If you’ve ever wanted an in-depth run-down of the most popular perfumes from all the most popular designers and
fragrance houses, welcome. You’ve officially stumbled upon paradise! As beauty editors, we receive brand-new perfume bottles, rollerballs, and yes, even perfume brushes, on a daily basis. But as with almost anything in life, there’s something to be said for the classics—the most iconic and/or best-selling perfumes from all of the most popular fragrance names and designers in the game.
In honor of all the beloved O.G. elixirs out there, we’ve compiled an impressive list of bottled
florals, citrus, musks, and gourmands (perfumes with sweet notes like vanilla, honey, and chocolate) sure to satisfy the cultiest of perfume cravings. Oh, and to make it easier for you and your shopping-savvy self, we’ve broken down our picks by beauty retailer. Ahead, the 17 most popular designer perfumes of all time you can find at Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Violet Grey. Tell your wallet to buckle up—it’s in for a wild (very pleasant smelling) ride.
You had to know this was coming. Chanel N°5 is, without a doubt, the most iconic fragrance of all time. It’s been a staple within many a glamorous woman’s fragrance wardrobe since its creation back in 1921. At the perfume’s center is a floral bouquet of rose and jasmine with a touch of vanilla to deepen.
There are two camps in this world: those who favor Mugler’s warm and floral icon Alien ($87) and those who prefer Angel—a softer, cotton candy concoction that’s the ultimate guilty pleasure among fragrance lovers everywhere. Oh, and you (or perhaps your mom or sister) likely owned a bottle all through the ’90s. (It was created by Monsieur Mugler in 1992.) According to the brand’s website, Angel was the first gourmand fragrance in the history of perfumery, with an iconic blend of patchouli, praline, red berries, and vanilla encapsulating the following three facets: “celestial, delicious, and voluptuous.”
Right up there with Chanel N°5 is Guerlain’s historic stunner, Shalimar. It has a full-bodied scent that’s made it one of the most recognizable in history—powdery but complemented with notes of vanilla, amber, iris, and bergamot. It’s sultry and everlasting.
Chances are you’ve smelled this popular perfume from American designer Calvin Klein about a bazillion times in your life. It’s just that prevalent and is just what the doctor ordered for those who crave a crisp and clean fragrance. The fruitiness of pineapple and papaya are anchored with the sharper edge of notes like nutmeg, cardamom, and green tea.
Dior houses many very iconic and popular perfumes, but Miss Dior is by far one of the O.G. favorites in the game. It’s delicately light and floral with vibrant bursts of bergamot, Grasse rose, rosewood, and pink pepper. “It had to burst like that feeling of falling head over heels. A declaration of love, to loves,” the scent’s perfumer, François Demachy, said of the fragrance.
Aptly named, this signature perfume from designer Ralph Lauren is, indeed, romantic. An effervescent capsule of all things fantasy and fairytale, this fragrance manages to combine velvety woods, extravagant florals, and seductive musk in its sleek, trademark square bottle. As for the notes, the credits lay as follows: rose, marigold, ginger, chamomile, freesia, violet, lotus, day lily, patchouli, and a little bit of oakmoss and musk for good earthen measure.
No popular designer perfume roundup would ever be complete without the satiny scent that’s been loved and worn by so many women. Kind of like a warm and cozy hug in a bottle, this fragrance is a creamy, sheer layering of exotic Moroccan jasmine, lily of the valley, bergamot, and grounding hints of sandalwood, amber, and musk.
When I think of Light Blue, all that comes to mind is high school, which, while not an entirely pleasant memory, is just one of the many proof points depicting how popular this Mediterranean perfume from Dolce & Gabbana is. It’s citrusy, sparkly (not literally but conceptually), and feels like a wave-skimming cruise along the sea—think notes like citrus, apple, and bamboo.
Founded in Stockholm back in 2006, Byredo could be considered one of the newer kids on the fragrance block. That said, the brand has risen with fast and furious pandemonium, and it could be said that each of Byredo’s perfumes has a strong destined-to-be-iconic following. Mojave Ghost is a standout and a best seller across countless retailers we cross-checked. Fans are uninhibited about their love of the eclectic composition of ambrette, magnolia, sandalwood, violet, musk, and cedarwood.
Without question, Santal 33 is the most popular perfume from this niche fragrance designer. According to the brand, the perfume’s ambition is to capture the great American myth in an olfactory way. It’s a unisex and crackling mix of herbs and florals like cardamom, iris, and violet paired with smokier notes of Australian sandalwood, papyrus, and cedarwood.
FYI: This best-selling perfume is so popular it’s often sold out on Diptyque’s website. Luckily for you, dear Nordstrom shopper, the slightly subtler eau de toilette version is available to snap up at the department store instead. Featuring fluttering hints of Turkish rose, musk, iris, pink peppercorn, orange blossom, tuberose, and jasmine sambac, Do Son was inspired by the childhood memories of one of Diptyque’s three founders, Yves Coueslant.
Frédéric Malle perfumes are iconic. In fact, you can’t really go wrong with any of the brand’s intoxicating releases because they’re just that good and just that beloved. Every single one has been carefully created by the best perfumers in the industry, but Carnal Flower has to be one of the most signature scents within the fragrance space. Perfumer Dominique Ropion spent over two years laboriously perfecting the lush blend of musk, orange blossom, and tuberose, and the result, to be honest, is beautiful. It’s been around since 2005 and is a favorite for a reason.
If you’re a history and Old Hollywood buff like me, you’ll agree with the masses and adore this iconic perfume from Serge Lutens. It’s rumored to have been inspired by legendary German actress Marlene Dietrich and has a full-bodied scent rich with notes of glamorous florals like rose and violet, spicy black pepper, and grounding musk.
This popular designer perfume from Tom Ford is so legendary and perpetually in demand that it’s often low in stock or sold out at our favorite beauty retailers. Yes, there are other über-iconic Ford fragrances like Fucking Fabulous and Black Orchid, but Oud Wood is the unexpected sultry scent fragrance insiders covet and admire most. Blame it on the mysteriously elegant (and perfectly intense) mix of sultry wood, vanilla, and a hit of spice. Ford says of the fragrance: “Oud Wood envelops you in rare oud, exotic spices and cardamom, then exposes its rich and dark blend of sensuality.”
Clive Christian has been around since 1872 and is, bar none, one of the most covetable brands of designer perfume you’ve maybe never heard of. According to the retailer, this particular best-selling scent is “inspired by the world of luxury interiors and furniture” and features notes of amber, cedarwood, and mandarin. Oh, and if you’re curious about the showstopping packaging, it’s a design based on Queen Victoria’s crown. (Clive Christian acquired The Crown Perfumery, of which Queen Victoria was a customer, in 1999.)
An exotic and enticing concoction courtesy of perfumer Alberto Morillas, this specific scent from the Kilian house is a universal best seller. Top notes include Osmanthus, base notes include amber and cedar, and right at the heart—Egyptian Narcissus. The inspiration, according to Kilian’s website, is as follows: “The uninhibited Good Girl Gone Bad finds herself in a luscious floral whirlwind in the garden of good and evil.”
Jo Malone London is one of the most applauded and well-known names in the scent space, and since it’s hard to choose a favorite, we resorted to skimming the brand’s website to take a peek at its best-selling olfactory concoctions of all time. At the top of the list? This warm and enveloping perfume mix of jasmine, marigold, and poignant ylang-ylang. It’s both delicate and earthy, with glowing touches of amber and vanilla. Next up, these are the best vanilla perfumes of all time. This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.