Recently, while waiting to cross the street with a friend, she remarked out of nowhere, "Do you smell that?" I only smelled the typical New York City smells: garbage, exhaust and pizza. "No," she said, "for some reason it smells like two summers ago." Turns out, the scent she was referring to was my perfume. It’s apparently the same one her sister wore during the summer of 2011, and getting a whiff of it on me brought back a wave of nostalgia.
I’ve been wearing the scent for a few years now, so I like to think that I have some sort of ownership over it, but this interaction made me realize that perhaps it’s not so special after all. It’s pretty, sure, but it’s in no way unique. It can be bought at any department store, there’s an ad for it in every magazine, and the fresh, powdery floral scent could pretty much work for anyone.
Shortly following my realization, I paid a visit to the stateside outpost for niche fragrance brand Illuminum at Henri Bendel and learned just what my scent is lacking: personality. The perfumes I tested took me on a sensory journey I’ve never experienced with the more mass brands. Illuminum’s offerings were complex. They had depth and took unexpected turns. Niche brands, I concluded, are where it’s at. So if you too are on the hunt for a true signature scent, click through above for eight niche brands you’ve gotta check out.