14 best perfumes for women

2016 offered up some seriously sumptuous new scents. Here's our pick of the best

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The Independent Online

Gifting for Christmas or just updating your scent selection? Whether you like romantic florals, uplifting citrus notes, or warming woody perfumes, there's a fragrance to suit everyone on this list.  

1. Atelier Cologne Camelia Intrepide Cologne Absolue: £160 for 100ml, Selfridges

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This is possibly one of the most exquisite fragrances we've ever come across. It opens with top notes of zesty lemon, sparkling bergamot and warming nutmeg, then dries down into a floral heart of Moroccan iris, camellia and violet leaves. The dry down is a romantic, warming base of Turkish rose absolute, leather and amber. Hip flask-shaped, the bottle is the shade of the season — rose gold — and unusually opaque so you can't see the perfume.

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2. Michael Kors Wonderlust Eau de Parfum: £59 for 50ml, Boots

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Fresh bergamot and zesty mandarin sparkle with a pop of pink pepper for an instant fresh hit when you first spritz this on. Warming, rich florals, jasmine and heliotrope, soothing almond milk and a base of cashmeran wood and sandalwood give this an exotic, creamy dry down as the fragrance develops on your skin. It's one of those scents that really lasts and lingers on scarves and clothes. The bottle is ballet-slipper pink with a weighty gold lid — it’s delicate and pretty, but womanly at the same time.

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3. Chloé Fleur de Parfum Eau de Parfum: £50.46 for 50ml, Amazon 

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According to Chloé, Fleur de Parfum is a “generous bouquet exclusively composed of the most tender and quintessential part of flowers: their hearts”. The heart of the rose actually reveals rich, fruity tones. The heart of the verbena flower adds a freshness, while the heart of the cherry blossom produces milky almond notes. This is an exceptionally pretty perfume, delicate and natural — perfect for those who like a gentle scent. The bottle is on-trend in pale pink tones, with a ribbon tied around the neck.

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4. Jo Malone Basil and Neroli Cologne: £86 for 100ml, Jo Malone

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Quintessentially British, the latest scent from Jo Malone is its first floral citrus, and it's simple yet stunning. Green basil blends into the floral neroli, with a warming white musk base. This fresh fragrance feels more suited to a younger audience than many of the richer winter fragrances out this season and definitely a move away from Jo Malone's often heady, grown-up scents.

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5. L'Artisan Parfumeur Arcana Rosa: £140 for 75ml, Selfridges.com  

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With this garden-inspired range L'Artisan Parfumeur has created six new scents blending flowers, wild herbs and woods. Each scent is named after its Latin botanical name and the digit on the label corresponds to the number of trials required before settling on the final fragrance — this had a whopping nine trials. Arcana Rosa is astonishingly full-bodied and powerful for a rose-based scent, which can often be soft and delicate. Bulgarian rose, atlas cedar and oud wood, make for a masculine, slightly spicy floral perfume. This is a strong, womanly fragrance.

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6. Stella McCartney Pop Eau de Parfum: £44.99 for 50ml, Debenhams

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Aimed at the millennial generation, this scent has a relatively delicate feel and you need to be up close to really smell it. From the playful, hot-pink metallic lid to the initial citrus kick, and unexpected blend of bold floral tuberose and warming sandalwood, this one has a younger feel to it than many of the fragrances we tested. 

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7. Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence Eau de Parfum: £64 for 50ml, boots 

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This is the brighter, more sparkling sister scent to the original Marc Jacobs Decadence. It packs in some zesty top notes of champagne, orange blossom and bergamot, which you can really smell when you first spritz. After a while, heady white florals — honeysuckle, gardenia, iris flower and hydrangea — can be picked out, while the rich, exotic base blends saffron, sensual vanilla and warming liquid amber that lasts. With a nod to Marc Jacobs' handbag designs, the dazzling emerald green bottle, complete with gold chain and black tassel, is an eye-catching addition to any dressing table.

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8. Alexander McQueen Eau de Parfum: £67.50 for 50ml, boots

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This is an initially light, delicate floral scent that over time changes into something richer. Exotic, white blooms — tuberose, jasmine and ylang ylang — are complemented by a spicy dry down of clove, black and pink pepper on a woody base of vetiver. It’s an intriguing scent that goes from pretty to powerful as it settles into the skin.

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9. Molton Brown Rosa Absolute Eau de Toilette: £39 for 50ml, Molton Brown

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A festive fruity floral, this red rose-based scent blends some unusual red berries — blackcurrant, raspberries and strawberries — with a spicy cinnamon and clove heart. Sounding not dissimilar to a winter pudding, it smells almost edible. It dries down into a base of potent patchouli and rich warming sandalwood and cedarwood, adding some weight behind a fruity start. This is an eau de toilette — inexpensive, but doesn't have the concentration of an eau de perfum so we find you need an extra spritz. Overall, it's a sensual, daring fragrance.

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10. Tory Burch Fret Frenz: £95 100ml, Harrods

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A limited-edition, gold-toned fretwork bottle carries this unusual perfume, that at times smells feminine and others more masculine. Tory Burch uses classic fragrance notes, but put together in an unexpected way, mixing up feminine with a hint of the tomboy. Neroli, grapefruit, cassis and bergamot give the scent a crisp, sparkling citrus hit, that's softened by the florals — peony, tuberose and jasmine. Vetiver and sandalwood ground the fragrance in a warm, woody base.

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11. Michael Kors Midnight Shimmer Eau de Parfum: £58.50 for 50ml, Boots

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This new limited-edition woody scent blends soft musk, rich florals, jasmine and freesia, and sensual vanilla. The interesting addition of quince in the initial top notes adds a zesty freshness which turns into a very luxurious evening scent — perfect for cold winter nights. It's the sort of perfume that lingers in the lift when the wearer has got out. Midnight blue and embossed metallic gold on the packaging, with an iridescent gold glitter finish on the bottle, make it a really beautiful gift.

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12. Creed Les Royales Exclusives Jardin d'Amalfi: £295 for 75ml, Harrods  

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You might balk at the price but this isn't a mass produced high-street perfume; these are traditional scents made in the traditional way, and Paris-based perfume house Creed has been doing it since 1760. This one was designed, made and filtered by hand and the ornate gold bottles are like little works of art. Jardin d'Amalfi is inspired by the scents of the Italian coast — think Amalfi tangerine, Calabrian bergamot and Sicilian lemon with sandalwood, vetiver, pink pepper and rich warming tonkin musk. This really does conjure up images of sun-drenched Italy. For the girl who has everything, it's an exquisite gift.

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13. Gucci Guilty Platinum for Femme Eau de Toilette: £48.60 for 50ml, Debenhams 

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This scent from Gucci definitely has an initial masculine feel thanks to geranium and spicy pink pepper. Then as it lingers on the skin, it gradually moves into a more feminine scent of lilac and sparkling peach, with a warm base of amber and patchouli. The platinum-toned metal bottle with interlocking G design is a collector's limited edition version, so buy it while you can.

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14. CK One Gold Eau de Toilette: £26.67 for 100ml, Boots 

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Pioneer of his and hers fragrances, Calvin Klein is still ignoring gender stereotypical fragrance notes with its latest unisex scent. CK One Gold feels youthful and full of energy with fresh top notes of fig, bergamot and sage. The floral heart of neroli, violet and jasmine gives a bit of oomph to the early freshness. It eventually moves into a perfumier's classic favourite base of vetiver, patchouli and guaiac wood. Dipped in gold paint, the bottle is pretty cool too.

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The Verdict: Perfumes for women 

If you’re after a fresh-feeling scent, try Jo Malone. Chloe is soft and delicate, while Michael Kors Wonderlust is a strong, sensual scent. But top spot this week goes to Atelier Cologne, an unusual, utterly exquisite fragrance.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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