Feel-good fragrances

The continued growth in perfume sales can be explained when you consider our sense of smell is the primary trigger for good memories and that a pleasant scent is a great source of comfort in times of stress. So as we move into a new season, what fragrances are consumers looking for?

Current and new trends

In 2020, the key pillars of global trends in perfumery are individuality, sustainability and a connection with nature. According to the global company Eurofragance (www.euro-fragance.com), the desire for authenticity and sensory pleasures will determine new fragrances and formulas. 

In women’s fragrances, South African guru Liz Ferrett sees a major focus on floral notes, especially rose, although in general white flowers dominate and sensual, feminine scents like jasmine, lily, orange blossom, tuberose, frangipani and gardenia will be much in demand.

Woody scents are favoured by men, while oud, an exotic Middle Eastern ingredient, is trending strongly and has become a favourite of sophisticated male and female consumers. 

Since the 1994 launch of CK One, regarded as the first unisex fragrance, the popularity of scents not intended specifically for men or women – also called genderless fragrances – has been increasing. 

The demand for them is particularly strong among male consumers, who are looking for luxurious classic fragrances and buying from exclusive luxury collections such as those of Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani and Creed. Brands are now steering clear of describing notes as either masculine or feminine and many male fragrances – especially in the Middle East and Africa – include rose, pomegranate, violet or other floral notes. But women, too, do not hesitate to wear fragrances containing such traditional ‘male’ notes as sandalwood, oud, tobacco and leather. 

Following on from the genderless trend, more and more perfume brands are starting to formulate and sell customised fragrances. This is attributed to today’s consumers wanting to express their individual personalities through their perfume and preferring scents with unique personal appeal.

Generation Z’s obsession with diversity is seen in the increasing number of bespoke collections that allow the consumer to choose their fragrance depending on the season, time of day or their mood. ‘Layering’, where the consumer personally chooses a combination of notes to create a unique and personal scent, is also growing in popularity. Applying more than one fragrance simultaneously is very much in vogue.

Commenting on the trends in ingredients, Liz observes that oud is popular in South Africa, as is ginger, while vetiver is making a huge comeback. Originally used in fragrances for men, it was recently introduced in perfumes for women, lending them an earthy quality reminiscent of freshly cut grass. Pungent spices like cumin, caraway and cardamom are also in demand for genderless scents. “In addition, I’m seeing iris and violet leaf being used again,” says Liz. “Spring and summer will bring citrus and marine notes to uplift us in hot weather.”

According to Eurofragance, there is a strong trend that combines the natural and the sustainable in perfumery. “Ecological, chemical-free ingredients and sustainable formulations are the basis on which cosmetic innovation is currently based. Fragrance houses are developing very strong global programmes in sustainability.” Like Millennials, Generation Z identifies with brands that promote sustainability by, for example, reducing emissions during the production process, using recyclable packaging and employing ‘greener’ formulas. Today’s consumers want not only natural ingredients to be included in their perfumes, but other factors that can harm the environment – like pollution and toxic synthetic ingredients – to be reduced.

Fragrances beyond Covid-19 

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has stopped the world’s manufacturers and consumers in their tracks, stimulating a serious rethink about consumerism and materialism. Intriguingly, almost every brand confirms that people are still buying perfume and lots of it. “We have seen our online sales increase between 150% and 200%, depending on the market,” says Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street perfumes. Liz Ferrett suggests that the feel-good factor plays a role. She foresees that consumers will return to familiar classics, as they will shop online rather than visit stores. “I don’t think consumers will change their focus on newness,” she says, “but things will slow down. Most brands have moved their planned launches to late in 2020 and in 2021, there will be a big focus on digital platforms.”

“Our sense of smell triggers good memories and a
pleasant scent is a  great source of comfort in times of stress”

From plant to cosmetic

Humans have always had a connection with plants, using them to nourish, scent and soothe their skin. Plants utilise chemical compounds to combat predators and parasites, and it is this biochemical arsenal that provides humans with remedies for ailments and sources of well-being.

Chanel botanist Marc Jeanson explains, “All plants may be seen as factories that absorb carbon dioxide while producing the molecules that have shaped our civilisations.” The house of Chanel draws on nature for the raw materials of its skincare products and has four plant supply chains – open-sky laboratories where plants are cultivated, observed and experimented upon – in Madagascar, France (in the southern Alps and in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south-west) and Costa Rica. Since 2008, white camellias – Mademoiselle Chanel’s favourite flower – have been blooming in south-western France, where Chanel extracts their hydrating properties. The plants are grown directly in the soil by eco-friendly methods that make no use of chemical products.

Chanel researcher Nicola Fuzzati analyses plant molecules for active ingredients to use in the company’s skincare products. “The open-sky laboratories are research centres, precious for skincare science,” he says. “Each one contains species that represent the raw materials with which we create our active ingredients.”


Berdoues Collection Grands Crus is the new French kid on the block in South Africa (exclusively at Foschini). Each fragrance in the collection evokes the sense of an exotic destination; the latest, Guaria Morada, represents Costa Rica and combines sweet floral with juicy fruity notes. 

Hermes des Merveilles L’Ombre des Merveilles EdP is a woody, oriental fragrance that combines tonka bean and incense with black tea.

Kenzo Poppy Bouquet is the new incarnation of the popular Kenzo Flower. This latest interpretation has notes of Bulgarian rose, jasmine and gardenia with a base note of almond wood.

Armani Si Passione Intense EdP has juicy, powdery floral notes with woods and fruits.

Mont Blanc Signature is a sensuous mix of vanilla with contrasting musk and is classified as floral-oriental-musky. 

Karl LagerFeld Paris 21 Rue Saint-Guillaume EdP, a chypre-floral with gardenia, jasmine, rose, musk, patchouli and sandalwood, evokes a romantic and happy mood.

Acqua di Parma Colonia Futura has beautiful classical notes of citrus, pink pepper, clary sage, lavender and vetiver.

Jean Paul Gaultier So Scandal! EdP has a bright floral-fruity scent with tuberose, jasmine sambac, orange blossom, raspberry and milk.

Carolina Herrera Good Girl Supreme EdP is an
oriental-floral perfume with
forest berries, jasmine, tonka bean and vetiver.

Givenchy L’Interdit EdP is an intense oriental-floral-woody fragrance with white floral, orange blossom, woods, vetiver, patchouli and vanilla bean. 

Irresistible Givenchy has opening notes of pear and ambrette followed by rose and powdery iris, anchored in blond wood and musk.

Dior Private Collection Rouge Trafalgar is a juicy chypre-fruity fragrance with blackcurrant, raspberry, cherry, strawberry, musk and patchouli.

Rose d’Isparta (from the Boucheron collection for women and men) is a warm, spicy floral with incense, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, hawthorn and rose.

Coach Dreams, inspired by the adventure of a road trip across America, opens with notes of bitter orange and juicy pear and reveals a heart of gardenia and cactus flower. 


Acqua di Gio Profondo EdP is an enigmatic take on a classic earthy-woody fougère that includes mineral notes rosemary, cypress, lavender and patchouli.

Paco Rabanne I Million Parfum is a smooth, leathery fragrance with notes of pine, cashmeran, salt, tuberose and ambergris.

Karl Lagerfeld new york Mercer Street is a bright, cheerful woody-spicy aromatic with citrus, white pepper, basil, rhubarb, aromatic spices, woods and musk.

Yves Saint Laurent Y EdP is an energetic, spicy aromatic with juniper, ginger, sage, bergamot, pear and orange blossom.

Armani Code Absolu Gold (exclusive to Truworths) is a warm and sensual oriental-
woody fragrance with notes of saffron, tonka bean, iris, cedar and green apple.

Givenchy Gentleman
Boisee EdP
is a polished, spicy-woody fragrance with iris, cocoa pod, sandalwood, patchouli and black pepper.


Vaadhoo has a blend of spices, florals, vetiver, patchouli and oud that makes it aromatic and spicy. 

Armani PrivÉ Cuir Zerzura is a mesmerising leathery fragrance with notes of floral, violet leaf, vanilla and cedar.