Best of the Best: The Top Fragrances of the Big Perfume Houses

Best of the Best: The Top Fragrances of the Big Perfume Houses

Best of the Best: The Top Fragrances of the Big Perfume Houses

Let’s find out what Pillar Fragrance is, what a flanker is, the difference between the two, and which flagship fragrances keep the big Houses’ perfume legacy afloat.


Pillar Fragrance is the staple fragrance on which a brand’s well-being rests. It is best recognized by customers, the largest budgets are invested in its support, and it brings in the lion’s share of profits. Each brand has its own brand, which has a “face”, a legend, a philosophy. This is the fragrance to which bath lines and auxiliary products will be produced. It is to it that flankers will be produced.

A flanker is a continuation of the perfume history, fragrances released in support (and development) of the main perfume. This includes all kinds of ‘eau’, ‘sport’, ‘chic’, ‘blossom’, ‘extrait’ and so on. For example, Bleu de Chanel is the main fragrance, and Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum and Bleu de Chanel Parfum are flankers to it. More often than not, the “face” of the flanker remains the same, as was the case with Gaspard Ullième. But variations are also possible: for example, the face of the Givenchy Irrésistible fragrance was Liv Tyler, then came the Live Irrésistible line, which Amanda Seyfried was assigned to represent. In 2017, the brand began to collaborate with French actress Lou de Laage.

Let’s remember the major fragrances of the big Houses.


Dior has three major women’s fragrance staples: Miss Dior, J’adore and Joy. The first one is the tribute to the House couture heritage and an ode to love, the second one is timeless elegance and femininity. The third is luxury and happiness.
Miss Dior was first launched in 1947 and revived again in 2005 through the Miss Dior Cherie launch. Since 2010, the face of the fragrance is actress Natalie Portman.
J’ador, a composition based on white flowers and fruits, is represented by Charlize Theron. Since the launch in 1999, about 20 flankers came out. Some of them are still available today, some were released in limited editions.

La Vie Est Belle, Lancôme.

  • Composition: sweet, with notes of patchouli, praline, iris, tonka bean, jasmine and fleur d’orange.
  • Face: Julia Roberts
  • Legend: A fragrance that brings happiness and affirms: life is beautiful.
  • Perfumers: Olivier Polge, Dominique Ropion, Anne Flippo.
  • The bottle: if you look at it from the front, you can see the curve, reminiscent of the lips curved in a smile. It is an implicit reminder of the smile of Julia Roberts, the irreplaceable ambassadress of La Vie Est Belle.
  • Year of production: 2012
  • Number of flankers: 17 (including limited editions).
  • Latest release: La Vie Est Belle Lady Pink Limited Edition.
  • The composition remains unchanged and the bottle is decorated with the pink letters of Lady Pink, the first graffiti artist.

Si, Armani.

  • Composition: based on the recognizable note of black currant leaves and nectar, vanilla, patchouli
  • Face: Cate Blanchett
  • Legend: a fragrance that reveals a woman’s inner freedom – and the courage to say “Yes” to new opportunities, feelings and discoveries.
  • Perfumer: Christine Nagel.
  • The bottle is modernist and initially powdery. The lid recalls the infinity symbol.
  • Year of manufacture: 2013
  • Number of flankers: 13
  • Last version: Sì Passione.
  • Black currant nectar mixed with pear juice, flavored with pink pepper. The floral heart opens with notes of fresh roses, heliotrope and absolute jasmine. Cedar and vanilla notes help to hold this riot. For the latest version Sì Passione bottle was covered with bright red lacquer from the inside and the neck was decorated with a golden ring, a symbol of eternity. Julie Masse worked on the bottle.

La Petite Robe Noire, Guerlain

  • Composition: fruity, gourmand and oriental. The main chord is the signature “herlinade,” which features iris root, vanilla from the Comoros, citrus, ylang, rose, and jasmine.
  • The face: a sketch by the duo of Parisian artists Küntzel and Degas, the cartoon character is a little black dress. With the release of each new flanker, the dress transforms: it acquires lantern sleeves and a belt, it is decorated with feathers, it becomes long, floor-length, or gets a kosukha jacket.
  • Legend: a family of fragrances that can form a full perfume closet.
  • Perfumer: Dolphin Jelk. She subsequently worked on the flankers with Thierry Vasseur, or Thierry, Guerlain’s in-house “nose,” worked on them himself.
  • The bottle: topped with a heart cap. Inspired by the Guerlain archival crystal bottle invented by Raymond Guerlain, a descendant of the House founder, and Georges Chevalier, the Baccarat designer.
  • Year of manufacture: 2009
  • Number of flankers: 25 (including limited editions).
  • Latest release: Black Perfecto by La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Toilette Florale.
  • The fragrance is dedicated to the biker jacket and reveals unexpected facets of Grasse rose-sentifolia with notes of leather, black tea, almond and black musk.
  • “It takes 3,000 kilograms of rose petals to produce 1 kilogram of ether by steam distillation,” recalls the House, which is reverent about its perfume raw materials.

Mon Guerlain, Guerlain

  • Its composition is deep, powerful and feminine. It contains citrus fruits, jasmine, Australian sandalwood and vanilla. An important note is lavender Carla, emphasizing the purity and freshness of the composition, continuing the traditions of Guerlain House. Lavender is an iconic ingredient for the House, found in fragrances from Jicky (1889) to the perfumed versions of Mon Guerlain in 2017-18.
  • The face: Angelina Jolie
  • Legend: A fragrance you can make your own olfactory signature. The embodiment of female strength and beauty.
  • Perfumers: Thierry Vasser and Delphine Jelk
  • The bottle: a quadrilogue from Guerlain’s historical heritage, 1908. The lid is decorated with a carving reminiscent of a four-leaf clover. The neck is decorated with a ribbon, which changes depending on the release.
  • Number of flankers: 3 (including limited editions).
  • The latest version: Mon Guerlain EDT.
  • A citrus oriental eau de toilette with a more energetic and fresh sound thanks to the notes of mandarin, bergamot and pear. Heart notes include neroli and sambac jasmine petals. The base is an alliance of iris, Australian sandalwood and sensual vanilla.

L’Interdit, Givenchy

  • Composition: double – white floral bouquet with notes of orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, shaded by dusky vetiver and patchouli.
  • Face: Rooney Mara
  • Legend: An invitation to push the boundaries of what is possible, to experience forbidden feelings. A reminder that true boundaries are often within, and courage is the key to freedom.
  • Perfumers: Dominique Ropion, Ann Flippo, Fanny Ball.
  • The bottle: A tribute to the original bottle from 1957. It is strict, embodying soft power (rounded rectangle shape). The bottle has a double bottom to emphasize the duality of the fragrance.
  • Year of release: 2018.
  • Number of flankers: 0
  • Latest version: actually, the fragrance itself opens a new perfume page of the brand, which began back in 1957, when Hubert de Givenchy created the perfume of the same name for Audrey Hepburn.

Opium, YSL.

  • Composition: the original composition of 1977 was oriental floral and included velveteen (“black bristles”), mandarin, jasmine, clove, vanilla, patchouli, wood and spices. In 2009 it was transformed – bergamot, citrus, jasmine, rose, spiced with clove stars, vanilla, amber and patchouli.
  • Faces: In different years, top models have been entrusted with presenting the fragrance: Jerry Hall (1977), Linda Evangelista (in the ’80s and 1995), Nastassia Urbano (1992), Kate Moss (1994 and 2003), Natalia Semanova (1999), Sophie Dahl (2000), Mariacarla Boscono (2006), Malgosse Bele (2007-2008), Karen Elson (2009), Melanie Thierry (2010), Edie Campbell (2014), Zoe Kravitz (since July 2018).
  • Legend: a fragrance designed to break the rules
  • Perfumer: Jean Ami, Jean-Louis Susac, Alberto Morillas and Honorine Blanc, Nathalie Lorson, Marie Salamagne have worked on versions of the fragrance over the years
  • The bottle: the shape of the bottle was originally created by Yves Saint Laurent, inspired by the Japanese lacquer inro box for potions. Such boxes were once worn suspended from the waist. The modern bottle symbolizes the contrast between shadow and light. It is now covered with glitter, toned or metallized.
  • Year of issue: 1977
  • Number of flankers: 44.
  • The latest version: Black Opium Eau de Toilette.
  • It sparkles with notes of lemon, pear, white flowers, coffee and patchouli.

Good Girl, Carolina Herrera

  • Composition: dainty, with notes of jasmine and tuberose as well as roasted tonka bean and cocoa.
  • Face: Karlie Kloss.
  • Legend: The scent of a modern, incredibly confident woman who doesn’t have to conform to anyone’s expectations and be a goody-goody.
  • Perfumer: Louise Turner.
  • The bottle: a fetishistic shoe with an extremely high stiletto heel. It was designed to achieve a wow effect. Even those who doubt the aesthetic value of the bottle agree that it is masterfully made. The atomizer is skillfully built into the “back” of the shoe. The intricate atomization system was developed over four years, arranging six hundred-plus tests.
  • Year of manufacture: 2016
  • Number of flankers: 5
  • Last Version: Good Girl Velvet Fatale
  • Praline, cocoa, chocolate, tonka bean, almond, vanilla and coffee – and somewhere in the background white flowers. Gourmet, dainty union.

Chanel #5

  • Composition: aldehydes, jasmine, rose. Overall, it was the first fragrance that did not repeat the sound of any flower, but was abstract.
  • Face: in different years the faces of the fragrance were Brad Pitt and female legends – Coco Chanel herself, Marilyn Monroe, Carla Bruni, Gisele Bündchen, Audrey Tautou.
  • Legend: timeless abstract fragrance, which every girl can make “her own” Chanel #5.
  • Perfumer: Ernest Beaux. Jacques Polge worked on modern versions.
  • The shape of the bottle was inspired by the Place Vendôme, which Coco Chanel saw from her window in the Ritz. The bottle was slightly transformed to reflect the changing times, but remains largely unchanged.
  • Year of manufacture: 1921
  • Number of flankers: 12
  • Last version: #5 Red Edition

Gabrielle, Chanel

  • Composition: a fountain of white flowers- ylang, jasmine, tuberose, orange blossom- combined with musks, notes of creamy sandalwood, mandarin bitterness, grapefruit acidity
  • Face: Kristen Stewart
  • Legend: the light that comes from within and helps to break stereotypes.
  • Perfumer: Olivier Polge.
  • The bottle: Sophie Legastelois, head of Chanel’s packaging department, explains that special technologies were used – the result is ultra-light glass with enhanced ability to reflect light. The tube of the atomizer is made so that it remains invisible. The bottle is not just placed in a box, but nests in a special cardboard box.
  • Year of manufacture: 2017
  • Number of flankers: 0
  • Latest version: the same as the first