Hello everyone and welcome to 2018. Here’s to a Fragrant New Year across the globe 🌺. I’m going to take you through my favourite fragrances of the year and a few musings. This is a year where I blogged less frequently for various reasons, however my interest is still intact although a tad more subdued. I still love perfume and diving into the olfactory world but may have smelt fewer scents than in previous years.
I admit that I can’t keep up and don’t even try anymore. The market has developed substantially since my perfume devotion started – indie, artisanal, designer niche, luxury etc and within these categories are various sub segments. Buy outs have made once exclusive brands more widely distributed and perhaps less special. Niche is blurring with mainstream and the marketing is also more strongly developed to replicate this, especially if the brand has been bought out by a larger beauty business or is part of an investment portfolio. Advertising in the mainstream press is now not ruled out for brands that are owned by larger entities and have fatter budgets.
Limited distribution is not what is going to make your perfume sell, so brands are branching out into duty-free and e-commerce platforms. Brands are also running to create a stand alone store as this provides a good signal to investors. Small boutiques are now also the preserve of the big brands keen to showcase their exclusive collections. Customisation has been a trend for many years now in consumer land and make your own scent workshops have taken off as well as engravings, a selection of coloured ribbons and leather cover etc. Olfactory dinners are sprouting up all over the world as well as mixology and perfume. Facebook groups are doing collaborations with perfumers too. Arty perfume exhibitions are the talk of the town and generally speaking it’s not as embarrassing as it once was to say you like perfume.
So without further ado, the following list is my pick of the perfumes I’ve encountered this year with the giant caveat that I’ve sampled just a teeny fraction of the releases.
My Top 15 (in alphabetical order)
611 Extremo : Giovanna Antonelli : Cecile Matton
I actually loved the whole collection in this celebrity range and it was difficult to pick just one and really all three perfumes in the collection have had ample time on skin. 611 Extremo though is the one that I reached for often in summer. It’s a glamorous, going out perfume but also a mood booster and the blend of tuberose and jasmine in this neon floral is spectacular. It also has a few other elements that make for a few interesting twists such as licorice. It has that polished feel and if you like a vampy white floral then check it out – and in fact try the whole range.
Aura : Mugler : Daphne Bugey, Amandine Clerc-Marie, Christophe Raynaud, Marie Salamagne
I wanted to include a mainstream release in here and of those I tried this year I’m gunning for Aura. Admittedly this has taken a while to gravitate to, it was not an instant connection. Aura has a very soft, silky texture and includes new captives, wolf wood and the intriguingly named tiger liana that amped up the interest. For those of you who let’s face it are a little scared by the brashness of most Mugler fumes, then this takes a more softly, softly approach with a more subdued sillage. With a slight medicinal aspect and a boozy vanilla dry down it is a novel entrant to the Mugler canon.
This is a classy emerald-green perfume with elegance and class from Liz Moores, one of the best artisan perfumers around. For a green chypre it manages to be warm, not cold and aloof which is a rare feat. Forest floors and beautiful green, crystalline evening dresses are summoned here.
PS if you haven’t read my review, Liz kindly offered up her Dryad cocktail recipe so you can even get inspired this holiday season. I thought we should have another go at this 🍸
2 parts Hendricks gin
2 parts triple sec
1 part Apricot brandy
The juice of 1 lime
Top with tonic, fill with ice and finished with a spritz of bergamot oil.
Foxy : DSH Perfume : Dawn Spencer HurwitzIt turns out that indie perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is wonderfully adept at creating animalic retro nouveau fragrances with a delicious, furry like texture. With Foxy we have a lovely ambered scent with a touch of boozy apple whiskey. Yes please. If you like this style I also recommend Rendezvous, another animalic masterfully created by Dawn. She is extremely prolific so it can be difficult to keep up but her perfumes are truly wonderful and I highly recommend the line.
A romantically pretty perfume that comes over cocktail ready – all tropical, creamy and smooth from Pissara Umajivani, who with each new addition to her collection seems to be surpassing her already high standard. This scent transported me right back to happy times spent relaxing on a Pacific Island, reading, swimming and eating sashimi. Tropical flowers, rose, clove and creamy sandalwood are a dream reverie.
Le Sillage Blanc : Parfums Dusita : Pissara Umavijani
This was my year of coming around to green fragrances and Le Sillage Blanc was one that turned my head. Less bitch slap than Bandit and far more approachable, more optimistic with a defined sense of power and purpose. I adore the neroli and orange opening and the transition to the leathery, green phase is stunning.
A love potion of happiness and joy encased in a vividly orange coloured liquid. Champaca and oud are erotically blended to create what is an unusual yet rewarding perfume and a defiant mood enhancer.
I’ll include here what Christophe Laudamiel says about the fragrance to tempt you further :
A natural-like Muguet emerging from a Chypre fond made of real oakmoss and plenty of oudh. A rare and deep Gardenia extract wraps the moss, and natural Champaca gives depth to the Muguet. Like in elegant French perfumery a touch of Tagette is part of the je-ne-sais-quoi. One has to smell lostinflowers to believe it.
Musc Immortel : Atelier Des Ors : Marie Salamagne
Musc Immortel is for now a Harrods exclusive so is difficult to get hold of and closely related to Iris Fauve, that I picked as one of last year’s favourites, so no surprise really that I’ve fallen hard for this. This is the perfume I wore the most frequently in 2017 and at times this gorgeous iris and vetiver hued perfume flecked with warmth and immortelle offered such sweet relief.
Mx. : Eris Parfums : Antoine Lie
Mx. is from Barbara Herman’s excellent line of vintage hued creations. This time around though we’re talking a milky, woody perfume lightly spiced with a right about now feel. This is a highly wearable, perfect for any occasion perfume with a deliciously loved up feel that I think we could all do with right now.
Naja : Vero Profumo : Vero Kern
Naja is a reptilian shapeshifter and one triumphantly gorgeous perfume that Kern created to mark her ten years in perfumery. A release from Kern is a major moment in the scent sphere and with Naja there is a wonderful mix of the old and the new. Here we have a tobacco themed fragrance slithering with fruit and linden flowers. It’s fantastic.
Nuit de Bakélite : Naomi Goodsir : Isabelle Doyen
I like that this is a rather twisted take on tuberose that brings a green, vegetal floral vibe. It has a bit of a vintage feel for me, except it’s brand spanking new. Doyen is a top perfumer and Goodsir is a creative so the mix of talents here is quite something. Nuit de Bakélite has been a long time coming, but well worth the wait.
Subversive dollops of magenta rose cream served with woods, oud and imagination is the synopsis of this beautiful creation from natural perfumer Tanja Bochnig. It seems as though tiny sparkles of rosy pink stardust flecked with oud have been sprinkled all around. Her range is outstanding and it has cohesiveness and energy that I welcome.
Revolution : Cire Trudon : Lyn Harris
I believe that many people preferred Mortel but for me this smoky gun battle won out. I don’t have a perfume like this in my collection and gravitated to the slightly roughed up feel that straddled the right line of smoky. I like that Harris didn’t overcook things here. Also as a side note this works beautifully layered with II from the collection for a smoky green overdose.
Slowdive : Hiram Green Perfumes : Hiram GreenThis is a very late entry to the piece but after trying this syrupy tobacco fragrance, it has to go on the list. If you follow my blog you may know that I’m a fan of the line, so I await what he does with interest. I was lucky enough to get a teaser sniff at Pititi Fragranze in September from Hiram and liked what I smelt. Now I have my sample and a 10ml winging its way to me as a late Xmas present. Think tobacco brightened by Green’s skilful use of neroli and orange and a more fruity tone from a tuberose inflection. I do need to spend more time with this to do a review, but I love it already, so there you go.
Warszawa : Puredistance : Antoine Lie
Warszawa is a real treat from Puredistance and something that I gravitated immediately towards. A beautifully grown up perfume that straddles the line between chic and sensual. It’s a bit boudoir but with a classy edge. Perfection.
Best Concept : Our Modern Lives from Sarah McCartney
I encountered this line at Pitti Fragranze and will be doing Quick Sniffs for you in early 2018. There are seven natural botanical perfumes and two hypoallergenic synthetics. The line has a contemporary lifestyle vibe that fits with a yoga sensibility and are also perfect for those wanting a more natural alternative. The scents are great, the packaging is wonderful and I wish Sarah success with this line. 4160 Tuesday’s of course is more well-known but let’s hope this catches on too.
Perfume Star : Jeremy Fragrance
Even though I tend to stick to the niche end of the spectrum, everyone has heard of Jeremy Fragrance who focuses more on mainstream releases. He is as far away from Katie Puckrick’s style as you could imagine, yet this is one guy who is definitely getting the views and followers on his YouTube channel. In the mainstream perfume arena he is the bona fide rock star. He also is rather charming and quite down to earth and it will be interesting to see which path he goes down in the future.
Best Exhibition Involving Perfume : Dior
This exhibition in Paris felt like a once in a lifetime experience. It’s really that good. The dresses, the perfume, just everything was superlative. Click on the link above to see more.
Best New Perfume Development : Le Grand Musée du Parfum
A must visit if you’re in Paris and a great way to position perfume as an art form and to lend it more cultural weight.
The fragrances I really enjoyed from only one sniff but need to track down
A Trembling Rose from Linda Landenberg : Belles Rives from La Parfumerie Moderne : Faith Sultan Mehmed from Fort & Manlé : Grimoire from Anatole Lebreton : Under My Skin from Francesca Bianchi.
Perfume lines that I tried for the first time and loved
Aroma M : Japanese inspired oils and perfumes that are wonderfully crafted and I’m looking forward to what Maria McElroy does next // Francesca Bianchi : A beautiful artisan line with interesting, great smelling scents. Her new perfume Under My Skin is as fabulous as its predecessor. // Grandiflora : From Sydney, this line has wonderful florals and some very interesting fragrances centred around a theme e.g. Magnolia or Boronia. Boronia I really enjoyed actually and if I did a Top 20 it would be on the list. // Sultan Pasha : I met Sultan at Pitti Fragranze and his IrisSoir is to die for. OMG it’s a must try and I will get around to reviewing his scents tout de suite. // Zoologist : Victor Wong has a great concept here with his perfumes designed around animals and works with top indie creators. He is very open on social media too and allows us to post reviews on his Facebook group. Thank you Victor! //
So many lines to experience for 2018
One range that I must track down is Aftelier Perfumes. Mandy Aftel and I must order something through her website to get to know her line. // Galivant is a new line that has garnered some buzz and it’s on the list. //
The weight of expectation is with Chanel and new perfumer Olivier Polges. Gabrielle was unfortunately rather boring and it was my biggest disappointment of the year. I bought it as soon as it came out as it’s Chanel darling, but really I wanted more from that sweet floral … but no. It also didn’t last particularly well either. Hopefully they’ll come up with something decent in the Les Exclusives line this year.
On a Personal Note – Some Highlights
The interesting thing about blogging is that many people actually start doing some work in the industry as well, even though they might not state this. There is potential to promote fragrances, become an agent, copywrite, take photos, write paid reviews or run workshops. Some eventually start their own brand or become perfumers. There are many ways a fragrance / olfaction addict can start working in the business and these are but a few.
On a personal note, I’ve now completed a few projects in the fragrance industry, providing many learnings from the other side of the mirror so to speak. My passion is starting to merge with work and hopefully there will be more opportunities to develop this further. I have plenty of ideas on this front, they just require action.
A second visit to the Roudnitska gardens. This feels like the spiritual home of modern perfumery. Also the view from the office at Accords et Parfums is spectacular.
I was also invited to speak on a panel at Esxence however it turned out that the presentation ran a little over time as Christophe Laudamiel is absolutely brilliant and it was his show. Maybe next year?
Mood Scent 4 has been a fabulous diversion this year with IScent You A Day, A Bottled Rose and L’Esperessence where we pick a theme e.g. Rainy Day Perfumes and go forth and choose a selection of scents for it. It’s liberating to do something as part of a team as blogging can be a lonely venture. We’re continuing this year too so stay tuned.
What happened to my YouTube plans? Well I see from reading my list from last year that I said this would be on the cards. Well I did set my account up but really that was as far as it went. This year I’m going to get over myself and do it. Or just post more videos on Instagram which seems a lot less scary to me.
Also I would like to say that this passion has led to friendships, unexpected encounters and perhaps it it this aspect that has been the most surprising element. I’ve met up with many perfumed people, made friends and here’s to many more adventures in 2018!
If you’re still here after that long read, please let me know your fragrant highlights for 2017 and hopes for this year. All the best to everyone that reads this blog and thank you for visiting and reading.
Notes : Images from the brand except for : Featured floral photo, Aura, Dior, Le Grand Musée du Parfum, Roudnitska and Mood Scent 4 by Megan In Sainte Maxime //Disclosure : I provide services for Atelier Des Ors. //