Making up the magic of men’s fragrances are cauldrons bubbling with key ingredients like cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and bergamot — these, of course, are only a few of the more popular ones. In reality, there are hundreds of individual fragrances that go into these bottles of bliss.
And while figuring out the magic behind great smelling colognes is actually relatively simple, understanding why this stuff is so damn expensive takes a little more... Well, understanding.
And that’s where we come in. We dove deep into the perfume aisle to have a look at some of this year’s best, most popular and most expensive men’s fragrances to figure out what, exactly, makes their "stink" so desirable.
While it’s difficult to put a price on certain things — happiness or the smell of a campfire on a chilly morning are two things that come to mind for us — not subject to said difficulty is finding the monetary value of a number of leading colognes, some of which carry price tags that run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Here’s a sniff around some of the most expensive men’s fragrances and the reasons behind their prices.
The Amouage Jubilation is an Eau De Parfum that retails for around $305 ($89.71 per ounce) — a considerably steep price until you factor in Amouage’s presence as a luxury brand renowned for being the official perfumer for the Sultan of Oman. Yes, seriously
Made up of top notes that include musk, oud wood, labdanum ciste, etc., its asking price can also be traced to its limited production, a calling card of the brand.
The Amouage Jubilation is also packaged by hand in a patented bottlemirroring the handle of a traditional Arabian dagger..
This Eau De Parfum features gentle notes of coconut and cardamom, with a little pink pepper, Egyptian jasmine, tonka, ylang ylang and others to round it out. Think less Margaritaville and more Maldives.
Tom Ford is a brand steeped in luxury and celebrated for high-end products, and its colognes are no exception.
If you own a Creed Spice and Wood perfume (which by the way, can set you back a hefty $995), you own one of less than 500 bottles released by the House of Creed.
The fragrance company has a rich history, which it traces to 1760, boasting patronage from European kings and queens.
But if you’re still trying to make sense of its Spice and Wood price, take a look at its ingredients.
Notes include bergamot, patchouli, cedarwood, pimento etc. These ingredients are naturally sourced —not synthesized —a famed practice of the House of Creed and one which justifies its higher price tag.
Get this: before its return in 2014, the Helmut Lang Cuiron spent almost a decade out of stock, during which time it rose to cult-like status among cologne connoisseurs.
Created by famed fragrance author Françoise Caron, his cult status and origin from a famed luxury fashion brand, this desirable Eau De Parfum garners a 185-dollar price tag. A modest fee compared to plenty of other luxury fragrances, but extravagant nonetheless.
Taking center stage in the ingredient list of this Kilian fragrance is the famed “oud” or as credit cards like to call it, “ow.” This wood scent can sell for $5,000 per pound, which more than justifies the exorbitant price tag of the colognes which feature them.
Ouds are so expensive because they are derived from the wood of the Southeast Asian agar tree, only when it becomes infected with a particular type of mold.
It is believed that less than two percent of wild agar trees produce oud. That’s probably why you can routinely find bottles of Incense Oud in the $350+ price range — if you can find them at all.
Jo Malone is a brand synonymous with expensive fragrances, candles, bath products, etc. Its marketing is supported through celebrity endorsements by people like musician Karen Elson and model/actress Poppy Delevigne.
Throw in a fragrance with one of the most expensive ingredients — oud present — and the $190 this cologne goes for becomes more understandable.
The key ingredient of the Rose D'Arabie from famed luxury fashion house Giorgio Armani is the Damask Rose, an ingredient whose method of extraction makes it more precious than other essential oils.
It takes about four tons of rose petals to produce just two pounds of the fragrance. This, of course, is reflected in this Eau De Parfum’s $290 asking price.
First off, it’s Chanel. If you have to wonder why this stuff costs as much as it does, you’re probably looking at the wrong bottle.
Couple that with a marketing strategy that includes ads specially directed by Martin Scorcese and starring French movie star Gaspard Ulliel, and it’s not so hard to rationalize the $155 price.
Here are things to note about the MFK brand:
Its fragrances are sold in 265 premium locations worldwide, which make for limited distribution, but very high-end shopping.
One scent can take up to two years to complete and can take up to 800 essential oils to create.
They take great pride in using copious amounts of essential oils like jasmine in the production of their scents — a place where other brands are notoriously sparing.
These factors are instrumental in the Aqua Universalis’ 395-dollar price tag. The fragrance includes notes of Egyptian jasmine, bergamot from Calabria, white bouquet etc.
Christian Dior embodies luxury, and their Ambre Nuit fragrance, which comes in at stout $220 for a 4.5-ounce bottle, continues the practice.
Instrumental in the pricing is the central ingredient in the fragrance, Turkish rose. This highly valued element can cost almost $1,800 for a mere eight ounces.
Frederic Malle isn’t your average perfumer. A pioneer in the niche perfume industry, their fragrances are set apart by granting their world-renowned perfumers artistic freedom to create distinct, luxurious fragrances.
They’re known for using what they call “smelling columns” in their stores to give customers a chance to experience prospective fragrance purchases from a second-person perspective.
Superstitious retails for $390 and was created in collaboration with Alber Elbaz, formerly of Lanvin, a match made in luxury heaven.
It boasts top notes of Turkish rose and Egyptian jasmine, and base notes of amber and vetiver to name a few.
This cologne retails for $399, and with Vetiver being the main ingredient, it’s not difficult to see why.
Vetiver oil is all-natural and yet to be synthetically reproduced commercially.
It takes around 450 to 550 pounds of vetiver roots to produce two pounds of vetiver essence.
Interpretation: you’ll be needing a lot of vetiver to produce a fragrance around it.
Roja Dove is also a luxury brand through and through, packaging the fragrance in crystal bottles presented in etched typography in a custom font embellished with gold screen-printed accents. They take three whole days to produce.
The perfume cap requires 14 Swarovski crystals, each set by hand in a process that can take five days.
The bottle alone makes the price you’re paying for this fragrance worth it.
Taking a leap from three to six-figure fragrances, this Paco Rabanne fragrance costs a stunning 57,000 dollars. No, that’s not a typo.
However, where a lot of the spendier fragrances on this list come with a long and extensive scroll-through of ingredients that are both exotic and come in small quantity, when it comes to Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million 18 Carats, it’s all about the packaging. A limited-edition fragrance, with each bottle individually numbered, it is made up of a golden body with a diamond crown and a case that holds a golden lever.
Why? Well, why the hell not?
Like everything Louis Vuitton, its fragrances are also steeped in luxury.
A bottle of Sun Song will set you back $250 with the guarantee of rare and natural ingredients like orange blossom, jasmine, neroli, bergamot, etc. (all known to cost a pretty penny) delighting the senses.
How does a bottle of cologne get slapped with a $215,000 price tag? Elementary, Watson!
All you have to do is pour 16.9 ounces of you exquisite cologne into a baccarat crystal bottle. Then, you stick a five-carat diamond onto its 18-carat gold collar and then you only create just 10 bottles of the stuff to create exclusivity around the release.
Oh, and when someone buys a bottle, you literally deliver it to them in a f*cking Bentley. Voila.
Jokes aside, the ingredients in this Eau De Parfum include extremely rare Tahitian vanilla, Indian sandalwood and rose oils, too. Coupled with the obscenely extravagant packaging, the price tag makes a lot more sense than you'd first think. We don’t know if this stuff smells "215 grand" good, but we get it.
When it comes to our favorite expensive colognes, what exactly is it that makes them more expensive than others?
Well, from what we’ve observed above, it comes down to a few things.
The first — and most important, far as we’re concerned — is ingredients. A lot of more expensive fragrances use ingredients that are hard to find, are costly to produce, etc. These are obviously reasonable to consider when pricing a product.
The second is oil concentration. As you can see, the overwhelming majority of fragrances on this list are Eau De Parfums, which have a highest concentration of essential oils in every bottle and, naturally, last longer. Like with car engines, the same can be said of fragrances — there’s no replacement for displacement.
The third factor is, well, everything else; things like brand notoriety, marketing, bottling, exclusivity, popularity, etc. They all play a part in why the fragrances we wear can be so pricey. Is it a bummer? Sure. But a fact of life is a fact of life.
And there it is! Want more facts of life? Head over to the hims blog!