Awakening the Senses

We love the surprise of an unusual fragrance. These five are anything BUT your grandmother’s tea rose.


Appropriately named, since so many of its ingredients are black (black pepper, birch tar, pepperwood), but it’s my favorite black ingredient—licorice!—that, when mixed so exquisitely with incense and vetiver, makes me swoon.


Despite its Frenchy Can-Can name, Mr. Bess’s first crack at fragrance shows he is as skilled in scent as he is in makeup and skin care. At first, you smell vanilla cake frosting. A few seconds later, that’s overcome with frankincense and amber. A moment later, gardenia. It’s like a new nuzzly cashmere blanket that you don’t want to take off.


A trip through—and patina photos of—gold rush towns north of San Francisco inspired perfumer Mandy Aftel to create this musty, musky blend of cedarwood, jasmine, tobacco and labdanum, but it’s the very sexy, resiny ambergris that’ll get you.


Two years after the launch of the geranium-and-fig-based 34, Diptyque upped the outdoorsy factor by adding green notes as well as damp moss. It smells like a rainstorm, just one that happens to be in a fig grove somewhere in France.


This bouquet of magnolia, lily of the valley, freesia and jasmine is the most straight-up floral scent founder Ben Gorham has ever created, but it still pushes the limits by capturing these notes at their most vibrant peak. Kind of like a florist’s shop, if said shop was lit by a strobe light.