Is niche perfume a snob thing?

Jun 25, 2020Maëlys Préau1 comment

You have surely already heard of niche or author perfumery , a rare and confidential perfumery . All these terms, which have the same meaning, may not be very clear to you. Follow the guide, we'll tell you everything!

Classic or modern? Timeless, in fact

One Two Three Sun Bottle
Niche perfumery developed in the 1990s in reaction to the numerous takeovers of perfume brands by major market groups. While these players concentrate numerous licenses - often from ready-to-wear - other small perfume houses prefer independence, and dedicate themselves to perfume lovers who seek superior quality in an exceptional product. The goal of niche perfumery is stated: it is about creating perfumes that do not appeal to everyone . Said like that, it's a little weird, but the idea makes sense when you think about it: we all want a unique perfume, which suits us perfectly.

Concretely, niche perfumery therefore refers to small brands - some of which have become rather large - which dare to stand out creatively and olfactorily in order to offer unconventional perfumes , most of the time non-gendered .

Sometimes, originality goes a little far: juices deemed "importable", names which are not always so anymore like Danse Macabre, Sécrétions Magnifiques, I am Trash, prices which sometimes seem to soar... In short: enough to wonder if ultimately, niche perfumery is not simply a snob thing .

Here are some keys to give you an idea - and if you are interested in the history of niche perfumery, we explain everything in more detail in this article .

Above all: an original idea

Most niche brands have a strong and original identity that allows them to stand out, and above all to build a community faithful to their image. Because, yes, we haven't told you yet, but designer perfumeries very rarely advertise: they work through word of mouth ! So we focus everything on customer satisfaction through quality products, a great experience and shared values. At Bastille , it didn't take much time for the founder, Marie-Hortense, to assert a concept: finding no clean alternative to classic perfumes, she decided to launch the first natural perfume house, made in France and above all, 100% transparent about its ingredients - a small revolution in perfumery.


For others, on the contrary, it will be the exploration of 100% synthetic perfumes, or mono-materials, odors linked to songs, molecules acting like “pheromones” to seduce, etc. In short, the possibilities are endless.

Creative freedom

What's great about a niche perfume is that it gives free rein to the creativity of those who design it. We explain: before finding a perfume on the shelves of a Sephora, you have to go through many stages.

First of all, a market study is carried out to know the current trend and consumer tastes. Taking this study into account, a precise brief will be submitted to perfumers so that they can carry out their first tests. After dozens of different attempts , we choose the perfume that suits best. Is it over now? Well no, still not. Once the perfume has been created, it will be blind tested with consumers (called "sniff tests") then re-modified, then... re-tested, until one likes it. more of you. Thus, creativity throughout these stages is more restricted.

In niche perfumery, no more market research and consumer testing ! The path is freer: the niche brand gives an idea - sometimes very vague - to the perfumer who will use his creativity to create a perfume which will suit, not the taste of the greatest number, but the inspiration of the brand.

So, we're not saying that one is better than the other - but rather that you need a bit of both to please everyone! Besides, you will rarely find a niche perfume in a Sephora aisle: they are most often sold in their own store, online or sometimes in a corner of a department store.

How to recognize a niche perfume?

This may seem complex to some, and easy to others. In fact, it all depends on whether you are used to smelling perfumes ...

Our advice: go take a look at Sephora, smell the 5 latest new products of the same genre (masculine or feminine) and take stock. Don't you think they have a few things in common? So, yes, they are different (fortunately!), one is more fruity, the other more floral, the last surely more woody, but... they all have a slightly gourmand tendency. You know why ? Quite simply because it’s fashion . Because yes, even in perfume there are fashions! Under Louis , gourmet perfumes. We recognize them by their sweet smell and their strong scent, which perfumes the entire room. Moreover, the one who launched this latest trend is Thierry Mugler with Angel in 1992. Be careful though, not all the perfumes found at Sephora are gourmands - there are always exceptions to confirm the rules.

Now that you know the olfactory trends of the moment, we suggest you take a stroll through some independent perfumeries or concept stores (we give you some addresses at the end of the article). The goal ? Come across niche perfumes that will awaken your nose . This time, you don't need to smell several perfumes to understand that they are completely different from those at Sephora.

perfume discovery set

Already there is no male/female section: here, we are unisex . Then, the combinations of raw materials are daring: we find notes of tobacco, leather, tuberose, incense - and many other unusual raw materials. Everything is often named in a slightly special way: Rouge Assassin, Tubereuse Impériale, 1.2, Demain Promis , in short - names that you will probably not find in a major classic perfumery! And for the more adventurous, you can discover most of these perfumes online thanks to the sample boxes. Besides, we put ours right here:

Above all, a question of budget

Jean-Claude Ellena, a famous perfumer, used to say: “Before, there was a perfume, a bottle, a story. Now there is a story, a bottle and a perfume.” This quote perfectly sums up the difference between niche perfumery and so-called “mass” perfumery. Niche brands highlight the olfactory thanks to beautiful raw materials whereas big brands tend to focus on marketing to ensure sales. Said like that, it's not very glamorous - but it's understandable: releasing a new perfume for these perfume giants represents a huge budgetary challenge. Many people work on it for months (sometimes years!), a lot of money is spent on marketing and communication so that the perfume is popular and sales explode. Whereas in the niche, the budget is much lower. We therefore allow ourselves to take more risks to create original perfumes , with sometimes more expensive raw materials. Which explains, with more expensive ingredients and smaller volumes, that niche perfumes are often slightly more expensive than conventional perfumes: in theory, this is the price of quality !

Some addresses

Here is a small list of boutiques and concept stores where you can find what you are looking for in niche perfumes:

  • Jovoy, 4 Rue de Castiglione, 75 001 Paris
  • Nose, 20 Rue Bachaumont, 75 002 Paris
  • Jane de boy, Bordeaux, Cap Ferret, Arcachon
  • Biutiful* , 4 bis Rue de la Poste, 74 000 Annecy (Roxane and Thaïs will welcome you there)
  • Maison Orso* , 2 Rue Leperdit, 35,000 Rennes (with excellent advice from Charlotte, the owner)
  • Parfumerie du soleil d’or, 4 Rue Esquermoise, 59 800 Lille
  • MadameMonsieur* , 119 Avenue des Alpes, 06 800 Cagnes-sur-Mer (at Fanny and her entire team)

* Our points of sale

So, what do you think about niche perfumery? At first glance, you might think that it is only intended for a demanding customer who cannot be satisfied with ordinary perfumes. But it's much more than that: niche perfumery sees perfume as an art . She sublimates it without prejudice, and allows everyone to achieve an unusual olfactory experience. Adept or not, it's still worth checking out!

Photos: Jules Théret, Bronte Bee


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Comments (1)

  • I appreciate the existence of niche. It keeps the perfume art an art. It explores the unknown and this has an influence on mainstream trends too. I enjoyed getting to know niche fragrances, they are indeed different.

    But for me personally most niche fragrances are too weird, unwearable. And the ones that are wearable are not that niche after all.

    I sincerely dislike the tyranny of fruity florals that seem to have taken over the mainstream (womens section) and I buy almost all my fragrances online because they are not available in local perfume shops. But they are not niche.


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