Underrated Fragrances : What Perfumes Do Not Get Enough Attention


What perfumes do you find underrated? What fragrances do you think are not getting enough appreciation on blogs or among your friends?

My picks today would be Estée Lauder Private Collection (and all Lauder classics, for that matter) and Kenzo Jungle L’Éléphant, which are bold, distinctive and dramatic. Those who love the spicy, incense laden themes popular in niche perfumery would find Jungle striking with its rich accord of cardamom and woods.  As for Private Collection, it is an exquisite green chypre, which combines the vibrant hue of verdant notes with mossy darkness.



  • Miss Kitty: Bond No. 9 Broadway Nite. I’m always shocked that other aldehydic floral lovers never talk about this one. I think someone on another blog described it as “Lipstick Rose on steroids,” and I’d have to agree. My other underrated favorite is vintage Emeraude, although that seems to have developed a cult following over the last couple of years. May 15, 2011 at 8:39am Reply

  • jtd: Right on! Private Collection is remarkable and a perfect example of Lauder’s tending to their classics. For all the talk of the reformulation blues, PC is a green chypre that isn’t a shadow of its original version. The Aramis Gentleman’s Collection is also underestimated. Aramis 900, a softer but wonderful spin on Aromatic Elixir, and JHL, a meditation on the floriental (also the floral love child of Cinnabar and Youth Dew) are stunning and stand up to any other current masculines, niche or otherwise. Easy to find (Neiman Marcus) and surprisingly inexpensive. May 15, 2011 at 8:51am Reply

  • Parfumista: Agree about Estee Lauder, their fragrances (the classics and also the new PC:s and Sensuous) deliver great value for the money. Among the designerbrands I also think that Dior fragrances as the Poison-line and some others (Miss Dior Cherie 2005) created after year 2000 are underappriciated. When it comes to niche houses i think Mona di Orios fragrances are underappreciated, mabye because of the “1” rating of the line in “The Guide”. Also the Montales: Five-six years ago when this house started the oud trend the fragrances were higly appreciated. But since a year or two I think almost everything from Montale is criticized. May 15, 2011 at 6:14am Reply

  • Tracy Bloom, LMT: I always liked the original Lauren (women’s) and haven’t heard much about others liking it. May 15, 2011 at 10:22am Reply

  • Jennifer: Totally agree about The Estee Lauder Private Collectio. That is the most strikingly different perfume in any department store in my humble opinion. PC was the one that caused me to fall in love with perfume. It has many facets that develop over time. How many affordable and avaiable frags sport an interesting drydown these days? Knowing is also a perfume which I like and I get a lot of compliments when I wear it. Also I think the Cacharel line-up Anais, Anais, Amor, Amor (Lou Lou which I have yet to find) and some Parfumes Gres especially Cabochard and Cabotine which you can find at discounters in EDT form are still decent. I cannot wear Cabochard because my mother has worn that scent for so long it is part of her identity at this point. I liked it though I have heard it was better prior to being reformulated. Anais I used to wear in the 80s and recently bought 1oz for old times sake. I think I imprinted on the iris and it was a gateway that lead me on to other quality perfumes like Chanel 19, which I love very much. Sad that it is no longer available in EDP… May 15, 2011 at 11:13am Reply

  • Hilary: I think Iris Poudre is absolutely ravishing: wearable, feminine, and classic. I’m not sure why that one doesn’t get more love! That’s the only one that comes to mind right now. May 15, 2011 at 11:42am Reply

  • Austenfan: I so agree with this. I admire rather than love them, although I love ( and wear) White Linen. I find them a tad loud. I think I have seen them described here as monolithic fragrances. May 15, 2011 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Austenfan: On the ” Niche Front” perhaps Divine? It is only a small house with (fortunately) few releases. I think, however, that their line is very consistent, and very good. L’Homme de Coeur and the first Divine in particular. May 15, 2011 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Hannah: Alexander Mcqueen Kingdom May 15, 2011 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Irina: Totally agree about Estee Lauder. Incidentally one of my friends mentioned EL’s Tuberose Gardenia perfume, and I tried it. and really liked it for good vibes it gives away. Every time I wear it – every time I get a lot of compliments, both from men and women. But I never heard about it form perfume gurus, as if they consider mass market perfumes as infectious disease. May 15, 2011 at 8:32am Reply

  • Ann C: It’s cool and rainy here in Maine today; Sensuous Noir is a perfect antidote. I love it! May 15, 2011 at 1:07pm Reply

  • samberg: Many Pacifica scents (especially Mediterranean Fig, Tibetan Mountain Temple, and French Lilac) seem to be liked by perfumistas but aren’t admired by ‘established’ experts. None of them were included in The Guide, and they’re reviewed almost solely by natural-themed blogs. May 15, 2011 at 1:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: Poison range is very good. Hypnotic Poison should be interesting to anyone who loves warm, soft gourmand blends.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:21am Reply

  • vanessa: I agree about the ELs and own a bottle of original Private Collection. I would add to that some of the Kenzos, notably Eau de Fleur de Magnolia, a cheery spring scent, and the haunting Flower Oriental that I reach for in cooler weather. Armani White for Her and some of the Bvlgaris (Crystalline, Green Jade) also deserve a better press I feel.

    Oh and I also routinely bang my drum for the heavily discounted Jasper Conran Woman (four stars in The Guide). A very creditable dupe of Cristalle – grab it while you can! May 15, 2011 at 10:21am Reply

  • Victoria: I love pretty much everything in new PC range, except for the one with ylang ylang (don't remember its name.) And the classics range is so diverse and excellent!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:22am Reply

  • Victoria: Broadway Nite is such a vivid, bright rose-violet! Very dramatic. I agree, the fact that it is not mentioned more often really surprises me.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:24am Reply

  • Victoria: I cannot agree more with your point on the state of Lauder classics. Compared to many other brands, they do such a great job protecting its heritage. Even despite new regulations. So, whenever I smell Private Collection, I always think, "yes, it is possible to reformulate a chypre successfully."
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:26am Reply

  • Victoria: Jasper Conran is a brand I've smelled once or twice when I lived in London. Need to revisit!
    I also loved Kenzo's Parfum d'Ete.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:28am Reply

  • Victoria: Lauren is a legend! It is a pity it has been reformulated so dreadfully.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:28am Reply

  • *jen: I have to sample Kenzos. Every time I randomly sniff-test them in the store, they all smell vaguely similar. I’m sure that’s just due to an overwhelmed nose! May 15, 2011 at 10:35am Reply

  • Tarleisio: One perfume I never hear much about – and I don’t know why not, becuase it’s so good – is Balmain’s Ivoire. It’s cheap and easy to find, has incredible staying power and is a flawless, seamless green floral. I couldn’t live without it if I tried! May 15, 2011 at 10:40am Reply

  • Elisa: I am the one who described it that way, in a comment on this blog. 🙂 I love it too! May 15, 2011 at 10:44am Reply

  • Elisa: I agree with others here about Estee Lauder — White Linen is my favorite aldehydic floral and I feel like it doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough, being overshadowed by the Chanels No. 5 and 22. I also think Sensuous Noir was underrated — I’ve used almost half of my bottle already.

    A few others: L de Lolita Lempicka, Belle en Rykiel, and Liz Zorn’s line. May 15, 2011 at 10:50am Reply

  • Victoria: Elisa, it was a perfect description! 🙂
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:58am Reply

  • Victoria: I prefer White Linen to No 22, because I find it bolder and richer. Granted, I own both. Cannot pick just one. 🙂
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 10:59am Reply

  • Victoria: Ivoire is a great fragrance! I think that green florals in general are not that popular, unless they are modern interpretations with plenty of tart fruit or berries in the top notes.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 11:00am Reply

  • Safran: The Stephanie de St.Aignan scents seem to be very underrated to me, although I find them quite unique. The summer amber embruns d’ambre for example and also Gli Altarelli and Royal Palm are quite special for summer, if one is not looking for an overly floral or citrusy scent, that’s still kind of refreshing and lasting.
    Two more I find underrated are Costume National Homme, a creamy dreamy slightly tropical unisex sandalwood and Carbone de Balmain by Balmain, a great aromatic joyful scent, that reminds me of the original Nino Cerrutti by Cerrutti.


    PS: I’ve been wearing Private Collection on and off since I was nineteen, it’s a wonderful scent. May 15, 2011 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Safran: Another one that seems to be underrated is Rivage des Syrtes bei Parfums MDCI. Maybe because it belongs to the fruity floral category? Surprisingly for that category it’s so versatilely wearable and it glows and shimmers for hours and hours. To me it’s one of Patricia de Nicolai’s best fragrances! May 15, 2011 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Musette: I fell hard for PC when it first came out. It was absolutely gorgeous!!! Overall I think the Lauders are very well done, even when they are not my personal style.

    xoA May 15, 2011 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Victoria: White Linen is definitely the first to start the monolithic genre (and Youth Dew, to an extent,) but other classical Lauders are the typical grand parfums. They are loud, and it is what makes them different from what was done in France around the same time. I admire all of them, but PC is the one I wear consistently.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 15, 2011 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Karen: I never hear about Romeo Gigli, I used to buy it all the time when I lived in LA and really miss it. Thanks for this post, it reminded me to search for it on the Internet! Really a lovely fragrance, more complex than you’d think by the name. May 15, 2011 at 12:55pm Reply

  • mals86: Great description. And you have picked up on the reason I didn’t like BN… I didn’t like Lipstick Rose, either, and “steroids” is apt, too. I felt like BN was shrieking at me. May 15, 2011 at 1:58pm Reply

  • Limony: I love it. Also Y by YSL. I think a perfume not getting much attention but perfectly good is Bleu by Paul & Joe May 15, 2011 at 6:07pm Reply

  • Limony: Private Collection and Jolie Madame were the first perfumes I fell in love with. I was babysitting and would always go and get a sniff from the parents’ bedroom. I was a very nosy babysitting teen. May 15, 2011 at 6:08pm Reply

  • mals86: I think they’re well done, too. I just can’t (shudder) wear them, due to something in the base that makes me nauseated. I so wanted to love Private Collection and Knowing. May 15, 2011 at 2:36pm Reply

  • mals86: Nobody talks about Cuir de Lancome anymore, but I love it. It’s so versatile.

    And hardly anybody talks about the Parfums de Rosine line, but I think they’re lovely. (Well, okay, V – *you* talked about Rose d’Ete recently, and that’s my favorite of the Rosines.) May 15, 2011 at 2:38pm Reply

  • moi: Donna Karan’s Gold.

    It’s a stunning floral, bordering on floriental, whose dominant lily note beautifully weaves in and out of clove, amber, woods and something leafy green that I can’t quite put my finger on.

    Long-lived with just the right amount of sillage.

    Can be had for a song from just about any eTailer and on eBay. May 15, 2011 at 7:22pm Reply

  • moi: I LOVE this ‘fume. On me, it’s the most brilliant mix of lemon and roses, but on others it seems to be mostly, unbearably, armpit-ey. May 15, 2011 at 7:24pm Reply

  • Carla: I own both PC and Jungle. Jungle was an impulse purchase last winter in Europe. It is so strong, I rarely wore it even during the cold months, but it very well done. Elsewhere, I named Missoni de Missoni as an under-appreciated scent. I just love this perfume by Roucel. It is a warm fruity floral with amber and chocolate and it always lifts my spirits! May 15, 2011 at 7:59pm Reply

  • Miss Kitty: Jennifer, do try Lou Lou! You can find it at a lot of the online discounters. One of my faves, and very much under-appreciated. May 15, 2011 at 10:46pm Reply

  • Dain: Thank you for highlighting PC. I agree it’s seriously underappreciated; it hasn’t suffered the fate of so many mean green classics, but respectfully left pristine. PC is a better lesson in the raw verdancy of galbanum than No. 19 and Vent Vert in their current states, so I’m glad that so many people in these comments recognize it too. It’s like the last dinosaur, and the more fans keep it alive the better. : / May 15, 2011 at 7:58pm Reply

  • axum: Happy to see the love for Estee Lauder PC and Cinnabar…and for DK Gold. I find Gold addictive. May 16, 2011 at 2:09am Reply

  • Isabeau: I think all the Micallef fragrances are really lovely, but there is not much you can find about them on perfumeblogs. And parfumista I totally agree with you on the Montale and Mona di Orio fragrances! May 16, 2011 at 6:14am Reply

  • angie Cox: I agree about Iros Poudree , it really is lovely. May 16, 2011 at 5:19am Reply

  • patuxxa: Ah! Private Collection, the scent I shall always associate with my childhood memories of my Mom. And she only discovered it because she worked as a Lauder SA for some time… once she was actually approached on the street by a complete stranger woman who just HAD to ask her what she was wearing!

    Sadly SAs just aren’t as well trained as before in our country… more than once I’ve been told the original PC is “discontinued” because they don’t stock it around here! Thank heavens for online shopping. May 16, 2011 at 9:24am Reply

  • brian: Gosh, so many. I would pick these two among them myself. All the EL frags, yeah. I actually think that many of the eighties fragrances I love, while they get attention, get the kind of attention that baffles me. These so called powerhouse fragrances are often mentioned only disparagingly, as some kind of barometer for what is wrong with perfumery, whereas for me they represent everything right, and show how far away we’ve moved from the kinds of perfume that first got me interested and passionate. Giorgio, Paris, Amarige, Poison, Loulou, et al. Private Collection and most of the Lauders are thrown into this camp, and it bums me out. It baffles me that when people do like these fragrances they feel compelled to add that they are some kind of guilty pleasure. The pleasure is anything but guilty for me. One of the fragrances from that era, Dune, isn’t typically discussed in disparaging brackets, but then again it’s not much discussed at all. What a beauty it is. Also on my list: Moschino de Moschino, which is such an amazing and I think totally underrated scent. May 16, 2011 at 9:30am Reply

  • Victoria: I cannot agree more on Cacharel! Excellent fragrances and so rarely mentioned.

    Chanel 19 EDP is still available. Here is a link to Chanel.com where it can be purchased:
    I am sure that they have it at Saks5thAvenue as well. May 16, 2011 at 11:33am Reply

  • Victoria: I also love Iris Poudre, very elegant and alluring. May 16, 2011 at 11:33am Reply

  • Victoria: I also love the earlier Divine fragrances, which you are right, are not mentioned that often. I myself tend to ignore them. Need to rectify this! May 16, 2011 at 11:34am Reply

  • Victoria: Kingdom is such a fascinating fragrance! May 16, 2011 at 11:34am Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds like something I should revisit. I do not remember it particularly well, but a friend of mine used to swear by it. May 16, 2011 at 11:36am Reply

  • Victoria: I like their Fig, very nicely made. May 16, 2011 at 11:37am Reply

  • Victoria: March mentioned Cuir de Lancome recently in one of the comments here, and I was prompted to go and resmell it. It is so fantastic! You are right, it should be mentioned more often. May 16, 2011 at 11:37am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for mentioned such hidden gems! I love reading this thread, as it is inspiring me to revisit some old favorites that have been ignored somehow. May 16, 2011 at 11:38am Reply

  • Victoria: I was thinking of ordering a sample of it on Luckyscent. I usually like almost all of Patricia de Nicolai fragrances, apart from the overly commercial ones. May 16, 2011 at 11:39am Reply

  • Victoria: What a great memory! I used to do it with my aunt’s perfume collection. 🙂 May 16, 2011 at 11:39am Reply

  • Victoria: Cannot agree more on Gold and thank you for mentioning it! I think that it is stunning. I wrote about a few months ago for the Financial Times Magazine, and I really enjoyed revisiting it. May 16, 2011 at 11:40am Reply

  • Victoria: Dain, it is a good way of putting it. Plus, it is a beautiful fragrance, and not as brash as some other green chypres from the same period tended to be. May 16, 2011 at 11:41am Reply

  • Victoria: Missoni is very interesting. That chocolate note next to the sheer floral and violet leaf is just a fascinating touch. May 16, 2011 at 11:42am Reply

  • Victoria: Me too, whenever I wear it, I think that same thing about Gold. May 16, 2011 at 11:42am Reply

  • Victoria: Definitely! Few fragrances are more polished and elegant. May 16, 2011 at 11:42am Reply

  • Victoria: Really need to revisit Micallef! Thank you for a reminder. May 16, 2011 at 11:43am Reply

  • Victoria: I have been told the same thing. It turns out that they keep the classics under the counter. Never understood the logic of this. May 16, 2011 at 11:43am Reply

  • Victoria: I love all of your choices, Brian, and I agree with your point of view. To me, these fragrances represent the golden era of perfumery–great quality, great character, memorable signatures. In today’s climate of blandness, I love meeting anyone who wears these perfumes. I smelled Giorgio on someone recently, and she smelled amazing. In my presence, she received a couple of compliments from complete strangers.

    Adding Moschino de Moschino on my list to revisit! May 16, 2011 at 11:45am Reply

  • london: I think The Different Company, Strange Invisible Perfumes and Divine don’t get enough attention. Also agree on the more obscure MDCIs and Liz Zorn and I haven’t seen much attention given to Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier though I don’t know them very well myself. Cristiano Fissore Cashmere is a lovely fragrance that I haven’t seen reviewed for a long time. And I liked the recent Halston Woman (not the Amber) if we’re talking more department store than niche. Boadicea the Victorious – though I understand why but they weren’t all terrible. And Clive Christian – though I also understand why. May 16, 2011 at 4:32pm Reply

  • sweetlife: I own it for the bottle alone–amazing–and hope to live up to the frag some day. May 16, 2011 at 7:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: TDC used to be mentioned a lot at one point, but then the buzz fizzled out. I like this line, although I admit that I am not tempted to buy anything from it.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 17, 2011 at 10:35am Reply

  • Diana: Private Collection is my gateway scent, I became completely promiscuous after picking her up and bringing her home. P.C is the scent that made me want more more more!!! May 19, 2011 at 11:20am Reply

  • Diana: and Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant’s one of my favorites,I knew I Had to have it just after trying the sample in dutyfree. May 19, 2011 at 11:37am Reply

  • Diana: Hi Victoria, I’m new to perfume blogs but want to say thankyou to you for the pleasure I’ve had reading your posts,and those from ISMELLTHEREFORIAM.Non perfumistas never understood my penchant for books about perfume..’how and why would you want to read about a smell?’ BIG THANKYOU!!! May 19, 2011 at 5:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yay, another PC and Jungle fan! I am so happy that these fragrances have so many supporters, after all. May 19, 2011 at 2:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: Diana, thank you for your kind words! It is great to meet fellow fragrance lovers and to have a group of people with whom one can share opinions. The passion for fragrance can be difficult to explain to those who are not into perfume. It seems to others like a rather eccentric interest. 🙂 May 19, 2011 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Olga Bodnar Talyn: There have been so many fragrances in my life since this is a passion of mine. I recently bought a few past loves in one of my favorite NYC perfume discount stores. Among them Royal Bain de Caron and EA’s Blue Grass. But the true nostalgic purchase was Ma Griffe. I do agree about EL’s Private Collection. I miss Ivoire as well and have to get a bottle soon. I recently found a bottle of L’Interdit. Dod not realize it had notes of pear. Ah Audrey Heburn!!! May 20, 2011 at 6:19pm Reply

  • Joan: Hypnotic Poison is great, Victoria!

    So is Agent Provocateur Strip. The brand could easily be overlooked. It’s also a special edition, so it isn’t made anymore.

    There is a small line of perfumes named after Carla Fracci, and the one called Giselle is great. It’s a peachy green herbaceous, very feminine. May 22, 2011 at 11:08pm Reply

  • BABE HUBBS: i don’t know about the Estee Private Collection… but the kenzo elephant thats a whole different story ever perfume blog blogger has said a good thing or two about the Kenzo El… that I’ve looked into it myself May 11, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

  • julie: Jaipur from Boucheron is a fragrance that i smelt when i was a kid… i didn’t know the name then, but the fragrance was striking and left such a wonderful mark on my mind that i couldn’t let go of it. Was glad when i found it couple of years later while travelling in the middle east… Unfortunately its very difficult to lay your hands on this fragrance these days, nobody stocks it 🙁 February 6, 2013 at 7:11am Reply

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