Best Perfumes Not Enough People Know About

The perfume industry has its own publicity machine, and everyone knows the best-selling perfumes from the mainstream icons – Chanel, Dior, Hermes, etc.  Niche perfume lines also have their own “best perfumes” pecking order, with people quickly being sent to or discovering the niche icons –  Frederic Malle, Serge Lutens, Creed, etc.

There are so many small perfume lines that are full of wonderful treasures, but many of them just get lost or don’t get the attention or traction they should have. Maybe it’s a naming problem, packaging or a “too many perfumes” problem.  

Whatever it is, here are my top choices for Best Perfumes Not Enough People Know About.

I’ve confined this list to larger perfume lines that have been around for a couple of years, at least. There are a lot of small perfume companies that I would like to see get more attention, but that’s a list that goes on for many pages!

What each of these lines have in common for me is that I eagerly anticipate what they will do next, waiting, Googling, hunting down each new release because I am genuinely interested in what they put out there. For a hardened perfumista, that is no small thing.

best perfumes best niche perfumes.

Parfums de Nicolai produces quality perfumes at a reasonable price.  List after list of best perfumes will have one of these on it – New York,  La Temps d’Une Fete, Number One, Odalisque, this line has something for everyone.  Not loud or brash, these are beautifully blended perfumes with interesting touches that take them from pretty and ordinary into something worth spending time with.

Parfum d’Empire – Exploring history through scent.  What I love about Parfum d’Empire is the risks they take.  There are some perfumes they have done that send me to the corner whimpering (Ambre Russe), but even the scary ones make me deliriously happy.  There’s nothing safe about any scent in this line.  In a day and age when most mainstream perfume companies won’t release anything before it’s been properly tested and found completely inoffensive to anyone, I have nothing but admiration for a perfume line that does what it wants, offends whoever, then looks up and asks “You Mad?”

Arquiste – This one may be premature because they have gotten a lot of attention, but my fear is they will get lost in the churn of new releases.  Their fragrances also explore history, but in more subtle, softer ways. Again, they head into the unsafe zone of making something that is true, even if it isn’t popular.  My mind still turns over and over Infanta en Flor, trying to figure it out.  Do I like it? Do I hate it?  Why can’t I just forget it?

Amouage – Christopher Chong’s hands on the directive reins of this company have been fun to watch.  He moved them slowly out of what they were doing while keeping their heritage, then beefed it up with well-thought-out new releases that brought more interest, variety and appeal to this line. There have been a couple of hiccups, but with the releases of Beloved and Interlude, this is a line that is hitting on all eight cylinders.  I think we inside the niche world know them well, but this is a perfume house that still has not penetrated far enough into the general public’s perception, for reasons I can’t figure out.  They should sit prominently in every upscale department store’s fragrance counter.

Parfums MDCI – For a pricy, luxury line, I love them, I really, really do.  Beautifully made and a joy to wear, there are a couple in the line that aren’t really me, but this line has no clunkers. Each scent adds something unique, and every last one of them is beautiful.  I could reach blind into a drawer containing MDCI fragrances only, pull out any one of them to wear and know I’ll smell amazing.

Eau d’Italie – from the gorgeous spiced incense vanilla Baume du Doge to the incense-laced Paestum Rose, every fragrance in this line has a reason for being.  When you see some lines cranking out fragrance after fragrance, 7, 8, 9, 10 a year, you have to wonder why?  Eau d’Italie is a departure from many Italian lines, veering off the  bergamot-strewn Italian perfume stew path you normally find as they explore the richer notes that are Italy’s heritage.

Puredistance – uncompromising luxury.  With an even higher reach than MDCI, it’s one of the few luxury lines that I look at the price, sigh, but get it.  They are beautiful and subtle and weave around your airspace in some magical way, softly smoothing out the rough edges of a harsh world and remaking it into a lovely scented dream.  I always feel about 10 years younger and 10x prettier when I put on a Puredistance perfume.

What are your underloved perfume lines and why?  I’m going to put together an amazing sample set of a lot of the perfumes from my favorite underappreciated perfume lines as a giveaway.  To be entered to win, just leave a comment!

  • Audrey says:

    I didn’t see Tauer perfumes in your article but I did find some new ones to try!

  • Denise Lipper-Wood says:

    I’m a bit slow on the draw with fragrance–just think “color blind” only with scent. I know what fragrances I don’t like, but I don’t know what it is in them that troubles me. I’ve only tried a few of these niche fragrances because the sheer scope of them leaves me overwhelmed–I barely know where to start! I did get a good sized sample of Atelier Orange Sanguine, and I LOVE that. I think orange makes me happy, but it’s not overwhelming or just as simple as plain orange. I also liked Annick Goutal eau d’Hadrien, but is AG still a niche perfume? At what “crossover” point do they “un-niche” themselves and become mainstream? I love DSH Cafe Noir and some Sarah Horowitz. I rely so much on sites like this to even find some of this fragrance, so thank you for being here! I do like some of the mainstream product but, honestly, I’d rather find something niche for my go-to, signature perfume. I don’t like seeing (or smelling) myself coming and going. It truly is hard to know where to start with all this, but it promises to be a wonderful journey!

  • susafina says:

    I can’t wait to try some of these. I am currently loving SSS’s gorgeous Winter Woods and Roxana Illuminated’s Page 47 and Green Witch. Roxana Villas’ perfumes are like wearing a beautiful gold locket under your sweater that peeks out now and again like a little secret.

  • Chilloften says:

    What a nice gift to offer, would LOVE to win. I have not tried or even heard of any of these. I did recently purchase and try Sonoma Scents samples. I am in heaven right here with these, especially…Incense Pure.

  • HeatherP says:

    I know that a few other people have mentioned ELdO, but I’ll add to that group. I do agree that their work is a mixed bag, and I like the newer things better too…but considering how much I’ve heard people complain about too many (mainstream US) perfumes being alike or too safe, plus how much we idealize rebels and pioneers, I’m surprised that they haven’t gotten more mainstream traction. (Granted, I find that many people idealize those with new ideas, then can’t deal with the ideas themselves, but that’s another story, LOL!) If Lady Gaga had wanted a genuinely unique fragrance, she could have hooked up with them instead of producing that hideous grape juice with claws…I can only dream!

    I’d also love it if Ormonde Jayne and Olfactive Studion started to get more mainstream North American notice!

  • Miss Heliotrope says:

    As I have only started dabbling (or dabbing) in perfume, I am interested in the niches & what they represent – a more perfume-concentrated experience, rather than the following (not making!) fashion that too many mainstream houses do as required by their accountants or budget necessities.

    The main niche perfumer I enjoy is Roxana Illuminated – I love the idea of a real live person making the scents, and the more natural basis of what she does. That the perfumes come with a story explaining what Roxana was trying to do with the scent also makes it an interesting experience.

    I was amused once to be stopped & asked what perfume I was wearing by someone who kept talking before I could respond & she said – “its one of those french niches ones isnt, I know its so different” – only to be told that it was Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon. I suppose there is to some people a type of scent that means niche – or more, it’s not the mainstream ones they know, so the assumption is it’s niche…

  • rappleyea says:

    Ahhh, Patty… Thanks for the enabling! I’ve been at this perfume thing almost forever, and there are STILL so many perfumes and so little time. At this late date, I don’t have a perfume line to recommend – the good ones have all been mentioned. But I’m happy to see SSS get so much love – I love Laurie and her perfumes. Also, I don’t think I’ve sampled any of the Eau d’Italie line! Can you recommend a good place to get samples? 😉

    • Denise says:

      Pardon my butting in but carries Eau d’Italie samples—and a bajillion others that I’m working my way through as we speak. 🙂

  • Adam Nabors says:

    I’m a relative newbie and am just starting to dip into the niche market. I just recently bought my first in this area, Nasomatto Silver Musk. I plan to get into this market more and more and this article is the perfect jumping off point. Thanks so much for getting this info out there.

  • Annie says:

    Do you offer a bundles of samples to refer the blog topics you post? I’m like Juliette Has A Gun. Some are deeply odd, in a good way.

  • I’m just begining to work my way through a few of the small perfume houses. I’m impressed with the prices at PdN and Ineke and SSS. Why can’t everyone be so affordable?! ; )Thanks for the draw and some great lines to explore,

  • ojaddicte says:

    As you can tell from my screen-name, OJ has gotten a whole lotta love from me! Unfortunately, I have yet to come across anyone who has heard of this line outside the blogosphere (& independently of me!). Thank you for this list… I’ve been circling around the PdEs and PdNs like a vulture. I’m trying to figure out which ones to try! I agree with Jan Last, 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noir is gorgeous. I have yet to try Narcotic Flowers. Thanks for the draw!

  • Jan Last says:

    Whoops, I missed 1000 Flowers, arghhhh! The Reglisse Noir is my fav winter, and Narcotic Flowers is also good.

  • smy says:

    I would pick CB I Hate Perfume as underappreciated – at least in the world outside perfume blogs. This line was one of my entries into the niche perfume world!

  • rena says:

    In terms of magazines, I suspect that they are generally going to talk about things that are available in person rather than mail order, so they`re probably not going for anything more obscure than something that can be purchased from Barneys. I don’t really care if nonfumeheads haven’t heard of a scent or line. Am currently working my way through Parfumerie Generale and I think Soivohle is one of the most interesting lines around.

  • Katrin says:

    When I saw this new post, I immediately thought of Parfums de Nicolai. And sure enough, it was included in the list. What I like about this line is the quality of the ingredients and the fact that I do not feel I am getting ripped off. These are classic perfumes, and I must veer towards such, hence my other two favourites in this category are: Jovoy and Teo Cabanel (Luckyscent used to carry the latter, but what happened?).

  • Farouche says:

    Eau d’Italie is on my list for next perfume house to be explored. I also love Parfums d’Empire, Parfumerie Generale, and Parfums de Nicolai. I don’t find the fragrances of Amouage and By Kilian to be as wearable, though they are beautifully crafted.

  • nozknoz says:

    It’s really hard to narrow this down, isn’t it? I would particularly second Parfumerie Generale for its range and skill. That and Aftelier are lines I feel I have neglected and want to spend time with this year. Also DSH and SSS. By Kilian remains indispensable to me, although I admit that my favs are the earlier Calice Beckers (Back to Black, A Taste of Heaven, Liaisons Dangereuses, Pure Oud, and Rose Oud). People complain that the packaging pumps up the price but they also sell travel sets and refills. I would recommend the original L’Oeuvre Noire exploration set to anyone starting to explore perfume or looking for an original signature scent.

    • nozknoz says:

      Also La Via del Profumo for those who seek natural perfume and the ancient heart of perfume.

  • 50_Roses says:

    I really want to check out some of the houses from your list, especially MDCI. I think, among smaller, indie brands, that SSS and DSH deserve more attention than they get. I don’t love everything they do, but both lines are well represented among my collection. I think DSH Pandora is a masterpiece.

  • lawgoddess says:

    I think Ineke is a great line that is underrated. For a non-indie line, Houbigant.

  • ccm33140 says:

    What a great list! Sadly, I haven’t tried any Amouage scents … must work on that. However, I do love (and own) a few perfumes from PdN house. Would love to sample a few from the other lines mentioned in your great post.

  • rosiegreen62 says:

    I haven’t tried any of these lines yet, so they are definitely unappreciated by me. All of the names are going on my master list of perfumes to try. If it gets any longer it will circle the globe. Thanks for an interesting post.

  • Dana says:

    Just ordered my discovery set of SSS today and I greatly look forward to receiving it. I have fallen in love with a couple Ineke scents, too. Now I have several more lines to explore. Thanks for the ideas.

  • Lynne Marie says:

    My vote would be M. Micallef for (the now impossible to find) Note Vanillee and Gaiac. An expensive line, to be sure, but beautiful. I am longing to try Ylang in Gold. But I also love many perfumes from ELDO, Histoires de Parfums (1740!), Parfumerie Generale and so much other great perfume left to smell. Yippee!

  • maggiecat says:

    I’d have to agree with all who mentioned Ormonde Jayne – I wish their line was easier to get, but once you try those scents, it’s worth the extra effort to purchase a bottle or decant. Sonoma Scent Studio certainly has a finely crafted array of affordable scents as well. My favorite underappreciated line is Hove’, out of New Orleans. Beautiful scents and body products, reasonable prices – well worth a visit (preferably in person, but their website is wonderful too).

  • Patty says:

    This is a tricky area. I think if someone has an honest criticism of a niche/indie perfume, they should feel free to post it. Nobody is immune to criticism, nor should they be. What I always refrain from is just bashing something. There are indies that I don’t care for – could be personal taste or I think they put out too much stuff too quickly with not enough effort in each one or they don’t have a cohesive theme or reason for what they are doing, but those are the same criticisms I have of some brands.

    We a long time ago deliberately decided if we don’t have something nice to say about either an individual perfume from a small company or the whole line, we just shut up. We don’t even take that many shots at the big guys, except when they just make me mad, but they don’t even notice us little gnats bashing ourselves against their great big retail windows. Chanel could care less that I think Coco Noir is just uninspired dreck, and Marc Jacobs will never notice the three sales of Dot and Lola he doesn’t get because we have endlessly gone on and on about how horrific they are.

    What we do know is that a bad review of an entire line by us, in a very small community, can hurt a brand that is still very young. If someone asks me about a line, I’d be honest and tell them if I liked it or not and why, but I won’t go out of my way to criticize something they do. What I will do is heap praise on the things I find that I love in the indies. I don’t review anything from small brands unless I really do love it.

    I’m never sure if that’s the right way to go exactly, but it’s one that lets me sleep at night.

    • wooddogs3 says:

      I greatly appreciate the time you took to give a really thoughtful answer to my question earlier. This is a good model for all of us; it gives every chance to the small and new houses, and I can still cut loose on Angel when I feel like it because Thierry Mugler is too busy counting his billions to care. For that matter, it’s a good model for life. Give a chance to the new and small, and the successful and prosperous can take their lumps with the rest of us.

  • Kandice says:

    I’m relatively new to this wonderland I’ve ended up in after falling down the perfume rabbit hole. Unfortunately, I have yet to try any scents from the lines you mentioned except for Lyric Woman from Amouage which just wasn’t a good match for me. I do really appreciate your article, however, as it’s just really confusing knowing what’s niche, what’s new, who is worth watching, etc. Now I have a list of companies (outside of the big ones and those well-known like SL) to investigate. And obviously, not having tried many from these companies, I’d love to be entered in the draw so I might win some 🙂 Thanks for the draw!

  • Austenfan says:

    Most of the ones I would suggest have already been named: Divine, Delrae,Etat Libre d’Orange, Histoires de Parfums, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier and Olfactive Studios. Divine’s extraits of Divine and L’Ame Soeur have not even been mentioned on the blogs, yet they are so beautiful.

  • Nina Z says:

    Unfortunately Amouage is over-appreciated by me (though I definitely under-appreciate the prices). Jubilation 25, Lyric Woman, Epic Woman, vintage Ubar—sigh. I’ve consciously avoided a lot of the other lines you mentioned due to their prices (the most reasonable is PdN, of course).

  • Millions says:

    My underappreciated gem is Histoires des Parfums – a bit like Parfums d’Empire they tell wonderfull stories through their scents. Thanks to HdP I’ve learned to love tuberose (the Animale, of course!) while their Ambrarem and Petroleum still leave me torn between which of their oud variations I love more… I’ve recently tried the Editions Rare 2012 collection (Veni, Vidi, Vici) and can’t wait to resniff these three beauties with all those weird and unusual versions of spices, incenses and liquors…

  • Samantha Lowry says:

    I need to try Eau d’Italie again…I sampled Sienne l’Hiver and wanted to love it, but the olive just didn’t do much for me! I love both PDN and Parfums d’Empire though.

  • Dionne says:

    To me, there’s a massive difference between underappreciated in terms of the general public where I live (nobody I know has ever even heard of Annick Goutal, much less L’Artisan or Frederic Malle or the Chanel Exclusifs or Hermès – comes from living in the wilds of Canada) and underappreciated for perfumistas. On my own list of lines to explore in the coming year are Divine, Miller Harris and Histories de Parfums, and I don’t hear a lot of buzz about those in perfumista circles.

  • Musette says:

    I am jumping in here with both well-manicured feet (just did ’em :-D) to say how much I love the Parfums d’Empire line. I fell in love with it visually, first (I am such a color-whore)…there is nothing more likely to catch my attention that a line with different colored juice/tassels/labels…can’t help it – they just moooove my soul!)….I fell in love with Eau de Gloire (the color), then Eau Suave for the juice…and it was off to the races! Every one of them, whether to my taste or not, is done well.


  • Kari Civeta says:

    My favorite niche perfume house is Soivohle. Even the ones I can’t stand, at least they elicit a strong reaction. Blood Oranges and Vetiver is my favorite outdoor scent, while Journeyman is an incredible leather and Harbinger one of the few florals I reach for regularly. Meerschaum is a rich, deep tobacco, while Oud Lacquer is my number one special occasion scent. Nonsweet chocolate and quality oud. Amazing!

  • Selina says:

    Lizz K’s brilliant post on Ambre Russe (and SSS’s Ambre Noir) has made me think of one of my other favourite niche lines –

    Ortigia Sicillia – i really like a lot of their stuff but their Ambra Nera perfume is an absolute favourite of mine – a beautiful smoky, woody, slightly bitter Amber. Perfect for winter. Love it!

  • london says:

    I’d add Etat Libre d’Orange and The Different Company. Though I don’t think either line is consistently brilliant, I do think they both have some awesome highs. And even the spectacular lows are noteworthy (at least in the case of ELDO). I don’t think Amouage should be on the list in terms of its availability in London at least. It’s pretty much the first thing you see when you walk into the main entrance of Selfridges and it’s in Harrods and Les Senteurs and has a standalone boutique. If you compare that to, say, L’Artisan Perfumeur, which has a standalone boutique and a limited range in Harrods, Fenwicks, Liberty and maybe John Lewis, it’s not all that different. Whereas, aside from Parfum de Nicolai’s tiny boutique, I can’t think of anywhere in London you can buy that range.

  • shaney says:

    This is just the kind of post that a niche newborn needs! I have yet to try any Amouage, but I am hoping that some will find its way to me soon…

  • lindab7777 says:

    Love this post! Reminds me that I still hav so much more to look forward to in the world of perfume. Haven’t tried ANY of these lines…sigh. But they are now on my “to sample” list. I might also add Lostmarch and CBIHP to this. Both have found a special place in my fragrance wardrobe and I look forard to any new releases.

  • kjanicki says:

    PdN is a great line, Le temps d’un fete is one of my favourites! I would add Ormonde Jayne, which gets enough perfumista love but should be better known by the general public. The whole line is wonderful, but I love especially Tolu, Frangipani, Woman and Ta’if.

  • juxmasly says:

    Micallef is an unappreciated (or under-appreciated) line in my book. While Mon Parfum is one of my all time favorites, Ylang is quickly moving up the list. The scents well done and I can appreciate what they’re trying to do even when I don’t love them enough to buy a full bottle. Not a big fan of the fancy-schmancy bottles, however. While small and indie, Liz Zorn’s Soivohle deserves more love. Or maybe it’s more that perfume lovers deserve to know this line.

  • tammy says:

    Divine, for sure….starting to think Lisa D and I are Scent Twins of some sort, because I have never heard anyone else mention L’Infante from that line, and it’s one of my favorites! Also think Delrae should get more mainstream love, and I am glad Bruno Acampora are releasing EdPs now, because I have never even seen them mentioned on the blogs and I think they’re awesome scents. Also really love Yosh Han and Keiko Mecheri.

    Perhaps we DO need to do a post to pimp our favorite smaller houses? I love Laurie Stern’s deep rich scents (Sweet Pea & Velvet Purrfumery) Roxana’s awesome stuff and also the ladies who between them have done the Aroma M line, Cherry Bomb Killer line, and Immortal Mine. Was also really impressed by my recent sample purchase from A Wing and A Prayer.

    • Lisa D says:

      Isn’t L’Infante lovely? If you can bear immortelle, try to get your hands on a sample of L’etre Aime – Femme, which I thought was stunning. In a good way, of course.

    • poodle says:

      Tammy, have you tried Immortal Mine? It’s got a great looking bottle.

      • tammy says:

        Lawd yes, child. I blew through a large sample from their etsy shop and am hoping they don’t run out before I can save my pennies for a FB. That bottle is gorgeous and of course I am a notorious bottle whore, but I seriously love the juice. I love oils.

  • Connie says:

    I’m always surprised that no one outside of the ‘perfume world’ has heard of Miller Harris, Tauer, and Montale, though Montale in particular releases WAY to many perfumes at a time. Completely agree with a lot of the other suggestions.

  • Maureen says:

    The only fragrance house I have tried from your list is Amouage. I loved the Interlude for men, but the woman was just a little too much. I would love to try any of these lines. I think Olfactive Studio did a great job with their fragrances, deserves more recognition, and I am looking forward to the new release.

    • Musette says:

      Interlude Woman takes some experience – not that YOU have to be experienced; rather, it takes several experiences of it. At least, imo. When I first tried it, I thought ‘oh, WHOA! Coffee? Lemons? Together??’, whereas the IMan was pretty much explainable on first sniff. But after my 3rd try of IWoman, I finally ‘got’ it. And now I am in love.

  • Martha says:

    Looks like I have some sampling to do. Thank goodness for this post and all its replies. Now I have some ideas about where to focus my attention. There are just so many perfumes and so little time.

  • Jill says:

    Great post! As sort of a “perfumista lite” I have just begun my journey of discovering what lies beyond the mass market, so I have at least heard of most of these and I’m working my way through sampling some of them now. I love reading the comments with other names/brands, it just keeps expanding my horizon!

  • Jenny Katz says:

    I’m completely new to the world of perfume, and it’s very difficult to try scents out at home, as my husband has an *extremely* sensitive nose, combined with allergies and sinus problems, and hates just about everything I try. I dabbed on a tiny sample of Gucci Envy last week and he literally couldn’t stay in the apartment. So I try to experiment when he’s not home, or when I’m out, or else (if I just can’t wait) I put the TEENIEST bit on my wrist and hide inside a big sweater, rolling back the cuff to secretly snuff at my wrist every five minutes or so. But then, one morning, I put on just a drop of Vero Profumo Rubj EDP… and half an hour later he looked up from across the room and said, “THAT smells good.” Nuff said! Saving up for a bottle!

  • Joaquim says:

    Slumberhouse, Odriù, Roxana Illuminated Perfume…for me these are underrated brands, Amouage, Puredistance, etc are getting tons of attention from de blogosphere! Yes, they’re not Dior or Chanel, obviously, but there are more “under the radar” houses than the listed above!
    Thank you for the draw.

  • FearsMice says:

    Another great post; thanks, Patty, and thanks, commenters, on all the suggestions. For me, I think “underappreciated” means I just haven’t gotten around to trying that particular line… Although I have to say that the two perfumes I’ve tried from PdN have underwhelmed me. As much love as this line gets, I’m thinking I just haven’t tried the right ones for me yet.

  • springpansy says:

    I want to add Lostmarch as a favorite line of mine – not so edgy (like Parfum d’Empire), nor complex (like MDCI) nor classic (like Nicolai), but unusual, simple offering that smell wonderful. They also have nice soaps, shower gels and lotions and new fragrance mists for textiles and paper which I can’t wait to try. So many great small lines out there…

  • Caroline says:

    Naturals perfumes!! La Via Del Profumo (AbdesSalaam Attar/Dominique Dubrana, have you tried his Tabac?), For Strange Women, Nicolas De Barry… Oh, well, maybe I shouldn’t name De Barry cause I only started to explore some of his stuff but, well, it’s beautiful… Sharini, Sonoma Scent Studio, Illuminated Perfumes… !! Natural and artisan perfumes!! What can I say!? I stopped buying petrochemicals!! 😛

    • Martha says:

      Have you tried the Floracopeia line of products? I recently bought the Champa Infused Almond Oil and a dram of Cape Chamomile. Wow! These are definitely not cheap, but you certainly get very high quality for the price. I’ve been using the Champa oil after bathing and simply enjoying that wonderful scent. It’s perfect for a situation where you want to relish a fragrance, but don’t want to project to others. I also love the labels, very appealing for apothecary bottles.

  • KathyT says:

    Les Nereides, MPG, and SSS are my favorite underappreciated lines. Some of my most loved fragrances are from these lines.

    • Heather Wood says:

      Just curious. What do you think of Jour Ensoleille? I was very taken aback by the initial rush of REALLY BIG orange blossom, but after less than an hour it settled down into a sunny and beautiful scent that kept me company for hours. It seems made for a sunny early fall. I’m very interested in how it comes across to other people.

  • Selina says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post! I’m scouring my way through it – haven’t tried about half of these lines so you’ve made me super happy! Thank you! xx

  • rosarita says:

    Parfums de Nicolai, Parfum d’Empire and Eau d’Italie are favorites of mine and I would add Commes des Garcons as a Iine I watch for new releases, even though they have disappointed me in recent years. Sonoma Scent Studios and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz always have fascinating releases and could use more love, and Les Nereides, while very small, nevertheless produces several of my favorite perfumes esp Patchouli Antique. Satellite Padparadscha is a favorite and I know they have more perfumes but they are hard to find.

    • rosarita says:

      Never mind, apparently Satellite has discontinued all their perfumes except Padparadscha. Sad, I remember liking Impanema.

    • Patty says:

      I’m trying to figure out what CdG is doing! They did such great work for so long, and lately I’m just yawning. I wish they’d get back to what they did before.

      I do love those indies. I figure they are farther into the web, though people looking for natural or indies will find them and probably skip over some of those second tier niche lines, which is what I think these are.

  • poodle says:

    The lines I think could use more love are Olympic Orchids, Slumberhouse, SSS, and Kerosene. Each of these lines has some really different and wonderful perfumes.

    • Martha says:

      I ordered samples from Slumberhouse just after Thanksgiving. Among them was the Pear & Olive which is beautiful and interesting. That buttery, oily “scent” is just fascinating to me. Pear & Olive, and the others I ordered, project like crazy. A little goes a long way. Also, I was impressed by the service. I emailed the proprietor with a question about shipment, and he promptly and courteously replied. This is an inspired line of fragrances which does deserve more attention. I will admit that the perfumes are unusual and maybe not for everybody.

    • Heather Wood says:

      I’ve had great fun sniffing my way through SSS’s line. Some of them are not for me, but all of them seem well-crafted and reasonably priced, and the customer service has been a dream.

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, I think all of those are great lines. They weren’t quite the size I was aiming for for my particular purposes on this article. But interesting and unique fragrances lines!

    • Jan Last says:

      I’m wearing Slumberhouse Grev today because you reminded me, and I thank you. That little clove note got me right in the grey, dreary day, and now I’m humming and smiling.

  • Elaine says:

    It really depends on the context… Here in Asia, perfume offerings don’t really get past the usual Chanel, Dior, Guerlain & usual suspects. A few years ago Annick Goutal, SL, Diptyque and a few select others suddenly appeared in the quiet corner of 1 or 2 departmental stores, and a few days ago I was overjoyed to see Caron appear, even though they only had 3 (a measly 3!) scents from that line. I remember finding CB IHP years ago in a small indie bookstore, of all places, and haven’t seen it in any large departmental stores. So really… I would be glad to see ANY of the niche (and some not-so-niche) lines we usually talk about get some publicity here.

    • Patty says:

      Goutal, Diptyque, CdG, Serge are often the gateway niche drugs. 🙂 I’m always hoping one people get there that they’ll take the next step and find more treasure, drilling down to the indies and appreciating that level of personal attention to creating a perfume.

  • loledinburgh5 says:

    I agree that Parfums de Nicolai should get more attention and so should Divine,

    the small firm has no dupes in their line even though not all of them like my skin…

    • Patty says:

      Divine, yes, absolutely. I just kept thinking they hadn’t gotten big enough that it was possible for them to get on the mainstream press/beauty blog radar yet. But I do love that line, and the people behind it couldn’t be nicer.

      • Lisa D says:

        Ditto on the level of courtesy Divine provides. I ordered a gift of L’homme Sage from them a few years ago, and found their handling of communication, ordering, shipping and follow-up to be top-notch; they made me feel as if my order was the most important item on their to-do list. Not something that happens to me very frequently these days, so I found it memorable.

  • Jules says:

    i’m not sure what counts as underappreciated, because while the lines you listed are wonderful and certainly underappreciated in the non-perfumista/o world, serge lutens and malle are certainly not well-known either … perhaps Maison Francis Kurkdjian would be my pick, despite their relatively few offerings.

    • Patty says:

      It’s a fine line. Malle and Lutens are often mentioned in the beauty magazines. not as often as the mainstream stuff, but they almost always get included in an article that covers niche perfumes, plus anyone venturing into perfumista-ville will get sent there immediately.

      MFK is a hard one for me. I love a few of his scents, but I don’t really get the direction he’s going in. And the thing he did for BG’s anniversary is still a mystery to me. I think he needs some artistic direction consult to make his line a little more cohesive. But he’s got some beautiful things in his line.

      • Ann says:

        Amen, Patty, on the MFK line. Some lovely things but some ??? also. I, too, was wondering what was up with that Bergdorf exclusive: It almost felt like he took the formula for Aqua Universalis, tweaked it here and there so it was a bit different and went with it, you know?

  • I agree about Parfums de Nicolaï – vastly underrated. Scents like Sacrebleu, Week-end (Week-end à Deauville for the overseas market), Odalisque are really amazing – and they’re not expensive in the least. I wish PdN changed their website though because it does nothing for them, and they really should sell samples to help spread the word!
    Parfum d’Empire is getting a lot of attention from perfumistas and critics so I do not feel they belong to this list. Maison Francis Kurkdjian, on the opposite, does wonderful things and does not get, in my opinion, the attention it deserves.

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, some website almost seem like they are sabotaging their brand! 🙂

      I haven’t seen PdE break through into mainstream press or beauty blogs at all, but I might have nissed it. Perfumista world is paying more attention, but that hasn’t really translated into the beauty blogs or beauty magazines at all, from what I can tell, but I hope that is different and I just missed it!

  • Gail says:

    Indies like Olympic Orchids, Soivohle, Sweet Anthem and Ineke, while they are recognized from time to time, should be getting more press. There are so many unusual and finely crafted scents in these lines, most of which are unbelievably affordable.

    • Patty says:

      I do agree that the indies need more attention, but I don’t really expect the to be breaking into the mainstream press when they are small companies. Actually, a feature in Vogue or Allure or something could really strain a small company if they got buried in orders and couldn’t fill them.

      I was really trying to look at those larger niche companies that are really excellent and have not gotten the mainstream beauty press and beauty blog attention like other niche brands like Malle and Lutens and Creed have.

  • oohlily says:

    Thank you, Patty, I love these kinds of posts!

    I’m so happy to see Parfum d’Empire as one of your choices. I’m still a niche novice in so many ways and so far I haven’t had tremendous success with most of my choices. You probably knows how it goes: I read the reviews and recommendations, make my choices carefully from the lists I’ve made and bam! The things I was soooo sure would be perfect for me, just aren’t!

    Parfum d’Empire though, was an impressive two out of two. I was pretty sure I’d like Azemour after reading Robin’s review on NST since we seem to share a fondness for a nice big combo of oakmoss and citrus. I picked Eau Suave as a bit of a counterpoint and was so pleased I did. Now I’m saving my sampling pennies so I can further explore the line. Ditto for Parfums de Nicolai. Le Temps D’Une Fete wasn’t quite what I was hoping for( a bit too soft and not enough green for me), but it was still very nicely done. I figure I’ll go for Odalisque and Week-end a Deauville next, and then continue on to the others when I can!

    • Patty says:

      I’m such a big PdE fan, and earlly on I was dubious, but they have held up and not sold out anything along the way, which I think is very cool.

      Enjoy your discoveries!!!

  • Amy V says:

    Well known in perfume-blog-land but not elsewhere: Etat Libre d’Orange. I’m wearing their Rien today and really digging the incense and leather! Sometimes I want a scent that’s not pretty. 😉

    • Liz K says:

      I considered mentioning ELdO but I do see them mentioned in fashion magazines and blogs quite a bit. I agree about Rien and am dying to try Afternoon of a Faun.

    • Patty says:

      I thought about Etat, but that line is a mixed bag for me. I like their more recent releases much more than the early ones, but they are just a little uneven for me, but I do appreciate their fearlessness in doing what they want!

  • TaffyJ says:

    I think Atelier Cologne ought to get more love. Definitely have Mistral Patchouli on my list to try. Actually, just about any quality perfume is underappreciated in my work place. The favorite frag there is Philosophy Amazing Grace. I was asked to speak to a co-worker about her offensive perfume: Coromandel, from a sample she got from me!

    • Jenny Katz says:

      TaffyJ: That’s hilarious. You are clearly just the right kind of bad influence.

    • Patty says:

      I *almost* put Atelier on this list, but they seem to be getting some crossover for the couple of years they’ve been around, so I completely agree. Easy to wear, quality, nice line.

      Coromandel, offensive? Wow, sensistive noses!

  • Irina says:

    all these lines are in my focus as I try to get samples-I want ,at least, to get an idea of their concept and quality-I would add Histoires des Parfums and Olfactive Studio to the list…

  • Lisa D says:

    Well, just about all the perfumes I love, none of my non-Posse friends, family or co-workers would recognize by name. Underappreciated in even our relatively small group, though, are Divine scents. L’Infante, L’Homme Sage,
    L’etre Aime, all are gorgeous, and have that specialness that makes you think the perfumer’s a genius.

    • Patty says:

      I do love Divine too! I tried to stay with lines that I thought had enough exposure that they should be breaking through into the mainstream perfume fringes like Malle and Serge have but haven’t. Divine has such a small distribution, but I wish they would get a larger one, the world would be a happier place if more people smelled like that!

  • Tatiana says:

    I’ve been exploring almost all of these lines this past year. I just put Arquiste on my list to try. I have just drained my sample of Parfum d’Empire Equistrius the other day and realized that Valentine’s Day, the earliest I can hope for a gift bottle, is still so far away. As I promised to reduce spending and waste this year, I am going to have to find splits of many of these. I would add Vero Kern’s Vero Profumo scents to this list. My sample of Mito made me swoon.

    • Patty says:

      I so love Equistrius! PdE is one of the lines that every time I go and play in them, I just get all happy again with about any of them I pick out!

  • Liz K says:

    Picking on my precious Ambre Russe again 😉 Do I just have a completely warped view of it? Ambre Russe = Greebo? I see a cute cuddly kitten and the rest of the world sees a mean, one-eyed furry rapist?
    Aaanyway…this is a really interesting topic. I guess because I get my information from perfume blogs, these lines all seem to be quite well known and I forget that most people have never heard of them. I am always astonished when nobody in “real life” knows about SSS or Ineke when they seem so mainstream to me.

  • susan says:

    I guess I was sort of surprised to see these lines as “underappreciated.” I feel all of these lines get a great deal of attention on perfume blogs – maybe not in the mainstream consciousness.

    To me, underappreciated lines are indie lines. Things like Soivohle, Sweet Anthem, and the like.

    If you want a REALLY underappreciated niche line, how about Matiere Parfumeur et Gantier? Criminally underappreciated in my opinion.

    • Musette says:

      Well, Patty did say these were larger houses, rather than real ‘indies’ like Liz Zorn’s line. And while perfume blogs and perfumistas do keep these lines in the perfumista eye there is limited exposure to mainstream customers.

      I do agree with the MPetG line. It is a gorgeous line and definitely deserves a whole lot more exposure!

      xoA .

    • Patty says:

      That was really the area I was writing about – perfume blogs know them, and those that read perfume blogs. But if you step a foot outside of perfume world into beauty blogs and magazines, they just are conspicuously absent. Arquiste has penetrated a little because they are new. Malle and Serge has penetrated the mainstream periphery as far s beauty blogs and magazines. We just forget how little they are known outside of our little world.

      I didn’t do the small niche brands because I don’t expect them to be well-known at this point. I’d love to see them all get more exposure, but I’m incredibly sensitive to small brands and small businesses, but I worry a list like that could impact a small line if I didn’t include them only because I didn’t really know them that well or they just weren’t my taste. It’s a difficult problem! so we just like to review a lot of their scents and hopefully keep raising awareness of them.

      • Heather Wood says:

        That is so considerate of you, and you do so much to bring new people to the fascinating world of niche perfumes. I wonder what you think about honest criticism of niche /indie perfumes that just aren’t that good. I can imagine being very careful because criticism in a prominent place could damage a small house, but I also see the other side of it: it doesn’t feel good to a buyer to pay several dollars per sample for things that are 70s-headshop-horrible after they were praised to the skies in some blog (not referring to this one.) Given that enormous differences in taste exist, I also think there is a level of objectively bad that nearly anybody would find awkward and unpleasant. Or am I missing the point, and is there no such thing as “objectively bad?”

  • Jan Last says:

    Great topic! I received a 7 pack sample of Lorenzo Villoresi and have been fooling around with them tonight, some I love, some I hate. And Sonoma Scent Studio always has something wearable. I didn’t even know Amouage was an underappreciated line, I love the scents but so far have only Memoir Woman in a full size. And the men’s Jubilation is fabulous. Is Ormande Jayne in that category, too? Champaca had me from the sample.

    • Patty says:

      Agree about SSS. I finally got around to them through the Guides, and everything they have done I’ve been impressed with.

      I tried to limit this to lines that I thought were big enough/ had enough exposure that they should be inching into the mainstream consciousness, but just aren’t, like getting mentions in the beauty mags and on the mainstream beauty blogs. Arquiste has done a good job so far of the press mentions, but they are the newest of all of these, and my fear is that initial attention will fade. Ormonde Jayne I thought about putting in, but they still have such tight distribution, just their own store and Harrod’s, that they really shouldn’t be on the edges of the mainstream consciousness at this point because of that.

  • Janet in California says:

    Amazing list. Oh Amouage how I love you. Or most of you at least. And MDCI …

    I think Parfums DelRae should get more love. Amoureuse and Bois De Paradis are classics. And the body creams are stellar.

    • Martha says:

      I agree with you about Bois de Paradis. It is truly lovely. Haven’t tried the others, yet.

    • Patty says:

      Janet, I almost threw in the DelRae line, and I probably should have. I’m so glad you mentioned them! I think I love everything in their line except that melon thing. Everything is beautiful, and you are right, the creams are heavenly! Those are truily fragranced creams, like the Amouage, that you can wear instead of the scent for days in close quarters.

      • ElizabethC says:

        I LOVE Amoureuse and am very tempted to get the body cream. How does it differ from the perfume?

  • Just tested Parfums de Nicolai’s Musc Intense again today, still debating if I should buy it. I really like Infanta en Flor by Arquiste. Still dying to try Parfum d’Empire’s Musc Tonkin!

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, I couldn’t really decide how I felt about the Pdn Musc Intense. I really liked it, but couldn’t quite decide on love or not. All of the Arquistes are interesting, I really like what he is doing with that line so far.

  • spiker says:

    As a relative newbie, I’ve only had my mitts on a perfume from one of those houses – Parfums de Nicolai New York – and haven’t had a chance to try it since its arrival last Friday. Prior to reading this I was feeling pretty good about venturing into CB’s I hate perfume’s catalogue, but now you’ve given me a whole new list of houses to try… and isn’t that wonderful!

    Thank you for all the lovely suggestions. I’ve a birthday coming up and I see some good smelling stuff coming my way

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I’ve gotta be the biggest Amouage ho. Amouage doesn’t really get tons of attention outside the perfumista world because there isn’t a huge advertising campaign like Chanel or Dior or maybe dropping $200 or more on a small bottle of perfume freaks a lot of people out. I may not be able to drop $200 or more on perfume on a whim every often but when it’s love, it’s worth it. Even though Interlude, Jubilation 25, Ubar and Reflection wasn’t love, they are not a hot mess like many new releases are. I’ve only tried MDCI’s Un Couer en Mai and did like it a lot.

    • Patty says:

      I just keep thinking that Amouage is a good sized company, they have contacts and are in Harrods and have a ton of overseas exposure, but it’s not a line that gets a lot of attention in the press or in stores here. It’s just weird, and I can’t figure out why not.

      • Musette says:

        There are all sorts of conjectures, from the whole “Arab” thing (still such a hot trigger – and let’s face it, most customers don’t know Oman from an imam (or Iman, for that matter. I once used the word ‘imam’ and was corrected – “her name is Iman!” sigh)….anyhoo, between that and the sticker shock it’s a tough sell. I’ve been trying to get Amouage into N-M for yonks!


    • Pklagrange says:

      I love the perfumes from the companies above! The only one that I do not own FB of is Puredistance and now I’m intrigued! (darn). I don’t think there’s room for all of my love for the perfumes from these companies – I own FBs of almost every scent from Amouage. I love the Opus line less than the others, but still wear them with great regularity.
      My favorites from MDCI: Enlevement au Serail, Promisse de l’Aube, La Belle Helene. Nicolai: Week-end a Deauville, Fig Tea, Sacrebleu Intense; Parfum d’Empire: Azemour les Oranges; Arquiste: L’Etrog. These are all glorious and in my regular rotation. Now I’m going to have to pay more attention to the other fragrances from these lines as well.

      I get so many compliments when I wear these perfumes. However, when mention the perfume makers, most of the questioners don’t want to try to hunt them down. ah well. Perhaps I will follow Musette’s lead and start pushing NM and Saks to carry more of these wonderful fragrances.