Everyone has a different relationship with fragrance. Some wear the same tried-and-true perfume year-round, while others switch it up depending on the occasion, season, or mood. If you're in the market for a new spring scent—but don't want to stick with the expected light and airy florals—the dark feminine fragrance trend, which leans into woody yet sweet notes, is perfect for you.
"Dark feminine perfume is a total contrarian take on spring, which I love," says Bee Shapiro, founder of fragrance brand Ellis Brooklyn. "This is for the person who makes their own scent rules. Spring doesn't always have to be light and flirty. It can be head-turning and powerful—just think how the earth is going through this amazing, powerful renewal."
- Adama Sesay, astrologer and the High Priestess of Lilith Astrology
- Bee Shapiro, beauty columnist for The New York Times and founder of the sustainable fragrance brand Ellis Brooklyn.
- Catherine Selig
- Kristy Engels
- Olivia Jan, Olivia Jan is a senior perfumer at Givaudan, a fragrance company.
- Walter Johnsen
Dark feminine is the opposite of light feminine, and together they create divine feminine energy, explains Adama Sesay, astrologer and author of Black Moon Lilith Rising ($17). Some view the dark feminine as negative, but Sesay says it's just the opposite, as it encourages us to embrace a more well-rounded view of femininity.
"Dark feminine is the untamed and uncontrollable aspect of femininity that has been repressed or marginalized," says Sesay. Celebrating it "promotes healing and understanding of the raw wild nature of femininity. Femininity is not just about being light, airy, beautiful, and submissive, or never getting angry and never having trauma. It's deeper and darker than that. And that's what the dark feminine can show us. Everyone has the dark feminine within them."
Dark femininity is trending on TikTok, with many exploring the idea through perfume. Spritzing on dark yet sweet scents can help anyone tap into their dark feminine side.
"Fragrance, like fashion, expresses who you are in an incredibly memorable invisible way," says Shapiro. "It's the aura that surrounds you, affecting moods and impressions. That's why I love changing fragrances not only for the seasons but for my own personal mood. Because fragrance is invisible and doesn't have some visual ideal to attain, it truly is a category where you can be anyone you want to be. There are no physical limitations. Personally, I have discovered new sides to myself via fragrance."
"Dark femininity turns heads and grabs attention," says Jan. "When it comes to thinking about dark femininity in fragrance, it has to carry the same evocation—dark woods, like patchouli and oud wood, for their intensity and diffusion that are surrounded by a touch of sweetness to give them feminine curves. Spices and incense enhance the mysterious and almost dangerous impression of the dark feminine. If we talk about flowers, it would be a tuberose, dark rose, or even a dark orchid."
Dark feminine scents also allow the wearer to tap into their sexual side.
"Until probably the women's liberation movement in the last century, women embracing their sexuality and embracing that side of themselves was demonized," says Sesay. "And that is part of the dark feminine is to embrace your raw sexual power. So when you're wearing a fragrance that really embodies that and you really smell the sensuality, you are really tapping into what has been repressed for eons."
All dark feminine scents have that woody base. Then the sweetness is introduced in two ways: through florals or vanilla. Shop both options below
Floral dark feminine perfumes
“Eilish No. 2 creates an aura around you that lasts all day. This fragrance has superpowers and resonates like a melody in the air,” says perfumer Catherine Selig who created the perfume. As a dark feminine fragrance, “this special scent will embrace all sides of your personality, power, mystery, and what makes you so unique.”
Both Jan and Selig recommend this scent from Carolina Herrara. “It embraces the dark feminine aspect; the daring and the intense woods combine with some sweetness,” says Jan. Selig adds that it has “powerful woody amber notes contrasting with its crispy freshness to create an immediate diffusion that trails behind the wearer.”
“This fragrance is classified as an amber woody fragrance and was inspired by the majestic heritage of the past meeting the vibrant modern culture of the Middle East today,” says explains Walter Johnsen, vice president of product development at InterParfum, who created the fragrance. “The idea was to create a precious, luxury aroma that transcends time, suffuses memories and dreams with its rich, smoky warmth, creating a scent that passes gently from one generation to the next, like a noble family’s prized jewels and timepieces. In this fragrance, we literally searched the world to find the most exceptional ingredients, such as wild orchid, embellishing its bold elegance with classic white jasmine petals, luminous orange blossom, and a sumptuous amber woody dry down by adding sensual woods and the smoky depth of oud.”
Rose is at the forefront of this perfume that Sesay says helps her embody dark feminine energy. “It’s not a light, bright, airy fragrance—it’s very dark,” she says. It features Italian bergamot, Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine, and Madagascar vanilla.
“Portrait of a Lady mixes dark rose with spices, incense, and patchouli,” says Jan. “It embodies a darker femininity, unapologetic and confident, generous and intense.”
Vanilla dark feminine perfumes
“This category is all about intrigue but also boldness,” says Shapiro. “I love a mixture of sophisticated sweetness in there too. I think of our Bee Eau de Parfum, which is honey, vanilla, cacao, cinnamon, and bran. It’s also a touch boozy, which also goes well in this category.”
This scent is from actor Michelle Pfeiffer’s perfume line, Henry Rose. “Dark is Night has the brightness of green grass and freesia but the warmth of vetiver, vanilla, and patchouli to give you a confident, sultry vibe,” says Kristy Engels, vice president of marketing at Henry Rose.
“Seductive Noir is a celebration of sensuality with its combination of bright, spicy, and edible notes, such as sage, bergamot, peony, iris, jasmine sambac, and lily-of-the-valley, coupled with vanilla and Haitian vetiver, wrapped with an addictive velvety texture,” says Johnsen. “This fragrance is a sexy scent that embodies the unique magnetism and playfully captivating style synonymous with the Guess brand.”
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