As soon as a bottle of BYREDO's new Slow Dance perfume arrived in the mail, it was spritzed onto my wrist. I wanted to pick it apart ASAP; the latest in a long line of new 2019 unisex perfumes, I'd written about Slow Dance and was excited to decipher its olfactory mystery — BYREDO described it as the embodiment of a high school slow dance, blending together masculine and feminine. My interest was piqued.
So, I spritzed. Smelled. And... was left at a standstill. The beginning is sweet, instantly reminding me of a high school crush I hadn't thought about in years. Then, it transformed into a bouquet of flowers. Finally, as it settled onto my skin, Slow Dance took a turn; its base mimicking the sort of cologne that'd make you stop and look for the man that just passed you by when walking down the street.
This thoughtful, genderless unraveling is what makes the latest influx of unisex perfumes — or androgynous, as TomboyX calls its new perfume — so fantastic. "Increasingly, brands are realizing that not everyone has an interest in conforming to gendered fragrances that allow for little to no individual exploration," Fran Dunaway, CEO and co-founder of the gender-neutral apparel (and now fragrance) brand TomboyX, tells The Zoe Report over email. "People want a variety of scents to express the full spectrum of who they are and categories confined to just the gender binary simply can’t enable this."
This means rethinking the fragrance norms — including what you may've come to expect from a perfume. "Scent doesn’t live on the binary, yet we’ve come to a place where fragrances are either 'masculine' or 'feminine.' Rather than approach the TomboyX fragrance from a point of gender, we tried to identify scents that felt energizing and unique — the same ways we approach our apparel and other products," Dunaway adds. "Fragrance and apparel are so similar in that we apply them ritualistically and as expressions of our individuality. These ideas were far more important to us than figuring out where on the gender spectrum the fragrance should sit."
And while the history of gender-neutral perfume is set in stone, its future remains delightfully nebulous, thanks to all of the designers who've adapted a genderless mentality. Below, six new unisex perfumes that'll hook you from the very first whiff.
1. BYREDO: Slow Dance
Beguiling and transformative, BYREDO's new shapeshifting Slow Dance perfume will have you sneaking sniffs throughout the day — trust me. It pulls sweeter than the typical unisex perfume, as well; making it a risk-free first step for those wishing to broaden their olfactory horizons without wondering if they smell like they've borrowed someone's cologne.
2. Gucci: Mémoire d’une Odeur
Marketed as a "universal" fragrance, Gucci's Mémoire d’une Odeur was destined for success from the moment it dropped: The packaging is modeled after a vintage Gucci perfume bottle, it somehow balances jasmine with musk, and Harry Styles is the face of the campaign.
3. Malin+Goetz: Leather
This stereotypically masculine scent from Malin+Goetz is soaked with florals — like green violets, orchids, and lotus — transforming it into something more reminiscent of old memories than any gender.
4. TomboyX: TomboyX Fragrance
"Describing the scent is nothing like experiencing it for yourself," Dunaway explains. "That said, we’d describe it as modern and compelling, with uniquely blended woodsy and citrus-y notes heightened by a spicy finish."
5. Louis Vuitton: Les Colognes Louis Vuitton
2019 also marked the first time Louis Vuitton released a unisex fragrance collection. Les Colognes Louis Vuitton, which debuted in April, offers three summery scents — Sun Song, Cactus Garden, and Afternoon Swim.
6. CELINE: Haute Parfumerie
While not out yet — apologies, CELINE devotees — the house's upcoming Haute Parfumerie collection is one to add to your calendar (October, to be a little more exact). It's also a prime example of the unisex perfume trend's stamina; Hedi Slimane's fragrance collection will feature "masculine-feminine" perfumes that are equally powdery.