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I'll start with a disclaimer: this is not a list of the 100 Best Perfumes Of All Time, but rather, a list of 100 fragrances that anyone seriously interested in perfume should try. Put another way, it is meant to encompass a broad range of perfumes, good, bad, pretty, ugly, mainstream, niche, etc, and to provide a sort of general introduction to the subject of modern perfumery.

Some fragrances are included because they are Great Fragrances, others are here because they are so popular that it seems to me that you ought to know about them, still others, because they've spawned so many imitators that you ought to try the fragrance that inspired the trend. A few are here just because they are so weird or interesting or wonderful that they shouldn't be missed, and a few more, just because I adore them, and think everyone else should too, although many of my favorites are not on the list.

Like any such list, it is wildly idiosyncratic, so just add "in my very humble opinion" to the whole thing. There are a few perfumes that almost have to be on such a list (Chanel no. 5, Guerlain Shalimar), but the vast majority are open to dispute; in fact, I argued with myself over any number of them. And, of course, the list exposes the massive gaps in my own perfume education. Some fragrances aren't here just because I haven't smelled them, or don't properly appreciate them.

A few men's fragrances are included, but only a few; it is by and large a list of women's and unisex scents. I have also restricted the list to fragrances that can be obtained in the United States without jumping through too many hoops, and to fragrances that are worth smelling in their modern incarnations (e.g., nothing that you'd have to find a vintage bottle of to appreciate).

Here they are, in alphabetical order by perfume house.

Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose

Natural perfumery is a growing field. Whether you mind using synthetics or not (and obviously, I don't) it is interesting to find out what can be done using only natural components. Aftelier is one of the older and better known natural brands. Shiso, Fig and Pink Lotus are the line's best sellers, but my favorite is the dark, earthy and sexy Cepes & Tuberose. They have a number of sample sets available, but if you've never tried anything all-natural, be prepared for sticker shock: natural components aren't cheap. For a completely different approach to natural perfumery, check out Strange Invisible Perfumes.

It smells an awful lot like its name. It has been on Sephora's best seller list nearly forever (well, ok, a few years, but that is nearly forever in perfume terms these days). It is the second most reviewed fragrance at MakeupAlley, following Thierry Mugler Angel (see below). You might as well find out what it smells like, although chances are you've already smelled it on the street, so to speak