Lavender is one of those materials that is so prevalent within perfumery that it feels almost as if it is part of the very foundation of fragrance as a whole. It’s a staple that is used widely in both masculine and feminine perfumery, but also across all mediums – from fine fragrance to home fragrance, functional fragrance (detergents, cleaning products etc.) and beyond. But why is lavender so crucial in perfumery? The answer is simple: it smells wonderful.
Lavender is a flowering plant (with 47 known species, no less) in the mint family. It is known for its beautiful purple colour as well its distinct, powerful aroma, and it grows widely around the globe in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and India.
The smell of lavender is one of the most recognisable in the world and it is delightfully multifaceted; it’s herbal, sweet (like toasted sugar), fresh, green, minty and floral. Due to its nuanced odour profile, lavender can be twisted in many ways, adding a herbal quality to masculine fougere fragrances as well as a gourmand character to feminine perfumes.
Here’s a selection of reference lavender fragrances that you have to try!
Scent A: The Fougere Lavender
GUERLAIN Jicky Eau de Parfum
There are so many things that can be said about Jicky. It’s as old as the Eiffel Tower and was one of the first abstract perfumes – a fragrance created not to smell like a specific flower or material. It’s also an early fougere and one of the first genderless fragrances. The most important thing to say about Jicky, though, is that it is a beautiful execution of lavender, where the cool, herbal tones of the material are amplified by the icy freshness of bergamot, whilst the warmer, sweeter facets are complemented by vanilla. Animalics give it a hot, breathy and intimate feel, making Jicky a fragrance that you want to wear but also be embraced by. It’s simply glorious – and easily one of the greatest fragrances ever made.
Scent B: The Classic Lavender
L’Occitane L’Occitan Eau de Toilette
One of the best smells in the world is the sweet, herbal scent of lavender carried on a warm summer breeze. L’Occitan captures that smell and bottles it. It’s one of the truest lavender fragrances out there, perfectly capturing the many facets of the material in an airy, breezy way. It’s cool and refreshing, warm and sweet, herbal and refreshing (and a touch soapy too). A simple yet beautiful lavender that everyone should experience.
Scent C: The Aromatic Lavender
Acqua di Parma Colonia Futura Eau de Cologne
Colonia Futura is Acqua di Parma’s homage to nature and is billed as a sustainable take on fragrance. The packaging has a number of recycled and recyclable elements, and the perfume itself is 99% natural (it’s important to note that natural doesn’t necessarily equal sustainable, nor is it better than synthetic).
All that aside, it’s a wonderfully herbal take on lavender that feels as if you’re pulling fresh lavender flowers from the bush and crushing them in your hands. It’s fizzy with delicious, mouth-watering citrus, awash with aromatic lavender, and softened by the earthy warmth of vetiver. I don’t think a lavender fragrance could be more handsome if it tried…
Scent D: The Aromatic Lavender
Hollister Canyon Rush for Him Eau de Toilette
Lavender is a complex note. Sometimes it’s aromatic, sometimes it’s floral, and it can have a soothing, green, fresh, spicy or even a liquorice vibe. In Canyon Rush, the aromatic and green tones of lavender are drawn out as it pairs with geranium in the heart. There’s a touch of white florals too, which draw out lavender’s sweeter side. The lavender note is great here too because the scent carefully balances fresh and warm tones – and lavender is able to be both those things depending on how it’s used.
Scent E: The Layered Lavender
ZARKOPERFUME Inception Eau de Parfum
If you’ve ever watched the movie, Inception, you’ll know just how confusing it can be to follow. It’s not for anyone prone to napping or phone-scrolling when a movie’s on. If you haven’t watched it, the basic premise is that Leonardo DiCaprio and a team of – I’ll go with ‘dream infiltrators’? – steal information from their targets by entering multiple layers of their subconscious.
That’s the inspiration behind Zarko’s Inception. It scraps the traditional pyramid perfume structure (top, middle, base) to offers six layers of scent. Despite the odds, you still get a clear lavender tone from Inception – you just have to travel through airy ozones and sparkling citruses to get there.
Scent F: The Malted Lavender
GUERLAIN Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum
Mon Guerlain is housed within GUERLAIN’s quadrilobe bottle – a classic flacon from the archive that has contained many of the brand’s iconic fragrances, including (you guessed it) Jicky! But the homage to Jicky doesn’t stop there because Mon Guerlain’s core ingredient is (you guessed it again) lavender!
In Mon Guerlain, the malted, toasted sugar notes of lavender are amplified rather than the aromatic, herbal nuances (à la Jicky) as they’re shrouded in a silky veil of jasmine, vanilla and sandalwood. The result is a smooth, sweet fragrance with the texture of caramel and the lightness of a summer breeze.
Scent G: The Universal Lavender
Diesel D by Diesel Eau de Toilette Refillable
There’s no doubt about it: lavender is a universally-appealing note. So, I’m not surprised that it lies at the heart of D by Diesel AKA Diesel’s main fragrance launch of 2022. The ‘it’ new unisex fragrance, D by Diesel makes the most of lavender’s global appeal as its fresh, soothing tones are paired with their unique denim cotton accord. The result? A cool, crisp take on lavender fragrances that feels effortlessly fresh.
Scent H: The Modern Lavender
Ariana Grande R.E.M. Eau de Parfum
Lavender gets a bad rap for apparently smelling like grannies, but if you ask me, ‘nancore’ is always in fashion. Don’t just take my word for it though; ask pop sensation Ariana Grande for her opinion because, if R.E.M. is anything to go by, she thinks lavender is as cool as anything.
In her olfactory ode to space capers such as Barbarella, lavender treads a fine line between fresh and gourmand with toasted, toffee-like notes giving it a modern delicious vibe whilst white musk, quince and fig bring an airy, ozonic freshness that sparkles like lavender-shaded crystals. R.E.M. is bang on trend and proves that lavender is anything but outdated.