These are the luxury perfumes I'd recommend if you don't want to smell like everybody else

They're a cut above the rest

Expensive perfumes: Tom Ford, No.19 Chanel, 1872
(Image credit: Future)

I'm going to let you in on a little secret—it's perfume that makes the world of luxury go round. While couture dresses, lipsticks and hand-stitched bags might be positioned front and centre, the role of fragrance is of great importance. For starters, it allows brands to encapsulate their customer in a single product. One sniff of a brand's most iconic scent is all it takes for you to know exactly what they're about. And beyond that? On a less glamorous scale, they make a lot of money.

It is for these reasons that almost every luxury brand in the world offers a perfume—from car manufacturers and jewellers to fashion houses and beauty brands. Yep, some of the most expensive perfumes out there have luxury brands attached to them.

I have spent many, many years of my career collecting and testing different perfumes, and I admit that there are heaps of beautiful fragrances out there which are affordable (Zara perfumes are particularly special). However, out of all the perfumes I've tried (of which there are hundreds upon hundreds), I must admit that some of the best perfumes in existence are luxurious and, therefore, expensive. 

And no, they don't all have luxury conglomerates attached to them. In fact, some of the most beautiful (and long-lasting) scents come from specialist fragrance houses whose hefty price tags are justified through small-scale craftsmanship and production.

In short, whether we're talking about floral perfumes, skin scents or cirtusy, fresh fragrances, I'm sorry to say that, as a rule, you get what you pay for. And while I would never say that anyone needs to splurge on a perfume to smell expensive (like I say, there are affordable options out there), I can't deny the pleasure of finding a luxury perfume that calls out to you. 

Having said that, I have also tried a whole load of expensive perfumes that do absolutely nothing to justify their price tags. Many don't last on the skin, have no depth to them and, frankly, smell like every other perfume out there. If you're looking to make a big fragrance investment, trust me when I tell you these are the ones to look into.

1. Chanel N°19

Expensive perfumes: No.19 Chanel

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Chanel N°19 Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Galbanum, iris pallida, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, rose

While Chanel N°5 might be one of the most well known luxury perfumes in the world, the brand's entire fragrance offering is quite special. In fact, I'd say that Chanel sets the precedent for long-lasting scents that ooze expense. While the Les Exclusifs de Chanel line of fragrances offers more expensive (and unique) blends, for me, it's the main line's N°19 which deserves the brand's top spot. It's no where near as popular as the rest of Chanel's perfumes, and its powdery, floral finish becomes one with the skin in a way that leaves you feeling undeniably rich (even if your bank account says otherwise).

2. La Collection Privée Christian Dior Gris Dior

Expensive perfumes: Gris Dior, Christian Dior

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La Collection Privée Christian Dior Gris Dior Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Jasmine, bergamot, amber, moss

This is, hands down, one of my most complimented perfumes. What Gris Dior nails so expertly is that effortless, laid-back sort of luxury that so many of us strive for. The perfume was created to mirror the colour grey, and it does it well. It's cosy, creamy and fresh, and it doesn't leave anyone feeling overwhelmed—the perfect balance.

3. Acqua di Parma Colonia

Expensive perfumes: Acqua di Parma

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Acqua di Parma Colonia Eau de Cologne


Key notes: Grapefruit, mint, blood mandarin, rose absolute, cinnamon, leather, wood, amber, Indian patchouli

Whenever someone comes to me asking for advice on luxury fragrances, I send them in the direction of an Acqua di Parma counter. In my opinion, Acqua di Parma is the luxury fragrance brand to go to for expensive-smelling, unique blends that encapsulate a Mediterranean, riviera-esque freshness. Colonia is the brand's most iconic scent (it was even worn by Audrey Hepburn, back in the day), and is still one of the most impressive fragrances in existence. It's cool, it's fresh and it has a quenching citrus bite, but it doesn't dissipate in the way other colognes tend to. In fact, its woody base has it lingering for hours.

4. Penhaligon's The Favourite

Expensive perfumes: The Favourite

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Penhaligon's The Favourite Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Mandarin, violet leaf, bergamot, jasmine, mimosa, orris, Indian sandalwood, musk, ambroxan

If you know anything about expensive perfumes, you'll have heard of Penhaligon's. The heritage British fragrance house, which was founded in the 1860s, was the provider of perfumery for Queen Victoria. The scents are typically deep, heady and almost impossibly long lasting—exactly what you might expect from such a heritage fragrance brand. The Favourite, however, has all of the long-lasting depth and beauty of Penhaligon's more iconic scents, but without the headiness. In fact, The Favourite is delightfully sweet and floral, just like the pretty-pink bow that adorns it. It's one of the most enticing perfumes I've ever encountered.

5. Le Labo Santal 33

Expensive perfumes: Le Labo SANTAL 33

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Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Cardamom, iris, violet, ambrox, Australian sandalwood, papayrus, cedarwood

Fragrance buffs, please forgive me for this. You see, many of us consider Le Labo Santal 33 to be a perfume that is done. For a little while it was absolutely everywhere—it was the cool girl's Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. And while it has dropped off radars in recent years, I want to include it on this list because it is, still to this day, one of the most wonderful works of perfumery. Its fresh but woody aroma is easily one of the most crowd-pleasing scents in existence, and those who aren't familiar with Santal 33 should be. So please, if this is the first time you've ever heard about it, try to get your hands on a sample or blotter.

6. Loewe Solo Ella

Expensive perfumes: Loewe Solo Ella

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Loewe Solo Ella Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Green apple, neroli, white wood, green tea

Few things fill me with more joy than a Loewe fragrance. Loewe is, without question, one of my favourite fashion brands right now, and their perfumes provide a more attainable extension of the Loewe girl I long to be. Solo Ella has been my scent of the summer—it's citrusy, creamy and juicy, like the first taste of a mouth-watering sorbet on a stifling day.

7. Parfums de Marly Delina

Expensive perfumes: Parfums de Marly Delina

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Parfums de Marly Delina Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Turkish rose, bergamot, peony, vanilla

You'd be forgiven for thinking expensive perfumes are typically woody, deep and overpowering (woody notes tend to be expensive, therefore driving up the prices of those perfumes). However, that's not to say you can't find sweet perfumes in the super-luxury category. Delina is a sweet delight. It is sugary, sure, but it's also fruity and fresh in a way that leaves skin smelling just showered. Although I personally prefer deeper scents, I could never deny the beauty of Delina.

8. Diptyque Eau des Sens

Expensive perfumes: Diptyque - Sens des Sens

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Diptyque Eau des Sens Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Orange blossom, patchouli, juniper berries

Marie Claire UK Editor, Sunil Makan, is a huge fan of this fragrance. In fact, every time he wears it (which, at the moment, is most days), I ask after it. It has an earthy, citrus element which is unlike anything I've ever smelled. The fragrance house behind Eau des Sens, Diptyque, is famed for its luxury candles, but its perfumes are, in my opinion, even more exquisite. While I opt for the powdered Orphéon and woody Tam Dao nearly every week (I consider them both amongst my signature scents), Eau des Sens makes this list for its undeniable appeal.

9. Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

Expensive perfumes: Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

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Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Neroli, orange flower, lavender, amber, rosemary

Few fashion houses have managed to nail fragrance quite like Tom Ford has. In fact, the brand has almost single handedly turned high-end, niche fragrance mainstream—and I mean that in a good way. Neroli Portofino was the first Tom Ford perfume I ever smelled, and I've clung onto it ever since. To me, Neroli Portofino smells like a summer's evening strolling the pavements of Monte Carlo. Its unique marine freshness is enough to make even the most frugal consider the splurge.

10. Guerlain L'Art & La Matière Angélique Noire

Expensive perfumes: Guerlain Angelique Noire

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Guerlain L'Art & La Matière Angélique Noire Eau de Parfum


Key notes: Angelica flower, vanilla, pink pepper, cedar

Even if you don't like Angélique Noire for yourself, I can't imagine a soul who could possibly deny its beauty. It has a heady floweriness that piques the interest of every nose it passes by. It is floral yet bitter, crisp yet creamy, deep yet unimposing. Next time you find yourself perusing the counters in a department store, seek this one out.

11. Jo Malone London Myrrh & Tonka