What Perfume Are You Wearing? 16 People Who Smell Good Share Their Signature Scent

By Julia Gessler
Collage / Julia Gessler

Asking someone who smells good to pick their favourite scent is like asking a reader to pick their favourite book, an oenophile to choose their most-beloved wine. It’s basically impossible, but sometimes they’ll do it. Here, a bunch of nice-smelling people shared what they continuously spray, dab and roll on. For some, like our creative and fashion director (who lists four eau de parfums), a signature scent isn’t so simple. For everyone, it’s personal.

I can’t leave the house without spraying cologne and I’m the type of guy who is very generous with the sprays. I’m talking, like, 10 sprays, three on either side of my neck, one on each wrist and a few on my hair. The Noir 29 from Le Labo is my current go-to since it’s summer as it’s really fresh and quite light. When I’m going out at night, though, I reach for the Eau de Capitale from Diptyque because it’s more mossy and makes me feel sexy. Both of these scents receive compliments every time I hug someone and if nobody is telling you that you smell good, you need to do better. — Albert Cho, food influencer (Eat Lit Food) and Viva Top 50 restaurant awards judge

I have been wearing Terre d’Hermes by Hermes for the last six years. The cologne is mature, with top notes of orange, heart notes of pepper, and base notes of vetiver and cedarwood. I met a man when I was 18, and we had a beautiful two days together in Sydney. As we hugged goodbye, he whispered, “Please come back”. I will never forget the way he smelt. On the way back to New Zealand, I bought the cologne he was wearing and I haven’t stopped wearing it since. — Rob Tennent, photographer

I’ve always loved Santa Maria Novella products, so when my husband and I were in Florence, Tuscany, for our honeymoon in 2018, I insisted we visit the original Santa Maria Novella Farmaceutica (said to be the oldest pharmacy in the world) near the famous Piazza Santa Maria Novella. I knew I wanted a fragrance but there were just so many to choose from and it was quite overwhelming. The woman behind the fragrance counter instantly handed me Alba di Seoul and told me it was the one for me. I probably tested close to 10 different scents but she was right, that was the one. It’s a green woody scent but so light and vibrant. To me, it smells like yellow (as strange as that sounds), and it instantly takes me back to our Italian holiday every time I wear it. — Lucy Slight, Viva beauty editor

I have worn The Orchid Man for years — I’m not sure how many but a long time at least. I love everything about it — the scent (black pepper, bergamot, jasmine petals, leather accord, patchouli, black amber, oak moss), the bottle, the story behind the scent itself. I really couldn’t imagine wearing anything else. — Juliette Hogan, fashion designer

My current (and that may change in 5-10 minutes) favourite scent is Cactus Azul by Fueguia 1833. The unfamiliar sour note of cactus flower is twisted clean by an undertone of mint, both softened by cedarwood to tell a refreshingly unique olfactive story that continues to keep my nose curious from wear to wear... inspired in Argentina, grown in Uruguay, created by hand without filtration in Italy. — Benny Castles, creative director and designer for World

I keep a lot of different perfumes on hand in our bathroom as I like to wear different scents for different days and moods. I guess I prefer more androgynous notes and if I had to name three favourites, I would have to include Jo Malone Dark Amber and Ginger Lily, which I have been wearing for years. The same goes for Pablo by local Curio Noir. Each Christmas my mother in France sends us something by Roger & Gallet, which is an old-school French fragrance house, in our Christmas package. It reminds me of the smells of my grandparents. Delphine Avril Planqueel, photographer

Byredo’s Gypsy Water is my go-to. I love the smokiness that meets citrus and vanilla it goes well from day to night, which is important for me. Not to mention the chic packaging, which just feels a treat to spritz on and looks good on the bathroom counter, too. — Emma Ogilvie, entrepreneur, Gloria’s, Bar Celeste

I’ve been wearing this for the past 10 years. I tried other scents but always come back to it. It makes me think of church, which I never attended after the age of 6, when we used to go to the Greek Orthodox church for Easter celebrations. The smell of the incense is magical, and I have yet to go to Avignon to experience it there, but for now, this is my scent. — Margi Robertson, fashion designer, NOM*d

So I have a mix of go-to scents that are actually all quite similar and it depends on how I feel on the day. One is something I like to wear during the daytime and it is Abel Odor’s Green Cedar. It’s earthy and includes notes of Texas cedar and wild-harvested Atlas Mountain cedar and smells super fresh and clean, particularly great with a nice cotton T-shirt or shirt. I’ve been layering this with another earthy fragrance, Aesop’s Eidesis which has notes of black pepper, frankincense and sandalwood. There’s something calming about both and super comforting on days when you need something familiar and reassuring to keep you motivated and inspired. Other days I like to use Ingrid Starnes’ Vetyver Bergamot roll-on fragrance which is great underneath my nostrils and behind my ears. Bergamot is a favourite smell of mine and I feel completely at ease wearing this ambiguous scent. For a special occasion or a special event, my wedding fragrance is my ultimate favorite — Tom Ford’s Oud Wood. It’s quite a sexy scent and reminds me of that day every time I wear it. It includes notes of exotic rosewood, cardamom and Chinese pepper and is the sort of statement fragrance Leos like me are smitten for. — Dan Ahwa, Viva creative and fashion director

I have two that I really like — both are subtle; applying too much scent is obnoxious and can be offensive, so I like something that’s nondescript, polite and mixes well with my body odor. I have Comme des Garcons Play Green (not to be confused with its other scent, Amazing Green). It has notes of mint nanah, lime, juniper berry, basil, jasmine, lentisk, Abelmoschus, vetiver and cedar, and is generally my summer daytime scent. For the evening, I wear Frederic Malle’s Dominique Ropion Vetiver Extraordinaire, with top notes of bergamot, bitter orange and pink pepper, heart notes of vetiver, cashmerab, cedar and sandalwood, and a base of oak moss and musk. — Matt Benns, hair stylist

To celebrate the launch of Faradays back in November 2021, I wanted to select a scent that would forever remind me of that first moment of excitement, during such a special time. I chose Loewe’s Aura Pink Magnolia and now, each time I spray it I’m reminded of the sense of joy and pride that I felt on our very first open day. Lately, I’ve been layering it with Woman 001, also by Loewe, which works beautifully over the original scent, adding a layer of freshness and feminine strength. In a way, it feels like a lovely nod to the number of lessons I’ve learned, and the growth I’ve personally experienced on this journey so far. — Constance von Dadelszen, co-founder and creative director of Faradays

If I had to choose a favourite right now it would have to be Aesop’s Hwyl. Hwyl is a scent designed to evoke the smell of a Japanese Hiniko forest. To me, it smells like damp winter wood the morning after it’s been burning. The air is heavy, it’s dark, smoke still billows around you yet the ground is now soggy and wet. It’s an incredibly complex scent and one that contrasts my usual choices of sharp, floral fragrances. — Murray Bevan, founder of Showroom 22

To be honest, I have a hard time choosing a favourite from the Byredo range. I really love them all, but my top pick would be Mojave Ghost. Just the name conjures up a kind of spiritual, wafty, serene feeling. But the scent itself is soft and sensual, with just a touch of musky, pheromoney, catnip-style lustfulness. I can smell it a mile off and have a hard time not leaning into strangers who wear it. You have been warned. — Katey Mandy, founder of Raaie

I picked up Penhaligon’s Halfeti Cedar on a recent trip to London for my sister. I wanted a fragrance to remind me of it. I’d wandered into the shop and spritzed a few samples, forgetting to take note of which one was which. But this! I kept going back to this one, returned the next day, and the shop assistant expertly determined this was Halfeti Cedar. Woody, spicy, cosy, hints of rum and amber, dries down a dream. A dear friend of mine expertly (and generously) also recommended Trudon’s Revolution to me, and despite the initial unsettling smoked ham hit on the nose, it settles down into a smoky, sexy, woody (do you sense a theme?), bold scent, with incense and cedar coming up to the surface. I get compliments every time I wear this and it makes me feel like a warrior goddess with smoke in my hair walking through flames. I also wear Chanel’s Le Lion, which I came across through a sample. There’s something about this one that I can’t stop sniffing; didn’t like it initially, then grew on me, like the best perfumes do. I brazenly pinched Aesop’s Marrakech from my sister a few years back as my standard go-to, and reached for this daily for several years straight. I’ll often layer this with Pūrotu Rose by Curio Noir to punch up the rose and lean into the spicy with black pepper, taking down the sweetness and adding complexity. Still get compliments every time I wear this. — Tanya Barlow, nail technician

I consider scent the invisible final touch of getting dressed to start the day. I wear Green Cedar by Abel Odor, which feels light but is rich with interesting notes. All Abel perfumes are made from natural ingredients, which makes them the perfect complement to my Kowtow pieces. — Marilou Dadat, creative director of Kowtow

My preferences in scent change quite dramatically every few years. My biggest splurge a few years ago was Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae Eau De Toilette Spray, which I only wear on special occasions. I’m partial to the combination of fresh citrus and more grounded woody notes that remind me of Mediterranean sea sides. Recently, I have switched to a perfume that is the polar opposite for everyday wear Dior J’adore eau de parfum is a strategic choice, a reminder that no matter how great something smells to you, it can be equally overpowering to someone else especially when transferred onto clothing. Working with garments daily definitely influenced my current go-to! My scent indulgence now lies in the home, Waxglo’s White Tea & Ginger candle is a strong favourite. — Natasha Ovely, fashion designer, Starving Artists Fund

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