Louis Vuitton California Collection Ultimate Buying Guide

I have an unhealthy obsession with Louis Vuitton. Before you say it, no…it’s not with their artisanal leather, clothing, or any other accessories they sell. It’s their fragrances.

Now, obviously with Louis Vuitton comes a premium price for certain, but how do these fragrances compare to these steep prices? These days we’re not talking about high gas prices as much anymore; we’ve shifted to how much it costs for pork products and why it costs almost $10 for a bag of potato chips. The same issues have spilled into the fragrance marketplace. We see new bottles coming out now with $175 retail prices for designer fragrances and they aren’t even in the space of high-end designers either.

But, if you look to a brand like Tom Ford and their fragrances, a 100ml bottle retails for just over $600, so when people hear that Louis Vuitton sells fragrances for $320, it’s really not so bad. Even still, $320 is a lot for a fragrance these days, which is why I’m here to help you pick the best one out of their California Collection. So, without further a-do, let’s get started from most recent release all the way to the original in the bunch.

1 – Pacific Chill – 6.8/10

The latest release of this collection dropped in 2023 and is, in my opinion, the one that had the most potential but suffered in one major area. The fragrance alone is a 9.6/10, but the longevity is a bit lacking and takes off big points at the end of the day. It’s a very unique, fresh, and inviting scent that starts with orange, citron, mint, lemon, black currant, and coriander in the opening. Super fresh and clean right off the bat. A very effervescent and bubbly citrus to start and the mint is also very present. The mid you get apricot, basil, carrot seeds, and May rose while the base includes fig, dates, and ambrette. A LOT of notes for this fragrance and on paper should be a powerhouse. As the name suggests, it’s a very “chill” fragrance and could have easily been the best in the bunch without question. Unfortunately, as some Louis Vuitton fragrances go, longevity and performance really suffer and for a minimum $320 for a 100ml bottle, it’s a hard sell. Now, for the purists and completionists, this bottle is a must have in the collection as that green gradient bottle pairs nicely with the other four. Man, I really wish this was more of a hit for me. Try this one for yourself, maybe your skin will have different results. Trust me, they only get better from here…

2 – City of Stars – 8/10

Released in 2022, City of Stars is quickly rising to the definitive #3 spot for me and once you try it, you’ll know why. It may not hit the first time or even the second time. But much like fragrances go, the more you smell them, the more you like it. This is the case with City of Stars. Initially I really didn’t like it due to the overwhelming floral notes in the opening. But the more you let this dry down, the better it gets. This fragrance opens with lime, blood orange, blood mandarin, bergamot, and lemon. Again, a super bright and fresh opening but that floral is still present underneath even right after you initially spray it. Mid is tiare flower and the base is powdery notes, musk, and sandalwood. That fresh and bright opening quickly dulls down to that floral sweetness mixed with woods and powdery notes. Even though the name suggests “stars” and the bottle perfectly represents those beautiful west coast sunset colors, this fragrance is not a nighttime fragrance at all. This fragrance will do its best work in the warmth of spring and summer. This one is a definite must try!

3 – On the Beach – 8.5/10

Released in 2021, On the Beach is a citrus aromatic fragrance that quite honestly doesn’t really live up to their namesake. I mean, does anyone really KNOW what the beach smells like? I suppose sand doesn’t really have a scent per se, but most people think of the smell of suntan lotion, maybe coconuts, I don’t know. For On the Beach, the top notes are yuzu (sweet but bitter citrus) and neroli. In the mid we have rosemary, thyme, sand (??), cloves, and pink pepper while in the base we just have cypress. Some of these notes are very reminiscent of Tom Fords Costa Azzurra Parfum. That citrus mixed with the cypress is what really stands out to me and it’s a very pleasant-smelling scent that only gets better as it dries down. Circling back to the notes, since when is rosemary and thyme on the beach? And what DOES sand smell like? If anyone knows, comment below because I’d love to know. On the Beach is one of my favorites just because of those citrus and woody notes blending together but most importantly is the longevity. You can get some serious legwork from this scent especially in warmer conditions. A crowd pleaser for sure! 

4 – California Dream – 7/10

California Dream was released in 2020 and is also a citrus-forward fragrance. There aren’t many notes in this one to speak of and they are mandarin orange, musk, pear, ambrette and benzoin. This fragrance leans more citrus/sweet than citrus/woody like On the Beach and in most cases, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The fragrance is actually quite pleasant for my nose, and I can really pick up that balsamic scent from the benzoin as well as those florals from the ambrette. It’s a bright warm weather fragrance that is great for either a man or woman but something about it is just a bit off for me. The issue with this fragrance is the same issues that plagued Pacific Chill – longevity and projection. This fragrance only lasts about 6 hours at an EDP concentration which is disappointing because it’s really unique and has some good notes. The projection is also a bit too close to the skin for me and when I did my testing on this fragrance, I still had On the Beach on my other arm and the projection from that fragrance is just night and day from California Dream. If California Dream had that same level of projection, it would be game over and it would definitely be my top two. Try this one for yourself and see if you get the same results. I’m hoping it’s a better experience for you!

5 – Afternoon Swim – 9.5/10

There’s no denying that my number one top pick is Afternoon Swim. I could just do a mic drop and walk away and tell you to just buy this and try it, but I would be doing this beautiful fragrance a massive disservice. Released in 2019, Afternoon Swim is also a citrus fragrance, and the only notes here are mandarin orange, Sicilian orange, bergamot, ambergris, and ginger. Right off the first spray this fragrance is super bright, fresh, and clean. It’s just a citrus bomb but I’m a bit upset that it doesn’t smell like swimming to me. I mean, call me crazy, but I’ve never smelled the ocean or pool water before…have you? We may have once or twice laughed at a friend’s joke a bit too hard and a wave came up and we snorted some, but I’m sure we don’t remember the smell, only the pain. Regardless, this fragrance to me is just fresh and clean and if they wanted to call it afternoon swim, they should have made it more of an aquatic-type fragrance and not a citrus fragrance. I may be critiquing the name a bit hard but make no mistake, this is a monster fragrance for me, and I absolutely love it. Out of the five fragrances this one, to me, has the best performance, projection and sillage (also the most compliments). If you were to pick only one fragrance out of this bunch, Afternoon Swim is no doubt the best choice!

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it! The ultimate buying guide of all five Louis Vuitton California Collection fragrances. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed testing these. I always love when spring and summer rolls around because these fragrances just own the front of the shelf and get heavy use. Let me know in the comments if you agree with my list and their rankings.

Want me to review another collection of fragrances? Let us know either in the comments or send us an email and we’ll look into it! As always, I’ll catch you all in the next one!