I confess that I find the lists of fragrance top sellers fascinating, not necessarily from the perspective of revealing to me what is the best perfume on the market, but more as an indication of the general trends which shape the market and influence what we might find on the counter next season. Therefore, I decided to take a look at the top 20 fragrances, ranked by their sales in the US. As I browsed through the list, I noticed that feminine market preferences seem to be heavily focused on recent launches, while the masculine (to be posted next week) gravitates towards classics. Is it due to the conservative nature of the masculine market? Or perhaps is it a result of the onslaught of new launches and the lack of support for the pillar brands in the feminine market? I am still pondering this. Nevertheless, analyzing these lists is interesting, if only to know what the majority of people prefer. With the list below, I will provide my own commentary. In the parentheses, I indicate the year of launch.
20. Marc Jacobs Lola (2009)
Lola is a bubbly floral bouquet, liberally garnished with grapefruit and pear. Girly, pretty, with a hint of retro glamor. It does not offer anything new, nor does it have a particularly strong character. It is just like a big Hollywood blockbuster—a lineup of famous actors, a predictable plot, a happy ending, enjoyable enough.
19. Estée Lauder Sensuous (2008)
An unapologetically woody composition explored by a large house, Sensuous is one of my favorite recent launches. It is elegant, distinctive and memorable. While it borrows heavily from Shiseido Féminité du Bois, Sensuous takes the cedarwood-violet theme into a sheer floral direction.
18. Chanel Chance (2002)
Coco Mademoiselle relied heavily on Thierry Mugler Angel for its patchouli-cotton candy concept, while Chance relies just as heavily on Coco Mademoiselle. With a liberal dose of citrus and sheer floral notes, Chance smells like most of the Angelic gourmands on the market today. One thing is true, however: Chance is entirely undemanding and easy to enjoy, which is not something that can be said about Angel.
17. Marc Jacobs Daisy (2007)
A cousin to Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Daisy is bubbly and fun. The apple-amber idea of Light Blue is interpreted through the prism of a candy shop—there is a strong caramel accent that gives Daisy its easygoing charm. Unoriginal, but very well-made.
16. Chanel Chance Eau Tendre (2010)
As with all Chanel fragrances, Chance Eau Tendre is a high-quality juice. For a quintessential citrusy fruity-floral, it is a good choice. It may be utterly commercial and market tested to death, but when Chanel wants to create a blockbuster, they know how to do it. Grapefruit and apple are set against a violet, hyacinth and jasmine heart, which rests on a Light Blue inspired ambery cedarwood base.
15. Gucci Guilty (2010)
Another blockbuster that plays by all of the rules: vivid citrusy top—check, pink peppercorns—check, sheer floral heart—check, fruity patchouli—check. Still, a very nicely rendered floral oriental idea.
14. Ralph Lauren Romance (1998)
A fragrance that started the trend of sheer mossy compositions with a strong floral heart. I never cared for Romance, which seems to be more sterile than romantic, but whenever I smell it against many new floral launches today, I admit that I find more interesting facets: the use of ginger to bring up the effervescent floral notes, the plush white musks that imitate the scent of clean skin, the subtle touch of dry woods.
13. Christian Dior J’Adore (1999)
For a fresh green floral, one cannot do better than J’Adore. As I discuss in my linked review, J’Adore has been reformulated and the current version smells quite different from the original. Still, the data show that sales of J’Adore continue to increase from one year to the next.
12. Lancôme Trésor (1990)
I was delighted to see something from twenty years ago in the list of top sellers, and I am especially happy to notice that Trésor has made the cut. This plush floral oriental is one of the fragrance legends, and it has inspired a whole family of offspring and outright copycats. Peach tinted rose, iris and violet rest on a delicious sandalwood and almond base, while a discreet touch of sage provides a delightful aromatic counterpoint to the warm layers of the composition.
11. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (2004)
A peppery rose heart + Angel = Flowerbomb. While it is clearly derivate, Flowerbomb has such a vivacious, exuberant personality that it deserves some attention.
10. Clinique Happy (1997)
If I were to reach for a fruity-floral, I would certainly pick Happy. It is a terrific choice for those who love fruity-citrusy notes paired with crisp floral notes and sheer woods. Happy indeed has a very uplifting aura and an impressive sillage. Those who love dark, moody fragrances should steer clear of it.
9. Calvin Klein Euphoria (2005)
Fruity patchouli notes of Euphoria are common in today’s market, but what makes it distinctive is the strong green note. It serves as a brilliant counterpoint to the sweet, milky fruity accord. Euphoria is certainly quite commercial, so one should not expect any epiphanies.
8. Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy (2008)
A woody gourmand twist on the tuberose of the original Juicy Couture. Not bad, but smells like pretty much any other woody gourmand on the market.
7. Thierry Mugler Angel (1993)
Angel’s popularity has been tremendous, and it continues to inspire new fragrances and to top the lists of best sellers. What makes Angel fascinating is its distinctive character. No matter how much it has been copied, it continues to amaze with its powerful personality and unique signature. It is a love or hate fragrance, of which there are now few and far between.
6. Estée Lauder Pleasures (1995)
A trendsetter and a fragrance legend, Pleasures may have been copied to death, but it is still a terrific fragrance. The green notes accented with peppery notes are overlaid against a lush heart of rose and iris. An American classic.
5. Donna Karan Cashmere Mist (1994)
Another American classic, Cashmere Mist is a woody composition that cleverly uses musk and powdery notes to achieve a soft, velvety sensation. Those who love powdery notes should find it alluring.
4. Chanel No 5 (1921)
Iconic No 5 is the only grand parfum that continues to grace the lists of top 20 best sellers. Some attribute it to clever marketing. Some–to the draw of the legend. Perhaps the story is more complex than this. Yet, one thing is true—No 5 is one of the best quality fragrances one can find today. Smelling it, I invariably feel my heart skip a beat because such beautiful materials are difficult to find in any other perfume on the market today.
3. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue (2001)
Undeniably ingenious composition that takes the idea of an apple and presents it as a dry, crystalline still life. I love the citrusy accents as well as the gorgeous crisp amber that forms the base of Light Blue.
2. Estée Lauder Beautiful (1985) (increase)
While Beautiful is essentially a lavish floral bouquet of rose, jasmine, carnation and orange blossom, the mossy drydown lends it a dark twist. Sage and incense notes further enrich the classical romantic floral blend, making Beautiful a dramatic and memorable fragrance. If I were to name another great classic in this list, besides No 5, Beautiful would be my choice.
Drum roll, please…. The top selling fragrance for 2010 was…
1. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle (2001)
Chanel does Angel with Coco Mademoiselle, but it does so quite distinctively. It was one of the first fragrances to add an effervescent citrusy top and a radiant floral heart to Angel’s concept of patchouli + cotton candy. The result is a vivacious, bold composition with a big sillage. It has been just about as trendsetting as Angel itself.
Source: US department stores sales records