Fragrance, perhaps more than any other beauty product, is deeply, deeply personal. Some of us are fixated on the search for a signature scent — the one fragrance that manages to capture and amplify our very essence in an olfactory-friendly form. Others change up their go-to perfumes seemingly every other day, trading sweet, happy-go-lucky gourmands for sophisticated, striking musks depending on mood, event, and aesthetic. The winners in this category are not only the best new scents in their respective fragrance genres, but manage to subvert expectations entirely. Here, you’ll find a fruity fragrance suited for more than just the beach, a rich-smelling woodsy scent, and a dark gothic floral with an unanticipated edge. This year’s emphasis on multifaceted individuality has just teased out the best in brands, who are now prioritizing innovation more than ever before. The result? Some of the most complex, interesting fragrances in a while. All long-lasting and legitimately unforgettable, they’re the sorts of scents that mark a moment in time — years from now, a flash of any one of these best-fragrance winners will instantly make you remember where you were, who you were. Ahead, Bustle’s best fragrances of the year.
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Best Floral Fragrance
You might’ve already seen this distinctively-designed bottle on well-curated Instagram grids or perched on the (equally well-curated) bookshelf of the coolest person you know. But, unless you’re intimately familiar with the scent’s complex floral blend, you might not understand just how bewitching it really is. A garden’s worth of gardenia, jasmine, and blossom accord help comprise the top and heart notes, while a base of patchouli and brown sugar make the whole thing all the more romantic and unforgettable. BDG staffer Julie Cid says everything about this fragrance — from the intricate packaging to the delicate florals — feels like a “delicate, super luxe” experience.
Best Musk Fragrance
A very wise man (Lil Nas X) once remarked that Rihanna smells like heaven — clearly, she must have been wearing a top-secret Fenty prototype. As the megabrand’s very first fragrance launch, this signature scent did not disappoint. A fiery amber bottle hints at the commanding patchouli-and-magnolia scent inside that Rihanna refers to as an unapologetic expression of who she really is. It’s an ideal night-out fragrance, according to BDG staffer Sarah Ellis, but it’s also perfect for daytime or for a cozy date. “It's subtle, yet sexy and could be worn year-round,” she says of the Bad Gal-approved scent.
Best Gourmand Fragrance
Warm and sensuous, this vanilla-and-honey-scented perfume is intoxicatingly — never annoyingly — sweet with just the right amount of spice, thanks to anchoring notes of dark rum and cocoa absolute. BDG Executive Beauty Director Faith Xue says she’s obsessed with the captivating scent. “It's so comforting to me and makes me happy every time I wear it,” she says.
Best Woodsy Fragrance
What would you expect a perfume literally made from air to smell like? When word of this genderless, multidimensional fragrance with an unexpectedly complex woodsy scent spread, it felt as if the entire world scrambled to get their way on the pre-order list — which is still growing today, by the way. Infused with heady jasmine, tobacco, and sweetwater with an energizing hint of zesty citrus right at the top, it’s not hard to smell why. “I felt like I was being enveloped by the early summer sun while walking by an orange grove,” BDG staffer Layla Halabian raves, complimenting the brand’s unique recycled CO2 base. “OBSESSED!”
Best Fruity Fragrance
Meet Angel Nova, the latest edition to the now-iconic library of Mugler Angel fragrances. Rose meets raspberry in a tangle of cheerful notes made for extroverts, but never veering too sweet; Angel Nova adds a burst of akigalawood for some earthy, gripping depth. “I loved the original Angel,” says BDG staffer Jacqueline Burt Cote, “so this was a semi-nostalgic scent for me. It’s sweet and fruity, but not too overpowering.”