7 new fragrances vying to be your signature scent this spring

Don’t you know who I am trying to be?

These days, the art of personal branding extends beyond the handbag dangling from the crook of your elbow, your business card’s paper stock, or the gel manicure in the perfect shade of pink you’ve been gatekeeping for months.

But for all the ways one can imprint their taste and personality on the world, the notion of a signature scent is a classic we will always return to. Contrary to popular (or at least, purist) belief, a signature scent shouldn’t be a life sentence, nor should we limit ourselves to just one. Fragrance, famously, is about feelings and emotions, and we’re not afraid to say we’ve got quite a few of those.

So instead of feeling like you’re cheating on your trusty Chanel Mademoiselle, consider mixing things up with one of the following new releases. If a few sprays makes a statement that speaks to your soul (and trust us, those around you will let you know if it speaks to theirs) you can be sure you’ve landed on something with longevity.

Liquid dessert: Frater Cherry Pop

One would be forgiven for mistaking Wellington-based Frater’s gourmand unisex fragrance for the inventory of an epicerie-slash-specialty store somewhere in provincial Europe. Spiced wild cherries, marzipan, and liquor-soaked tobacco are met with jasmine, heliotrope, bourbon vanilla, and sweet acacia on a luxe Mysore sandalwood base from East India. You get the picture – Cherry Pop wouldn’t look amiss sitting beside a basket of confit clementines. Or on your vanity. Or paired with a party-ready red lip. “It’s my joyful perfume,” remarks Jamie Frater, the autodidact perfumer and creative director, who launched Frater just last year. But would you expect anything less fine and wonderfully frivolous from a Royal College of Music opera-trained, lifelong collector of perfumes and rare essential oils?

The shapeshifter: Byredo Animalique EDP

You’re staring at a wall of perfume in Mecca, 10 minutes away from the 6pm sharp dinner reservation to fête your boyfriend’s mothers birthday. With no time to ask, or sniff, around, the time is nigh to win her over with a scent to match her sensibilities – despite the fact that you can count the times you’ve met on two hands. You reach for a bottle of Byredo Animalique (50 or 100ml, depending on the amount of charming required) and know you’ve made a foolproof choice. The fragrance’s premise of “embracing the freedom to shapeshift” and its base-covering stack of notes (sparkling citrus, warm florals, grounded by white suede and amber) signal that it’ll fit right into…whatever she’s got going on.

Niche and nostalgic: The Virtue 1987 Parfum

We’re not scientists, but we’re sure that getting asked what perfume you’re wearing increases dopamine levels by 150%. Add the fact that you know it’s a niche brand and bottling, and that statistic surely skyrockets. Enter, The Virtue and their cabinet of fine fragrance – all designed and made in New Zealand by photographer, perfumer and curator of pretty things, Brooke Lean. If you’re in the brand’s home base of New Plymouth, a sultry emporium of fragrance, candles, flowers and trinkets awaits at their 44 Brougham St boutique. We suggest making a beeline for the 1987 Parfum. A white floral bouquet leads with nostalgia, while White Musk keeps it all grounded. Adding to cart from a distance? The Virtue has an online option to nab a complimentary 2ml sample before making things official with your new scent.

Bought it for the bottle: Rabanne Fame

Call her the original it-girl – donning the late, great Spanish designer Paco Rabanne’s classic paillette dress day and night, the original FAME Robot has been newly gussied up in an LBD for her foray into the much more sultry FAME Eau De Parfum. She commands just as much attention on your skin, with a trio of jasmine to draw you in, creamy incense to let your mind linger, and a kiss of mineral musk with ambrette and juicy pear. Certainly not style over substance, FAME Eau De Parfum (and the original EDT iteration) are entirely refillable. And, if the Rabanne x H&M collaboration piece you were lusting after happens to sell out as soon as it hits our shores this week, we think a bottle of this would make a worthy consolation prize. 

The pocket rocket: Sol de Janeiro After Hours Perfume Mist

Just like that pair of sunnies designated for life’s more risky outings – boat trips, festivals, boozy brunches where one’s personal belongings are apt to be left on a rosé stained table cloth – one must have a perfume that fits the same function. Our pick? Sol de Janeiro After Hours Perfume Mist. What it might lack in packaging pizzazz is atoned for with its svelte 90ml size, its $38 price point and streamlined shape, perfect for sliding into even the tiniest evening purse. Behind its day-to-night versatility is a long list of hypnotic notes: pear nectar squeezed in with blackcurrant, vanilla crème with midnight jasmine, caramelised patchouli, amber and freesia. 

Functional fragrance: Abel Nurture

More than just a pretty scent (and bottle), Nurture by Abel is a love letter to mothers. Made from completely pre- and post-partum safe ingredients, this collaboration with organic children’s clothing brand Gray Label supports new mothers through the motions with an infusion of ginger to aid with nausea, while top notes Bulgarian rose and orange blossom are included to help settle nerves and energise in turn. An extension of Abel’s existing range of natural, therapeutic perfumes made from plant-derived ingredients, Kiwi founder Frances Shoemack has nailed it again with Nurture.

The ultimate glow-up: Gaultier Divine

30 years after the release of Jean Paul Gaultier Classique and its iconic, statuesque bottle, Gaultier Divine is here to prove that a remake isn’t always a bad thing. Floral, sweet, and sea-salt smattered notes make it the ideal addition to a southern hemisphere summer fragrance rotation. An immediate hit of white florals is followed by creamy meringue reminiscent of Christmas pavlova, and further sweetening the deal is the fact that the perfume is entirely cruelty-free, vegan and made with 90% natural origin ingredients. It’s also refillable – a fragrance trend we love to see. Speaking of packaging, Gaultier’s signature bust is dressed in a golden and delightfully conical bustier. It’s a provocative statement that seriously never gets old.