Byredo and Maison Margiela, the allure of a trending fragrance can be hard to ignore when choosing a new perfume—especially as a beauty editor when there are so many launches to test and trial each month. But much like a timeless handbag or a good pair of chunky boots, there are certain perfumes that draw you in beyond the initial buzz of a new launch. And many of these classic perfumes come courtesy of the biggest designer names in the world. Yes, from Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent, some of the most iconic scents are designer fragrances—and they truly stand the test of time.
Ahead, from the brands’ best sellers to their lesser-known offerings, discover the best designer fragrances from six of the biggest fashion houses in the world.
Fragrances don’t come more classic than Chanel N°5, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Famously endorsed by Marilyn Monroe in the ’50s, this sophisticated scent has been adored around the world ever since. A layered floral with a complex blend of notes, it has legions of devotees and will likely remain a global best seller for another 100 years to come.
“My favorite fragrance! I finally broke down and bought it for myself, ” says one five-star reviewer on Sephora. “A woman walked past me in a grocery store, and I had to stop her and ask what she was wearing. She told me [it was Coco Mademoiselle] and I’ve been hooked ever since. It lasts all day and into the next day too.”
Until the launch of this new fragrance earlier this year, Chance was my Chanel perfume of choice and has been since I was gifted a bottle when leaving my Saturday job at Boots when I was 19. Le Lion is decidedly more grown-up and suits how my perfume tastes have evolved now that I’m in my 30s. Inspired by Gabrielle Chanel’s astrological sign, it’s a strong, warm scent laced with amber, vanilla and patchouli, and I think it’s destined to be a new classic for Chanel.
This is one of those iconic designer fragrances that you recognize as soon as someone passes you wearing it. It’s a head-turning, luxurious scent that has the markings of a heady men’s cologne (that’ll be the geranium) but remains velvety and smooth thanks to hints of peach, lilac, and patchouli. A true classic.
“Every time I wear Gucci Bloom I get complimented,” says one reviewer on Ulta. “I’ve been rocking this since 2018 and it’s my go-to whenever I’m about to hang out or be around my male companion!”
First launched in 1977, YSL’s Opium is perhaps the most instantly recognizable perfume from the brand, and its popularity has resulted in a growing Opium family in the years since. It’s a spicy, sensual perfume that definitely evokes some of those free-spirited ’70s vibes, but lighter touches of tangerine and rose keep the deeper notes like sandalwood myrrh from becoming too heady.
There are so many five-star reviews on Sephora for this designer fragrance, and I have to say that it’s definitely up there with one of my favorites too. In fact, it’s the number two top-selling female fragrance in the UK. “My holy-grail perfume! This has been my signature scent since it came out, and now years later I still haven’t found a scent that I like better. Every time I wear it, someone asks me what it is,” says one five-star review. “It’s very youthful but definitely has a sensual mature side to it as well. It’s the sexiest, most addicting fragrance in my collection, hands down. I can’t get enough of this scent I swear it’s euphoria in a bottle.”
Sadly, I think that Parisienne might have been discontinued (or at least it’s becoming increasingly hard to come by), so I’ll be stocking up on my YSL perfume of choice wherever I find it. For me, this is a somewhat nostalgic scent that was my signature in my early 20s, and it definitely captures that carefree time for me. It’s a fruity and floral blend of blackberry, violet and rose with a slightly musky-leathery edge that just stops it from veering into sweet-shop territory. It will always have a very special place in my heart, and I implore you to try it while you still can.
Before returning to the world of fragrance back in 2016, Louis Vuitton hadn’t launched a perfume for over 70 years. Of course, with that in mind, it’s hard to pull out a time-tested classic from the brand like with other designers. When it comes to fragrances, Rose des Vents is as timeless a floral as they come. Like standing in a field of roses, it’s fresh, green, and a real modern classic.
“I was looking for a fresh yuzu scent for the summer. I tried three or four that were fine but didn’t scratch the itch. On the Beach hit the spot perfectly,” says one happy reviewer on Fragrantica of this new summer scent from Louis Vuitton. “The yuzu in the opening is beautiful, a little lemony on me, and just feels juicy and refreshing immediately. … I’m over the moon with how this fragrance works for me.”
Warm, musky, slightly sweet scents that feel like a hug are right up my street, and this is all of that and more. Effectively a love letter to vanilla, this is a gourmand perfume that melds aromatic vanilla with sweet orange flower, magnolia, and hints of bitter cocoa. It’s comforting, cozy, and sophisticated, and I have been eking out my bottle for years.
When I think of the best designer fragrances, it’s a simple, elegant bottle of Si that springs to mind first for me. First launched in 2013, it has become synonymous with Armani perfumes and has spawned plenty of other interpretations as the Si range continues to expand. This one pairs bergamot and cassis with rose, neroli, and vanilla for incredibly chic results.
“So many new perfumes have been released since this came out years ago. However this still out performs a lot of them, not only smell wise but performance wise also,” says one five-star review on Boots. “It’s a great classic scent that smells very sexy but not too strong. It’s a great everyday perfume and very affordable too—and [I] always gets lots of compliments!”
This is my favourite of the Si fragrances, as it’s less floral and fruitier than the others. Described as being the red-lip effect in a bottle, I can definitely vouch for the confidence-boosting benefits that a spritz of this can offer. It’s bright with blackcurrant and pear but mellows out into those classic rosy notes before finishing with a hint of patchouli and vanilla.
Since its launch in 1995, Burberry for Women has remained a mainstay in the world of designer fragrances and for good reason: It smells so good. I remember this perfume being the height of sophistication while I was at secondary school, but the mix of fruity, floral and woody notes means that it’s still as alluring to me today. If you’re seeking a wearable, everyday perfume, then you really can’t go wrong with this one.
“This is a beautiful fragrance. Something about it just screams a sunny autumn day to me so I love wearing it in the fall,” says one positive reviewer on Sephora. “It’s somehow both a fun and professional scent at the same time. It’s also the longest-lasting perfume I’ve ever worn, and I’ve tried so many!”
I love rose perfumes anyway, but this one is probably the most classic one that I own, and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the floral. Inspired by a Bloomsbury garden, it is a celebration of rose in all its forms, but there’s also a sprinkling of Italian lemon and vetiver to keep it fresh and sparkling. This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK. Up next, the only perfume that matters if you want to smell rich and unbothered.