Britney Spears launching her debut perfume, Curious, in 2004Getty Images
It’s not only our sartorial choices that are being directly influenced by nostalgia for the Nineties and Noughties – the decades when consumption was slower and fashions brasher; it’s making its mark on our olfactive associations, too, with popular perfumes from the decades trending once more.
According to various beauty retailers, searches and sales are spiking for iconic fragrances synonymous with those times.
“Sales of some of the Noughties’ most popular fragrances are on the rise as people embrace everything that the Nineties and early Noughties had to offer,” says Jonny Webber from PerfumeDirect.com, “from the iconic scents created by Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez (that officially kicked off the celebrity fragrance trend) to the late Thierry Mugler’s Alien which has gained increased notoriety this year thanks to TikTok.”
For fragrance to follow fashion (yes, we’ve officially welcomed back Uggs and low-rise jeans) makes sense, given the strong link between smell and memory. “After all, fragrance has the power to instantly transport us back to a moment in time,” Webber says, “evoking memories and giving us the feel-good factor that a lot of people are craving right now”. Plus, for those millennials and above, it may be a gentler re-entry to the era’s mood than wearing a belly chain or diving into the Ganni x Juicy Couture collection, with its velour tracksuits originally championed by the likes of Paris Hilton.
That said, it’s likely many people who are currently consuming these Nineties and Noughties fragrances are those who didn’t experience them the first-time around. Webber notes that the TikTok generation discovering some of these cult classics are “giving them a whole new lease of life in 2022”.
“Many of the most popular fragrances from this decade really epitomise the fun, carefree and opulence of the era – from celebrity scents, fashion brands-turned-perfumers and sweet, playful fruity fragrances that take us back to a more innocent time.” A time pre-social media; imagine.
LookFantastic too confirmed that its shoppers are on the hunt for these types of scents. Speaking to Bazaar, the retailer revealed that demand for Mugler Alien on the site has increased by 25 per cent this year as the Nineties revival continues and the Noughties trend explodes. We’d fathom that the sad passing of the designer is also related to the increase. As with the music industry, when someone influential in the fashion – and by extension fragrance – world dies, sales of their products as posthumous tributes can occur, and Mugler’s Angel and Alien perfumes which were innovative at launch are deemed iconic now.
Mugler isn’t the only designer fragrance brand on the up at LookFantastic, though. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique (originally called JPGaultier Eau de Parfum when it launched in 1993) has seen a five per cent increase in searches.
Surpassing this is JLo Glow, the hugely popular 2002 launch, for which searches on LookFantastic have grown by 15 per cent.
This corresponds to Google’s searches at large for ‘90s fragrances’ (up by 96 per cent over the past month) and ‘Y2K perfumes’ (up by 100 per cent since this February).
Another classic comeback is Clinique’s Happy, which for us sums up 2022’s desire for looking back to snatch some optimism for the future. Clinique tells us that versus January this year, sales in March saw a huge 51 per cent uplift. The beauty brand’s best-selling women’s fragrance – an uplifting fruity-floral – bears the tagline: ‘Wear it and be happy’. No wonder it’s the new, while old, tonic for our times.
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