The 5 Best Indie Fragrances for Warmer Weather
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This story is part of our Summer Preview, a collection of features, guides and reviews to help you navigate warmer months ahead.
The fragrance industry is dominated by big-name, steep-priced labels and fast-fashion, low-grade eau de toilettes. But somewhere between those poles, a roster of indie-label perfumers is creating the most inspired, long-lasting scents.
In the tradition of bucking tradition, these indie darlings are also upending the standards of summer scentmaking. Gone are the parameters of crisp, fresh, floral notes. Summer has more dimensions than that, and these imaginative minds are using notes of bois (rather, woods), spices, tobacco, and patchouli to stretch summer’s potential well past September. They last from sunrise to solstice sundown, and from one season to the next—endless, high-concentrated summer, and at an accessible price.
Maison Louis Marie No. 04 Bois de Balincourt
Belgian perfumer Marie du Petit Thouars carries a torch lit by her ancestor, the explorer and botanist Louis Marie Aubert du Petit Thouars. Maison Louis Marie makes candles, fragrances, and home scents all centered on botanical, floral notes. This perfume oil is among her best potions, combining woody and spicy notes, with a broody, magnetic pull. Dab it onto your pulse points, wave your arms in the air, and watch the suitors flock.
Key notes: Sandalwood, cedarwood, nutmeg, cinnamon
Coqui Coqui Tabaco
Yucatan-based Coqui Coqui embodies world-class hospitality: Together its boutique hotels, home-good stores, tea shops, and perfumeries create a multi-dimensional brand — one you’ll be proud to rep with its lineup of minimal-ingredient scents. The cult favorite is Tabaco, built around that single smoky note. It’s as relaxed as your long summer nights and as warm as the nostalgia it quickly procures.
Key note: Tobacco
For each of its fragrances, Sweden-based 19-69 finds cultural influence across space and time. But it’s the Marrakesh-inspired Kasbah, a reimagination of the 60s and 70s party scene there, that pulls the greatest olfactive focus. Here’s the visual: Veruschka, Mick Jagger and Yves Saint Laurent mingle and move among other jet-setting party guests. Who among us doesn’t want to wear such a scene-stealing scent?
Key notes: White honey, amber, sandalwood, sweet orange
Mexican-born perfumer Carlos Huber is both an architect and storyteller with his scents: Each note is carefully chosen to bottle a vivid moment in time. His latest release, Misfit, is his greatest perennial parfum to date: It’s built around patchouli, a note that was representative of high taste in 18th- and 19th-century Scotland and France. It spent the next century as an outcast, worn by countercultures and courtesans, but in Misfit it finds balance between regal and rebel. That’s a recipe for success, in summer and beyond.
Key notes: Patchouli, French lavender, amber, balsam
Claus Porto Le Parfum
If you value quality and design alike, then welcome to the cult of Portugal-based skincare brand Claus Porto. Their soaps, lotions, and shave goods are easy to devour, but only if you can bring yourself to unwrap the picture-perfect packaging. This limited-edition Eau de Parfum is no exception: A celebration of Claus Porto’s 130-year history, the hand-engraved bottle tells you which of the 1887 units you possess. Each of them transports you to the crisp, tree-lined Douro River in Porto, granting you a perfect Portuguese summer any day of the year.
Key notes: Bergamot, green figs, cedarwood, frankincense
A version of this story originally appeared in a print issue of Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today.
By declaring these 25 ‘the best’, we’re narrowing that hunt down to a handful of universally adored fragrances. We’ve even sorted them by season, if you prefer warmer notes in winter, compared to crisp, fresh ones when the sun shines bright. Read the Story