February 11, 2023
By Amber Kallor
February 4th, 2023
Who Wants to Smell Like a Dead Dinosaur? Apparently, Lots of People
Not everyone wants to reek of pop stars and roses. Peculiar fragrances with notes such as gasoline and fossilized amber, and names like ‘Ink’ are trending. Here, 8 to try.
“YOU SMELL interesting,” is the best compliment you can give Katya Roelse. “I don’t think perfume is just about smelling good, it’s about being provocative and starting a conversation,” said the 47-year-old professor in Newark, Del. Some of her favorite fragrances include whiffs of brown tape like Comme des Garçons’s eponymous eau and potato like DSH Perfume’s Starry Nightshade.
Unlike mass fragrances that rely on celebrities and sex to drive sales, new niche scents entice olfactory sophisticates with eyebrow-raising names (like Dead Dinosaur) and unusual notes (like tar). Some people care “more about their pleasure than emulating a celebrity,” said New York perfumer Frank Voelkl, who’s had a hand in such hyped scents as Ariana Grande’s Ari.
Robert Gerstner, co-owner of New York perfumery Aedes, which specializes in hard-to-find fragrances, said year-over-year sales were up 30% between 2020 and 2022. Individuality and exclusivity are key for Mr. Gerstner’s customers, who don’t want to sniff people sporting their scent on every street corner. Consumers are “craving…quirkiness and creativity,” said Carlos Huber, a New York fragrance developer.
But peculiarity only goes so far. “It’s one thing to want to experience a fragrance but it’s another to wear it all the time,” said Linda G. Levy, president of the Fragrance Foundation in New York. A scent must satisfy the senses (not just reek) if it’s going to sell. So shocking notes are often blended with traditional ones, said Mr. Voelkl.
Madisin McLauchlan, 36, a Vancouver teacher’s assistant, prefers unlikely scents that trigger pleasant memories, while Paris PR executive Angharad Coates, 37, uses distinctive fragrances to mark her territory—particularly when it comes to lovers’ abodes. Zack Bochicchio, 26, a Nashville copyright associate, sees scent as a form of expression. “I wouldn’t like if a person called out [my] fragrance. But if someone borrowed my sweatshirt and said ‘This smells like you,’ in a good way, I’ll have achieved my goal.” Here, five scents sure to leave an impression.
Weirdest Note: Hay
Who It’s For: Anyone with a Berkshires abode who’s seen “Ratatouille.”
Victor Wong, the Toronto founder of the brand Zoologist, owns over 200 animal figurines that inspire his stable of scents, which includes Cow, Bee and Squid. The latest addition, Harvest Mouse, conjures rodent-friendly wheat fields via beer and hay extract. Milan perfumer Luca Maffei added notes of chamomile and orange blossom to replicate the “warmth of the sun.” The result “smells like rum-raisin ice cream,” said Mr. Wong. Bottles will go on sale Feb. 18. $175 for 60ml, ZoologistPerfumes.com
The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.
June 04, 2022