…and I’m here for it.
Trend alert: the note du jour for perfume brands at the moment is osmanthus. This humble little flower, which possesses a very complex and unique odour profile, whilst also appearing sunny and pretty to look at, is working its way into many fragrances, both mainstream and niche. But what is it? What does it smell like? Why is it having a moment? And where can you smell it? Well, read on to find out…
What is Osmanthus and What Does it Smell Like?
Osmanthus is a sweet, fragrant flower native to Asia with an entirely unique odour profile. It smells fleshy and floral, but it’s also incredibly fruity, with beautifully jammy peach and apricot nuances. There’s also a deep, dark undercurrent of leather too. It’s an incredibly textural thing and it has often been used as a contrast in leather fragrances to amp up the richness and facets of leather accords.
Why is it Having a Moment?
Fragrance brands are always looking for new themes to explore and whilst the use of osmanthus in perfumery is not a new one, it’s always been more of a supporting act than a star (mainly because it’s just so distinct and unusual). Now, we’re seeing brands across all price points putting osmanthus centerstage, presenting it as something new, bold and exciting. Here are four examples of (relatively) new osmanthus fragrances from both niche and mainstream.
Gimme Osmanthus Straight Up: Osmanthe Kōdoshān by Maison Crivelli
This sparkling gem from Maison Crivelli (a beautifully chic fragrance house that presents fascinating olfactory moments) feels like the truest interpretation of osmanthus flowers in the wild. It’s immediately vibrant with those vivid fruit accents of peach and apricot, but the flowers underneath feel richer, with a fleshy, animalic edge that evokes sleek black leather. The rest of the fragrance pays homage to the classic Chypre with patchouli and black tea. Osmanthus Kōdoshān is a fascinating and beguiling fragrance that really showcases the true beauty of osmanthus.
£75/30ml EDP – £170/100ml EDP
Gimme Osmanthus, but more Floral: Osmanthus by L’Occitane
This one from L’Occitane is a bit of a sleeper hit. Playing more to the floral aspects of osmanthus, it has a summery, white floral vibe, evoking the feeling of warm sun rays peeking through white curtains. There is fruitiness too, but it’s not so juicy and vivid, it’s more bubbly and light, and to my nose feels a bit like peach hairspray. I think we can all agree that ‘peach hairspray’ is a fantastic thing that needs to exist. Osmanthus makes light of its titular material, diffusing it in a cloud of fizzy air. Delightful.
£16.50/10ml EDT – £49/75ml EDT
Gimme Osmanthus, but more Fruity: Love Osmanthus by Atelier Cologne
God love Atelier Cologne and their commitment to all things fruity. Honestly, if you’re looking for a stunning citrus or fruit fragrance that lasts, then your one and only stop is Atelier Cologne. You’re welcome. Anyway, back to osmanthus – their Love Osmanthus plays up the fruity aspects of the material (totally on brand) with those peachy, apricot tones served up in full technicolor juiciness with a twist of lime. If it’s a wave of fruity osmanthus freshness you want, Love Osmanthus is the one for you.
£55/30ml Cologne Absolue – £99/100ml Cologne Absolue – £179/200ml Cologne Absolue
Gimme Osmanthus, but make it Surprising: Ombre Leather by Tom Ford
Unlike the others in this list, this one isn’t that new, but it’s a great example of osmanthus as a supporting act. Osmanthus and leather go together like bread and butter. They were made for each other and one brings out something wonderful in the other. This scented symbiosis is shown perfectly in Tom Ford’s Ombré Leather, which presents sleek black leather (a new jacket, bag or car – that kind of leather) made thick, fruity and glossy by a wonderfully jammy osmanthus note. Damn, Osmanthus, you looking fine.
£85/50ml EDP – £120/100ml EDP
What’s your favourite osmanthus scent? Let me know in the comments below!
Images are my own. Samples (full size) provided by brands for consideration. I was not paid for this post.