So here we are, at the start of another year. I don’t know about you but my 2021 has flown by and the world of fragrance has continued to move at an exorbitantly fast pace, making up, it seems, for the time lost in that strange year we don’t like to talk about called “2020”. 2021 feels like two years of perfume rolled into one!
As is Escentual tradition, every January I dust off my crystal ball, spritzing it with a dash of Angel for good luck, and start to gaze into what the future of fragrance holds. 2022 is the year we all hope to emerge from our Covid chrysalis, climbing out from the smaller lives we’ve been living over the last two years. Things won’t be normal, it’s true, but that gives us the opportunity to forge something new. I don’t know about you, but that sounds quite exciting to me, and I wonder how fragrance will be a part of that!
Here are my 2022 fragrance predictions!
1. Synthetic is Cool Again
More and more, consumers are caring about where their products come from, showing greater concern for what goes into their products. Because of this, a lot of discourse over the last five or so years has been around the materials in our perfumes and whether natural ingredients are better than synthetic ones. This, as you can imagine, is quite a nuanced argument that often depends on what you define as “better”. In reality, modern perfumery as it exists today is entirely reliant on the interplay of natural and synthetic materials. It’s even true to say that synthetic materials are often needed to recreate the scents of nature we find in the perfumes we love.
Towards the end of 2021, we saw more brands having an open and honest discourse about the value of synthetic materials, wading through the scaremongering to say that “synthetic” is not a dirty word. Just look at Frederic Malle’s Synthetic Jungle, which has the very word in its name, or even Issey Miyake’s A Drop d’Issey, which recreates the natural scent of lilac (not extractable from the flower itself) using green chemistry (a fact that the brand was proud to talk about), allowing for the brand to consider the sustainability of the materials whilst doing so. Who said synthetics weren’t cool?
2. Perfume and Technology Overlap
When we often talk about perfume we talk about ancient techniques – of things picked and processed by hand, but in truth, perfume is quite a forward-thinking industry when it comes to technology. For decades, the big perfume houses have been able to use headspace technologies to capture the scent of people, places, and things, recreating them in the lab as novel accords to wear and enjoy in fragrance, so it’s no surprise that technology such as AI is being used to compose perfumes and things like blockchain are playing a part in how the industry audits the origin of materials. Heck, earlier this year, there was even an entirely digital perfume created as a non-funigble token (NFT) artwork – impressive huh? And don’t worry, I’m not even going to pretend that I understand what an NFT is…
But how do I think we’re going to see this overlap of perfume and technology in the real, every day, “spritzing on perfume before we leave the house”, world of perfume? Well, I think it’ll be in the form of interaction and how we experience our scents. Take Paco Rabanne’s 2021 launch Phantom, for example. With its cutesy, Jetson-Esque robot bottle in the 100ml size, Phantom allows you to tap your smartphone on its head to transport you to a world of digital experience – I mean, that’s just frickin’ cool.
Perhaps we will see more digitally interactive bottles in the future. Maybe we will even see more virtual perfumes or perfumes created entirely by AI – who knows! All we can say for certain is that technological innovations are going to continue to blow our minds, and most likely, our noses too!
3. Candles will Continue to be Big
Let’s face it, we’ve all spent the last two years nesting. We’ve been ‘doing it yourselfing’ our homes into perfection, making them cosy and pleasurable for the extra time spent within. As part of considering the overall vibe of our homes, market data clearly shows that we’ve not just been obsessing over the look of our nests, but also the smell too, with the home fragrance market growing significantly since the start of the pandemic. Just like ourselves when we go out, we want our homes to smell just as good as they look, it seems.
I’ve always seen scenting your home as set dressing – it’s that final touch used to compliment your décor and it contributes to the mood and feel of the space you are choosing to fragrance. This is partly why my friends and I started Boujee Bougies, a ritzy candle brand that tells olfactory stories through unique, artistic fragrances, approaching home fragrance with a niche aesthetic that entirely subverts expectations. Oh, and it’s exclusive to Escentual too!
4. A New Kind Freshness
When we think of fresh perfumes we often think of the clean, aquatic scents of the ‘90s – scents like CK One, Cool Water, and L’Eau d’Issey, all of which still smell great today and typify the smells we associate with the word “fresh”. In 2021 we saw a few examples where this oceanic idea of freshness was challenged with contemporary twists. Anna Sui’s Sky is a great example, and whilst you may be drawn to its adorable hot air balloon bottle, it will be the incredibly clean and airy feel of its musky lily-of-the-valley scent that will keep you. There’s also the juicy greenery of Miller Harris’ Reverie de Bergamote, which presents an aromatic twist on the bracing quality of citrus, uplifting the senses and creating an unshakeable sense of serenity.
This is freshness but not as we know it, and I think we’re going to see more of it in 2022.
5. New Ways to Wear Perfume
The industry is always looking at unique ways to enhance the experience of wearing perfume and over the last five years, we’ve seen an increase in the popularity of ancillary products such as hair mists and solid perfumes. In 2021 brands played with the way that perfume can be worn, and fragranced gels appeared to be a big thing. Versace released a gorgeous body gel for their beautifully beachy Dylan Turquoise fragrance, making for an enveloping wear (all you need to do is add the cabana boy and you’ve got a perfect vacation), and Serge Lutens launched Confit de Parfum versions of three fragrances, with the luxurious, tactile gel-texture used to extend the life of the perfume.
In 2022 I am confident that perfume brands will continue to surprise us with new ways to wear our perfume.
6. Go Big or Go Home Fragrances
I know a lot of these predictions have touched on the pandemic which, let’s face it, we’re all a bit sick of, but in truth, it’s hard to deny just how it has entirely reshaped every aspect of our lives. These impacts filter out into everything we do, including how we wear perfume and one trend I definitely think we’re going to see next year is the continued creation of what I like to call ‘go big or go home fragrances’.
These are those heavy-hitting scents that announce your arrival long before you walk into a room and linger long after you have left. They are big, brassy, bang for your buck fragrances that perform immensely well, lasting all day and creating a huge trail wherever you go. When life has been so small for so long, people are ready to go big and make a statement. This is something we’re seeing in the boldness of makeup trends, as well as fragrances too. Think of fragrances with nuclear sillage like Baccarat Rouge 540 and bold presences like anything from the Parfums de Marly collection. Perfumes that make a statement and live big lives are going to help us emerge into the world in 2022, just you watch.
So, there you have it: my predictions for a year in perfume. Perhaps I will get them all right, or maybe entirely wrong, only time will tell. For now, I shall stash away my crystal ball for another 12 months but until then, let’s enjoy 20221. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 2022.