As much as I love a new perfume launch, sometimes you just can’t beat the classics. Whether you’re buying for a loved one and don’t want to run the risk of choosing a lesser known scent, or you want an icon that you can’t go wrong with for your own personal use, you’ve come to exactly the right place. Why? Because I’ve scoured our website to create the *ultimate* list of iconic female perfumes.
Keen to find out which star fragrances made the list? Keep reading for my list of the most iconic perfumes for her to try right now (if they’re not already in your fragrance wardrobe, that is…)
1. The Sparkling Signature Scent
With Hollywood star Julia Roberts as the face of Lancome’s best-selling fragrance, there was a time when you couldn’t walk down the high street without seeing the name ‘La Vie Est Belle’. Or smelling the unmistakable sweet floral fragrance, for that matter. Whether it’s the Julia Roberts effect or the fact that it’s an absolutely gorgeous fragrance (I’m sure it’s both these things), La Vie continues to reign supreme as a women’s classic a good decade later.
The thing that sets La Vie apart is the iris note that floats throughout it. The cool bit? It was created by three world-renowned French perfumers solely for Lancome’s use. This proves why La Vie is still so popular today – you can’t seem to get enough of Lancome’s soft iris note, and you literally can’t get it anywhere else.
But what does La Vie smell like? Well, it sparkles and shines from the get-go, thanks to a sweet, juicy slice of pear and blackberry before that classic white floral orange blossom and jasmine sambac duo – softened by a touch of iris – takes over. Finally, you get hit by a sensual, irresistible wave of patchouli and vanilla. Utterly delicious, it’s any sweet fragrance lover’s dream.
2. The White Floral Classic
Acting legend, fashion icon and avid humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn, was the inspiration for GIVENCHY’s beloved L’Interdit fragrance. In fact, it was made exclusively for her – but she couldn’t keep it to herself for too long; the world needed a piece of it. So, in 1957, L’Interdit made fragrance history as Hepburn became the first actress to become the face of a perfume.
A fragrance icon for an acting icon, the modern L’Interdit iteration we get today dazzles on your skin with fresh facets of sparkling bergamot and crisp, juicy sweet pear. But this fresh fruity tone is fleeting. Soon, L’Interdit releases a flourish of nectar-like white floral notes, releasing a sweet and hypnotic blend of orange blossom, jasmine and tuberose. In the base, L’Interdit unveils its dark side; smoky, woody patchouli, vetiver and ambroxan blend with a sweet, creamy and utterly sensual vanilla note. L’Interdit has been worn for decades – and its irresistible seductive quality means it’s here to stay.
3. The Musk Masterpiece
If you love clean musk fragrances, then the chances are you’ve already tried Narciso Rodriguez For Her. Easily making its way onto my list of icons, I’d probably be as bold as to say that it’s one of the most iconic musk perfumes you can get your hands on – whenever I hear the word ‘musk’, my mind instantly jumps to Narciso Rodriguez. For Her has become the benchmark for modern chypre perfumes ever since its launch in 2006 – anything new with a musky tone will always be compared to For Her, striving to reach the effortless glamour of Narciso.
One of the many beloved designer-turned-fragrance brands, Narciso Rodriguez is all about the fragrance note, musk. Inspired by the your-skin-but-better softness of musk, For Her starts with a velvety sweet duo of rose and peach, but the heart is where Narciso Rodriguez For Her truly shines; musk. But this is no ordinary musk; it’s Narciso Rodriguez’s dazzling take on this timeless accord: Heart of Musc. As the powdery, soft musk accord simmers over your skin, it welcomes a fragrant surprise as the base adds a dark and depth that you might not expect upon first spritz.
But what about the design? Narciso Rodriguez’s fragrance for women is held in that now-iconic double-walled glass bottle, lined with a soft, muted pink finish – gorgeous.
4. The Fun-Loving Statement Piece
A true cult-classic, Marc Jacobs Daisy is a fun, sparkly and sunny scent that glistens with juicy fruits and sun-kissed white florals. It’s sweet and uplifting from the start, thanks to strawberry, violet leaves and grapefruit. As it settles, it welcomes in a pretty floral heart that has you feeling like you’re skipping through a field of dainty daisies (if only daisies had a scent…). This particular mystical Daisy field is filled with white floral jasmine and gardenia alongside powdery purple violets. Finally, that sensual, snuggly base of vanilla, musk and white woods warms its way to the surface.
And I have to mention that bottle. A true statement piece, that glamorous oversized-daisy bottle needs to take centre stage on your dressing table. Everyone recognises Daisy, and it’s still just as cool today as it was back in 2007.
5. The Romantic Niche Rose Fragrance
If you asked me to name the best niche fragrance you can get your hands on here at Escentual, I’d have to say Delina. Yes, I’m willing to put my neck on the line and say that. Why? Because it’s not just a best-seller for Parfums de Marly, but one of the most popular niche fragrances for women that we stock – full stop.
I’ve previously described Delina as “one of the most romantic floral fragrances I’ve had the pleasure of trying.” The absolute epitome of French luxury, it has a sparkling freshness to start, thanks to the aquatic tone of lychee, green-citrus bergamot and a tangy rhubarb note, lifted by a dash of nutmeg.
The heart is where Parfums de Marly Delina comes to life; it unfolds with a scattering of Turkish rose petals that power the fragrance. This rich, velvety, romantic rose note blends with lily of the valley and peony, which complete the floral bouquet, while a sweet, sensual vanilla accord joins the mix to prepare you for the base. As Delina warms on your skin, soft white musk, cashmeran, and vetiver unite for a slightly woody fragrance that’s cosy and comforting yet quietly seductive.
6. The Addictive Coffee-Fueled Fragrance
Even if you consider yourself a fragrance novice, the chances are you’ve still heard the name ‘Black Opium’. It’s that much of a cult-classic. In fact, the original Eau de Parfum is so good that no less than four flankers have been released within the eight short years after the perfume first graced the shelves back in 2014.
A worthy winner of the 2021 Sunday Times Beauty Awards and with over 11,500 five-star reviews to its name, the iconic Black Opium is a YSL best-seller that won’t step down from the limelight anytime soon. With the effortlessly cool American actress, singer and model, Zoë Isabella Kravitz, heading up the campaign, the Black Opium fragrance challenged expectations of women’s fragrance when it was first launched, just like the original Opium – and people loved it.
When you first glance at its note structure, you’ll notice that it’s a floral-gourmand fragrance, but it’s by no means a sickly sweet scent that’ll give you toothache – it’s twisted with dark, roasted notes of bitter black coffee. It starts with a sparkly and sweet slice of mandarin, alongside tart green bergamot, but it’s the strong shot of coffee that’ll knock your socks off here. As the fragrance settles, it unveils a powerhouse blend of luminous white floral before diving into a velvety smooth and utterly seductive blend of white musk, vanilla bean and cashmeran, underpinned by the bitter depth of coffee.
7. The Glamourous Newcomer
You might be a little bit surprised to see I Want Choo in this line-up of iconic female fragrances, especially given the fact that it was only released in 2020. But, I’ve chosen this as my icon for the future. Why? Because it’s already proved incredibly popular, already got a flanker to its name, and already won the heart of a huge amount of fruity-floral fragrance fans here at Escentual. You can consider I Want Choo as the underdog of my fragrance icon edit. I Want Choo gives the original and equally iconic Jimmy Choo fragrance a run for its money.
But what does I Want Choo smell like, I hear you ask. It’s one of those fragrances that is playful and fun whilst still being utterly glamorous and seductive – it’s a tricky balance to keep. To start with, it pairs sparkling, honeyed mandarin juice with sweet, fuzzy peach (my personal favourite fragrance note) for a glitzy scent that will appeal to juicy fruity fragrance fans. Then, the perfume pairs vanilla-like red spider lily with jasmine sambac for a touch of seduction. This is carried through to the sweet, sensual base of vanilla and benzoin. And I have to admit, I love that glamorous silhouette bottle and the gold JC emblem that makes this scent so recognisable.