Your perfume isn’t just how you smell—it’s how you feel when you get dressed in the morning, for a night out, for a boardroom meeting. It's just as much of an accessory to how you present yourself to the world as your clothing (and let's not forget its close ties to memory and emotion). With that in mind, we’ve launched Fragrance Wardrobe, a scent series that highlights the rotating perfume “wardrobes” of our favorite tastemakers through key points in their life. Get to know them better via the scents they choose to wear.
Maiya Nicole has impeccable taste in fragrance. The Los Angeles-based beauty creator's love affair with scent began at a young age, receiving her first perfume by age eight. Today, she shares her lifelong passion for fragrance with the world via her popular social media account, Black Girls Smell Good. Nicole offers glimpses of her carefully curated fragrance wardrobe, reviews of new launches (like the highly anticipated Fenty Eau de Parfum), and helpful tips (like fragrance vocabulary guides) across her Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
"I launched Black Girls Smell Good in April 2021, she says. "When the pandemic hit, my job as a beauty educator no longer existed, and I missed conversing about beauty and fragrance with my coworkers and clients. I started an online journal to log all the fragrances I had been trying. It started as a personal page and turned into an entire community."
Having become a go-to source for fragrance recommendations, we had to ask Nicole to fill us in on her current favorites. Ahead, she shared everything from her must-have WFH scent to her ideal date night fragrance.
How would you describe your fragrance style?
If I like it, I like it. I don't follow the typical fragrance etiquette of "two sprays and nothing more." I enjoy head-turning, heavy-hitter fragrances that command attention. I think fragrance is experiential, so in the way people curate their outfits or hairstyles, I do the same with scent. I wear what I want to. I don't care who the fragrance is marketed to, and I layer a ton.
How would you describe your Fragrance Wardrobe through the years?
My mom started my love of fragrances. I got my first fragrance, OP Juice, at seven or eight, and I loved it so much. From then on, my mom and grandma bought whatever I asked for, and I built my fragrance wardrobe. I had a lot of Bath and Body Works and Victoria's Secret scents. I got stuck in a numbers game when I started buying my own fragrances. I wanted to have whatever was new. Now that's changed because I'm more interested in having a collection that wows me.
How many perfumes do you have right now?
I owned about 250, and now I'm down to 75. Most of the fragrances I own now are sample size, and that's because I don't want to be a collector. I'm focusing on building my sample collection rather than my full bottle collection.
What is your favorite fragrance right now?
I feel like I wear something different every day. I've been wearing Maison Francis Kurkdjian's Gentle Fluidity Gold quite a bit. It's one of my favorite vanilla fragrances.
What was the first fragrance you ever bought, and why?
Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh. I don't think I've ever finished a fragrance that fast. It's super sweet and fruity.
What is your go-to WFH scent?
I'm a certified leisure queen, so I want to smell fresh and clean whenever I'm home. It makes me feel the most pampered. My most worn scent is Clean Reserve Warm Cotton. It smells like fresh laundry and reminds me of fluffy white sheets. Sometimes I'll mix that with Margiela Replica Bubble Bath when I'm craving that "just out the shower" soapy scent.
What is the fragrance that brings you comfort?
It has to be my mom's signature scent, Estee Lauder Pleasures. That smell reminds me of my childhood and puts me at ease. Another scent my mom wore was Almond Cookie from Carol's Daughter. I used to take trips to Sephora with her as a kid to buy it.
What scent makes you feel most powerful?
Montale Arabian Tonka. Whenever I wear that, I feel like the baddest bitch. It has three of my favorite notes: Amber, oud, and saffron. It demands confidence, so I like to put that on when I feel the opposite of powerful.
What's your date night fragrance?
Definitely Kilian Rolling In Love.
What scent makes you feel the most comfortable?
Pillow Talk Poet from Pinrose Fragrances—it's like a baby powder scent. I found it during a stressful time at work. Whenever I smell that, I feel soft and fluffy. It's not a fragrance you'll put on, and the whole room will smell you. It's a "just for you" thing.
Is there a fragrance you spritz on to bring back good memories?
My best friend Jay's signature scent is Chanel Chance Eau Tendre. I've had some of my most exciting times with her, and in my head, they're linked to her scent. I keep a bottle in my collection, even though I don't wear it often.
What do you smell when you want to unwind/destress?
I have anxiety, and aromatherapy is helpful. Earlier this year, I went on a brand trip with Nest Fragrances. They gifted us a fancy diffuser and a scent called Driftwood and Chamomile. It makes my whole house smell like I'm at a spa and puts me at ease.
What's your favorite candle right now? What does it smell like?
My favorite candle is from a Black-owned home brand called Harlem Candle Company. They released a line inspired by the Harlem Renaissance—my favorite period of Black history. The candle I have is called Langston, inspired by Langston Hughes.
Each of the scents they chose for the candle is based on elements of his life. It has leather, which reminded them of his favorite armchair, and tobacco from his pipe. He spent a lot of time in Mexico, so it has clove, amber, and incense. I dream of owning a Harlem brownstone one day, and this candle smells like what I imagine that space to smell like. Every time I burn it, I'm manifesting.
What scent will you associate with this time in your life?
Every birthday, I choose a new main character scent to represent how I hope to feel in the coming year. Last year, it was Montale Sensual Instinct, and I feel like it brought some sweetness into my life. This year is even more exciting because I partnered with beauty entrepreneur Starasia Abraham to create a fragrance. I don't want to say it's the best thing I've ever smelled because I made it, but it's one of the best things I've ever smelled.