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Fragrance

So, you’re looking for a new vegan—and clean fragrance

Photography by Tracey Creed
Words by Tracey Creed


Published May 17 2022

The scent we choose to wear telecasts something to the world about the way we would like to be perceived. Perhaps the prejudice persists that cruelty-free, natural and organic fragrances are inferior to their mainstream counterparts, but that simply isn’t the case anymore. Animal testing is unnecessary and the clean fragrance market—and choice—continues to grow, so settling on a scent can prove daunting. Before you start your search, we have a list of brands to guide you in selecting a clean, vegan and cruelty-free fragrance. These are brands we have worn and the ones we will be purchasing next.

Elevate your senses.

ABEL ODOR

Founder, Francis Shoemack came to the world of perfumery from winemaking. Without preconceived notions about how the creative process 'should' look and then recognising, you cannot make great wine from poor quality grapes. Intuitively, Shoemack suspected that the same should be said for perfume, especially when you are working with naturals. Abel Odor pours their energies into sourcing each "hero" ingredient for each fragrance. With minimal intervention, scents are balanced, modern and long-lasting. What I love is that you can trial scents as tester kits. Favourites so far—Pink Iris and Green Cedar.

GRANDIFLORA

Owned by Saskia Havekes, Grandiflora began as a florist in Sydney's Potts Point and remains. Queen of the Night was launched in 2016 under a rare pink moon in the historic Roudnitska family garden, in Cabris, France. That's the vibe—a darker nuanced aroma. Created by Grandiflora and Bertrand Duchaufour, Queen of the Night or Selenicereus Grandiflorus takes inspiration from the rare cactus that blooms for one night a year and dies in the dawn. At first, a vibrant floral that settles into a humid evening of must and wood. And I usually like a bit of musk and patchouli in whatever I'm wearing. I fell hard for Grandiflora's Queen of the Night wearing it almost exclusively for months. Grandiflora confirmed via an Instagram D.M. that the brand is 100 per cent vegan.

D.S & DURGA

Brooklyn perfume pioneers, David (D.S.) and Kavi Moltz (Durga) have forged a cult following for their uniquely refined, fantastical fragrances that D.S refers to as armchair travel. Born out of Brooklyn, created in small batches in Brooklyn—all D.S. & Durga formulas are 100 per cent vegan. The boxes, engineered to be foam-free, are made from recyclable paper and their shipping materials are biodegradable. I have purchased candles from Mecca and can confirm the auto scents are one of the best things $20 can buy. Yet to commit to a full-size fragrance but fragrance wise I’m very pro patchouli, so leaning towards Amber Kiso.

LE LABO

Founded in 2006 by Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi, they opened their first store in New York—a fragrance lab open to the public. The numbers in the titles refer to the number of ingredients, drawing attention to what’s in the bottle. The perfume, the scents, it’s your whole identity, and learning about all the ingredients for a formula is sort of like speed dating. And Santal 33, people will literally stop you on the street to ask what you’re wearing. I like the way it made me feel complicated and expensive. Le Labo scents are vegan, PETA accredited and cruelty-free, and have always been so since first created in 2006, due to the founders’ own values.

MALIN + GOETZ

Malin + Goetz does not subscribe to the idea of being a natural brand, and like Aesop, their products involve natural ingredients, chemistry and biochemistry. I purchased Cannabis for my boyfriend. It does not smell like cannabis. It is bold, intoxicating with a lingering smokiness and our bedroom smells of it because I spray it everywhere. That’s actually something I’ve learned about myself—I don’t like notes that are super floral. I like leather and sandalwood. So I am also a huge fan of Malin+Goetz Leather Perfume Oil and wear it almost every day. Malin + Goetz are certified cruelty-free. Founders, Matthew and Andrew are avid advocates for the humane treatment of all animals.

CURIONOIR

Tiffany Jeans of Curionoir creates story-soaked perfumes and candles, her storefront, located on Ponsonby Road, Auckland is how you’d imagine such a place — with heavy velvet drapes, maple wood and brass lined walls. And dark. For the full experience, I recommend stopping in, whenever that is possible next. The 4mI I like to leave around and apply sporadically throughout the day, I have a few and rotate as part of my daily maintenance schedule. The other day a client asked which Curionoir fragrance I was wearing, and what I have come to realise is that it really smells so different on everyone. It mixes with your natural oils and turns into something else. That's your own smell.

VILHELM PARFUMERIE

Based in New York. Founded in 2015 by Jan Vilhelm Ahlgren, a former model-turned-handbag designer, Ahlgren enlisted perfumer Jerome Epinette, who helped Byredo gain cult status to help him develop his own. Each Vilhelm Parfumerie scent has a founding story—an ode to the past, expressed in contemporary olfactory language and artistic approach. The line is named after Jan’s grandfather, and Morning Chess is a tribute to the family patriarch. But the real kicker is Dear Polly, formulated as tribute to Jan's wife. For several months I wore Mango Skin, it’s heavy on exactly what you think it's heavy on—jasmine. It's powerful and refreshingly singular, with a little depth added in thanks to black pepper, wild orris, black lotus, and some patchouli or levity. But only proceed with it if you like mango. As confirmed via email and noted by Mecca, Vilhelm Parfumerie fragrances are vegan and cruelty-free.

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