2016 passed by in a flash and my year was scented to the brim with wonderful perfumes. So many perfumes to smell, wear and hang out with. I sampled a large number of fragrances but obviously not all of them. I think that’s pretty much impossible now as the niche sphere is officially going absolutely bonkers with oodles of new fragrances and brands. The artisanal lines are also prolific so there are a lot of perfumes to hunt out.
These are my picks from the perfumes I’ve sampled this year, those that I’m strongly drawn to or they to me. These are the fragrances that made a connection in some shape or form. It might be a twist on a perfume that I already like or a style or brand I’m drawn to. The perfumes aren’t separated into specific categories, everything is in there together – indie, mainstream and natural. I’ve looked at quite a few of the Best Of Lists from many bloggers and it’s always great to see the variety in individual preferences. At least with such a wide selection it does mean that everyone should find something that they really love. My tastes are obviously driven from what I’ve sampled and next year I am keen to search further afield. There are also many perfumes I would have liked to smell but I’ll need to catch up on this year.
So without further ado here are my favourite perfumes of 2016. I endeavoured to stick to ten but that didn’t work so I have fifteen here with some honourable mentions.
My Favourite 15 (in alphabetical order)
Adjatay : The Different Company : Alexandra Monet : A perfectly balanced, darkly sensual tuberose and leather perfume that was love at first sniff. This marks two years in a row that The Different Company has been a favourite. Last year’s I Miss Violet was one of my picks and is likewise fabulous.
Angel Muse : Thierry Mugler : Quentin Bisch : A new take on Angel that even merited its own non star shaped bottle. I love this nutty whipped up toasted modern version of Angel. It is a tad too sweet to start but things calm down after the initial fanfare has passed. An advertising campaign featuring Georgia May Jagger accompanied by a rather annoying hashtag #hatetolove was splashed about everywhere in France so I’ll be interested to see how well this has fared in the year end sales data.
Arbolé Arbolé : Hiram Green : A surprise release from Hiram Green late in the year that pitched patchouli, rose, vanilla and tonka together in an intoxicating, blissed out blend. It hits the spot and he now has the new 10ml size, perfect for those of us who have an embarrassing number of bottles stashed away.
Au Coeur du Désert : Tauer Perfumes : Andy Tauer : I’m a big fan of Andy’s modern classic L’Air Du Désert Marocain, so this reworking was a no brainer really. A tad less spicy but big on the amber accord that has pleased so many plus it has incredible staying power.
Dilettante : Hiram Green : A radiant riff on orange flower, petitgrain and essential oil of orange that brings on the sunshine and happiness. This was my orange crush this year. Hiram Green is creating beautiful perfumes and they’re natural to boot.
Ella : Arquiste : Rodrigo Flores-Roux : A floral chypre rooted in the decadent 70’s disco era that won me over immediately. It feels ripe and ready for action with a cool, non musty vintage vibe.
Hundred Silent Ways : Nishane : Jorge Lee : Most perfume lovers preferred Fan Your Flames from this year’s releases but I was drawn to this big gal fruity floral that starts boldly dripping in sugar and dries down to a delicious gardenia and sandalwood.
Iris Fauve : Atelier Des Ors : Marie Salamagne : Technically this is released in January 2017 but if you were at Esxence or Pitti you would have had the opportunity to smell Iris Fauve. It’s an exquisitely different take on iris that feels lush and cocoon like, warmed by resins and wrapped in a cosy hush.
L’Attesa : Masque Milano : Luca Maffei : The audacity of the Masque creative team paired with Luca Maffei’s talent has produced a beautiful iris that sings and sparkles with radiance and joy. It has a sheen of elegance that moved me.
Melt My Heart : strangelove nyc : Christophe Laudamiel : Heavenly orris (swoon) and chocolate with oud that wears like a silk stocking. Melt My Heart is an exquisitely beautiful scent from a perfume house that boasts Helena Christensen as its creative director.
32° N 08°E – Marocco – Nana Mint: Richard Lüscher Britos : Delphine Thierry : A refreshing sip of Moroccan Mint Tea is served with a cube of sugar and a side of watermelon and delectable dates. All done naturally of course and perfect for summer.
Oudh Infini : Dusita : Pissara Umavijani : I first tried Pissara’s perfumes in Esxence back in March when this range really made a splash. Oudh Infini was the stand out for me and smells divine. Blissful in fact. Oud, rose, sandalwood and other notables slay with an animalic purr. Uber hyped in the fragrance community but for good reason.
Rahele : Neela Vermeire Creations : Bertrand Duchaufour : A beautiful lightly spiced suede and osmanthus perfume that feels as though it’s been touched by the West more than the East this time around. Elegance over exoticism.
Rendezvous : Dawn Spencer Hurwitz : This was one of the first fragrances I tried from Dawn’s collection and was completely blown away by her retro nouveau naughty animalic. I also loved Chinchilla too, but Rendezvous nudged it.
Secrets du Paradis Rouge : Jul et Mad : Luca Maffei : A big orange blossom that feels like a cousin to last year’s Néa although the sweetness is dialled down a notch. A fragrance to celebrate the founding duo’s honeymoon, it feels decadent and uplifting.
Honourable Mentions :
If my list was a little longer I would also add in :
Baptême de Feu from Serge Lutens : This one is surprisingly addictive even though I wasn’t a fan at first. Weird but in a good way. : Chanel No 5 L’Eau from Chanel : Finally a Chanel No 5 for me to love. Light, radiant and easy to wear. : Rainmaker from En Voyage : Another beautiful perfume from Shelley Waddington that makes me feel like I’m walking through a dense forest in the rain. : Sheiduna from Puredistance : An elegant oriental that exudes sensual glamour. : Vert des Bois from Tom Ford Private Blend : A green faceted perfume with lashings of patchouli and plum. Yes please.
Perfumed Oil : Amber Flush : Tauer Perfumes : I’m a big fan of body oils and adore this ambered scent that goes on smoothly and fragrances skin the entire day. I need to get my hands on the rose as well.
Bottle: Galop : Hermes : Beautiful bottle. Hermes design is unfailingly top notch.
Advertisement : Kenzo World : Great freaky dancing directed by the geeky weird brilliance of Spike Jonze. The perfume unfortunately did not deliver on the promise of the game changing campaign. It probably moved the fashion brand closer to a whole new generation though (plus they did the collaboration with H&M as well).
Perfume Publication : NEZ : A French publication by the team behind Au Parfum, there are two releases of this magazine to date. All in French of course.
Perfume Book : Bad Girls Perfume : Sarah Colton : I really fell for the frothy light hearted nature of this book that belied the research involved to select a wonderful array of perfumes from vintage to modern set to a Bad Girls theme.
Break Out Brand and Concept : Dusita : Pissara Umajivani and Dusita became the brand on everyone’s lips. The perfumes are fabulous plus the whole East meets West and poetic nature of the brand works. Pissara herself is gracious, extremely personable and adept at social media, readily engaging with perfume lovers.
Back To Life : Le Jardin Retrouvé : Originally launched in 1975, this house has been resurrected recently with a collection of seven perfumes including my favourite Citron Boboli, that really challenged my prejudice against lemon fragrances. I’ve always thought these were a tad on the bore snore side. This however is a lemon to love with spice and intrigue.
Photos from left to right : Etat Libre d’Orange x 2, Campomarzio, Parfum Et Vous, Etat Libre d’Orange, Jovoy x 2, Campomarzio and Parfum Et Vous.
Stores : I visited a few great niche perfume boutiques and department stores laden with scent. Finally I made it to Jovoy in Paris and this has to be noted due to its HUGE selection of perfumes in a very large space. I actually prefer the smaller stores though with a low key, friendly vibe. Among my favourites is Campomarzio in Milan with a lovely selection of perfumes and excellent, knowledgeable staff. For a more intimate experience Etat Libre d’Orange, located in the Marais area of Paris is a stand out. The customer service is outstanding. I met with Thomas Lindet who I’d previously met at Pitti and he really is fantastic, knows his stuff and his perfume.
There is also a new perfume showroom located in Nice called Parfum et Vous that I will mention briefly now but will write more about soon. I believe they will be opening by appointment only in the future so you can be sure you’re getting a personalised experience.
Perfume Ranges that I fell in love with this year that haven’t been mentioned include :
April Aromatics. I have sampled each perfume in the range and they really are exquisite. The perfumes are natural which personally for me is a good thing when they are done well. Tanja Boching the founder also has a range of superb chakra oils that I’m working my way through.
Nabucco is a range that is hard to find but worth your while. They smell very different to anything I’ve smelt before, very herbal or very gourmand depending on which one you’re trying. There are three perfumes and my favourite is Amatys, a luscious gourmand.
Anatole Lebreton is another range that is worth tracking down. He released Grimoire, late in 2016 and I haven’t yet tried it, but I’m sure it’s another stellar addition to his collection.
2017 – The Year Ahead
There are a number of ranges that I’m interested in getting to know better including : Zoologist Perfumes, Bogue, Aftelier Perfume, Aroma M Perfumes, 4160 Tuesdays … the list goes on. There will also be far more mainstream perfume exploration in my future this year too. Plus I really want to get hold of a bottle of Stash from Sarah Jessica Parker.
Personally I hope to try a few different things this year including videos (although I’m a little apprehensive about this to say the least) and hopefully a format to link in with other bloggers too. I’ve also started dipping my toes into the perfume world work wise. I’ve worked with a few perfume and beauty brands in addition to branding and advertising agencies to date and it’s wonderful when this merges with your passion.
Thank you for reading and before I sign out here’s to a very fragrant 2017 and let’s raise a glass to all of the creative and business minds that bring great scent to our noses, mind and body.
Disclaimer : For perfumes on the Favourite 15 list I have been provided with samples by the company or a store except for Angel Muse that I purchased myself. I also provide services to Atelier Des Ors, that I would like to note for transparency. Nevertheless, all opinions are my own.
Note : Images : All photos from the respective brand except for Featured, Richard Lüscher Britos, store photos, April Aromatics and Anatole Lebreton by Megan In Sainte Maxime.