When you browse the best winter perfumes this year, keep in mind that it’s no fun to discover a signature scent that everyone else already owns. While I’ve sniffed plenty of compelling options over the past few months, certain ones are so popular, I’ve lost my desire to wear them (at least for now). Naturally, the solution is to look elsewhere—to fragrances that are familiar only to those in-the-know. If you’re in search of a winter 2019 perfume that seems tailored just for you, I present this list of six niche contenders you’re unlikely to encounter anywhere else. From cozy, skin-hugging vanillas to sultry blends redolent with spice, scroll down to shop the under-the-radar finds that deserve a place in your beauty closet this season.
Krigler Subtle Orchid 10
I was instantly drawn to this creamy, second-skin combination from Krigler when I visited their Berlin flagship at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski earlier this year. While the breezy, distinctive Palm Dream 219 is the house’s latest launch, Subtle Orchid 10 is my first pick when it’s chilly outside. The alluring blend of cinnamon, almond, lemon, sandalwood, patchouli, coffee and vanilla is gourmand in all the best ways.
Parfums Pauline R Le Premier Parfum
Pauline Rochas designed her Seven Collection to reflect a spectrum of moods, each corresponding to a different chakra. There’s plenty of variety throughout the range, and each is worthy of your consideration. But for me, it’s an easy choice: Le Premier Parfum, the first one, based on the root chakra. Perfumer Yann Vasnier evokes feelings of security and self-trust through a composition based on honey, vanilla, plum, rum, tobacco, myrrh, resinoid, patchouli leaf and balsam.
Memo Paris Oriental Leather
Memo Paris has a knack for crafting leather-inspired scents, and their latest addition doesn’t disappoint. The black and gold bottle bears hundreds of glittering stars, an opulent cue to the perfume within. At once lush and sultry, the juice opens with coriander seed, pimento leaf, lavender and geranium leaf. Then the heart notes and base come swirling through: a whirlwind of leather, anise, cinnamon, benzoin, patchouli and vanilla.
Hermetica impressed me with the elegant Spiceair last year, their take on clouds and damp pavement that treads the line between warm and cool beautifully. This season, I’m reaching for Darkoud—while it’s true that there’s an abundance of oud-focused scents on the market, this one is worth a sniff. It’s luminous and sheer, layering the warm, spicy undertones with notes of rose and saffron.
The Beautiful Mind Series Precision & Grace
Perfumer Geza Schoen of Escentric Molecules works olfactory magic on everything he touches. His separate project, the Beautiful Mind fragrance series, was borne out of a desire to highlight exceptional women through scent collaborations. Of particular note is the second volume, Precision & Grace. A co-creation with renowned ballet dancer, Polina Semionova, the result is a celebration of her triumphs. Semionova’s childhood memories informed the impression of pear and plum, which are in there along with gossamer florals. But as the base develops, they melt into a core of sandalwood and musk, two facets that evoke the simultaneous elegance and unwavering strength of a dancer on stage.
Abel Cobalt Amber
This under-the-radar brand produces some of my favorite niche fragrances, each packaged in a crisp, minimal bottle. Cobalt Amber is warm and golden, but not overly so. I love the brightness added by layers of pink pepper and juniper berry, which are blended in just the right amounts to balance the base. When you want to wrap yourself in a scent that’s cozy (but not cloying), grab this: A single spritz will suffice.