A Whole New Experience

The right fragrance can elevate your mood, boost your confidence, and draw others in. Unfortunately, most stores make finding that fragrance a confusing, high-pressure situation. And with only a limited selection of the usual uninspired brands, you can easily suffer from “same scent, different bottle” fatigue. It’s no wonder so many people steer clear of fragrance counters!

Here at Merz Apothecary, we recognize that experiencing fragrance is deeply personal. That’s why we offer Chicago’s finest collection of niche, hard-to find fragrances from independent and innovative brands. You’ll discover evocative fragrances that truly speak to you, revealing the emotive power of scent. We work hard to cultivate a relaxed atmosphere where you can sniff at your leisure, without any pressure to buy. You won’t find any pushy salespeople here, just a friendly, knowledgeable staff of fragrance lovers sharing recommendations. You deserve to be treated like a unique individual, not a walking commission! We’ll guide you through each exquisite scent note by note, taking the guesswork out of finding your new favorite fragrances.

Merz Apothecary is also proud to offer convenient sample sizes for all our niche fragrances. You can experience any number of scents, at a fraction of the cost of a full bottle, before you buy. This is the perfect way to discover how a scent makes you feel, its staying power, and how it evolves on your skin before making an investment. Fragrance should be fun, and what’s more fun than trying a little of everything you like? It’s just another way we’re upgrading the way you shop for fragrance.

Fragrance 101


Eau de What? With so many terms, it can be tricky to navigate the world of fragrance. Here’s what you need to know:

Eau de Fraiche – The lightest type of fragrance, with 1-3% perfume essence in a base of alcohol and water.

Eau de Cologne – Typically fresh, light & fruity, composed of 2-5% perfume essence in alcohol and water. The oldest term for fragrance, also used in North America to refer to scents for men.

Eau de Toilette – Popular and affordable, made with 5-15% perfume essence in an alcohol base.

Eau de Parfum – Favored by many niche brands for its longevity, composed of 15-20% perfume essence in alcohol.

Extrait de Parfum – Longer-lasting than any other type of fragrance, with 20-40% perfume essence in an alcohol base.

Other Helpful Terms:

Top Notes – The first thing you smell when you spray a fragrance; these are the lightest notes that evaporate first. Sometimes referred to as “head notes”.

Middle Notes – Also called “heart notes”, these compounds make up the body of a fragrance and are usually used to determine the fragrance family.

Base Notes – The longest-lasting component of a fragrance, these notes bring richness and depth while boosting the strength of lighter top and middle notes.

Sillage – The trail of scent left behind by a perfume; perfumes with very strong sillage can fill a room, those with little sillage stay close to the skin.

Longevity – How long a fragrance lasts on your skin; affected by the concentration of perfume essence, as well as other factors like where you apply and what fragrance family the scent belongs to.

Fragrance Family – A classification system which puts individual perfumes into different olfactory groups based on their dominant notes. The four main families are Floral, Oriental, Woody and Fresh, which can then be further divided into sub-groups.

Scent Guide



The Signature Scent

We’re all familiar with the idea of a signature scent, that tried-and-true fragrance you can spritz on without a second thought. A signature scent is like your favorite sweater, something classic and comforting that simply makes you feel like you. But you wouldn’t wear your cozy sweater for a night on the town or in the heat of summer. So, if your clothes change depending on the occasion, the season, and even your mood, shouldn’t your fragrance do the same? After all, it’s just as much a part of your personal style as your clothing, shoes, and accessories are. Go ahead, wear that spicy oriental for date night, enjoy a bright chypre on the first day of spring, and splash on some uplifting citrus cologne when you need a boost. And on the days when you’re just not sure what to wear... simply reach for your signature scent.



Shared Fragrance

In the world of niche fragrance, the words “for men” and “for women” are appearing less and less. Traditional perfumery typically separated scents by gender, offering fragrances designed to smell feminine or masculine. But many modern perfumers have eschewed that idea in favor of creating “shared fragrances” that are meant to be worn by anyone who enjoys them. After all, there’s no reason a gent can’t appreciate a rose scent, or a gal can’t be delighted by a deep, woody blend. You should feel free to explore any note you like, so let your nose, not a label, guide you!



Exclusive Niche Fragrance Brands

Looking for a scent you won’t find at the local department store? Merz Apothecary has what you’ve been searching for. We’ve spent years sniffing out the best niche fragrance brands from around the world, resulting in one of the finest fragrance collections you’ll ever experience. Each line tells fascinating stories through scent, and we’re here to help you discover the story that truly speaks to you.

Niche fragrances can be as classic and comforting or as unusual and thought-provoking as you desire. Parisian icon Diptyque is renowned for its chic, memorable fragrances that often become beloved signature scents for both men and women. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris creates ultra-wearable, effortless blends. On the other end of the spectrum, Nasomatto and Orto Parisi push the boundaries of traditional perfume with astounding results. Etat Libre D'Orange gives its perfumers ultimate creative freedom, culminating in some of the cleverest concoctions you’ll have the pleasure to sniff.


Inspiration comes in all forms when it comes to creating niche fragrances. Ancient folklore and Americana are interpreted into captivating elixirs through D.S. & Durga’s incredible vision. Juliette Has A Gun imagines a renegade heroine ready to take on the world, armed with her perfume. Jet-setters and day-dreamers alike have fallen in love with Memo’s eau de parfums, which capture the essence of exotic destinations. Those who feel like they belong to another era will be drawn to Histoires de Parfums and Parfums de Marly, lines which pay homage to history. Artsy types will appreciate Tauer Perfumes “scent sculptures”, true works of genius guided by the creator’s unique instincts.

No matter what type of aroma you’re drawn to, there’s a niche scent for you. Explore this enchanting world of fragrance with Merz Apothecary.

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