Niche perfumery is a handy term to encompass brands with limited distribution, but when it comes to quality or originality, it means absolutely nothing. Twenty years ago niche houses comprised just a handful of visionaries who wanted to do perfumery according to their own ideas rather than conventional marketing, but today it’s hard to argue that niche means better.
What it does mean without fail is more expensive. Take Byredo La Tulipe for example. For $220, you get 100ml of perfume that smells disconcertingly like Febreeze. I’m not intending it as an off-the cuff remark. The original Febreeze scent is sophisticated floral with soft rose and lily of the valley notes. La Tulipe has more sparkle and layers, but at the heart of it is a simple fresh floral. It’s pretty enough, but I would rather enjoy something like this at Febreeze’s price (under $10).
La Tulipe doesn’t suggest Febreeze from its initial glittery notes, and the tart fruity top that lingers on the blotter seduced me into getting a sample. It has a delicious crunch, and it reminds me of biting into an ice cold green apple. This part melts into the floral heart which comprises most of the perfume. It’s fairly abstract, but there is a tinge of lily of the valley, green rose and grape-like freesia. At first, there is a slight fizz of aldehydes, which give a starched linen feel to La Tulipe.
Tulips themselves smell deliciously of potato peels and wet soil and the closest you get to this via La Tulipe is in the drydown when the damp earthiness of vetiver resurfaces. There is a pale layer of cedarwood and musk which wraps up this wan floral. Despite my expectations, it lasted forever.
La Tulipe notwithstanding, perfumes based on the idea of a delicate bouquet of flowers don’t have to be dull or smell like household products. Jour d’Hermès is my favorite in this genre. It’s fresh, easy to wear, and anything but flat. Chanel Gardénia is not a favorite, but it’s expertly put together and has an appealing, effervescent character. Another happy and distinctive floral I want to mention is Estée Lauder Pleasures. It may be ubiquitous and familiar, but smell it next to La Tulipe and see how expensive and luxurious Pleasures is. If you want to dip your toes into niche waters, then Ormonde Jayne Tiaré, a dewy bouquet of spring blossoms, is my recommendation. Finally, if you want a fresh floral with a musky twist, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and Narciso Rodriguez for Her will hit the spot without breaking the bank.
Do you have any other recommendations for a pretty and reasonably priced floral perfume?
Byredo La Tulipe Eau de Parfum includes notes of rhubarb, cyclamen, freesia, tulip, blond woods, and vetiver. 100ml/$220.