Perfume is nearly as old as civilization itself, a luxury found among many an ancient tribe. It has evolved into a billion-dollar industry, with certain scents tied to famous figures or specific eras.
There’s a science of scent, with a complex system to characterize each perfume, a system that owes something to music (floral notes) and something to taxonomy (the aquatic family).
Little wonder that many fragrance names are simply botanicals or other names borrowed from the natural world. Yet for every Bluebell, Iris, or Cool Water, there’s an intriguing name with a story to tell.
Of course, no matter how much you love Poison, it isn’t an option for your child – though Yves or Laurent might be. Britney and Paris have their signature scents, but their names don’t make you think of perfume.
Most of these are better suited for a daughter. If you’re determined to find an unexpected option for a son, there’s always Creed. Before he was a character on The Office and a rock band, Creed was – and still is – a storied perfume house established in London in the 1700s.
Here are some of the best choices from the world of fragrance:
Caron – The French perfumer first opened shop in 1904 by Ernest Daltroff, with former dressmaker Felicie Vanpouille designing inventive bottles and packaging. Few of their fragrance names would wear well, but the company name might.
Fifi – Not a scent, but the fragrance industry’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Jicky – Either a nickname for Jacques Guerlain, or possibly the name of a girl who broke the heart of another Guerlain. Launched in 1889, Jicky is one of the first unisex fragrances in the modern era, and remains in production a dozen decades later.
Samsara – An exotic sound with the friendly nickname Sam, Guerlain named their 1989 fragrance after a Hindu and Buddhist term to describe the circle of life.
Septieme – Sonia Rykiel named one of her scents Septieme Sens – seventh sense.
Tabe – Half-Iranian, half-Finnish socialite Tabe Slioor had a signature fragrance named after her in the 1960s.