500 Greatest Modern Perfumes

The best perfumes launched between 2000 and 2015

Basenotes celebrates its 15th Birthday in September 2015. Over those years we've seen lots of perfumes come, and (sadly) lots of perfumes go.

We've compiled a list of the 500 greatest fragrance launched in the time we've been around – modern classics if you like.

Some of the perfumes are made by international corporations, and some by an indie perfumer in their back-room. Some sell by the bucketload, and some are no longer available. Some would cost you hundreds of dollars, others you could pick up for less then $10.

They are ranked from 500 to 1, but please don't get hung up on the order. All of these perfumes deserve a sniff if you have the chance. They tell the story of the perfume industry over the last fifteen years, and each are important in their own way — which is why we're revealing the list one fragrance at a time, in roughly hourly intervals. The full list will be revealed in full on 25th September 2015.

So who compiled this list? You did!

How the list was compiled

Firstly we took all of the fragrances in our database that were launched between 2000 and the present. (Although Basenotes didn't launch until September, we counted all fragrances launched that year).

We then took into account:

  • star ratings (from wardrobes)
  • number of members who own the fragrance (from wardrobes)
  • number of people that want the fragrance (from wish lists)
  • number of people that wear the fragrance (from the Scent of the Day feature)
  • ratio of positive vs negative reviews (from reviews)
  • page views (over the last 6 months)

Let us know your comments

Let us know what you think of the list so far, and what you think might (or *should*) be included, in the comments thread here



Pell Wall Perfumes (2012)

The unmistakable scent of Artemisia absinthium is captured so well in this one and this note continues for a couple of hours on me.

One of the joys of summer in the garden is brushing past members of this family and tweaking the odd leaf, but this must be one of the nicest - fresh, dry, silvery, even arid green.

Here, the driest herb is joined by a deep green citrus then softened a little - maybe a hint of freesia.

The later stages remain dry but softened by a slightly peppered sandalwood.

A lovely scent to wear when the leaves are no more and probably a refreshing contrast to the heavy scents of the summer garden!
Review by lpp

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Britney Spears (2005)

This is so girly, but I love it! I first got this about 5 years ago as a teenager, when I wanted to start buying my own perfumes and feeling more grown up. This was one of my first purchases and I adored it, but eventually forgot about it and the bottle disappeared.

A few months ago, an exchange student came to live with us from Mexico, and she always smelled delightful. I asked her what she was wearing, because it was so familiar, and it was Fantasy. Smelling it now reminds me of her and of when I was still at school, and it's a great fun perfume that I wear whenever I'm feeling lazy or girly or in the mood for something really sweet, mostly when I'm just sitting around at home.

On my skin, I don't really get any particular notes. I just get a creamy, slightly fruity but warm gourmand scent that's quite sweet, probably due to the white chocolate. The more I wear it, the more I can begin to make out hints of lychee or kiwi, but nothing distinctive. One of my aunts loves this too as her 'lazy day' perfume, and she's 35, so I don't really think this scent has an age. Instead, I think it's more about how you feel on the inside and what you want this perfume to make you feel.
Review by ynde

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Neela Vermeire (2011)

Genre: Woody Oriental

Trayee is a fascinating scent: a kind of Indian dessert with a subtle overlay of pot. It's like eating cardamom-and-saffron rice pudding while your brother-in-law enjoys his bong in the next room. The cardamom, saffron, and vanilla far outlast the cannabis note, giving way in turn to a drydown of vanillic amber, incense, creamy sandalwood, and leathery notes. I detect none of the listed oudh or oakmoss.

Trayee is a complex scent, yet subtle, a gourmand, yet not overly sweet. I enjoy it and recommend that fans of creamy vanillic fragrances give it a try.
Way Off Scenter
Review by Way Off Scenter

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Emporio Armani Diamonds
Giorgio Armani (2007)

I just picked this one up and after some reservations it's really grown on me. It's definitely one of those scents that will wear you if you're not careful. It comes on very strong and dries down nicely to an elegant woodsy fragrance with a fruity twist that lasts forever. It's feminine, but not girlie. There is a bold and timeless quality about it that makes it beautiful, and yet completely out of place with jeans and tees. I wouldn't wear this one casually. Diamonds does, however, make a great statement for a woman looking for a mature scent that's not old or matronly.
Review by tatjana

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Dolce & Gabbana pour Femme (new)
Dolce & Gabbana (2012)

My girlfriend liked the original Dolce & Gabbana fragrance ever since it was released back in 1992, and so did I. We received a sample of the new Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme today so had to try it instantly.

She had tried Flowerbomb (which I just can't stand) only a couple of hours before, so the sweet sting which almost all contemporary fragrances seem to be obliged to bear instantly hit me, and I turned away disgusted - only to return a few minutes later, and with growing interest: I get a strong neroli note with light raspberry, rounded off with a quite sour yet interesting greenish tangerine accent, yet this quickly opens to the heart of orange blossom and jasmine, to quite equal parts I'd say, while the sour-frouty opening note is still there. Add to this only another minute later the emergence of a prominent yet not distracting presence of vanilla and marshmallow (yes indeed, I can spot this clearly and easily!), which in the drydown is complemented and rounded by a smooth and warm sandalwood base.

This could easily be as horrible as the single ingredients sound, sweet and artificial and just another contemporary vanilla-powder-syrup - yet I'm really amazed that at least to me this truly works. I do not at all have the impression of another cheap pink perfume that I feard, but instead of a refined, very well balanced, very well crafted delicate piece of delicate, sweet art of perfumery.

Not a substitute for the beloved 1992 vintage of course, but a highly recommended complement. I look forward to getting to know it further in the coming weeks.
Review by Bertel

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Le Petit Grain
Miller Harris (2008)

According to the Miller Harris sales pitch, Le Petit Grain pays homage to the classic cologne. For about 95% of the time, it's a lavish tribute, a bold eulogy for the traditional and humble cologne. It is only in the last vestiges of my lengthy coupling with LPG that I become just a trifle irked at its naked form. By then it is shorn of accompaniment, and it does feel a little shrill and demanding.

However, there is a great deal of pleasure to be derived from Le Petit Grain, and it is doing it more justice to focus on the very charming form that it adopts from the very moment it bedecks my skin. The sharp falsetto citrus feels clean, bracing and precise - and yet it still appears three dimensional.It is the subsequent conjoining of divergent orange notes that provide a bitter cable for this twisted citric flex. It is a presence that is discerned in all that is good from here on in.

The sheer hutzpah and luminosity of the early development reminds me of Chanel's Pour Monsieur, and although it is no fragrant synonym, it is an indication of the company it is keeping. For all its potency and obvious use of quality ingredients, there remains a simplicity about LPG that ensures that the comparison with a venerable cologne can indeed be made. It takes a good hour before the background herbal elements can be properly detected, and even with that glorius citrus flex twisting through it, it adds a necessary roughness to the previously faultless sheen.

It is rare to find a citrus fragrance having so much horsepower and stamina, and it continues to evolve, twist,and give until the very end.

That it does finally run out of dancing partners in the last hour or so, is more of an observation than a criticism. More creations like this please Ms Harris.
Review by Bartlebooth

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L'Heure de Nuit
Guerlain (2012)

I am going to get the ball rolling. This is a sheerer, more modern L'Heure Bleue. Powdery and marshmellowy and a bit musky and very nice, and also still quite recognizable as a version of LHB. The daughter has less bite in the carnation, while still giving that same twilit, reflective vibe of the mother. If you love the original, chances are you will love this. However, be warned, the converse is also true. All and all a big ole thumbs up, and possibly the best single scent of 2012. Happy 100th Birthday Mme. Bleue!
Review by Fleurine

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Les Parfums de Rosine (2011)

An unexpected delight – gorgeous citric notes with a herbaceous zing that buzz like mayflies around a pure sweet rose. It feels completely natural and unforced. Good tenacity for something this fresh, and depth and evolution, too. Ends in a sweeter zone as it must but the fir and vetiver in the base maintain strength and direction. Tremendous confidence to this one; can't for the life of me see why it's targeted at men alone.
Review by gimmegreen

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Eau d'Épices
Tauer (2010)

Eau d'Épices begins with the eponymous spices. Cardamom, cumin, pepper, cinnamon and goodness knows what else fly into the air, as if leaping out of a basket that's just been thrown at the sun. They descend onto a landscape that's part terracotta, part summer orchard, where the pungency of orange blossom competes with the resinous waft of incense. There's a hint of dryness in the air, a sense of crackling heat. And then things become really impressive. Three different forces engage in a tug-of-war - ambery wood, frankincense and indolic floral - but instead of cancelling each other out, they all manage to make their presence felt with clarity and insane longevity. Those of us who've played around with pipettes and essential oils will appreciate that this feat is nothing short of astonishing.

Whether or not you'll actually like it is another matter. I'd be lying if I said I fell in love with it straight away. There's a particular note hovering around the floral section - a vaguely synthetic, green citrus - that I found difficult to ignore, although it's much less pronounced on paper than on skin. By no means did it spoil the entire experience, but it did distract from the other, more pleasurable elements. Having said that, the fragrance yielded several compliments from those caught in its sillage, with comments ranging from, "It smells like amazingly fresh air," to "It smells like walking into a warm house on a freezing cold day." In other words: sniff before you buy! Personally, I haven't yet been able to shower Eau D'Épices with total adoration, but there is no doubt that it's a worthy addition to the Tauer line and that it commands all my respect.
Review by Persolaise

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Gucci Eau de Parfum II
Gucci (2003)

This is a summer favourite of mine. On looking at the notes alone it would be far too sweet for me, and it is rater sweet, but it's not cloying, maybe because of the fresh top notes. It is one of my husband's favourites on me, he can't get enough of it, and I suppose that's a good thing. On me, the violet is the star of the show, and also the note that lingers the longest. It has very good staying power and it doesn't get in everyone's face as it stays quite close to the wearer's skin.
Review by trikkirikki

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Anat Fritz
Anat Fritz (2006)

Anat Fritz (original) opens on skin with a fresh breeze of aromatic wild lavender that soon joins a very sharp natural cedar and raw grassy vetiver in the heart to create the dominant overall accord that runs through its relatively linear development. The heart accord is dirtied slightly by the deft use of patchouli in the base coupling with just the faintest hint of relatively dry sandalwood, never calling attention to itself. Projection is quite strong and longevity is near equally outstanding.

After being completely wowed by the new Anat Fritz release, Tzora, I had to get my hands on a sample of this original release from the Anat Fritz house bearing her namesake (composed by Anat herself). Anat Fritz (original) has been pretty thoroughly either ignored (count myself a guilty party) or maligned by reviewers since its release years ago, but now having sampled it I am quite disappointed in myself for not giving this a sniff a lot earlier as it is a perfect fit for my preferences. I am 100% certain that to my nose the original version is masterpiece caliber stuff and unlike Tzora that is so skillfully restrained and remaining well in the mainstream, Anat Fritz (original) is rough, earthy, aromatic, powerful and distinctive. Both scents are near equally appealing but in polar opposite ways. I award extra points for Anat utilizing the lavender here (a note I generally dislike) in a way that it complements the sharp cedar perfectly by focusing on its aromatic qualities and spurning its powdery facets frequently featured by most. If I had one small gripe it would be that the only bottle available is a splash bottle. I guess in the grand scheme of things that is pretty unimportant, but it should at least be mentioned... The long and the short of it is Anat Fritz (original) is an outstanding "masculine" leaning release that will appeal to cedar,lavender and vetiver lovers who want to make a strong statement, earning an extremely strong "masterpiece" rating of 5 stars out of 5.

*Please note that the original version of the scent (that is reviewed here) has been re-worked in June 2012. The new version tones down the lavender focus, making the scent a more balanced earthy composition (source is Anat Fritz herself). I have not sniffed the new version as yet so I can only pass on how Anat describes it. Also of note: It appears pre-reworked bottles of Anat Fritz (original) are still on the market before inventory at certain locations switches over to the re-worked version (as I purchased my bottle in December 2012 at the sole US distributor and it was the pre-rework version still).

Edit 7/19/13: I have now tried the re-worked version of Anat Fritz called "Classical," and it does indeed tone down the aromatic lavender just as Anat indicated when I first wrote the review. That said, I don't really get more of an earthy feel to the re-worked fragrance, but rather more of a focus on the natural smelling cedar. The overall composition comes off as a bit more polished, but still keeps a lot of the untamed nature that I loved so much in the original formula the review is based on. I guess the most important question is does this re-work improve on the original? My feeling is it depends on what you are looking for... If you want an absolute rugged and wild edge to your compositions then the original is going to most likely appeal more to you... If you want a *bit* more refinement and less aromatics then the re-work should be more to your tastes. The main aspects of the original composition are still very much in-tact with the rework, and I personally love both efforts equally.
Review by drseid

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Bronze Goddess Eau Fraîche Skinscent
Estée Lauder (2008)

Although it's not listed, l get a huge cedar note in the opening. ls the sandalwood in this Australian? lf so, that might explain it, or perhaps it's the vetiver. No matter, l'm loving the woodiness of this more & more each time l wear it, & l never used to be much into woody scents. lt seems as though the note pyramid in this fragrance is upside-down, as it begins with depth & warmth, & slowly gets brighter as it dries down.
The bergamot makes an appearance, but the citrus notes are not detectable on my skin. The coconut is not obvious, but there is just enough of it to suggest suntan-lotion, aided by a creamy tiare note. lt settles very close to the skin, & after around 20 minutes l'm definitely getting the hot skin & sandy beach vibe that others have mentioned, along with a wierdly good lavender note.
lt only lasts 2-3 hours on me, but l totally love this fragrance. Not because it's perfect for the beach, but because it's perfect for reminding me of the beach on a not-so-sunny day at home. l found it especially comforting recently after returning from a beach holiday to find grey skies & rain! l would say it's easily unisex, too.
Review by teardrop

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Fuel For Life pour Homme
Diesel (2007)

I did not like the female version of this fragrance in the slightest, so I was actually interested to see whether or not this fragrance would once again disappoint me.

Well, Diesel Fuel for Life Homme, is better than the female version. Five million times better.

I couldn't believe what I was smelling. This fragrance is deliciously seductive and masculine.

It opens with a subtle hint of grapefruit and rich, sweet, licoricey anise. It's like a more woodsy, more masculine version of Lolita Lempicka, just minus the vanilla.

I'll agree with the previous reviewers that state that this fragrance can be worn by either sex. I'm a very girly-girl and I'm really enjoying gender-bending this fragrance.

The deep woodsy aspect blended with the almost tart raspberry, anise, spicy notes and heliotrope, gives this fragrance an earthy-like finish, very unique and distinguishable.

Diesel Fuel for Life Homme, smells sexy on a man and daring on a woman. The lasting strength is fantastic and the sillage rather strong. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming if over-applied.

It's a pity that I hadn't discovered this fragrance until now. I have missed out on many a chance to douse past boyfriends in this wonderful scent.
Review by blood-orange

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L'Homme Idéal Eau de Toilette
Guerlain (2014)

Is L'Homme Ideal a bold and daring presentation from the house of Guerlain? No. But it's a nice fragrance. L'Homme creates a cherry-almond effect that is sweet and immediately reminds me of the fall and winter holidays. Smooth and polished, it's less obnoxious than other popular sweet fragrances such as 1 Million, Fuel for Life, or Spicebomb. The main accord, which smells like a combination of cherry tobacco and marzipan is charming, and in my opinion, different enough from what's typically available on the market. As L'Homme develops, lavender emerges and it moves in the direction of a heavy tonka bean base. There's not much more to it than that. Like it's predecessor, Homme, I find L'Homme Ideal succeeds in smelling modern and appealing to a broad audience, while maintaining enough of a distinct character to separate it from the pack. I haven't smelled anything quite like it and it has the polished touches of a skilled perfumer that set it a notch above the rest. Sillage is very good and longevity about average. Check this one out if you're looking for an easy-to-wear, relatively sweet scent for the cooler months. Avoid it if you dislike gourmands and tonka beans, or demand something edgier from Guerlain.

Thumbs up.
Review by Buysblind

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Dior Homme Sport (2012)
Christian Dior (2012)

A must-have masterpiece unfairly described as a sport fragrance when it should have taken central place in the Dior Homme fragrance line. In comparison, the current Dior Homme and its other flankers feel like "night" or "black" fragrances.

This is a game-changing modern take on citrus and woods, with the Dior homme line's signature iris note quietly waving at you in the middle notes. The whole effect is brightened by ginger. Iin the base there is a light and transluscent sweetness to make DHS ever-so-wearable without losing its masculine backbone. Ambergris often has this effect, though base notes are seldom detailed for this fragrance.

In any case, the basenotes in this fragrance demonstrate Dior's outstanding quality and attention to detail. No cheap "day-after" finish, just beautiful high quality notes all the way until they are completely dissipated.

I spray this one liberally because it can be subtle. 8 sprays will give you an amazing first hour that will have everyone in your family giving you compliments. There is little danger of offending those around you in my experience, so why not have a bit of fun with this one? 8 sprays will also give you a nice subtle fragrance cloud when the basenotes are left to do all the work.

Review by NickZee

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Bond No. 9 (2014)

Queens smells to me like a butterscotch hard candy, but topped with berries and made fizzy with aldehydes. It dries down to a patchouli-laced pink pepper base, but the butterscotch candy lasts from start to finish.

It's important to note that Queens, while sweet and reminiscent of candy, really doesn't feel like a gourmand. The hints of toasted almonds and vanilla are equally matched by sandalwood and a patchouli that's more grass than caramel, so it achieves a nice balance that manages to smell sweet without smelling dumb.

Personally speaking, I prefer my ambers dark and smoky, but this might be great for someone raised on One Million and candy perfumes, but on the lookout for something a step up.
Review by rogalal

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Lavande 44
Rania J (2012)

Ah, sometimes niche can still hide nice surprises... Lavande 44 by Rania J., which is a brand I did not know until today, is in fact surprisingly good. Even great. A fantastic, solid opening of lavender and patchouli, tasty and earthy, simple yet unique, with a dense and almost gourmand woody-cocoa base (both sides of patchouli), a thin frame of vanilla, and a musky, almost animalic heart – although I don't think there are actually materials or renditions traditionally associated to animalic notes, except perhaps some musk; it's more a feel I get overall, perhaps from how some notes are processed (for example tonka, not sweet at all here, more on the dry-woody, almost sour-musky side). So basically, a sort of dry chypre with a lavender-patchouli twist. The overall smell is great, elegant, versatile, fascinating, powerful. The lavender note is treated with intelligence and respect: you can smell the material is good, but Lavande 44 goes further, managing to enhance its earthy-dark side. I love when noses try to work on less usual sides of materials. Actually I think the "animalic" heart I was referring above is precisely due to the encounter of all notes' "dark sides", from lavender, to patchouli, to tonka and so on, which create this sort of dark breeze floating all around. After a while the vetiver note emerges more clearly, and the fragrance becomes slowly more dry and woody, while the lavender tones down. The vetiver here is good as well: earthy, humid, tasty and salty as it should be. On the drydown, the final twist to a smoky, woody patchouli-vetiver accord: pleasant, bold and long-lasting. Lovely mix between nature and mystery, the notes smell "organic" but enhanced with a sophisticated, slightly decadent dark elegance. Great to wear and intriguing to explore.

Colin Maillard
Review by Colin Maillard

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Éclat d'Arpège
Lanvin (2002)

This is a light fresh floral fragrance. The opening has a floral/ citrus scent but that (thankfully) doesn't last long. The citrus fades and floral notes remain. The floral notes are airy and soft and blend together nicely (reminds me of the soft smell of a flower garden after the rain). After 30 minutes or so, notes of peony and green tea stand out. The green tea is light and inoffensive (sometimes I can't detect it at all). Sometimes I can smell a faint peach note before the base notes kick in. This is my favorite part of this fragrance...It smells so nice when the amber, cedar, and musk pull through the light floral notes...It is a classy fragrance that I choose time and time again.
Review by xXjEnNyXx

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Palas Atena
Ayala Moriel (2001)

An understatedly gorgeous scent, Palas Atena's cinnamon note is what makes this perfume so intriguing and interesting. If I could compare this cinnamon note to anatomy, it is the psoas muscle, connecting heaven and earth (the upper body to the lower body). The cinnamon pulls the sweet top notes earthward while lifting the earthy patchouli, sandal and amber heavenward. Palas Atena constantly shifts between these realms...heaven and earth...with the cinnamon constantly adjusting to shifts in body chemistry (just as the psoas constantly adjusts to shifts in posture and locomotion). This is also a lasting scent of exceptionally high quality. A "natural perfumer" who makes everything in small batches using natural botanical essences, Ayala Moriel's skill (at crafting perfumes and sourcing ingredients) is on full display with this warm, rich, intriguing floral-oriental. I agree with Purplebird7 that this is almost a chypre: I believe it's the cinnamon that gives it that shimmering, shifting, mysterious quality.
Review by mochi227

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Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Toilette
Chanel (2010)

Where this succeeds with me is it's longevity and sillage. Yes it goes on quite hairsprayey but its base notes are lovely and enduring on me. It is one of those perfumes that you get a lovely occassional waft of after several hours . This is a great choice for the office and IMHO a really good floral.

Review by Celia.D

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