The close of a year beckons a period of introspection. Many people assess their year by measuring achievements, I reflect on the year through the lens of scents. Salty tears from an abrupt January breakup were coddled by Narciso Rodriguez’s Pure Musc; my first time in Rio for Carnival was marked by minty, honeyed Caipirinhas swirling harmoniously with a Brown Girl Jane fragrance inspired by (and named after) fellow Brazilian state, Bahia. My perfume collection entered a new tax bracket with the addition of not one but two Krigler fragrances. I kept busy, nose-deep in the absolute best fragrances 2023 had to offer, all documented in ELLE.com’s inaugural Noteworthies fragrance guide. Truth be told, 2023 wasn’t my best year, but at least I smelled pretty damn good and added a bunch of new terminology to my daily vernacular to match my expansive collection. Let’s focus on the wins, people!
“Fragrance has the power to transport one to a person, place, or time. The ‘power of the invisible’ is a feat achieved solely by the olfactory system. It has been said that fragrance is the ultimate invisible accessory, and often the deciding factor of how one wants to feel or how one wants to be received. Fragrance can recall a memory, a loved one, a trip, or a feeling,” Ylan Jacqueline, fragrance expert and Parfums de Marly president of the Americas, tells ELLE.com.
From intense iterations from designer houses to niche brands hitting all the right notes, 2023 showered us with sweet florals, sexy vanillas, and earthy aquatics that had everyone propping up a ring light to break down their scent discoveries. As we look to a new year, we polled Ylan Jacqueline to discuss what 2024 might smell like.
Sugar and Spice
“Gourmand scents will continue to be explored as wearers are always seeking warmth, comfort, and something that feels cozy,” Jacqueline says. The sweet slick of a vanilla fragrance caressing your skin feels like enveloping your body in a blanket fresh out of the dryer on a brisk December night or breaking into a new chunky coastal knit sweater. A typical vanilla scent smells delightfully edible, in the vein of sugary cookies and cake. However, 2023’s uptick in vanilla notes saw fragrances entering their Good Girl Gone Bad era, soaked in smokey bourbon and nose-tingling spices swung fast in the opening notes and settled into a sultry gourmand medley perfect for the mature, serial Hinge dater who likes to play hard to get.
A smoking bar is the last place you’ll find me and the first place that came to mind for several perfumers this past year. Yes, tobacco kills, but it also revives when its smoky, hazy essence is juxtaposed with creamy, sugary gourmands—no coughing necessary.
It’s always the first bite of a juicy fruit that we wish to experience all over again, be it a ripe pineapple, tangy berries, or sparkling summer sweets that make for the perfect cocktail. “Fresh and citrus scents are always a go-to when temperatures rise. The calling for sun, sand, sea, or even forest woods and herbaceous greens brings about a spring or summer return to favorites,” Jacqueline adds. These mouth-watering combinations burst with an invigorating aroma that’s bright with a dark edge and fruity anchored by hints of musk.
Skin to Skin
Light and airy, subtle yet still striking, these scents kiss the skin with a soft aroma that’s not too overbearing and smells exactly how you think you’d smell. Similar to tints and “your skin but better” formulas in makeup and skincare, second skin fragrances enhance your body chemistry to unveil a gentle, natural scent.
Sunny Side Up
I prefer my vacation scents heated to the highest degree and melted on a bed of white florals, citrus, and creamy vanilla. 2023 was the year sunkissed scents matured past the sickly sunscreen smell and radiated with a tropical simplicity that has you yearning for summer to roll back around.
Nerisha is the beauty commerce editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty (and fashion and music). She has a penchant for sneakers and nude lip glosses, and spends way too much time re-watching 90s sitcoms.