Review

Discovery fragrance sets: the easiest way to find your perfect scent

May 24th 2018 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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Making the world of luxury fragrance more accessible than ever, it's easy to see why these mini perfume sets are selling like hotcakes. Meet the boxes that’ll transform the way you shop

For me, perfume miniatures used to conjure up memories of Christmas gift boxes filled with old school classics like So….? or Charlie Red, or sampler side-notes that would often end up ignored at the bottom of my shopping bag after a trip to Boots. However, much like other 90’s trends that have found their way back into popular culture, (the Backstreet Boys for example *squeals to self*), they’re making a massive comeback, and even becoming beauty bestsellers courtesy of their 21st century reincarnation, the fragrance discovery set.

Providing a more affordable way to get your hands on a high-end perfume, they’re more than just a piece of card with a lonely vial glued inside. Today’s versions are full-blown box sets, housing collections of luxury pint-sized spritzes. And they’ve piqued the public’s interest in a huge way. In fact, Le Labo’s Discovery Set, £20, is counted as one of Net-a-Porter’s global bestsellers, listed alongside the likes of beauty and wellness heavyweights such as Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream and Elle Macpherson’s The Super Elixir. “It’s the luxury version of testing,” Net-a-Porter Beauty Director, Newby Hands, tells us. “It’s the most natural way for our customers to explore and discover their favourite scent, with many then returning to purchase a full-sized bottle.”

Making the world of luxury perfumery more accessible than ever, as well as providing a travel-friendlier alternative to pack in your suitcase this summer, it looks like this is one trend that’s here to stay. Which ones are worth adding to your shopping cart? Here are some of our favourites for any budget.

Floral Street Discovery Set, £12 (8 x 1.5ml)

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Containing an impressive eight samples for just over a tenner, this set provides a cost-friendly introduction to the London-based brand’s wardrobe of blossoming fragrances.

They’re anything but your traditional florals though. Thanks to the nose of star perfumer, Jérôme Épinette, and the vision of founder Michelle Feeney, they have a depth to them that brings to mind the sights and scents of the capital. The set includes: Wonderland Peony, Neon Rose, Wild Vanilla Orchid, Iris Goddess, Chypre Sublime, Black Lotus, Ylang Ylang Express and London Poppy (my personal favourite).

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Perfume Society Latest Launches 2018 Discovery Box, £19 (8 x 1 to 2ml)

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This multi-brand pick provides an easy way of getting your fill of the latest fragrances. Featuring new season scents from some of the biggest names, it includes: Aerin Hibiscus Palm EDP, Clive Christian Private Collection ‘L’ Masculine and Feminine EDPs, Philosophy Amazing Grace Ballet Rose EDT, Kenzo World EDT, Lalique Noir Premier Illusion Captive EDP, Shay & Blue Black Tulip EDP and Tory Burch Bel Azur EDP.

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Le Labo Discovery Set, £20 (5 x 1.5ml)

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Featuring the label’s most popular fragrances in a travel-friendlier form, it’s no surprise this set became one of Net-a-Porter’s global beauty bestsellers. Full-sized versions can cost upwards of £125 - quite the investment, which makes parting ways with just £20 to ensure you’re fully clued up before making the commitment, a particularly worthwhile first step.

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Escentric Molecules Fragrance Discovery Set, £25 (8 x 2ml)

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There are few brands whose scents are cloaked in as much mystery as those from Escentric Molecules. Often described as the ‘anti-fragrance fragrance brand,’ it draws its inspiration from both art and chemistry, (an ethos reflected in its packaging and eclectic line-up), with many fans claiming its scents differ from person to person.

This makes its jam-packed discovery box all the more useful. Containing samples of its full offering - Escentric and Molecule fragrances 01 through to 04 - it makes finding your perfect formula all the more straightforward.

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Sana Jardin Discovery Set, £30 (7 x 2ml)

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This brand lives and breathes all things female empowerment, from its Revolution de la Fleur perfume that was created as an homage to the women’s marches when Donald Trump was elected, to its Beyond Sustainability movement that seeks to improve the lives of low-income communities involved in making its products.

Each of the fragrances also comes with some great eco-credentials too - high concentrations of naturally perfumed essential oils and recyclable bottle packaging. The 7-piece set provides a well-sized taster: Berber Blonde (a favourite of our Editor Victoria Woodhall’s), Tiger By Her Side, Savage Jasmine, Sandalwood Temple, Celestial Patchouli, Nubian Musk and the aforementioned Revolution de la Fleur.

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Penhaligon’s Ladies’ Fragrance Collection, £36 (5 x 5ml)

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It can be pretty tricky to make a 5ml vial look good, but Penhaligon’s appears to have done it courtesy of their eye-catching set of perfumed miniatures. Containing five of the brand’s bestsellers - Artemisia, Vaara, Empressa (my ‘special occasion scent’), Iris Prima and Halfeti, they’re as much of a joy to look at as they are to use.

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Frederic Malle EDPFM The Essential Collection 1, £60 (5 x 3.5ml)

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Incredibly potent, just one spritz is all you need for a Frederic Malle perfume to last you all day. You certainly get your money’s worth. Containing five of the brand’s biggest hits, Carnal Flower, Eau de Magnolia, Iris Poudre, Musc Ravageur and my personal go-to, Portrait of a Lady, there’s something for every mood and occasion.

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Diptyque L’Art Du Parfum Discovery Set, £72 (5 x 7.5ml)

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These artfully designed vials house five of the French perfumer’s most sought-after fragrances, carefully selected to provide a guide of sorts through five olfactory landscapes - a range of florals in Do Son, Eau Rose, L’Ombre dans L’Eau and Eau des Sens, and the woodier Philosykos. Presented in a decked out black and white box (that you’re going want to keep), with a handy pouch included to keep them safe from bumps in your handbag, it’s a great gift idea.

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Byredo La Selection Nomade, £75 (3 x 12ml)

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With each vial containing 12mls, this box provides a fantastically large amount of perfume for your pennies - the most in our edit.

With its name and assortment of scents inspired by founder Ben Gorham’s travels around the globe, they serve as the perfect fragrance pairing for your next big adventure. The set includes GTG team favourite, Gypsy Water, the warming Bal d’Afrique and refreshing Blanche. I love all three.

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Read more: The niche, lesser known fragrance brands you’re about to fall in love with…

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