When browsing for a new fragrance, you often see the bottle before you smell the perfume. They are a tantalizing bit of advertising, designed to both catch your attention and try to convey the tone of the perfume they hold. Some do this better than others, and when it is done right, the bottle designs can become as classic as the fragrances themselves. As someone who loves the artistry that goes into bottle design almost as much as I love perfumes, I have created a list of fragrances which are reflected in the unique and dynamic designs of the bottles. The bottles on this list aren’t just eye-catching, but also contain some extraordinary scents. Come on, I wouldn’t lead you astray!
We start with one of the easiest perfumes to help customers find in store because they describe it the same- ‘that one that’s shaped like a shoe.’ The Carolina Herrera brand covers everything fashion, from ready-to-wear clothing to make-up, but her stiletto-shaped Good Girl perfume is perhaps their most widely known item. While almost all of Herrera’s perfume bottles are uniquely shaped and the fragrances well-developed, Good Girl is a favourite of mine and many others. This may be in part to the fact that it is a very well-developed and layered fragrance, with over 20 fragrance notes. Top notes of almond and coffee with lemon and bergamot, then a floral wave from the middle notes of jasmine sambac, rose and tuberose with a woody note of orris root. The base notes of this fragrance are the most layered, containing over half of the notes of the fragrance; the main features are strong scents of cacao, tonka bean and vanilla, as well as cinnamon, cedar and sandalwood, and touches of amber, patchouli and praline. It can be hard to parse out what a fragrance smells like with such varied and numerous notes, but I will tell you that on my skin this fragrance is sweet and feminine, strong on the gourmand notes of tonka bean, cacao and vanilla, deepened with bitter coffee and powdery almond. The warmer wood notes of the base and florals of the mid-notes are lighter, but add depth and interest to keep the fragrance from becoming sickly or ordinary. It is a feminine fragrance, reflected by the shape of its bottle.
For another memorable bottle, there are the cutesy bottles from Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers range. There is a massive range of these perfumes for men and women, but the two we stock are part of the ‘Pop Electric’ line that are delightfully light and feminine with, of course, eye-catching bottles. Pop Electric G is the sweeter fragrance, with top notes of sweet and light whipped cream and nutty coconut, floral notes in the middle, and light base notes of woods and musk for an added depth. Pop Electric Baby has similar notes, but with added vanilla and a stronger focus on the floral and musk notes. Both bottles are white, cartoonish figures dipped in shining chrome, which are actually the lids of the perfume- the pedestals that they stand on are the actual fragrance bottle. Sure, they might be a bit over-the-top in terms of lid size, but they sure are cute, just like the fragrances. Both perfumes are soft and subtle, creating a gentle scent that is not overpowering but still pretty enough to become a signature scent.
For a classic bottle and scent, there is Thierry Mugler’s Alien. Everyone knows Alien, and everyone knows Mugler, but it deserves its place on this list for its fascinating smell and eye-catching bottle. As the name Alien suggests, this fragrance has an other-worldly and solar element that makes it unique; warm and deep, with a touch of mystery. Despite its interesting scent, the notes of this perfume are deceptively simple- top notes of sunny jasmine sambac, middle notes of cashmeran wood, and a finishing base note of white amber. This is a direct and intoxicating fragrance of warm woody florals, conveying solar beauty and femininity. As the name suggests, this bottle was designed to be other-worldly; a talisman of deep amethyst-purple with gold highlights, cut with hard, jewel-like angles for a mystical touch. This bottle is also refillable, with over three-and-a-half thousand bottles reused around the world every day; otherworldly, and also eco-conscious.
While ladies fragrances often have more dynamic designs, there is still plenty of fun to be had with men’s fragrance bottles. To start our list of men’s fragrances, there is Paco Rabanne’s Invictus, which like Alien is justifiably well-known. Paco Rabanne’s 2013 classic is a light citrus-marine scent, famous for its all-around wearability. The deeper base notes of guaiac wood, oakmoss, and patchouli are a light base for the stronger middle notes of jasmine and herby bay leaf, and the stronger again top notes of grapefruit, mandarin and ocean notes. This is a great year-round, anytime fragrance for someone after something light wear and durable. The bottle is shaped like a trophy, capless with silver handles for an easy to use and aesthetic bottle. This regal bottle seems almost in contrast with its light scent, but it has connections- ‘Invictus’ is Latin for invincible, tying its everyday aroma to its unbreakable longevity and popularity.
For something a bit more provocative, Le Beau’s bottle is an immediate eye-catcher, that’s for sure. This is common for most of Jean Paul Gaultier’s bottles; a majority of their bottles are shaped after male and female torsos in bright colours with almost garish details. Le Beau is no exception: a male torso crafted of angular muscles with a deep green-blue colour and a provocatively placed gold fig leaf that evokes Adam from Eden. This is a bottle that was designed to stir conversation and controversy. Like Alien, Le Beau is also an interesting fragrance with surprisingly simple notes. With a light top-note of fresh bergamot and strong middle and base notes of sweet and nutty coconut wood and roasted tonka bean, this fragrance is sweet and fresh with a touch of powder. It’s a more acquired taste, with tropical hints and woody-tonka sweetness, but both fragrance and bottle are head turners.
For an anatomical and eye-catching bottle without the gold-leaf cheekiness, there is the fist-shaped vessel of Diesel’s Spirit of the Brave. The entire Brave range from Diesel has a fist-shaped bottle, but Spirit of the Brave’s black with gold detailing of a lion’s face makes this bottle particularly striking. This is an aromatic and woody fragrance with a slight fresh-spicy undertone. The top note of citrus-fresh bergamot is one of the strongest notes, with the lighter bitter-green note of Galbanum. The middle notes are particularly fragrant, with firwood and cypress notes creating the fresh and woody tones of this perfume. Slightly sweet tonka beans with lighter notes of leathery, ambery labdanum flower make up the base notes. For all of the wood and tonka bean tones, this is a delightfully light perfume, with interesting depth notes from the tonka bean and labdanum that adds to the freshness of this fragrance. This is a fragrance that is perfect for everyday wear, and the fun bottle only adds.
Fun and interesting bottles are a great way to draw attention and entice you to try a fragrance, but at the end of the day, it is how the fragrance smells that makes it a keeper. This is not a complete list of funky bottle fragrances, but rather a shortlist of those that I think the smell reflects the design of the bottles. There are a great many funky bottle fragrances out there, including on our website, for you to explore.
Written by Miranda