceptions, but this is why sneaker wedges are far and few. They've gone on to a better place. It Fragrances are worse because they're harder to style—and a nuanced, delicate blend of notes tends to smell the same from person to person. Am I wrong? If so, I'm sure you'll tell me in the comments.

This year, I'm advocating for the underdogs. Which is not to say expensive perfumes aren't also great—I loooOOOoooved my Oud 27 before it ran away from me. As a beauty industry, we're taught that if a perfume retails for over $100, it's objectively good. Plenty of objectively good fragrances are expensive, but some of the best fragrances out there are under $100 and available on Jet.com. I promise! Don't let me tell you how to fragrance your 2017, but do let me shower you in inexpensive eau de parfum:

Comme des Garçons Series 4 Anbar: Comme des Garçons, a lifestyle brand that would love to sell you clown trou for $600, has an extensive perfume portfolio and all of them are excellent. Their Series 4 range is particularly economic—$65 for 125mL (which is larger than a full-sized Le Lab) or about $90 for 500mL (which is a literal jug). Anbar is a standout for its clean, fresh, citrus-y finish.

Kiehl's Musk: Smells a little dad at first, but as it wears, Kiehl's "love scent" becomes inextricable with your own body chemistry—which makes it the sexiest and possibly the most unique fragrance on this list. Also, you know how much I love Kiehl's Musk. I could talk about it forever. Visit my forthcoming website, Into The Kiehl's Musk, for details.

Clean Reserve Skin: Another musk, but not as potent as Kiehl's. Instead it errs on the sweeter side—less of a Country Club mens locker room and more of a lightly-scented spa hallway. It's you, if you smelled good all the time.

Mister Green Hippie Shit: Alright, this one traipses towards atelier fragrance—it's formulated in collaboration with a "Portland-based apothecary" (!) inspired in part by "shamanic rituals" (!!!!!!). At $89 for 30mL, it's certainly not cheap, but an affordable luxury for anybody who loves a good palo santo scent. Smoky, heady, and lightly addictive.

Demeter Fragrance Library Fig Leaf: You know what? There's no better way to describe this scent than "fig leaf." It literally smells like fig leaves, which means it's nearly identical to every other fig scent but costs about 100 dollars less. Reminds me most of a certain figgy Diptyque scent that I once shelled out for at Space NK. Rhymes with Milosykos.

—Brennan Kilbane

Photo via ITG.

If atelier fragrance is your thing, that's OK, too! We've got suggestions this way.