Britney Spears has never had what we call “unattainable” tastes, which is why this writer has been obsessed with her since her TV show Chaotic hit the airwaves in 2005, showing us a Britney Jean who was in love, often stoned, goofy, making her bridesmaids wear pink Juicy suits emblazoned with “Maids” at her clandestine wedding. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s get one thing straight: Britney Spears is not a guilty pleasure. Britney Spears transcends the phrase. She’s an icon who packs a Vegas casino on the reg, releases pristine pop albums like Glory, has the Greatest Celebrity Instagram of All Time, and can also boast of her fleet of eponymous fragrances in partnership with Elizabeth Arden. You’ve probably owned one or two in your life, or thought about buying them when you’re bopping around Kohls.
Most of Britney’s perfumes land firmly in the sweet, gourmand genre, which makes perfect sense when you remember that one of Britney’s most iconic tweets was about her love for vanilla candles. The celebrity perfume world is hella crowded with offerings from folks like One Direction, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Diddy, and tons more, but Britney’s frags have succeeded because they align perfectly with her persona. Each one legit smells like something Britney (or the idea of Britney) would wear. Only Jennifer Lopez can compete with Brit-Brit’s total dominance of the fragrance world, but J.Lo doesn’t have a song called “Perfume,” does she?
Brit has just released the flanker to her 20th fragrance, Private Show (named after her jam of the same title), called VIP Private Show. (Insert “Oops! I Did it Again” joke here.) It’s a Frappuccino of a fragrance, perfectly befitting the Queen of Starbucks. To celebrate, we’ve ranked all of Britney’s perfume lineup — excluding the limited-edition fragrances like Circus Fantasy, Fantasy Twist, Fantasy Rocker Femme, and Curious In Control, which may still exist at your local discounter but aren’t permanent fixtures of the Britney Spears fragrance museum and thus, too elusive to include here.
You ready? Step into that red vinyl catsuit, grab your Frap, and let’s get to work (bitch).
10. VIP Private Show
The original Private Show is a weird little wonder (more on that below), but its flanker doesn’t quite capture the same sticky coffee-floral magic of its predecessor. It’s more Unicorn Frap than Caramel Frap, an instant sugar rush that’s fun at first, but can give you a toothache later.
9. Maui Fantasy
Maui Fantasy has potential. A gourmand/beachy hybrid of coconut, banana, and vanilla? Yum. However, nothing about Maui Fantasy screams “Maui.” If this scent veered more pina colada than drugstore hairspray, it would be a damn fun time.
8. Fantasy In Bloom
Cherry blossoms adorn the bottle of this Fantasy flanker, one of the latest additions to the Fantasy family. Instead of being a vanilla bomb like its sisters, Fantasy In Bloom opens with a watery floral burst of cherry blossoms (duh) and red berries. However, as it dries down and mixes with the middle notes of white flowers, then the base notes of vanilla and amber, it grabs onto a hard laundry detergent note that’s hard to ignore. In Bloom is perfectly harmless but a bit of a black sheep to its siblings.
Radiance, with its Vegas-y bejeweled square bottle, is a musky white floral in the vein of Juicy Couture’s uber-popular Viva La Juicy, the kind of scent you’ve smelled a trillion times and find vaguely pleasant. You could buy Radiance as a gift for someone you don’t know very well and it would probably please them just fine. (Radiance used to have flankers, but currently stands alone as a pillar scent in the Brit canon.)
6. Fantasy Intimate Edition
B released this “Intimate” flanker alongside her eponymous lingerie line in 2015. I put it on for my boyfriend to test its name. “Smells like cotton candy,” he said, sniffing my neck. “Does it give you an intimate fantasy?” I asked. “No.” Like Fantasy, Intimate Edition is built around a whopping gourmand note of vanilla and brown sugar, though some of the sweetness is cut with a bouquet of violet, jasmine, and musk. It’s not bad, even if it didn’t spark any romantic lust in my man.
Fantasy is Brit’s most successful fragrance, and allegedly the one she likes to wear the most. Fantasy smells like the year 2007 — it’s loud, like the girl on my floor in the dorms who wore it and was always screeching down the halls after a few Smirnoff Ices. (I mean, it comes in a hot pink bottle with gems on it, how subtle could it be?) It’s hella sweet. It’s Britney and Paris hitting the town. It’s the Kitson store, TMZ flashbulbs popping outside. It’s True Religion jeans. It’s the aforementioned vanilla candles, tossed in cupcake mix and drizzled in caramel syrup. Fantasy is delicious, tacky, party-girl pleasure in a bottle, and a whiff will definitely send you down memory lane.
4. Private Show
Do I love Private Show? Do I hate Private Show? Do I keep wearing Private Show? Yes to all three. Private Show is built around a coffee note — no, seriously, it’s based around “iced coffee.” This shouldn’t surprise you, as countless pap pics of Britney feature her holding the iconic Starbucks cup. Private Show is an odd bird, a mix of coffee, dulce de leche, and white flowers, purportedly a more “grown-up” version of Fantasy. It’s not Chanel No. 5, or even Angel, but it’s interesting and worth a whiff.
3. Midnight Fantasy
Speaking of the New York Times, their former perfume critic Chandler Burr once praised this Fantasy flanker, calling it a “neon sweet.” It is exactly that, a scent so perfect for “going out” that it practically plays club jams when you open the bottle. Midnight Fantasy smells like buying your first body splash, like spraying down a room with hairspray with your best friends in high school, like prom night, like doing too many fruity shots at your go-to college bar and then waking up to do it all over again the next day. It’s fun. It’s great. It doesn’t take life too seriously, and when you wear it, neither should you.
If they made the juice clear instead of spring green and slapped the word “BYREDO” on it, this stuff would be written up by the New York Times. Believe, which was released during Britney’s mid-2000s breakdown, is a fruitchouli blend of guava, tangerine, honeysuckle, praline, and patchouli. Believe could easily be your classic celebrity mall fare, but there’s something about its bright, outspoken aroma that, ten years later, feels kind of edgy. Or, as Britney would say, “Really cool.”
Curious was B’s first foray into the world of fragrance, and arguably her best. (Who could forget that iconic commercial?) It’s another musky white floral like Radiance, but one with a richer heart of tuberose and jasmine that feels more sophisticated than the fragrances that would follow, like the cupcake sugar rush of Fantasy. Curious opens with a cool pear and lotus note and sinks into a lush, golden blend of white flowers. It doesn’t smell dated, and is honestly due for a resurgence. (“Honestly, this one is really great,” said my fragrance enthusiast boyfriend.) The ‘00s are cool again, right? (Trick question: They, like Britney, have always been cool.)
More on the Britney Beat:
- Jerrod Blandino Hints at a Britney Spears and Too Faced Collab With This Mysterious Instagram
- Britney Spears’s Best Video Makeup Looks
- Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea Bring Back Major Crimped Hair in “Pretty Girls”