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 fragrance fan, often documenting her latest 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.
Yves Saint Laurent has form when it comes to creating signature scents, having been responsible for some of history’s most notorious fragrances throughout the years. For her trademark fragrance, Dua Lipa opts for YSL’s Libre Intense, proclaiming it was going to be her scent “forever” – not surprising, considering she helped to develop it. Launched in 2019, Libre Intense packs a powerful punch, described as being aimed at the woman who likes to “live everything with excess”. Lavender and jasmine blend with Moroccan orange blossom, tonka and vanilla extract to create a smouldering, sensual scent.
When it comes to fragrances, the supermodel likes to keep things classic and revealed that her favourite scent was Dior Diorissimo at the 2018 Fragrance Foundation Awards, telling the interviewer: “I love florals, florals that linger and that’s what lily-of-the-valley does, it lingers all night long.” The romantic perfume was first created in 1956, when Christian Dior referred to it as “the scented expression of his soul”. Lily-of-the-valley – Dior’s lucky flower – sits at the heart of the fragrance, combined with lilac, jasmine and green leaves to evoke the scent of fresh dew on a spring morning in the woods.
Victoria Beckham declared herself an ardent fan of Room Service by Vilhelm Parfumerie 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 violet, black amber, sandalwood with a musky base.
She’s one of the most prodigiously talented artists on the planet, selling over 120 million records. And yet with the world at her feet – including, no doubt, every beauty brand – Adele is unwavering when it comes to her fragrance choice, wearing Dior’s iconic Hypnotic Poison since her mid-teens. Designed to encapsulate a bold, conquering spirit, it’s little wonder this heady, musky scent, with its notes of sambac jasmine, tonka beans and vanilla, is a long-time favourite of the singer-songwriter.
The Princess of Wales
Clarence House has confirmed that for her wedding day in 2011, the Princess of Wales 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 every day, the Princess 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 supermodel has previously revealed her favourite perfume is Serge Lutens Fleurs D’Oranger Eau de Parfum, 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. Kate’s other go-to fragrances include Clarins Eau Dynamisante and Nadia Narain Lua.
The famously enigmatic French star once asked the perfumer Miller Harris to “create a fragrance I can bear to wear.” The result was L’Air de Rien, which literally translates as ‘The Essence of Nothing’. The scent instantly conjures Birkin’s trademark insouciance, and was designed to represent elements that are particularly close to her heart: hints of weary books, dust and loved skin. The result is a playfully androgynous scent, made up of notes of earthy moss, dry vanilla, neroli, patchouli and bourbon.
There’s one thing you’ll always find in Emma Corrin’s bag: a bottle of Aesop Marrakech. The actor revealed that it’s their fragrance of choice due to its famed spicy notes. Inspired by the intoxicating smells and sights of its namesake Moroccan city, the fragrance uses evocative aromas of spices used in local dishes, as well as drawing on the vibrant colours found in its souks and the surrounding desert. Clove and cardamom are combined with sandalwood to create the rich woody, floral fragrance.
Multi-hyphenate Cynthia Erivo has been nominated for an Oscar, twice, and won an Emmy, Grammy and Tony for her show stopping performances. Indeed it was when talking about her revered role as Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha, that she referenced her favourite fragrance Jo Malone Myrrh and Tonka Cologne Intense, explaining that she likened the sweet, smoky scent to her musical heroine. With a top note of lavender, mingling with Omumbiri Myrrh and rounded off with accents of almond and vanilla, the blend exudes warmth and sensuality.
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, a zesty floral blend of bergamot, jasmine and sandalwood. Bergamot is clearly a favourite of Meghan’s — while she wore a custom-made perfume by British fragrance house 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 breeze.
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. Niche New-York based fragrance brand 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 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 model detailed her love for Chanel No. 19 in an essay for British Vogue, “despite ongoing flirtations with Boy and Gabrielle,” also by 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 original cologne from the famed Italian brand Acqua di Parma is Gemma Arteton’s signature fragrance. The timeless fragrance, created in 1916, is a unique blend of Sicilian citrus fruits; lemon, orange and bergamot, alongside aromatic herbs 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.”