It's no secret that we're fanatical about fragrance, and we've got TikTok to thank for fueling our obsession.
The recent spike in interest all started with Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, a perfume so viral it inspired countless dupes and brilliant memes. Then there was Phlur Missing Person, which reduced people to tears (in a good way) as it reminded them of the smell of loved ones, or evoked an intense longing for someone special. Since then, Narciso Rodriguez Musc Noir Rose, Tom Ford Cherry Smoke, and Prada Paradoxe have all made their mark, but it's safe to say that no one knows more about what's cool in perfume than Mona Kattan Elamin.
The entrepreneur's name probably rings a bell, not least because her sister (Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty) is one of the makeup industry's biggest influencers. But Kattan Elamin is a beauty expert in her own right, and her niche fragrance brand Kayali has turned out numerous scents that quickly became internet sensations.
When I meet Kattan Elamin at London's Mayfair Grand for a conversation about all things fragrance, she's dressed in head-to-toe pistachio. It makes sense, considering Kayali's delectable new perfume, Yum | 33 Eau de Parfum Intense, is inspired by pistachio gelato — and Kattan Elamin is always on brand.
We aren't alone in the bright and airy room decorated with pistachios, candy floss, and marshmallows in towering glass jars: Alongside Kattan Elamin is father-and-son perfumer duo Sebastien and Olivier Cresp. Olivier quietly reveals that he is the nose behind Thierry Mugler Angel (arguably one of the most iconic scents of all time). Later, when I find out he is also the mastermind behind my first-ever perfume (Paco Rabanne Black XS, in case you were wondering), not to mention YSL Black Opium, Flower by Kenzo, and Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh, I realize I'm in the presence of perfume royalty.
It's not every day that you get three perfume experts in one room. So with a new season right around the corner, I had to pick their brains for the coolest fragrance trends to watch for spring. Here's everything I learned from the very best in the business, including why you might want to start wearing your perfume to bed...
Perfume that smells like your favorite food
Sebastien, Olivier, and Kattan Elamin predict that sweet, "edible" notes (also referred to as "gourmand") will reign supreme in most new perfumes this year. Contrary to the name, this doesn't mean you can eat your perfume, but that these notes will evoke your all-time favorite foods. Taking its cue from Kattan Elamin's favorite pistachio gelato, Kayali Yum Eau de Parfum is equal parts sweet (that'll be the candy floss and marshmallow), savory (thanks to pistachio and roasted hazelnut), and warm (whipped cream and sweet rum).
"I personally love food as an inspiration for fragrance," says Kattan Elamin, "because of the memories and emotions that are associated with it. It's comforting, exciting and celebratory. When anyone asks me what the best moments of my life have been so far, they are never related to business or financial things. It's always moments when I've had food with people I love and care about."
Birthday cake is one of Mona's earliest scent memories and it is evoked in Kayali's TikTok-viral Vanilla Royale Sugared Patchouli Eau de Parfum Intense, while Olivier says the warm and comforting scent of steamed rice is a note he is seeing used often. Try By Kilian Moonlight In Heaven with milky coconut and rice or Diptyque L'Eau Papier, which is infused with rice steam and smells like clean skin. If you'd rather spend less, try Being Frenshe Cashmere Vanilla Body Mist ($15). The label, designed by Ashley Tisdale, is affordable and the cashmere vanilla scent in particular was directly inspired by the scent of Trader Joe's jasmine rice.
Wearing your perfume to bed
Call it excessive — or simply maximizing your perfume — but Kattan Elamin always spritzes her wrists (and sometimes even her bedsheets) with Kayali Musk Eau de Parfum before going to sleep. "I can't sleep without it," says Kattan Elamin. "When I was single, it was the one moment during the day when no one else was smelling me, so it felt super intimate. It's the highest form of using fragrance as self-love."
Kattan Elamin isn't alone. TikTokers are also making a case for 'bedtime fragrances' that make them feel some type of way, whether it's clean, relaxed, cozy, or a little sexier. Considering perfume can be on the expensive side, why wouldn't you make the most of it? "When I'm going to bed, I want to feel happy, soft, or sensual," says Kattan Elamin. "Whichever emotion you want to feel when going to bed, spraying perfume helps. It also helps me wake up nicely, knowing that my bedsheets will always smell fresh." All you need now is a silk pillowcase.
This is the new "skin scent"
Perfumes that smell familiar, soothing, and vaguely salty (think: a little hint of sweat) are everywhere thanks to the likes of Glossier You and Phlur Missing Person. Perfumers are calling them "skin scents" and they typically marry notes of musk (clean, powdery, and somewhat soapy) and amber (also powdery, but slightly spicy, too). This spring, however, vanilla is taking over. This sweet or gourmand note is linked to our childhood in many ways, says Olivier, whether it's a birthday cake or a milkshake. It's comforting and protective.
Kayali Vanilla | 28 Eau de Parfum has achieved viral status for a reason: it's like pulling on a cozy sweater or receiving a long hug from a loved one. If you're on a budget, try the Nest Madagascar Vanilla rollerball with vanilla bean and vanilla orchid, or & Other Stories Perle de Coco Eau de Toilette with coconut, vanilla, and caramel.
Layering your perfume
Speaking of skin scents, Kattan Elamin likes to create something unique to her by combining her two favorites: vanilla and musk. "Combined, this is my go-to after-shower scent. Alone, musk is a wonderful base under any other perfume to give it longevity." Try The Body Shop White Musk Fragrance Mist layered underneath your signature scent.
Perfume layering knows no bounds. On me, Kattan Elamin layered Kayali Musk, Vanilla, Yum, and Sweet Diamond Pink Pepper. She spritzed in exaggerated downward motions to ensure each perfume carried further as I moved throughout the day. Sure enough, I've never received so many compliments (and, days later, my coat still smells incredible).
Perfume inspired by mixologists
Kayali Yum boasts a sweet rum note, while Olivier predicts the likes of whisky will take over the perfume scene (and I've spotted gin, as in Mizensir Blue Gin Eau de Parfum). "I think this will be a trend, as it all started with perfumer By Kilian and The Liquors collection," says Kattan Elamin, who suggests drinks like these remind us of celebrations and special moments. According to Olivier, there's a reason why alcoholic notes such as these are included in perfumes. "The alcohol profile is a great booster," he says. "It brings a sort of richness that smells like caramel and toffee."
Try Lush Lord of Misrule Perfume, which smells like a spicy whisky, or Bon Parfumeur 004: Gin / Mandarin / Musk Perfume, a refreshing cocktail of gin with lemon and mandarin.
Savory over sweet
The pistachio in Kayali Yum errs on the sweet side, thanks to the candy floss and marshmallows, but on its own, it's a typically savory addition. Olivier is working more with nuts and saltier ingredients to give otherwise cloyingly sweet fragrances a grown-up edge. "We're taking things like peanuts, for example, or sesame and seaweed and infusing it with a woody, spicy edge," he said.
Try Maison Margiela Replica By The Fireplace Eau de Toilette with savory chestnut and sweet vanilla.
Introducing the new floral
"Personally," says Kattan Elamin, "I don't see any traditionally flowery fragrances trending for spring." Olivier agrees. "Rose can be a little unfashioned or have a vintage feel," he says, "but to make it modern and powerful, I like to mix floral notes with fruity ones." This, hints Olivier, is the future of the floral fragrance, making it easy to wear every day of the year.
R29 loves Maison Margiela Replica On A Date Eau de Toilette Spray with crisp grapes and lush roses, & Other Stories Neon Rush Eau de Toilette with tangy cherry, sweet clementine, and jasmine, and Kayali Eden Juicy Apple | 01 Eau De Parfum with tart apple, syrupy lychee, and jasmine.
This story was originally published on Refinery29 UK.
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