Welcome to the age of indie fragrance

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Stephanie Mark (left), Jane Larkworthy, Linda G Levy, Katie Becker
Stephanie Mark (left), Jane Larkworthy, Linda G Levy, Katie Becker
Yesterday evening at the Diptyque popup in New York City, Coveteur editors hosted a panel discussion about the role of scent in our current moment. The consensus: when it comes to both personal fragrance and scented home products, this is the age of identity, individualism, and indie fragrance.

The French perfume brand Diptyque is well known in luxury circles for personal fragrance, scented body care, scented candles, and other home fragrance products. While the company got its start in 1961; it was in 1968—fifty years ago—when the first Diptyque personal fragrance appeared.

And that 50 years of fragrance is what the brand is celebrating with its popup shop at 112 Mercer Street in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The venue (open through May 19) is more than a store, more than a place to discover fragrance, it’s an “immersive exhibition,” ​according to the brand’s promotional materials.

The popup features 7 distinct stations (tiny venues within the space) where consumers can learn more about scent, memory, history, and the experience of fragrance. The shop is Insta-ready and the whole experience centers on the concept of fragrance as art; fragrance as a visual art, in fact, as a painting for the mind.

As one bit of wall text at the exhibition explains, “Raw materials are to Diptyque fragrance what pigments are to a painting.”

Talking about smell

The panel event featured Stephanie Mark, Coveteur co-founder, as moderator; beauty writer and industry expert Jane Larkworthy; Linda G Levy, president of The Fragrance Foundation; and Katie Becker, Coveteur’s beauty editor.

Their discussion ranged from first memories of fragrance to industry career paths, from what the digital age means for fragrance through to how fragrance and beauty consumers today are engaging with and wearing fragrance differently than in previous decades.

And an audience Q’n’A had the speakers fielding questions on what goes into the making of a fragrance, the distinctions between natural and safe synthetic notes, and best strategies for scenting a home.

Making it personal

Plenty of beauty brands are busy sorting out the best strategy to make personalized products (colors, formulations, etc.) for their consumers. And, some fragrance brands and individual proprietors are doing this too.

But the panel at Diptyque suggested that with fragrance, consumers are finding their own way to personalize product: turning to indie brands, layering scents to create an original smell, and generally ignoring the conventions of designer fragrance.  

Highlighting the shift to individual identity and how the current culture is influencing consumer fragrance choice, Becker observed: “Everything goes now and [that idea] has never been more celebrated. Because [of social media] everyone has the ability to say ‘I like that’ …That’s what’s happening in fragrance too. You have total permission…”​  

“People want an identity,”​ agrees Levy. “I think what’s really exciting is right now, people really what to know the story, they want to know who created it, they want to know what the ingredients are.”

“There are so many fabulous small brands,”​ says Levy. “I think this is Indie moment in the fragrance industry.”



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.




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