W Editors Share Their All-Time Favorite Fragrances

by W Staff

Collage by Ashley Peña
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A signature fragrance is a deeply personal preference. The right scent has the power to uplift, inspire confidence, and even call to memories you hold dear. (No wonder some folks keep the name of their favorite eau de toilettes under lock and key.) The classics—Chanel No. 5, Calvin Klein’s Obsession, Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, etc.—remain in devotees’ medicine cabinets for a reason. But why do fragrances stay with us years after we’ve caught a whiff? And which ones would we recommend other perfume enthusiasts add to their repertoire? In celebration of National Fragrance Day—you’re forgiven if you didn’t know such a day existed—the W editors have reflected on their favorite, most evocative fragrances of all time, which includes some newly purchased signature perfumes that won’t be leaving the boudoir anytime soon.

Ffern is a small-batch, organic, members-only perfumery in the English countryside, and their fragrances smell as romantic and fabulous as all that sounds. I joined their “ledger” in spring 2021, and once each season, an elegant flask of perfume arrives, along with a tiny test spray. If you’re not into it, you can simply send the bottle back, but I’ve cherished every one—each scent is an evolution of the last, like different chapters in the same book. The standout for me so far has been the rich, herbaceous Autumn 22, with notes of cardamom, citrus rind, and greenery over a base of lavender, vetiver, red cedar, and black tea. It feels light and cozy at the same time—and lingers beautifully on a cashmere sweater. —Andrea Whittle, Features Director

Every scent from Jo Malone’s newly released The Blossoms Collection is worth a sniff (I especially love the Star Magnolia Cologne). But the Waterlily variety’s crisp, clean, lightly floral scent simply cannot be beat. And even though I purchased it just recently, I’ve nearly gone through a quarter of the bottle (!). —Maxine Wally, Senior Digital Editor

For reformed granola girls looking to move away from the Whole Foods essential oils section, behold: Eidecker Studio’s Marcie Parfum. The blend of Roman chamomile, orange blossom, and amber creates a sweet signature scent guaranteed to make people want to hug you a moment (or two) longer. As someone who used to exclusively drench themselves in amber oil, this has become my go-to. —Ysenia Valdez, Senior Social Media Editor

A friend introduced me to Do Son, a delicate and nostalgic scent from the famed candle makers at Diptyque. The perfume was created by Yves Coueslant, one of the Dipytque’s founders, who was inspired by his summers in Ha Long Bay. Tuberose is at the heart of this scent, which personally, somehow, reminds me of the San Francisco beaches I grew up visiting. Jasmine is my favorite floral scent of all time, so the fact that it’s a major note in Do Son doesn’t hurt. —Claire Valentine, Culture Editor

I’ve been a tried-and-true Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille girl for years, but I recently tried Le Père’s new fragrance—and now, I’m rethinking everything. There are still hints of wood and vanilla, just like my go-to, but the additional floral notes make it feel a bit lighter and more refreshing. —Tori López, Associate Fashion Market Editor

This has been my signature evening scent for nearly two decades. Why? Because it’s an uncommon scent that’s mostly worn in Europe—and, in my humble opinion, it is one of the chicest fragrances to ever be crafted. It also reminds me of my mom, who wore this perfume in the late ’70s in Tehran, where we lived. While getting ready to go out with my dad, I remember her gazing in the mirror one last time, adjusting her lipstick and her black patent leather boots before heading out. She would kiss me before she left, and the scent would linger on me. As much as I love this fragrance, I think my devotion to it has less to do with olfactory pleasures and more because it was my way of connecting with that moment in time, when I felt totally and utterly protected in the world because of her. I try to take a little bit of that feeling with me each time I wear it out now. Although a heady floral, it’s definitely an evening scent, so please don’t overdo it for a brunch date—and please, please, don’t ever discontinue this scent, YSL. —Maryam Lieberman, Contributing Beauty Editor

I could wax poetic about this perfume all day long. It’s perfect for day and night, has never given me a headache (most fragrances are an instant migraine) and smells of romance, 18th century libraries, and something deliciously warm and sweet (but not too sweet!). The same scent also comes in a candle that I burn at home religiously as it is the next best thing to having an actual fireplace. —Faith Brown, Social Editor

These two fragrances are new favorites for me, and will be on constant rotation for the foreseeable future. Perfumehead’s Reine des Anges is a sensual blend of Turkish and Moroccan roses, with androgynous hints of leather and musk, flanked by vetiver and amber. Canadian Tuxedo is best for my alter ego: soulful and smelling of orange flowers and patchouli—she’s denim-clad, wears small-batch fragrances, and her favorite movie is The Outsiders by Francis Ford Coppola. —Che Baez, Associate Visuals Editor

I swear by this perfume. So many people have stopped me in the street asking what I am wearing—and it is always this! —Julia McClatchy, Assistant to the Editor in Chief

Fittingly named after the Greek god of love and lust, this fragrance helps me exude a sensual confidence that can’t be ignored. It’s perfect for a date night, or even a stroll through the city. —Amir LaSure, Lead Accessories Assistant

When I first picked this up, I said I would only wear it during fall and winter—but I can’t help but use it all year long. The vanilla and lavender notes come through so deliciously! —Ashley Peña, Digital Designer

Once I turned 30, I started making a conscious effort to only put clean products on my body—and that includes fragrance. I struggled to find a natural but elevated signature scent, but then I discovered Henry Rose. Michelle Pfeiffer created the brand after also having struggled to find a clean fragrance brand. I can confidently say that I am now hooked. My favorite scent, and the one that I wear every day, is Jake’s House: a musky and clean perfume with a hit of neroli that is absolute perfection, no matter what time of year. —Jenna Wojciechowski, Senior Fashion Market Editor

Santa Maria Novella opened in Florence in 1221; it is the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in the world. The Rosa Novella scent, subtle and elegant, is perfect year-round. This is the only perfume I’ve ever worn. —Allia Alliata di Montereale, Senior Style Editor

This scent is perfect for welcoming in spring and summer, when I’m ready to shake off the cold weather and feel crisp from my scent—not my body temperature. —Oona Wally, Associate Visuals Director

I didn’t think I could love an Issey Miyake fragrance more than the label’s original A Drop d’Issey scent—a slightly musky fragrance that’s balanced out by the freshness of solar lilac accord. But then, along came A Drop d’Issey Fraîche…and suddenly, there was a new favorite in my medicine cabinet. To say I am obsessed with this scent is a gross understatement. But spritzing it all over my neck and décolleté gives me a rejuvenating feeling that I don't get from other perfumes—and I can't stop. —MW

I’m pretty sure this is a men’s fragrance, but it’s so fresh, sexy, and wearable that I don’t care. It smells like sipping a glass of sparkling lemonade while walking past a clothesline draped with sun-dried linens in a grassy field on a perfect spring day. It’s heavenly, breezy, and impossible to overdo. —AW

I tend to lean toward fragrances that are a little earthier and genderless. The Aroma from Costa Brazil feels sophisticated to me, and I always get compliments when I wear it. —Christina Holevas

If you think of rose fragrances as heavy or cloying, this will utterly change your perception: It’s not a long-stemmed bodega bouquet, it’s a clutch of rosa rugosa on a windswept dune, with frigid waves crashing onto hot sand below. Fresh, sharp, and a little salty—thanks to a blend of different parts of the rose plant—along with bergamot, linden, lemon oil and seawater. It’s New England summer in a bottle, and it’s the only one I’ve ever finished until the last drop. —AW

YSL’s Black Opium has been my go-to evening fragrance for years. The edgier notes of coffee are balanced by sweet vanilla, with a floral base adding a feminine toughness. A little goes a long way with this one. —CV