Fine fragrance trends 2023: water inspired scents are evolving

Fine Fragrance Trends 2023

New fragrance launches are awash with watery inspiration

Roz Wicks

Fragrances inspired by the oceans, rivers, lakes and seas are nothing new, (Davidoff Cool Water anyone), but we have started seeing a new generation of water inspired scents appear on the fragrance scene, and this category is going from one of my least favourite to a recent ‘Boots moment’ where I ‘may’ have slightly overused a tester of the new Hugo Boss Pacific.

Sorry. Not sorry.

I bought a bottle too. BF was pleased. But he can’t understand how it’s going down so quickly though as it’s on his side of the perfume door in the fridge (yes perfumes are in the fridge in my house. IYKYK). I can’t explain the liquid loss. Probably evaporation. 

But.. back to the trends and the new launches. I cheated for this article and instead of writing a long piece, I thought I would share some excerpts from my quarterly Fine Fragrance Trends Reports as these have mapped the evolution of the category since their launch by popular demand last year.

So, I hope you enjoy some snapshots.

Shores, cloudy skies & raindrops (first published in Q2 2022 Report)

For many years men’s fragrances dominated the ‘water’ inspired category. Aromatic fresh scents of peppermint and lavender mingled with oakmoss in the iconic Davidoff Cool Water, for the fresh out of the shower, fresh out of the sea scent; a summery theme that offered a lot of freshness plus watery and crispy accords highlighting the masculine woody base.

To a great degree that formula still exists – it’s a much loved category and fragrance in general is as much about evolution as revolution in trend terms.

The base of these ‘blue’ fragrances settles down to be more ambery and woody than fresh these days, and pine, patchouli, cardamom and herbal notes are making an appearance, alongside brighter mineral-solar accords and some more exotic twists – especially coconut – are refreshing the scene.

Green lilac leaves, lotus (a trend note to watch), salty florals and floral aquatics are the direction for new fragrances for women and in genderless scents such as the new Replica When the Rain Stops –  where rose essence and bergamot meet pine needle oil, capturing that ‘freshest of moments’ in nature.

Blue Horizon (published in Q3 2022 Report)

As 2022 moved on it was time for the next new influx of water inspiration…

Summer. The time for all things water inspired; a zen style of fragrances and bright essences, capturing zesty citrus notes floating on the breeze.

It was the thirst for exotic and far flung vacation adventures that inspired the fresh and salty sun kissed skin of the OG marine scents. The previous report helped to map and track aquatic notes that contrasts with amber accords and woody facets enhanced by a strong presence of mineral tones.

Now we see lively citrus’s – with mandarin and grapefruit, soft musks, more rain inspired notes, palm leaves and more woody drydowns – easing us into water notes as wellbeing scents.

Healing Waters (published in Q1 2023 Report)

And moving onto 2023…

Wellness is certainly a key word as a trend driver in scents – across all fragrance product sectors. The global lifestyle influence has exerted a growing influence on fragrance development, and this is showing up in a category that was well overdue for an overhaul; water inspired fragrances.

Looking back – it was 20/21 when we really started to see a new influx of ‘waters’ that were softer – with ingredients like lilac, marines that were fruit and coconut infused and generally a new approach to clean and fresh – especially as the pandemic years demanded scents that were infused with a ‘comfort’ approach.

Now, 2023 will bring the restorative power of water, its natural wild beauty and its fresh, pure energy to the centre stage.

Cali-cool blues – and the Pacific will be an inspiration, but linked intrinsically to wellbeing (think detox smoothies and surf time) and whilst we will see more mineral notes (and still salty notes), the detox and zen characteristics of the trend will bring ‘green’ waters with fig being a standout note, alongside green tea and a more ‘splash’ infused type of coconut.

Finishing up for now – we are already shaping up with some new water themed launches this summer – especially in niche – which will be out in the next Report.. but thanks for reading this far. Any questions about the Reports just email me at: 

I’m just off to check the Hugo Boss Pacific ‘evaporation’ issue. Shhhh.

All reports available for purchase online, with immediate download via the below link.

The Fine Fragrance Trend Stories Reports track trends in Men’s, Women’s and Genderless scents, exploring new influential macrotrends, breaking down key ingredients and themes with a look to how these concepts and fragrance notes will be evolving the fragrance scene of the future.

For a category deep dive into fine fragrances and perfumes, with new trend driving products, and future fragrance focused predictions, get in touch and ask for a bespoke project proposal.

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