Finding a signature fragrance can be overwhelming, with so many options on the market. To help narrow down the possibilities, we’ve taken a look inside the bathrooms and make-up bags of some of London’s most stylish women including Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. From cult favourites like La Lebo’s Santal 33 and Byredo’s Gypsy Water to hidden gems from boutique perfumers, these are the fragrances the A-list truly love.
The model and founder of the Rose Inc beauty website is an avid perfume fan, often documenting her latest fragrance find on her Instagram and YouTube channels. Currently at the top of her list is Gypsy Water, the most popular scent from cult brand Byredo. A gender-neutral, woody fragrance that blends base notes of pine needle, sandalwood and lemon with a hint of vanilla and bergamot, the perfume – like all Byredo products – uses raw ingredients to create a particularly intense, complex scent that, in this case, is reminiscent of woodland and campfires.
The Duchess of Sussex
Thanks to her now defunct blog The Tig, where she often wrote about her beauty routine, we have some insight into Meghan Markle’s everyday fragrance preferences. One of her favourites for daytime wear is Oribe’s Côte d’Azur, an oriental bergamot, jasmine and sandalwood-infused blend. Bergamot is clearly a favourite of Meghan’s — while she wore a custom-made perfume from Floris on her wedding day, we do know that it was inspired by the brand’s Bergamotto di Positano perfume, a rich, warm, unisex scent that mixes the citrusy plant with notes of ginger, amber and vanilla to conjure memories of Mediterranean sea breezes.
The supermodel revealed her favourite perfume in a recent interview with the Evening Standard, noting that she “wouldn’t leave the house without scent on.” This spicy, citrus-based fragrance was inspired by the perfumer’s visit to Morocco in 1968, where he was taken by the smells of the orange blossom being knocked off the trees by local women. The bitter orange blossom is combined with Egyptian jasmine and white rose for an intoxicating result. In the interview, Kate also revealed that her other go-tos include Clarins Eau Dynamisante and Nadia Narain Lua.
Victoria Beckham declared herself an ardent fan of Room Service by Vilhelm Parfumerie last year on Instagram stories, calling it “super chic”. Founder Jan Vilhelm is known for creating perfumes based on stories, and for Room Service, he imagined the floral aromas of Greta Garbo’s bath at the Carlyle Hotel in New York in the ’50s. The result is a sumptuous mix of mandarin and blackberries, plus bamboo,violet, black amber, sandalwood with musk base.
The London actress is known for preferring unisex fragrances, and her everyday go-to is Lime Basil & Mandarin by Jo Malone. Bright and sharp, the citrusy blend is reminiscent of Caribbean holidays, combining the peppery notes of basil with the muskiness of aromatic white thyme and a warmth from base notes of amberwood.
The cult of Santal 33 doesn’t look like fading any time soon – it’s famously known as “that perfume you smell everywhere” and as such boasts legions of fans, including London cool-girl Alexa Chung. Known for its unusual blends, Le Labo’s classic unisex perfume is a heady mix of spices and musks. Inspired by the American West and the masculinity of the great American cowboy, this is a sensual blend of cardamom, iris and violet, with spicy, leathery notes.
The Duchess of Cambridge
Clarence House has confirmed that for her wedding day in 2011, the Duchess of Cambridge chose a floral perfume from British perfumer Illuminum. With top notes of bergamot, cassis and lily alongside hints of gardenia, ylang ylang and jasmine, this refreshing and delicate fragrance is certainly a summery pick, with a touch of amber to give it some weight. For everyday, the Duchess wears Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom. The best-selling fragrance features top notes of clementine flower, middle notes of white lilac and water lily with base notes of orris and vetiver.
The model detailed her love for Chanel No. 19 in an essay for British Vogue during the first lockdown, noting that the time at home had pushed her to return to the fragrance, “despite ongoing flirtations with Boy and Gabrielle,” also from Chanel. The bold blend of geranium and iris notes, which was the last fragrance Gabrielle Chanel ever launched or wore and is numbered after the date of her birth, was created at the height of second wave feminism, and to Laura represents “the fragrance of freedom, of optimism, of strength.”
Colonia, the iconic men’s cologne from the famed Italian brand Acqua di Parma is Gemma Arteton’s signature fragrance. Citrus-scented with some floral notes, this pick has a rich, woody patchouli base with top notes of grapefruit, lemon, orange and bergamot, alongside hints of rosemary and cloves. Arterton has previously said, “I love it because it’s really fresh and citrusy, but not sharp or heavy. It reminds me of fresh laundry. People know I love it so much that every Christmas I get gifted the matching candle.”