Few of us want our signature scent to smell just like our grandmothers' (we all love the ladies, of course; we just don't always want to smell like them). That said, perfumers have started tapping into a side of the classic "old lady" scent, which, bear with me, is actually quite youthful and modern.
But what exactly do we mean when we say "grandma chic?" We're talking leathery fragrances inspired by vintage photographs; unique, feminine fragrances modeled after the smell of lipstick; and spicy twists on classic notes like rose and amber.
Nearly every one of our favorite perfume brands has concocted a scent in this category recently, so we figure it can't be a coincidence. And trust us when we say these scents are shockingly hypnotizing.
Curious about this unique new fragrance trend? Keep reading to check out our 10 favorite scents!
1. Maison Martin Margiela Lipstick On
Somehow this nostalgic fragrance manages to evoke a powdery, feminine smell we all know and love: a tube of red lipstick. (Literally, it smells just like it—magic.) Inspired by “the intimate atmosphere of a boudoir,” it’s a one-of-a-kind twist on something your grandmother might have worn 50 years ago, along with a pair of white gloves and a pillbox hat.
2. Rodin Bis
Linda Rodin designed this sweet, smoky fragrance with an intensely personal memory in mind—that of her mother Billie, who always smelled of powder, black pepper, toasted sugar, tobacco, and Juicy Fruit gum. The result is this complex, elegant fragrance, which can take on either refined or edgy vibes, depending on whether you wear it with a cardigan or leather moto jacket. It's grandma-cool, if you will.
3. Tom Ford Santal Blush Eau de Parfum
This creamy, earthy oriental fragrance is for the sandalwood connoisseur. Boasting spicy notes like cumin, cinnamon, jasmine, and sandalwood of course, it reads like a modernized version of a classic powdery, unisex scent from the 1920s.
4. Olfactive Studio Chambre Noire Eau de Parfum
Olfactive Studio’s perfumes always have a reflective element, and this jasmine-infused scent will delight vintage lovers in particular. The fragrance was inspired by a black-and-white photograph of a hotel room in Cairo overlooking the Nile at night—an image juxtaposing the ancient with the modern. That’s just what this fragrance manages to do, thanks to its full-bodied blend of violet, patchouli, jasmine, and leather.
5. Byredo 1996 Eau de Parfum
Another nostalgia-inspired pick, this warm, dreamy fragrance was modeled after a photo of a young, angel-faced girl taken in 1996. The result is an incandescent, powder-soft perfume with notes of amber and iris, plus darker elements of leather, black pepper, and patchouli underneath. It’s meant to be an evocative scent, even if the memories that inspired it aren’t your own.
6. Diptyque Ôponé Eau de Parfum
There’s something almost potpourri-esque about this rosy perfume. (That’s the grandmother part of the equation.) But the elements of pepper and licorice give the scent a kick, rendering it wearable for women in their 20s. If you don’t typically go for rose fragrances, give this spicy rendition a try.
7. Krigler Pleasure Gardenia 79
Founder of this classic perfume line Albert Krigler created this musky, white floral scent in 1897 in hopes of charming his future wife. The plan must have worked (the two were eventually married). Nearly 120 years later, the fragrance remains intensely elegant and feminine, and boasts incredible staying power on the skin.
8. Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Rosa Excelsa
Rose scents peppered most of our grandmother's perfume collections, but this romantic fragrance puts a fresh spin on the classic note. (Think more wet garden, less stuffy powder room.) If you're a fan of rose but still want a youthful fragrance, this pick's bright notes of papaya flower, white daffodil, and other summery elements keep things 20-something appropriate.
9. Catbird Ghost Rose Solid Perfume
If you're sensitive to the alcohol (or price tag) of certain perfumes but still long for a sparkling rose scent in your life, this moisturizing balm is your pick. Formulated with just coconut wax, soy wax, and fragrance, it sits comfortably on the skin. And even if you're not typically a fan of rose, the complementary notes of champagne and peony make it worth a whiff.
10. Goest Perfumes Silent Films
You won't find even a drop of floral or fruit in this dark, distinctive fragrance. Instead, think lavender, mint, leather, vanilla, and smoke. The scent is bold, yet hard to put your finger on. It wafts over you as if gushing in from another era, if that makes sense. It's not vintage-y in the way that rose or amber might be, but it will all make sense once the scent hits your olfactory system.