Marketing Perfumes by the Batch

Perfumers want your signature scent to be a mix of fragrances that can run $295 each.

The Parco Palladiano Collection

Photographer: Janelle Jones for Bloomberg Businessweek

The thing about having a signature scent is that you buy your favorite one, and the bottle can last years. Brands love loyalty—but not that you purchase their product only once or twice a presidential term. For years they’ve solved this problem by flanking “pillar” perfumes with formulas reworked for intensity or seasonality: Calvin Klein’s Eternity has been spun off into Eternity Summer, Eternity Now, and Eternity Aqua for Her.

Now perfumers are dropping multiple bottles at once, pushing a concept called scent “wardrobing.” The hope: Customers will mix colognes to create a more distinctive trademark, much like you’d mix pieces of clothing to form a one-of-a-kind ensemble. And by “customers,” we mean millennials, who “like to change their fragrances to suit particular moods and occasions,” says Elizabeth Musmanno, president of the Fragrance Foundation.

In mid-May, Bottega Veneta released Parco Palladiano, six scents inspired by a Venetian garden that are numbered simply with Roman numerals. (They are unisex, cost $295 apiece, and, though not sold in a special box, they’re presented as a set—collect ’em all!) This follows Olfactories by Prada (10 bottles), Le Vestiaire des Parfums by Yves Saint Laurent (5), 10 Crosby by Derek Lam (10), and Jo Malone London’s Rare Teas release in April. “It would have been impossible to choose just one tea,” says Céline Roux, fragrance director. She ultimately narrowed it down to a half-dozen.

The Parco Palladiano Collection
The first scent is the cleanest—it smells like sliced lemons and fresh-cut grass
II If I is too intense by itself, add a spritz of this piney one to make the overall effect more subtle
III Green tea, a plate of quartered pears: Words like “vibrant” come to mind
IV Vanilla ice cream
Bay leaf, rosemary, sage—notes from a kitchen garden
VI Not your grandma’s dusty rose perfume; this is like a fresh-cut bouquet, so if it’s too aggressive, mix it with the more herbal

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