Five emerging Scent Trends

Five emerging scent trends: Much like cycles in fashion, music and interior design, notes and ingredients in perfumery move in and out of style over the decades. Each generation discovers its own fragrance personality and perfumers respond with prestige fragrances that cater to these tastes. The impact of Starbucks on the fragrance industry cannot be understated as teens flock to the cafes for frappucinos and London Fogs. This taste for a combination of coffee, vanilla and caramel is reflected in the sales of new fragrances. They respond to scents that reflect their lifestyles and tastes.

Moschino catwalk fashion
Moschino catwalk fashion

Fragrance Houses employ trend forecasters to predict what consumers will desire in the coming months, years and even decade. They study what you eat, wear, listen to and read. And based on this information, perfumers are given detailed briefs when designing a new scent. It’s a detailed and precise process. We’ve searched the globe for the most interesting trends in perfumery. These ingredients and movements are not only influencing the fragrances arriving on counter this season, but will continue to influence perfumers for the coming year. Here are five biggest scent trends:

Five Emerging Scent Trends


Trend 1: Patchouli

If you are a fan of That 70s Show or lived through the 1960s hippie counter-culture era, you will recognize the name and scent of patchouli. It has a rich, earthy, almost-woody aroma with a slightly sweet character and was often used to mask the scent of cannabis. It was so popular that it defined a generation committed to social change and creative pursuits.

Fast forward half a century and you will find a patchouli renaissance happening in the world of fine perfumery. A new generation of perfumers is reimagining this ingredient in modern ways that emphasize the soothing and comforting qualities of the note. You’ll discover that these new patchouli-themed scents have subtlety and elegance to them thanks to pairings with rose, peony and iris. One of the most surprising ingredients that works seamlessly with patchouli, is peach. It has a velvet, fruity personality that blends nicely with patchouli.

Patchouli is an aromatic oil extracted from a Southeast Asian shrub, a member of the mint family. Perfumers extract the fragrant oil from dried leaves using a process of steam distillation. Some say the highest quality oil is produced from fresh leaves distilled close to where they are harvested. It’s been hugely popular in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for centuries making its way to Europe from South Asia during the days of Napoleon along the Spice Route.

One of our favourite patchouli-themed scents this season is Bvlgari Splendida Patchouli Tentation. This elegant chypre scent for her features a trio of high quality patchouli oil that blends in peach and iris notes. It’s warm and cocooning.  

Moschino catwalk fashion
Moschino catwalk fashion

Trend 2: The Great Escape

With the global pandemic changing almost every aspect of our lives, we look for a momentary escape from reality. A whimsical perfume bottle or an unexpected fragrance can give us a sense of joy and fun. Online retailers are reporting that sales of collectible miniature fragrance bottles are exceeding expectations. Not only are they adorable bottles that make nice displays, the sets allow you to sample and explore scents that you might not have considered.

backstage at Moschino
backstage at Moschino

Jeremy Scott’s creations for Italian fashion brand Moschino never fail to make us smile. There is humour and joy in every single outfit and fragrance he creates. His most recent fashion collection channelled Marie Antoinette with cake-shaped structured dresses, exaggerated silhouettes and mile-high wigs. It was 9 minutes of pure joy on the catwalk.

moschino miniatures collection
moschino miniatures collection

Trend 3: Gender-Fluid Fragrances

“Wear what you love.” That is the message from perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. The award-winning perfumer, who once recreated Marie Antoinette’s favourite fragrance for a Versaille gala, says it is important to wear what speaks to you – regardless of how it is marketed. He says it is important to understand that fragrance has no gender in and of itself. The kinds of fragrances that we classify as “men’s” and “women’s” are classified by marketing teams to advertise. In the past, florals and sweet gourmands have been targeted to women while aromatic, woody scents have been advertised to men. This is all changing as fragrance enthusiasts are now encouraged to wear their favourite notes. Take Versace’s Eros Flame for example. That scent was classified as a men’s scent with notes of Italian citrus, black pepper, rose, geranium, rosemary, woods, sweet tonka bean and vanilla. It is estimated that half of the individuals who bought the scent were women. It really did smell incredible on women.

We also really love Atkinsons’ 44 Gerard Street as a wonderful balance of masculine and feminine notes: eucalyptus, green lemon, jasmine, rose, ginger, orchid and cashmere wood.

Here’s a step-by-step tip sheet on how to properly test a new fragrance.

peach tree
peach tree

Trend 4: Peach

The first mention of peaches can be traced back to ancient Chinese scriptures in the 10th century BC, where they were enjoyed by royalty and emperors. Even from this early day, the peach was seen a symbol of longevity and a good life. It was Alexander the Great who introduced the sweet fleshy fruit to Europe after conquering Persia. Today, there are more than 700 different varieties of peach that offer a sweet, velvety aroma with a little acidity. You may be surprised to learn that the peach notes in modern perfumery are recreated in a laboratory using headspace technology since there is no way to extract essential oil from the fruit itself.

You’ll discover perfumers using peach notes more and more in modern-day fragrances such as Versace Pour Femme Dylan Blue. That is because it is a nice change from Italian citrus while still providing a juicy, sweet fruit effect in the top notes. It also blends nicely with woods and patchouli. Expect to see more peach notes in the coming months.


Trend 5: The Starbucks Effect

An industry social media tracking service recently revealed that mentions of vanilla in perfumery has jumped 133% over the previous year. Posts discussing coffee, cocoa and caramel are seeing similar increases.

Online retailers witnessed a surge in sweet-themed scents during the pandemic lockdown as consumers craved comfort and familiarity. The daily visit to Starbucks for a frappucino may have been put on hold for a period of time, but a fragrance could create the olfactory experience. Trend forecasters predict that gourmand and sweet notes will continue to sell well throughout the rest of the year.

Ever wondered how long a spritz of fragrance will last? Click here to find out.

  • Lisa
    August 23, 2020 at 9:35 pm

    Yes to gender-fluid fragrances … wear what you love!

  • Trisha Pedros
    August 19, 2020 at 6:28 am

    Love that patchouli is too the list!! Starbucks should thank you with free coffees for life!

  • Teresa Bradshaw
    August 18, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Dave, you probably started trend nr 5 with your love of Starbucks!☕😉

  • Angela Citrigno
    August 16, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    I have learned so much about fragrances. There are some men’s colognes that I just love. I’m so pleased to hear that perfume, EDP, EDT are gender natural. I actually purchased a set of Versace miniatures because I wanted to sample 5 different fragrances. I also felt it was more cost effective and now knowing a fragrance can lose some if it’s notes why buy the big bottle? Although I do own the large bottle of Yellow Diamond. My favourite fragrance for now 🥰💛

  • daniela sborlini
    August 16, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    love this article and the smell of peaches. no wonder im in love with Versace Dylan Blue.

  • Sherri Gelbart
    August 15, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    I think vanilla has always been popular because it tends to evoke childhood memories of sweets and celebrations. When I bake cookies or cakes, good quality vanilla is the best ingredient to have on hand and along with a pinch of salt is also what lets chocolate shine! Honestly, I can live without patchouli too much, my aunt never left the 60s and still wears the same perfume and oy! It’s marked me lol! I completely agree about everything else, one of my favorite scents as it evokes my childhood of watching my cousin get ready is Coty Wild Musk. It’s a women’s fragrance, but when I show it to people, they think it’s meant for men. I just love spritzing the air and feeling happy 🙂 . Sorry for the long comment, your article made me recall a lot.

  • Jibralta Merrill
    August 15, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Fascinating article. I’ve worn *MEN’S* scents for years because they’re long lasting & they smell good with my body’s chemistry. I’m always surprised that people assume they’d smell “masculine”🙄whatever that means! They smell sexy on me💞 I do love florals🌺, but they don’t like me. Coco de Mademoiselle is a great scent on others😂

  • Jenn
    August 15, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    The bit about sweet-themed scents being most popular during this pandemic is so interesting, but also makes sense…. I think I know what kind of perfume to buy for friends and family this holiday season!

  • September Dee
    August 15, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    I’m all for a great escape and a unisex fragrance. AI agree wholeheartedly that one should wear what one loves no matter who it is marketed for. Not so enthralled about the cocoa scents though ever since reading what Ty,er Burr said about it’s synthetic composition.

  • Heather Schell
    August 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    I live for the patchouli renaissance !

  • Dawn Sutherland
    August 15, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    I totally understand the Starbucks effect!

  • Mariola daher
    August 15, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Such perfection, love this article 💕