It’s the Summer of Sweet Fragrance

DS&Durga Pistachio perfume in a bowl of pistachio ice cream

Think back to your early years playing around with perfume and the scents you were most likely to spritz on. For many fragrance fans, the gateway drug to their obsession smelled good enough to eat, like Britney Spears’s literal cupcake Fantasy, Bath and Body Works’ Warm Vanilla Sugar, or a cotton candy body splash from the drugstore.

If that sounds a lot like you, you’re probably a gourmand fan—attracted to anything sweet, warm, rich and enticing. Gourmands are one of the most popular and well-known fragrance genres across the board, but after out collective Santal 33 era, the gourmand has been experiencing an exciting renaissance that is definitely worth a whiff.

What Is a Gourmand Fragrance, Anyway?

Gourmands are exactly what they sound like: fragrances you want to eat, or a scent reminiscent of your favorite sweet treats. Gourmands are typically formulated with notes like vanilla, coffee and caramel, giving them an inviting, craveable aroma.


The History of the Gormand

Gourmands never really go away; while the perfume pendulum swings dramatically toward prismatic aquatics or laundry fresh shampoo florals one season and to Santal 33 and its bevy of knockoffs the next, sweet scents have a fan base that won’t quit—and for good reason. Vanilla has always been that girl, starting with the walloping warmth of the legendary Guerlain Shalimar and evolving into the ‘90s drugstore mainstay Vanilla Fields and the intoxicating Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford, just to name a few.

For much of the late 2000s and 2010s, celebrity-forward gourmands were de riguer, like the aforementioned Fantasy and its bejeweled hot pink bottle. These mega successful, mega sweet scents, of course, have Mugler’s beyond iconic Angel to thank. Legend has it that perfumer Olivier Cresp, the nose behind the scent, basically threw in the sweetest notes he could think of, including cotton candy, caramel and chocolate, and combined it with a massive dose of patchouli. It was extremely daring at the time and stood out amidst the CK Ones and L’Eau d’Isseys of the era, leading the way for bombastic foodie frags like Viktor&Rolf’s Flowerbomb, the junior high fave Pink Sugar and Prada’s sticky sweet Candy.

Prada Candy perfume and Jello molds

The Next Generation of Gourmands

There will always be a place for a candy coated fragrance, but the gourmand family is growing in a surprising way. It started with the cherries—and the crystal. Tom Ford’s Lost Cherry and Maison Francis Kurkdijan Baccarat Rouge 540 quickly became the dominating fragrance trends of the early 2020s (thanks to TikTok), sparking a fleet of similar scents. Whereas Lost Cherry is all syrupy maraschino cherry with a boozy twist, Baccarat Rouge 540 manages to feel both edible and abstract thanks to its saffron and ambergris notes, which give the scent an airy, almost ozonic quality—like eating expensive vanilla ice cream in the ocean.

These major fragrance success stories took what we thought we knew about the gourmand and flipped it on its head, and some of the most popular perfume houses are putting their own twist on the delicious genre. It’s dessert, but different—more experimental, more encompassing and more fun.

Some of the next gen gourmands take inspiration from the heavy sillage scents of the past and freshen them up, encouraging the wearer to lighten up and enjoy the ride. “I’ve always believed that fragrance reflects the times and the mood of the old school gourmands was the power suiting ‘80s with the shoulder pads and big hair,” says Bee Shapiro, founder of Ellis Brooklyn, a fragrance line known for its warm and inviting—but not cloying—scents like Vanilla Milk and the aptly named Sweet. “Today’s gourmand is more lighthearted and flirtier. It’s an antidote to the current times which have been pretty unpredictable and crazy. It’s perfume escapism.”

For Ellis Brooklyn, the future of the gourmand is right in your refrigerator. (Well, sort of.) “I think we’ll continue this airy take on gourmands but also utilize other food reference ingredients,” Shapiro shares. “For example, there is new scent ingredient development in cherry and pear in the last couple of years. It’s going to be technology driven in what is new and different in the perfumer’s palette.” This may explain the burst in popularity of cherry and pistachio-forward fragrances.

Kayali Pistachio Gelato perfume in ice cream

Mona Kattan, founder of Kayali, is “addicted” to gourmands, building her fragrance line on the glory of the genre with a bevy of scents landing firmly in the “edible” category. “We have vanilla or tonka in every single fragrance we’ve launched and always will,” says Kattan. The brand even has its own exclusive accord of tonka, musk and vanilla, which is included in every scent.

Kattan believes that the resurgence of gourmands is all about a craving for nostalgia. “I think the reason why gourmands are picking up is because people love the memory of having dessert with people. It’s so nostalgic and very happy,” she explains. “When people would be like, ‘When was your happiest moment?’ It’s always around food, and that’s why I think the gourmand fragrance family is on fire. People want that nostalgia.” Kayali’s latest launch, Yum Pistachio Gelato 33, was inspired by Kattan’s favorite dessert and was actually formulated by Olivier Cresp, the creator of Angel.

Regardless of how it’s used, from spicy and dark to light and fanciful, vanilla is a note that’s here to stay. “I’ve always loved vanilla more than any note. Vanilla is very comforting—it’s such an easy, gentle, comforting, sweet note, more than any other gourmand note,” Kattan shares, adding that she foresees an explosion of vanilla-centric scents on the horizon with more space for perfumers to innovate and experiment with the beloved genre.

The gourmand of today may smell quite a bit different from the bakery blends of your youth, but that’s a good thing! For a whiff of where the gourmand is going, try these twists on the sweet scent.

If you can’t give up your smoky, woody Santal-inspired scents:

DS & Durga Pistachio

DS & Durga Pistachio perfume
DS & Durga Pistachio $190.00

DS & Durga, known for their experimental, enigmatic lineup of fragrances inspired by everything from rainbows to pasta water, launched Pistachio as a one-time-only drop, but it was so beloved by the lucky few who snagged a bottle and so lusted after by those who missed out that they brought it back for good. Pistachio isn’t a sweet treat, but rather a green gourmand wallop of patchouli, cardamom, lots of pistachio and a hint of vanilla.

Nette Thé Vanille

Nette Thè Vanille Eau de Parfum
Nette Thè Vanille Eau de Parfum $120.00

Nette’s vanilla has a spicy side thanks to cardamom, pink pepper and a cozy matcha tea note, elevating the vanilla from warm and cozy to luxe and enigmatic.

If you want to smell like expensive dessert:

Kayali Yum Pistachio Gelato 33

Kayali Yum Pistachio Gelato 33 EDP Intense
Kayali Yum Pistachio Gelato 33 EDP Intense $138.00

It’s even better than ice cream. Kayali’s take on pistachio is dessert-inspired with cotton candy and whipped cream at the top and anchored with rich notes of rum, but it’s not going to give you a toothache. Roasted hazelnut grounds the scent, white peony adds a hint of floral airiness and opening notes of fresh, bright bergamot are an unexpected “pop” that makes Yum Pistachio Gelato 33 stand out from other creamy, dreamy scents.

Dior Vanilla Diorama

Dior Vanilla Diorama fragrance
Dior Vanilla Diorama $125.00

Inspired by one of Christian Dior’s favorite desserts, Vanilla Diorama is a lush, enveloping vanilla scent tempered by rum and patchouli. If luxury is your middle name, look to one of the preeminent French fashion and fragrance houses and indulge yourself.

For a fragrance that feels like rich, luxe silk on skin:

Commodity Milk

Commodity Milk perfume
Commodity Milk $135.00

Glossier You fans, meet your new signature scent. Iso E Super is a popular ingredient often used to impart a warm, velvety texture in fragrance, blends elements of the gourmand with the skin scent for a musky, cozy, sexy combo.

Ellis Brooklyn Vanilla Milk

Ellis Brooklyn Vanilla Milk perfume
Ellis Brooklyn Vanilla Milk Eau de Parfum $108.00

Vanilla Milk is like the most perfect featherlight cashmere sweater ever, and meant to transform on your skin. Bourbon vanilla, milk and a touch of creamy florals makes it the ultimate Sunday morning cuddle buddy.


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