These fragrances will take you from signature summer citrus and santal to woody autumn notes and winter oud. The only downside is that you might have to share…
Marylin Monroe once famously said that she wore “5 drops of Chanel No. 5” and nothing else in bed.
That was almost a century ago and things in the beauty industry – let alone in society – have taken a turn since, and rightfully so. Women can wear whatever they want in bed, and so does the person they want to share the bed with. By leaving obsolete norms and archaic notions of gender behind us, beauty has moved on and set its sails towards a genderless customer. And as comes with any trend, it has trickled down – into the craftsmanship of perfumery this time – steadily expanding the repertoire of not-female-not-male scents.
“The lines between ‘his-and-hers’ are blurring in society and this is having an effect on the way people shop for perfume,” says, trading director at The Perfume Shop, Andrea Rickard.
“Rather than focusing on the gender a specific fragrance is targeted towards, people are buying into a lifestyle and how it smells and makes them feel and we are seeing many customers come into store to shop in this way.”
And brands like Diptyque and Byredo are a case in point. The founders of Le Labo insist that their brand knows no gender but instead aims to “create an attraction, an addiction.”
Clearly, the growing desire for non-gender-labelled perfumery also reflects in sales. Department stores like Liberty have experienced a 40% increase in unisex perfumes from last year and are embracing the changing fields of beauty by devoting their shopfloor to everything unisex - heralding the new with a festival for the alternative fragrance.
Re-calibrate your olfactory senses with our selection of the best unisex fragrances for the upcoming season. We wouldn’t even blame you if you refused to share…
Diptyque Eau Duelle
Sometimes, the grayness of autumn and winter can feel slightly overwhelming. You leave the house in the dark, only to return in the dark. Leaving you with the strong desire for a touch of sun rays. And although Diptyque’s Eau Duelle unisex fragrance might fail to indulge you with a one-way ticket to Madagascar, its Bourbon vanilla scent will immediately shed some light on those gloomy days ahead. Rounded with pink peppercorn and cypriol, this unisex scent will do its best to keep you cosy and satisfy your wanderlust cravings – at least olfactory-wise.
Jo Malone English Oak & Hazelnut
Without wanting to sound overly cliché, Jo Malone’s English Oak and Hazelnut fragrance indeed encapsulates that ideal Sunday walk in a beautiful park before a delicious Sunday roast. Sounds dreamy, right? Embracing a classic sense for nature, hazelnut in the top, cedarwood in heart and roasted oak as the fragrance base brings joy to those who need to be reminded of autumn’s drifting sun all the way through winter.
Byredo Velvet Haze
Have you ever imagined what your literary character might smell like? I have. And if there’s one scent I cannot seem to escape from when reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids, it’s Byredo’s Velvet Haze.
Romance, desire, careless freedom, a life dedicated to love and poetry and art – this unisex fragrance ticks all the boxes. It seamlessly combines notes of ambrette, coconut water, patchouli leaves, all built on a base of velvety cacao and seductive musk. If anything, Velvet Haze won’t make you hide from autumn’s driving rain but dance in it. And as Patti Smith once wrote, “I felt a heat containing the colours of autumn”. Sums it up quite well.
Admittedly, seeing Aesop products neatly lined up on your shelf gives you a warm feeling of satisfaction alone; using them only adds to it. Their third fragrance titled Hywl is no exception. This unisex perfume combines wooden notes with faint hints of spices, transporting you to the distant world of Japanese Hiba trees and enchanted woods of the far east.
Tom Ford Vanille Fatale
Vanille Fatale out of Tom Ford’s private collection is yet another Autumnal scent that will leave you daydreaming. Whether you’re after a sweet perfume or a musky scent, this unisex fragrance - infused with vanilla from the faraway horizons of Madagascar and spicy saffron – is somewhat defiant and definitely perfume made for him and for her.
Le Labo Another 13
The first time I tried Another 13 by Le Labo, more than one person on the street stopped me to ask me what scent I was wearing: it’s definitely a showstopper. Created by Jefferson Hack and Le Labo, this fragrance is a blend of 13 ingredients. Le Labo describes it as “an addictive dirty blend” of musk, moss and jasmine - and we agree. If you don’t mind the person sitting next to you at a restaurant to come over and smell your neck (true story), this is the perfume for you.
Comme des Garcons Concrete
We probably all have different scents we lust after – for some it is the smell of freshly cut grass, for others the earthy notes of petrichor, and for some others it is the smell of concrete. Are you of the latter kind? If so: rejoice! Comme des Garcons’ newest fragrance reinvents the brutalist material, playfully destroying the idea we have of sandalwood, roses and concrete and creating a scent that is utterly new, while still carrying Comme des Garcon’s spice we adore. A unisex fragrance that won’t fail to make an impact.
Ex Nihilo Cuir Celeste
While Ex Nihilo might not be known on the streets, it’s praised by perfume-connoisseurs. That’s why it’s worth diving into the unisex Parisian perfume house and its one-of-a-kind scent Cuir Celeste. Inspired by the classic B3 bomber jacket and bespoke for the photographer Mathieu Cesar, this unisex perfume contrasts 20th century aviation gear with haute couture by ways of ambrette and violet leaves.
£210, selfridges.com (available from 1 September)
Escentric Molecules Molecule 01
Molecule 01, the ultimate unisex fragrance, is infused with Iso E Super, an engineered molecule. It also has a slight note of cedarwood. Bonding differently with each wearer’s olfactory receptors, ultimately creating your own individual scent. Longing for a perfume thats different, refreshing and unexpected to break through those dreary winter days? This is it.
Malin + Goetz Bergamot
Since its store opening in 2004, Malin + Goetz has convinced the industry of their magical capabilities of creating great-working skincare and well-smelling body products. The same goes for their Bergamot unisex eau de toilette. The fragrance sings of warmth, energy with a hint of evergreen - and the result is a scent that uplifts us on the dullest of days.
Clean Reserve Warm Cotton
To layer or not to layer, that is the inherent discussion in winter. In either case, Warm Cotton by Clean Reserve is just about right for whatever you favour. This unisex fragrance has a base made of musk, incense and vetiver draw you in. While its light top and middle notes of ginger, floral cotton accord and green pepper, this perfume is just enough for those who love layering scents, and not too much for those who want to avoid winter’s heaviness.