Out of all the beauty categories, fragrance is the most personal—and the most expensive. Luxury scents from brands like Tom Ford and Chanel can run up to $1000 a bottle, and the prices aren't coming down anytime soon. According to CNN, “the average retail price for fragrances rose by 15% in 2021 compared to 2020,” thanks to supply chain and consumer demand for exclusive scents. Pia Velasco, freelance beauty editor and brand consultant, vouches for splurging on an expensive fragrance before a special occasion or memorable event. “Scent is so strongly tied to memory,” she says. “It makes sense to splurge on an unforgettable scent to help you relive your special moment every time you spritz it on.” Ahead, Velasco and several other beauty editors share the 13 most expensive perfumes that are actually worth it, so you can make olfactory memories that you'll cherish forever.
House of Bō El Sireno
“This is the first perfume I’ve worn that has prompted friends to buy it on the spot—that's how good it is,” Velasco shares, “It’s an elegant aquatic scent with notes of kelp, magnolia, oakmoss, and more that create a hypnotic and alluring effect.” The scent is powerful enough to stand on its own, but she's also partial to the packaging. “The architectural bottle features a natural blue onyx stone as its cap,” she notes. “It's so stunning it can be used as home décor.”
Size: 2.5 oz. | Type: Parfum | Notes: Kelp, Banana Leaf, Lavender, Magnolia, Ylang Ylang, Tuberose, Oakmoss, Mastic, Sandalwood
Le Labo Santal 33
Beloved by celebrities and beauty editors alike, this musky classic is another one of Velasco’s favorites. “It’s sensual and soft, wild and smoky, comforting and spicy,” she says. “The notes of leather, cardamom, iris, sandalwood, and musk are a fraction of the addictive cocktail. It’s one of those scents that’s always in the back of my mind.” The scent is so popular that the brand has also used it in shampoo and conditioner, so you can overhaul your routine if you're especially obsessed.
Size: 3.4 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Leather, Musk
Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau
Beauty expert and writer Melanie Rud shares Velasco’s sentiment about splurging. “I bought this for myself to wear throughout my wedding weekend, and anytime I wear it now, it always brings me back to that day,” she says. “It’s definitely not cheap, but the scent is so totally unique—a little fruity, a little floral—that I think it’s totally worth every penny.” She loves it so much that despite her extensive fragrance collection (trust us, it’s huge), she always reaches for this one.
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Eau de Toilette | Notes: Rose, Blackcurrant Buds, Petit Grain Olfactory, Blackcurrant Leaves
Tom Ford Ombré Leather
Kayla Greaves, a freelance beauty editor and consultant, names this expensive perfume as one of her all-time favorites. “It's dark, slightly musky, and makes me feel so sexy,” she says. “For this reason alone, I'll keep buying it over and over again.”
Size: 3.4 oz. | Type: Eau de Toilette | Notes: Rose, Blackcurrant Buds, Petit Grain Olfactory, Blackcurrant Leaves
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540
Rud’s favorite thing about this scent is its uniqueness. “You really can’t pigeon-hole it into one fragrance family,” she says, “I think that’s why it appeals to so many different people; I first smelled it on a friend who tends to like way heavier perfumes than I do, but was drawn to it just as much as she is.” Freelance beauty editor Lisa Desantis agrees: “It's a scent that people try so hard to find dupes of, and although sometimes I understand wanting a bargain, I don't think any of the replicas can strike the delicate balance of sweet, floral and airiness like the original.” If you're looking for people to stop you on the street and ask what fragrance you are wearing, this is an ideal choice.
Size: 2.4 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Jasmine, Saffron, Cedarwood, Ambergris
Krigler Good Fir 11
Another one of Greaves’ favorites, this gorgeous daytime scent is inspired by pine, with notes of pink pepper, banana leaf, and white musk. “I'm an earth sign, so the crisp, woodsy fragrance makes me feel grounded, just like when I'm surrounded by nature—even when I'm in midtown Manhattan,” she says.
Size: 3.4 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Pink Pepper, Banana Leaf, Bitter Orange, Tuberose, Ginger, Nutmeg, Vetiver, Tobacco, Mineral, Moss
D.S. & Durga I Don't Know What
Beauty writer Taylore Glynn wears fragrance for herself first and foremost, but this one always gets people’s attention. “I've never had more Uber drivers or strangers on the street ask me what I'm wearing,” she says. “In a market swimming in formulas claiming to smell like ‘your skin, but better,’ founders Kavi Moltz and David Seth managed to Wonka-fy that experience.” The unique blend of vetiver, ambrox super, bergamot, and Iso E super smells different on whoever chooses to wear it, and Glynn believes the air of mystery that comes with wearing this fragrance is worth the price tag.
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Bergamot essence, vetiver acetate, firsantol, ambrox super, Iso E super
The Maker Stag
“You know how Popeye sucks down a can of spinach for a power-up? Consider this my personal leafy-green liquid charisma,” Glynn tells us. The scent is inspired by the sensual spaces inside Hudson, New York’s The Maker Hotel. “This juice boasts bold notes like agarwood, leather, and palo santo,” she says. “It reads equal parts tough and sexy, and it's yet another compliment magnet.”
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Red Grapefruit, Elemi, Bergamot, Agarwood, Black Leather, Labdanum, Incense, Patchouli, Palo Santo
Clive Christian No. 1 Masculine
Freelance beauty and fashion writer Natasha Marsh prioritizes brand history when selecting her signature scent, and this option from Clive Christian boasts a 150-year heritage. “This one is a clean and woody scent that is rich at first and fades into a beautiful aroma that lasts all day with one spritz,” she says.
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Perfume | Notes: Thyme, Nutmeg, Lily of the Valley, Cardamom, Pimento, Artemisia Oil, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean
Chris Collins Danse Sauvage
"I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Collins for a story many moons ago, and I found his vision to be at once revolutionary and a long time coming," Byrdie editor Eden Stuart says of this luxury fragrance brand. "Many of his fragrances draw on the richness of Black history and the Black experience as inspiration. You can see this through fragrances such as Danse Sauvage, which evokes the Black ex-pat experience in 1920s Paris through warm, sensual notes like cognac, vanilla, and oud." As you can imagine, that scent profile creates a powerful, intoxicating experience that more than justifies the price point.
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Cognac, Plum, Saffron, Pepper, Chili, Rose, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Oud
Parfums de Marly Oriana
“Graceful and feminine is how I like to describe this one,” Marsh says. Notes of mandarin and grapefruit conjure images of enjoying drinks in the sunshine and sticky summer evenings. “Plus, with such a chic design, this bottle doubles as vanity decor,” she adds.
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Mandarin, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange Blossom, Raspberry, Black Currant, Marshmallow, Ambrette Chantilly Cream, Musk
Kilian Paris Love, Don't Be Shy
The perfect summer evening perfume, this sweet but not syrupy scent highlights notes of luscious marshmallow and vanilla absolute. Topped off with orange blossom, it feels warm and inviting. In case you need more convincing, Rihanna is a fan—mic drop.
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Orange Blossom, Vanilla Absolute, Luscious Marshmallow
Maya Njie Vanilj
Looking to invest in a complex vanilla perfume? This one may be your ideal match. "If you tend to reach for rich, subtly sweet fragrances, this Maya Njie number will earn a place in your permanent rotation," Byrdie associate editorial director Holly Rhue says. "With notes of vanilla, cardamom, and patchouli, this is the perfect spicy-sweet, bourbon-inspired scent to take you through every season of the year."
Size: 1.7 oz. | Type: Eau de Parfum | Notes: Vanilla, Cardamom, Patchouli, Musk, Cedarwood, Amber