The smells we’re drawn are inherently universal, across all genders and including all noses. We’ve curated a list of perfumes anyone and everyone can enjoy, and the only labels attached are the luxury packaging
With the fragrance industry expected to be worth an enormous $92 billion by 2024, there are big bucks to be made from luscious scents. As the fashion and marketing industry moves away from targeting men and women and onto a more inclusive, non-gendered approach, fragrance companies are doing the exact same—creating products that can be worn happily by all genders, with a focus on mature, interesting over saccharine, floral-only scents.
With most perfumes costing upwards of £50 for a decent size, it’s important to do your research. A good perfume should come with a well-intended dilution (the reason different notes appear over time), a sensible shelf-life (store in the dark at room temperature for best results) and of course, a lingering scent that evokes memories, feelings and confidence.
With this in mind, we tested our noses against five of the top brands making a play for gender neutrality.
An intriguing gift or treat purchase, the unique selling point of Eccentric Molecules is that it’s designed to smell completely different on every wearer, reacting with natural pheromones to create a unique blend.
With potential for sharing with a loved one, their packaging is a practical if a little unromantic, a chunky, matte rectangle that gives way to a simple bottle.
Still, upon uncorking their flagship “Molecule 01”, the journey begins. Upon first spritz, the overwhelming scent is of alcohol, but it soon settles into a barely-there smell that recalls soft leather and feels surprisingly nourishing on skin.
Upon testing on another, the scent is more nondescript, with undertones of soap. An interesting prospect, but perhaps one that needs a little fine-tuning (or combining with their other products) if it is to satisfy its price point.
Top Scent: Escentric 01, £72 for 100ml
The next step in an ethical and mindful approach to shopping, Clean Reserve smells like it sounds—bright, fresh scents that would appeal to those who prefer subtle aromas.
Packaging feels weighty and luxurious, without compromising sustainability—the stopper is made from sustainability-managed forest wood, the cellophane is compostable and even the alcohol in the fragrance is derived from corn.
With an emphasis on blending their perfumes to create your own scent, a solid base product would be “Rain”, with a white floral scent that flourishes on warm skin. Although the subtlety might not be for everyone, it definitely is uplifting—one for keeping in your gym or day bag for an impromptu freshen up.
Top Scent: Rain, £82 for 100ml
Packaged in quirky chemistry-class bottles, Laboratory Perfumes five-strong collection is strongly inspired by Britain and its natural abundance of fragrant botanicals, herbs and flowers. What results are grown-up, powerful scents than mature steadily across the day, smelling slightly different on every wearer.
Our clear favourites from the collection couldn’t be more different—"Samphire” is a refreshing coastal scent infused with rejuvenating juniper, basil and rosemary, while “Atlas” is a heady blend of rum, vanilla and tobacco that is sultry yet sweet, an easy signature scent for day and night with minimal reapplication needed.
Providing generous value for money, their brand is easily our one to watch.
Top Scent: Atlas, £65 for 100ml
Handmade and bottled in Denmark, Zarko is a brand heavily indebted to its Scandinavian birth, with a hint of French aesthetics.
With offerings dedicated to feminine, masculine and more neutral scents, our pick is Molecule No 8, developed over 14 months to channel “the performative power of a 5 o’clock sunrise”.
With notes of Mandarin, Turkish Rose and patchouli, it certainly borders on the more traditionally womanly side, but may win over men with its mouth-watering undertone of Black Agerwood, a strong scent often found in aftershaves.
Applied to delicate wrists and elbows, the notes caramelise pleasingly, softening naturally as the day goes on.
Top Scent: Molecule No 8, £84 for 100ml
Starting in 2000 as a scented candle retailer, Ormonde Jayne of London is well known for her Bond St Boutique, inspired by founder Linda Jayne’s working life that has taken her right across the world.
Creating products for the gender-neutral market sine 2005, one of her best-selling product is the Mixed Travel Lab, a magnetised box of vials ideal for those seeking a signature scent.
“Isfarkand” is the signature, with balances lime, pink pepper and cedar, but it is “Vanille d’Iris” that is the true delight, with coriander seed, bergamot and carrot seed the dominant notes in a tasty blend that recalls exotic holidays and expensive hotels. Try your own selection of five samplers for £105.
Top Scent: Vanille d’Iris, £160 for 120ml