Top 500 Modern Perfumes : The Data

25th September, 2015

Mmmmm Birthday Pie Chart Cake....
Over the last few weeks, you may have been following our 500 Greatest Modern Perfumes countdown, which was created to celebrate our 15th Birthday. A few people (okay, mainly Persolaise!) have been asking for some fancy stats and graphs of the data contained within those 500 fragrances. 

If you haven't seen the list, you can view it all here, and you may wish to look at it first if you wish to avoid spoilers!

Done that? Good. On with the stats.

Year of launch

2007 seems to have been the best year for fragrance releases in the time period. Unsurprisingly 2015 is the most poorly represented in the list – partly due to less data available for the more recent releases, and partly due to the fact that this data was collated half way through the year. If we did this again in 2020, we will probably see a lot more scents from 2015 showing.

Gender split

Female: 177 (35%)
Male: 164 (33%)
Shared: 159 (32%)

It's a pretty even split. There is a slightly more male fragrance bias the nearer you get to 1, this is probably due to the fact that for the first few years of this websites life, it only had details of men's fragrances, and although its evened out somewhat since, there are more active male members than female members.


Brands with more than 1% of the 500 perfumes

Here are all of the brands whose fragrances make up more than 1% of fragrances in the list. (ie, perfume brands with more than 5 fragrances featured)

Guerlain are the company with the most fragrances in the Top 500, with 27.

Parent Companies with more than 1% of the 500 perfumes

Parent companies are the companies which own many perfume brands. LVMH win this one, due to owning Guerlain, Dior, Acqua di Parma etc. For this statistic, I've used the parent companies of the brands currently, rather than time of launch.

Quick Primer

  • LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Acqua di Parma, Fresh, Kenzo, Givenchy, Bulgari)
  • Lauder (Estee Lauder, Donna Kara, Frederic Malle, Le Labo, Jo Malone, Tom Ford, Zegna, Michael Kors)
  • L'Oreal (YSL, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Lancome, Viktor & Rolf, Cacharel)
  • Shiseido: (Serge Lutens, Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier*, Elie Saab, Narciso Rodriguez)
  • Coty / P&G**  (Gucci, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabanna, Beckham, Bottega Veneta, Escada, Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen)
  • Puig (Paco Rabanne, Carolina Herrera, Prada, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Comme des Garcons, Penhaligon's, Nina Ricci)
  • Clarins (Thierry Mugler)
  • Inter Parfums (Van Cleef & Arpels, Lanvin, Agent Provocateur, Mont Blanc)
  • Elizabeth Arden (Britney Spears, John Varvatos, Juice Couture)
  • Euroitalia (Versace)

* Jean Paul Gaultier will move to Puig from 2016.

**I've lumped these together, as Coty have recent acquired P&G's Prestige fragrance division, though they are currently running sepeately



Perfumers with more than 1% of the 500 perfumes

The top perfumers here are ones that work as in-house perfumers for brands that are highly represented in the list. ie,Ellena (Hermes), Sheldrake (Serge Lutens & Chanel), Polge (Chanel) and Wasser (Guerlain)

Flankers and offshoots

Flanker: 90 (18%)
Non-Flanker: 410 (82%)

18% were a flanker or offshoot. Don't take the number as being too exact, I whizzed through the list quickly on this one. Any fragrance that had a name based on a previous fragrance from the brand was included. Different concentrations were included (ie, Extreme, Intense, EDP). Not included were fragrances that were part of a range (ie Hermes Jardin series), or a fragrance designed for the opposite gender that came later (ie, D&G Light Blue pour Homme)


Oud: 41 (8%)
Non-Oud: 459 (92%)

Just over 8% of the fragrances contain 'oud' or have 'oud' in the name. 

Discontinued Fragrances

Dead: 58 (12%)
Alive: 442 (88%)

Over 10% of fragrances in the Top 500 are discontinued. The chart below shows which brands have the most discontinued fragrances in the list. (Note: O'driu's discontinued fragrances were limited editions)


Brand types 

Okay, this is a little arbitary, but wanted to give an indication of the types of brands included. 

Mainstream: 187 (37%)
High-end Mainstream: 87 (17%)
Mainstream Niche: 102 (20%)
Niche: 67 (13%)
Indie Perfumers: 37 (7%)
DS/MM/OS: 14 (3%)
Celebrity: 6 (1%)

I made quick decisions about which brand fitted into which category – everyone will have different opinions as to which brands belong to which, but this will give an idea of how I decided.

  • Mainstream: In this category are the majority of designer fragrances, etc
  • High-end Mainstream: More high-end mainstream brand, particularly ones with separate more exclusive lines (eg, Dior, Guerlain, Chanel, Tom Ford etc)
  • Niche fragrances: Small, mainly independent companies, who take a more artisanal approach to making perfumes. (eg. Divine, Different Company, Histoire des Parfums, Ormonde Jayne, Parfums d'Empire)
  • Mainstream Niche: Niche brands that reach a wider, more mainstream audience, or are an arm of a large corporation (eg, Jo Malone, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Creed, Acqua di Parma, Serge Lutens)
  • DS/MM/OS (Direct Sell, Mass Market and Own stores): A bit of a catch-alll category for low cost fragrances (Old Spice, Axe), Direct Sell (Avon), and Own stores (L'Occitane, Body Shop, Lush)
  • Celebrity: Fragrances which are sold under the brand of a celebrity (In the list were Britney Spears, Antonio Banderas, David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gabriella Sabatini and Tim McGraw)
  • Indie Perfumers: Small perfumers who work independently (Andy Tauer, Bruno Fazzolari, Slumberhouse, Vero Kern, Sonoma Scent Studio etc)



I hope you had fun watching the list count-down, I certainly enjoyed compiling it. Perhaps we'll do it again when we get to 20 years.


Happy Birthday Basenotes!



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About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.



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      • sluh80 | 25th September 2015 22:21

        Very interesting analysis. Thank you for doing this!

      • Birdboy48 | 26th September 2015 02:05

        Interesting to see that Indie perfumers made up as much or as little of the pie as they did. :)

      • hednic | 26th September 2015 02:23

        Very revealing data! Thank so much for assembling it!

      • tigrushka | 26th September 2015 06:42

        Very interesting reading, many thanks, Grant!

      • Narinder | 26th September 2015 09:12

        A wonderful compilation, based on sound rationale. Best part was it kept on elevating interest these last days. Wish Basenotes comes up with a similar thrill in 2020. Good work, Editor !!!

      • N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer | 26th September 2015 18:15

        Is it possible to create a list of classic (vintage) perfumes? I'd be interested how theses perfumes would be stacked against one another. Doesn't necessarily have to be a very long list like 500.

      • cooby | 27th September 2015 04:41

        may be we can read and enjoy the complete list in one!! it's hard to search 25 pages if one parfume is in the "winners"

      • kewart | 27th September 2015 14:59

        Thanks for all that interesting data, Grant.

      • Ana Ximena Orellana | 27th September 2015 16:13

        Thank you for this information Grant.

      • Ken_Russell | 27th September 2015 20:17

        Thanks again for sharing. The statistic overview is a more than exciting and fascinating read.

      • Persolaise | 28th September 2015 08:13

        I don't seem to remember asking for any data...

        Many thanks for compiling it all ;-)

      • Zgb | 28th September 2015 09:26

        Exquisite work and effort !

      • Foustie | 28th September 2015 16:35

        Loving the data! Thank you.

      • jujy54 | 2nd October 2015 01:07

        Where is Caron in the midst of all this? Is there a way to search the 500?

      • Le vagabond | 3rd October 2015 09:23

        Happy Birthday, and many thanks for compiling the top 500 and data!

      • halesgordo | 4th October 2015 16:32

        What careful consideration you made in putting together you data! Good job! Really enjoyed how you turned the data into a story.

      • Ken_Russell | 5th October 2015 20:58

        Thanks for the extensive, yet also very comprehensive statistical overview- a concise yet captivating lesson about a very intense, stimulating and progressive period of fragrance industry

      • FumeHood | 10th October 2015 22:39

        Super cool breakdown of the data. Well done.

      • NickZee | 11th October 2015 23:56

        I think a lOt of people would be more interested in the data that led to the placings.

        The criteria related to number of wearings, number of page visits, etc. It would be great to know those numbers. The data provided above doesn't really give any insight into why the frags have been listed in the list.

        Not meaning to take away from this amazing collation, but would be great to have access to the number of wearings recorded for each fragrance in the database. The most worn function does not really give much insight.