Perfume has come a long way since the days when essential oils, scented resins, aromatic woods and incense were burned during sacred practices in ancient times.
During the eighteenth century fragrance took on an entirely different meaning. As cities became crowded, polluted and unsanitary it was used to mask underlying smells of unwashed bodies. By the twentieth century fashion designers unveiled their own scents like Chanel No 5, which was an instant success.
The challenge for each of these designers has always been in executing a fragrance that accurately expresses the essence of the brand in all its aspects.
These fragrances offer more than an exceptional olfactory experience – they are brilliant and innovative works of art that are crafted from the finest materials and precious stones. Formulated using the rarest ingredients on the planet and housed within stunning crystal bottles, step inside the world of luxury perfumery.
Country: the United Arab Emirates
Price: US$1.295 million
Notes: amber, sandalwood, musk, pure Indian agarwood
Uniting the worlds of jewellery and perfumery Shumukh, which in Arabic translates to ‘deserving the highest’, represents the work of artisans and craftsmen from Italy, France and Switzerland. However, the idea was conceived by Asghar Adam Ali, Founding, President and Master Perfumer of Nabeel Group.
Designed to capture Dubai’s essence, the unisex three litre perfume comprises the rarest and finest ingredients from around the globe – taking more than three years and close to 500 perfume trials to perfect it.
The two times Guinness World Records holding perfume is contained within a remote-controlled Italian Murano crystal spray bottle that is adorned with the most diamonds (3,571 in total) set on any perfume bottle. IGI and GIA certified topaz, pearls, 18-carat gold and pure silver are also revealed within the cushioned leather case. The stand itself is two metres tall.
Akin to a storytelling masterpiece, the great Emirate is expressed through seven design elements that represent pearl diving, falconry, Arabian horses, roses, luxury and Arabian hospitality. Shumukh is not only extremely pricey but also rare, with only one bottle of this ultra-luxury fragrance existing today.
DKNY Golden Delicious
Country: the US
Price: US$1 million
Notes: orange flower water, mirabelle and golden delicious apple
A fragrance bottle shaped like an apple and adorned with hand-picked stones that resemble the New York City skyline is certainly not how you would describe your average perfume. Carved from 14-carat yellow and white gold, DKNY Golden Delicious was born from the collaboration of DKNY designers and highly acclaimed jeweller Martin Katz. The flacon is something of a work of art, comprising more than 2,000 precious stones: white diamonds, yellow sapphires, pink diamonds and turquoise paraiba tourmaline complete with a 2.43 carat yellow canary diamond decorating the cap.
The entire proceeds from the sale of the perfume were donated to global charity Action Against Hunger.
Clive Christian No. 1 Passant Guardant
Country: the UK
Notes: bergamot, Sicilian mandarin, ylang-ylang and neroli
An intricate 24-carat gold lattice work, a coat of arms featuring more than 2,000 white diamonds with accents of yellow and pink diamonds is what brings the crystal flacon of No 1 Passant Guardant to life. The exterior hints at a sensually opulent scent found within crafted by Clive Christian – experts in the art of producing the world’s finest perfumes.
No. 1 Passant Guardant also features Queen Victoria’s crown, a signature trademark of the maison and the only perfume house which has been granted permission to use this.
The extravagance and complexity of the perfume in every manner was designed to celebrate the opening of the Salon de Parfum boutique at Harrods.
Chanel No. 5 Grand Extrait
Country: the US
Notes: aldehyde, orange blossom water, neroli
In 2018, almost 100 years after the launch of Chanel No 5, the maison’s iconic bottle was given a fresh new look for 55 limited-editions.
The fiery red hue of the grand flacon pays homage to Chanel’s revolutionary spirit while showcasing the expertise of luxury crystal manufacturer Baccarat. The intense appearance involves a technique of fusing crystal and 24-carat gold powder at 540 degrees celsius. This is then sealed to ensure that the liquid retains its purity. Encased in white lambskin leather, the 900ml Baccarat crystal version was marketed by Chanel as the "ultimate gift for the true fragrance connoisseur".
Louis Vuitton Flacon d’Exception
Notes: centifolia rose absolute, Turkish rose essence, Bulgarian rose essence and Italian iris, Virginia cedar (Rose des Vents)
In November 2021 Louis Vuitton unveiled a limited edition of 200 Flacon d’Exception. Resting on a base of leather and contained within an elegant glass dome, the Marc Newson designed piece houses one of three of the maison’s signature fragrances: Rose des Vents, Matière Noire and L’Immensité. Crafted from precious Baccarat crystal using an ancient glass-blowing technique, each fragrance represents the work of master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud stamped with the LV logo in gold enamel.
"For the Flacon d'Exception, I wanted to create something whimsical and fun that was also very functional. It is scaled to a sculptural dimension and is inspired by vintage fragrance displays," Newson explains.