“Thomas, AKA The Candy Perfume Boy, is explaining everything you need to know about fragrance families. From chypre to fougere, after reading this blog series, you’ll be an expert in the different types of olfactive groups.”
Are you hungry? I’m hungry. In fact, I’m always hungry. And while many people have been getting their lockdown body into shape, taking advantage of that daily exercise quota and the enthusiasm of PE with Joe Wicks, I’ve mostly been eating as many choc ices as I can get my hands on. It is surprising how many of those things you can eat in a day, honestly.
But we’re not here to talk about actual edible food; we’re here to dive into the delectable world of gourmand fragrances. According to the dictionary, a gourmand is “a person who is fond of good eating, often indiscriminately and to excess” (that felt personal, thanks Dictionary.com, thanks a lot) so it makes sense that gourmand fragrances are all about delicious, edible notes served with reckless abandon.
The gourmand is the domain of vanilla, of berries and fruits, of chocolate, candy floss and black coffee. It is sweetness but also savoury and umami too, with recent trends leaning towards salted caramel, edible herbs and much more. Just like any well-stocked kitchen, the gourmand fragrance knows no limits.
To help you navigate this olfactory candy land, I’ve picked out five essential gourmand fragrances that show you just how delicious perfume can be. From iconic, fragrant fountains of chocolate to luxurious and plump marshmallows served on a bed of juicy berries, this is the most decadent and exciting of perfume genres.
#1 The Original Gourmand
It’s hard to talk gourmand and not mention Angel. Heck, it’s actually impossible not to talk about it and to do so would be very rude indeed. You see, Angel was the first true gourmand – the OG – and to this day, it’s still one of the best. Inspired by Thierry Mugler’s childhood memories of funfairs, Angel spins berries and candyfloss together, dripping them in caramel, dark chocolate and vanilla. The whole thing would be death by sugar if it weren’t for a deeply butch and darkly contrasting patchouli note that brings the entire thing crashing back down to Earth in an impressively beautiful display. There’s a reason why Angel is a legend.
#2 The Modern Gourmand
Black Opium is very much an extension of Angel – one for the new millennium. Black coffee and vanilla are paired with intense white floral notes to create a distinct contrast of darkness and light. What you get is sweetness and bitterness in equal measures, creating a signature that feels as bold as a YSL smoking jacket and as modern as the latest Saint Laurent bag. A must for every gourmand lover.
#3 The Masculine Gourmand
This is the masculine counterpart to Angel and perhaps one of the most boundary-pushing gourmands ever made. Fashioned after a comic book hero (The Silver Surfer), A*Men is a classic fougere bitten by a radioactive spider made of chocolate. The notes for this fragrance are insane; peppermint, lavender, tar, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, musk and caramel. It sounds like the worst thing in the world – a hectic melange that doesn’t work, but the truth is that A*Men feels like a perfect cohesion of disparate elements. Not for the faint-hearted, A*Men shows how gourmand notes can be removed from the dinner plate and twisted into something entirely out of this world.
#4 The Best-Selling Gourmand
La Vie Est Belle is a testament to the popularity of the gourmand, but also how it can feel luxurious – if you’ve stepped out of your house in the last eight years, chances are you’ve smelt it on many occasions. La Vie Est Belle pairs ethyl maltol (an intriguing aroma chemical that smells like candy floss and toasted strawberries – there’s tons of it in Angel) with a big, plush and powdery iris note. The result is somewhere between powdered sugar and spun sugar, making for a lightweight gourmand that has been so popular, it spawned an entire subgenre!
#5 The Niche Gourmand
Gourmands can be luxurious too, like a Ladurée macaron or a Pierre Hermé pastry. Mmmm… is a great example of a high-end gourmand. Served with tongue firmly in cheek (as all Juliette fragrances are), this is the scent of pink marshmallows dripping with bright red raspberry compote. A heart of blooming orange blossom, jasmine and tuberose brings a decadent, floral touch, injecting the sweetness with an incredibly French twist of flowers. It is a sumptuous scent – one that needs to be experienced. Mmmm…. is all of the fun of a posh Afternoon tea, with none of the calories.
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There’s more! Read the previous instalments of the series below…