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What Is a Designer Fragrance?

By Kay Paddock
Updated May 22, 2024
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Fashion designers are typically known for their lines of clothing, jewelry and handbags. Some designers also decide to create their own designer perfumes. A designer fragrance is usually a perfume or cologne scent created by a famous designer whose name on the bottle almost guarantees that many will want to try it. Top fashion designers may have one or more types of designer fragrances, such as a scent for men and another for women, or one designed for everyday wear and another meant for a night out. A designer fragrance generally sells for a higher price than what is often called a drugstore fragrance, or a perfume scent without a designer's name attached.

Some top fashion designers have a hands-on approach to creating their perfume scents; others may only approve the scent and allow his or her name to be used as branding to help the product sell. It is also not uncommon for celebrities to create their own perfumes, or at least allow their names to be used on a scent they enjoy. These are not typically called designer perfumes, however. The term most often used for fragrances bearing the names of actors, musicians and sports figures is "celebrity scents," though a celebrity might collaborate with a designer for a perfume's creation.

Another type of scent that may or may not be a designer fragrance is what is known as a "signature scent." This may be a fragrance that someone in the public eye wears often enough that it is reported in fashion and beauty magazines. It is usually a perfume that the person did not have a hand in creating, and that does not bear the celebrity's name. When celebrities commonly wear their own scents, however, they are not typically referred to signature fragrances.

A designer fragrance can be a perfume or a cologne, and is often available in both types with different prices. Perfumes are usually the most highly concentrated scents that contain up to 30% perfume oil. This can help the scent last longer since oil will not usually evaporate from the skin very quickly. Colognes often have less oil, with the highest percentage usually somewhere between 15% and 20%. Eau de Cologne, or eau de toilette, is often the least expensive type of designer fragrance, with only a small fraction — if any — of its content made from perfume oil.

Fake and off-brand types of designer fragrances are usually available with packages, bottles and scents that are very similar to the true designer brands. There will usually be some slight differences that give the imitations away, however. A much smaller price tag is typically one of the biggest signs that a designer fragrance is fake. Likewise, the scent may be similar, but the formula is more likely to be alcohol-based rather than oil-based. Alcohol typically evaporates quickly, and will not usually provide a scent for nearly as long as an oil-based, quality fragrance.

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