Designer-brand private fragrance collections offer increasingly savvy and discerning consumers the experience of exclusivity, quality and service – at a price.
Designer brands have dominated the fragrance market for the last few decades with a succession of blockbusters. But the problem with massive commercial success is that it often creates a relentless cycle of crowd-pleasing smell-a-likes.
And the art of perfumery, a luxury in itself, is compromised by a focus on rapid merchandise-shifting.
This is not to say that designer fragrances are on their way out. Far from it. But that the big-name fashion brands have realised that while their best-sellers have made the idea of luxury seemingly accessible to the masses, they may have compromised on quality and their heritage in the process. Of course, they would not put it so bluntly.
With the shift to niche fragrances, designer-brand private fragrance collections offer increasingly savvy and discerning consumers the experience of exclusivity, quality and service – at a price.
This is reflected in:
- The packaging – solid glass bottles and ornate boxes speak the language of style, substance and brand story.
- The quality and concentration of the juice – only the best ingredients and EDPs please.
- The below-the-radar marketing – after all, not everyone should know about these fragrances.
La Collection Privée Christian Dior, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Herrera Confidential, Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze and Mugler Les Exceptions are just some of the private fragrance collections you’ll now find in select upmarket retailers.
And, of course, then there’s Mr Tom Ford, whose Private Blends have become a perfume phenomenon but, due to their ubiquity, are in danger of losing their exclusivity.
The big question: Do these private fragrance collections offer value for money? That’s a purchasing decision you will have to make, depending on how you cost your perfume pleasure.
Sometimes better value can be found further down the chain when comparing some of the private fragrance collections with their more widely available scent siblings.
But then there are the truly exceptional stand-outs in private fragrance collections that are worth every cent.
Launched in 2004, Armani Privé was one of the first private fragrance collections. Originally created for Giorgio Armani’s own personal pleasure and those of his closest friends, it set the standard for others to follow.
ArmaniPrivé Vétiver d'Hiver and Armani Privé Ambre Soie are highly rated classics of the genre.
The Italian maestro also spotted the lucrative Middle Eastern market before it became de rigueur. With its emphasis on exotic and heavier ingredients, the Armani Privé La Collection Des Mille Et Une Nuits was launched in 2010.
Dapper Confidential Choice: Armani Privé Cuir Amethyste is a superb interpretation of leather. Its notes of bergamot, rose, violet, birch, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla and bourbon create the best kind of luxurious indulgence.
Dior has long been renowned for its classic fragrances from Eau Savage EDT to Dior Homme Parfum. La Collection Privée Christian Dior takes the French fashion house’s fragrances to a new level of luxury and sophistication.
It was launched in 2004 with three EDPs: Bois d’Argent, Cologne Blanche and Eau Noire. The collection now includes 25 fragrances that fall into categories such as sensuals and orientals. Most of the fragrances have been created by Dior’s in-house perfumer, the legendary François Demachy.
Dapper Confidential Choice: The superb leather perfume, Cuir Cannage, has been inexplicably discontinued, but there are plenty of other excellent choices in the collection.
Patchouli Impérial is one of these standouts. An ultra-refined patchouli note takes centre stage in this scent, with coriander and sandalwood in support.
We will leave it to Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to sum up their contribution to private fragrance collections.
“We have put our memories and our roots into the Velvet Fragrance Collection, which have the same vibrant, hedonistic heart as Sicily and Italy. With each one, we invite you into our world,” they say.
Originally launched in 2011, the sensual range now features 18 fragrances. These include Velvet Vetiver, Velvet Tender Oud and Velvet Exotic Leather.
Dapper Confidential Choice: Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress hits the woody-aromatic spot. A surprisingly reserved D&G fragrance, it’s fresh and crisp, with notes of cypress, bergamot, lemon, galbanum and clary sage absolute.
Thanks to the juggernaut of its more commercial fragrances, there are certain perceptions of Boss fragrances. That will change when you are introduced to Boss The Collection.
It includes six EDPs: Wool Musk, Cotton Verbena, Cashmere Patchouli, Velvet Amber, Damask Oud and Silk Jasmine. Inspired by the key materials used in Boss’s sharp suits, the fragrances in the collection have very simple note structures.
Launched in 2011, it’s one of the best and most surprising private fragrance collections around and is increasingly scarce, since no other fragrances have been added to the collection since its launch.
Dapper Confidential Choice: Boss The Collection Velvet Amber, with notes of amber, vanilla and resin. The result is an eminently wearable composition that feels warm, cosy and tailor-made.
The grand name says it all. Inspired by the classics from YSL’s venerable fashion history, Le Vestiaire (le French for “wardrobe”) is a unisex luxury perfume wardrobe.
Launched in 2015, the collection includes Caban, Caftan, Tuxedo, Saharienne and Trench. Since its launch the collection has expanded with the Couture, Oriental and De Nuit ranges.
Dapper Confidential Choice: All of the fragrances in the launch collection are very chic. But the woody-citrus Yves Saint Laurent Le Vestiaire Trench, created by Amandine Clerc-Marie, is the one to sniff out.
Tangerine, bergamot, neroli and cedar feature in the notes structure, but it’s the iris that takes prominence in this beauty.
Tapping into its luxe jewellery heritage, the Le Gemme collection takes inspiration from precious gems. Bulgari Le Gemme launched in 2014 with six fragrances for women.
All with suitably exotic names and, some might say, over-the-top packaging. Amarena, Ashlemah, Calaluna, Lilaia, Maravilla and Noorah were created by Daniela Roche Andrier. Men were given the luxury treatment with the launch of their own Bulgari Le Gemme collection in 2016.
Master perfumer Jacques Cavallier created all of these men’s fragrances. So you know Bulgari is taking private fragrance collections very seriously.
Dapper Confidential Choice: Damascena rose and rose absolute from Grasse meet chiaroscuro incense in Bulgari Le Gemme Garanat. It’s warm, smoky and utterly seductive.
Launched in 2017, this is one of the more recent private collections to come on to the market. There are currently seven unisex EDPs in the collection, including Néroli d'Ispahan, Tubéreuse de Madras, Oud de Carthage, Ambre d’Alexandrie, Iris de Syracuse, Vanille de Zanzibar and Santal de Kandy.
All the fragrances are inspired by a combination of ingredients and destinations and created by top perfumers such as Fabrice Pellegrin, Nathalie Lorson and Christophe Raynaud.
Dapper Confidential Choice: Created by the highly esteemed Dominique Ropion, Oud de Carthage has a luxurious oriental vibe. The oud is subtle, with the leather and honey notes taking the leading roles. Incense, labdanum and tonka bean also feature in the notes mix.