I'll admit that affordable fragrance doesn't usually scream out luxury. We all know that fashion and fragrance go hand in hand. Just as your clothes communicate what your vibe is for the day, perfume can do the same. It's olfactory storytelling at its very finest.
Typically, our minds tend to go straight to high-end, designer fragrances when we think of perfume. You know, the bottles that lace the aisles of department stores and glisten and glitter under spotlights. However, when it comes to affordable fragrances, I'd be lying if I said I haven't had buyer's remorse from certain watered-down scents that ended up in my high-street shopping basket. But when Jo Malone CBE, founder of Jo Loves, teamed up with Zara for a fragrance collection, the face of high-street perfumes changed forever.
The Zara Emotions collection was beauty's equivalent to breaking Instagram. (Although, it did that too.) Fashion and beauty girls far and wide realised that maybe you didn't need to pay an arm and a leg for really great perfume.
For starters, the bottles were impossibly chic, and the understated packaging looked like it was made specifically for an Instagram flat-lay. Beyond the superficial though, the perfumes were good. As a beauty editor who has well over 70 bottles in my collection, nearly two years on from the Emotions launch, I can say with certainty that the perfumes (which cost less than £20) are amongst my most worn and loved. For musky florals to warm citruses, there really is a scent in there for everyone.
But now, there's a new collection on the block. The Zara Olfactive collection comprises of eight perfumes, each inspired by a different city, and they are equally as exquisite as the Emotions fragrances. Housed in beautiful boxes that you'll want to keep out on display, the perfumes are stunning blends that smell almost impossibly expensive. In fact, a couple of the perfumes in the new Zara Olfactive collection just might knock some of my existing Emotions fragrances off their top spots.
When I sat down to chat with Malone earlier this year to see what she had in the pipeline, she suggested that there was something new coming in terms of her collaboration with Zara, exclaiming that it was something she was itching to get out there and shout about. And I can totally see why.
Keep scrolling to discover the very best perfumes that Zara has to offer (with a little help from Jo Malone CBE).
This is the sort of perfume you want to spray first thing in the morning to help wake you up. It's a little androgynous and smells reminiscent of the first rainfall after a boiling-hot summer. With cardamom and sandalwood, it's a little bit spicy but overwhelmingly fresh.
I challenge anyone to smell this and turn their nose up. Yes, it has that warm, Middle Eastern depth thanks to notes of saffron, leather and nutmeg, but it's not heady in the slightest. It's the sort of perfume that makes you want to slather yourself in shimmer body oil and hit the town. If you wear this, I guarantee at least one person will stop you every day and ask after your perfume.
I think I might go as far as to say that Gracefully Madrid is my favourite perfume launch of 2021. It's orangey and zesty but not in an obvious way. With musk and geranium, it perfectly captures that sort of hedonistic peace you feel after waking up from a siesta.
It's rare as a beauty editor that I feel stumped by notes after smelling a scent, but Elegantly Tokyo did just that. It is blended so magnificently that I really did struggle to pull out a single note. The lightweight freshness of lily reigns supreme, but it entwines with Arabian jasmine and akigalawood to create one of the most interesting and inoffensive floral scents I have ever smelled.
If, like me, you're a fan of sparkling, citrus scents, I can categorically say that you will fall head over heels for this. It has that mouth-watering appeal of juicy oranges, mixed with deep cardamom and cedar. It makes me want to log off from work and jump on a plane to somewhere I have never been before. It is a total feat.
Soft, cosy and like a cashmere-wrapped hug from a friend you haven't seen for a really long time, something about Boldly Seoul makes you feel inexplicably safe and calm. With notes of violet, mimosa and musk, this is the sort of perfume I would take away with me on a trip to spritz whenever I was feeling out of sorts.
Deep and woody but a little bit zingy at the same time, this perfume smells as though it should cost 10 times its price. Plus, Malone herself told me this is one of her favourites, as it reminds her of her son.
Despite the fact it costs less than £20, this is possibly one of my favourite perfumes of all time. With orange blossom, neroli and ylang-ylang, it's lightweight and fresh but has a warm depth to it that lingers all day long.