For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been into woody fragrances. Like a true L.A. woman, I was committed to Le Labo’s Santal 33 ($192) for years and have only veered ever so slightly to experiment with similarly spicy scents laced with notes of sandalwood, bergamot, vetiver, and other decidedly savory aromas. Fragrances categorized as sweet or gourmand—the fancy name given to perfumes that smell almost edible with notes of honey, caramel, vanilla, and the like—just never called to me. (A brief stint with one of Paris Hilton’s body sprays back in middle school was the first and last time I gravitated toward something that made me smell like I was dipped in sugar.) Too unsophisticated, I scoffed from atop my Le Labo–scented high horse. But that all changed when I finally got my hands on a bottle of Rihanna’s favorite perfume, Kilian’s Love, Don’t Be Shy ($240).
It wasn’t until very recently that I started seriously considering leaning into sweet perfumes, but a years-long love affair with Frédéric Malle’s Portrait of a Lady ($255) and a more recent rendezvous with Tom Ford’s Bitter Peach ($350) got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’m more into warmer, more syrupy notes than I’d let myself believe. Then, a viral TikTok video reminded me that my queen Rihanna is widely known as one of the best-smelling humans in Hollywood and that her signature scent is the key to this reputation. The candied notes of orange blossom, vanilla, and marshmallow I would have normally turned up my nose at were suddenly so intriguing to me. It’s not that I’m naïve enough to believe that a price tag is always an accurate indicator of quality, but at $240 for a single bottle, I had a hunch that this fragrance would be something special. Spoiler alert: It is.