Perfume Is Getting Weird – Dig Into The Scents That Smell Like Murder and Drugs

by Erika W. Smith

Your go-to fragrance might have notes of vanilla, rosewater, or sandalwood, but have you ever considered a perfume that smells like a body decomposing in a forest filled with mushrooms? Meet the Pineward Perfume scent Funerie. Or how about an old church filled with incense? Here’s Oriza L. Legrand’s Relique d’Amour for you. Or maybe something a little less goth, like…a wizard preparing a potion? Consider Orto Parisi’s Viride, with top notes of artemisia, wormwood, and lavender.

These are just a few of the niche perfume recommendations that Annabelle LC regularly shares on her TikTok account, @ismellunusual. Annabelle’s background is in fashion and costume design, and she was interested in niche fragrances for many years before taking her expertise to TikTok in 2023. “My little sister can be brutally honest, and when she smells something on me that she doesn’t like, she’ll directly say to me, ‘Annabelle, you smell weird,’” she says. “I have weird taste. I love horror movies, I love silent movies, and I take a lot of inspiration from that.” 

Annabelle is just one member of a community of TikTok creators who embrace strange and unusual fragrances. Griffin Paschall, who runs the account @paradoxperfume, has created popular TikToks suggesting scents that smell like murder (for example, Toskovat’s Inexcusable Evil, which features top notes of gunpowder), drugs (like Room 1015’s Sweet Leaf, which smells like cannabis), and Appalachian Gothic (including Copper Skies by Kerosene, which has notes of tobacco, honeycomb, and cedar). Paschall’s slideshow, titled “Strange Scents in Perfume: Murder,” has over a million views.

While Paschall says she wouldn’t wear every scent she features on TikTok, she’s come to see unusual fragrances as “almost like works of art” that are meant to be appreciated rather than used every day, like couture fashion. And she isn’t surprised that her darkest recommendations are the most popular. “I think that deep down,” she says, “all of us are begging for a chance to explore the darker side of the human condition.”
–Erika W. Smith

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