2023 was the year the celebrity fragrance made a comeback. Everyone from Victoria Beckham to Harry Styles to Beyoncé launched their own scents, reviving a trend that peaked in the early 2000s with Fantasy by Britney Spears, Just Me by Paris Hilton, and Glow by Jennifer Lopez (among many, many others).

It doesn't hurt that the fragrance industry is booming. Perhaps spurred by the state of the sector, too many A-listers to name launched their own perfumes in 2023. There is one release, however, that wins the year in celebrity perfume.

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In November, alt-pop star Melanie Martinez released Portals, a perfume that borrows its name from her 2023 album. PORTALS, the album, is a project that sees Martinez's creative alter ego Cry Baby — a character that has evolved over the years — take shape as a four-eyed being with pink skin and a cat-like snout.

It's this creature that inspired the delightfully over-the-top packaging of Portals, the perfume. Or rather, perfumes, plural. Portals is actually a range of four fragrances encased in a foot-tall bust of Cry Baby. The scents — Fiery Passion, Water of Intuition, Air of Clarity, and Earthy Abundance — are bottled in vials that would look at home in a magical apothecary.

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The perfumes, formulated with the help of IFF perfumers Natasha Côté, Patty Hidalgo and Laurent Le Guernec, smell just as extra as they look. They're all gourmands, meaning they feature edible-smelling notes: think chocolate, caramel, and strawberry. Martinez's personal favorite is Water of Intuition, a creamy mix of coconut, cocoa, and sandalwood (coincidentally, I gravitate towards this one as well). "I struggle with anxiety and it truly makes me feel at peace," Martinez says of the scent.

There's precedent for Martinez's extravagant perfume launch. Back in 2016, the artist released Cry Baby Perfume Milk, a powdery scent packaged in a nipple-capped baby bottle. The conceptual perfume was ahead of its time — nearly a decade after its initial release, it's gone viral on TikTok.

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"At the time of release no one was making a big deal about it," Martinez tells Highsnobiety. "But I believed in it so much... I knew that fragrance smelled absolutely delicious, and I put so much time and effort into making the packaging really special. I’m happy it’s receiving the attention it deserves now."

The fragrance is no longer in production and, thanks to its recent virality, is reselling online for upwards of $1,000. Sadly, it won't be reissued any time soon: "I’m unable to remake them anymore," Martinez says. "I would if it was possible."

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Both Cry Baby Milk Perfume and Portals are the makings of a true fragrance fanatic. "I feel naked if I don't wear perfume," Martinez confirms, naming a few of her favorite scents: Akro Dark, Kyse Perfumes Frangipane al Pistacchio, and Profumo di Firenze Buontalenti. Clearly, she has a penchant for sweet, sugary smells, a preference that's reflected in both of her olfactive releases.

There's a reason Martinez has become an unlikely #PerfumeTok star. She won't slap her name on any old scent — instead, she crafts perfumes that augment her creative storytelling, with packaging and visuals to match. And while some celebrity perfumers suffer from the dreaded sophomore slump, Martinez is hardly a one-spray wonder. Portals has sold out twice, pushing resellers to list the collectible for as much as $7,000.

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