Hello fragrant friends. I do hope that 2019 is going well for you so far. 💥 It’s that special time of year again, (although I admit I’m fairly late to the party and am sneaking this in before the close of January), when it’s time to reflect on the best of scent in 2018. Anyway I thought I’d still like to do write this nonetheless. Here I’ll mention my favourite fragrances of 2018, rather than making any claim to what is the best perfume of the year. This is because I make no effort to smell everything that has been released and far from it actually, as I find I’m sampling far less and know my own tastes and preferences, that you will either agree with … or not.
When you’ve journeyed down the rabbit hole for more than a couple of years, I do think that the urge to try the latest incarnation dies down somewhat. There isn’t that huge desire to order in hundreds of samples like you do in the initial rush of blood to the head phase. This is when you are in the grips of an addiction and believe me it does calm down. What tends to happen is that you start to understand your tastes more, what you are drawn to, the notes that you particularly enjoy, a genre of perfume, brand or perfumer that you rate highly. Then you can be more selective and put a stop to the wasted hours and money spent on the sampling craziness.
One day you realise you have so many samples that you’re not quite sure what to do with them. Then you realise that you have so many bottles of perfume bought in the initial ‘semi crazy’ phase that you now don’t really like as much, as your tastes have moved on. You look at the initial collection (with the odd exception) and wonder what you were thinking. I’m sure this will be familiar to many of you. On Instagram I see hundreds of people in the early throes of the addiction and it’s so intense, that I am quite glad that I’ve pulled back a bit. I don’t want you to think that I don’t love perfume anymore, it’s just that I no longer get the adrenalin rush when I hear of a new release in the same way I once did. Perfume is now an old friend rather than a new lover.
Like many bloggers I have been writing less. I didn’t pen that many reviews last year and most of these perfumes on the list I may not have even mentioned yet, but some of them I will be taking the time to elaborate on. Life has been busy and I don’t have as much time to devote myself here and while I still enjoy writing I have moved on in terms of my perfume addiction, although the industry still fascinates me. I also now have some work in different sectors of the biz so I’m happy about that. I know far more about things I didn’t even consider before and see things through a slightly different lens.
Generally speaking I do think there were very good releases in 2018. We know there are so many releases that it’s practically impossible to sniff them all and I don’t think even Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez achieved that in their mammoth sniffing sessions for Perfumes The Guide. There are also more viewpoints expressed today in the fragrance world which is a good thing as it shows the rise in appeal of the category and speaks to an evolution in the tastes and styles of perfume lovers. There has been an explosion of YouTube and Instagram accounts that are garnering large followings and are truly influential with the new wave of fragrance lovers entering the scene. Perfume people (aka the fragrance community #fragcomm) are united all around the world via social media and this is one of the great aspects of these platforms. Of course there is also the downside to the lack of privacy and addictive elements but I have met people online that I’ve then seen in real life which is cool. The proliferation of fragrance lovers does mean that there may hardly be any crossover these days on what people prefer. You will read different lists or best ofs and there is such diversity, and yes this is a good thing.
Here are my favourites in alphabetical order.
Another beautiful perfume from Mandy Aftel that resonates with aged materials including civet and ambergris to conjure a scent that smells earthy, hay like and ambery. It feels majestic, like walking in ancient woods with the Norse Gods, yet somehow feels completely appropriate when cosying around the house.
Bois Sikar : Atelier Des Ors : Marie Salamagne
Bois Sikar is what I believe the bros on Instagram would classify as ‘beast mode’ and apologies if that wording triggered any of you. It is a large smoky perfume up front that conjures a fiery night in, although it does transform into something less intense that really smells beautiful when inhaled from the comfort of a jumper or scarf. Bois Sikar is composed of woods, smoke and even a touch of vanilla as the scent dries down. The scent skews masculine but of the four releases from Atelier Des Ors this year this was one of my two favourites.
Choeur Des Anges : Atelier Des Ors : Marie Salamagne
I wore this perfume a lot in 2018 and am still wearing it to bring some cheer into the winter months. If you like orange blossom perfumes that err to the fruity, floral gourmand style then you must try Choeur Des Anges. It’s sweetly intense with honey and a blend of pear and blackcurrant but also has carrot seed that provides that rooty, iris like scent that cuts through as a nice counterpoint. It’s a huge swathe of sunshine that makes me smile with every spray.
Cherry is back. Lost Cherry from Tom Ford was a hyped perfume that I am rather partial to, but Eau Cerise swoops in and steals the show. I was lucky enough to meet Dawn last year at the Art & Olfaction Awards, and she has had a stellar year. Dawn is prolific and so sometimes great perfumes may slip through the cracks, but if you enjoy the deliciously, addictive black cherry scent then this is the bomb straight from the Garden of Eden.
Geisha Botan really snuck up on me and is wonderfully addictive. This is a peony infused perfume that you may think is quite light at first, but it’s wonderfully tenacious and very, very good. It feels like being bathed in the softest, most exquisite pink light. How a peony should smell.
Hyde : Hiram Green
This is one of my favourite Hiram Green releases (and I’ve enjoyed them all). Hyde is a leather birch tar fragrance. This is not usually a style I enjoy if the truth be told, however there is a transition in this perfume that is simply wonderful and this huge breath of labdanum and vanilla takes me to a higher plane. Bliss.
L’Iris de Fath : Jacques Fath : Patrice Revillard and Yohan Cervi
Rania Naim‘s creative direction this year has been outstanding. She has released five perfumes and this limited edition reinterpretation of the classic Iris Gris is a stand out and one that you really must smell if you can. The iris is ferociously beautiful with peachy undertones and apparently this winning pitch by two young perfumers was the hands down star.
Irisistible is an iris perfume with a difference as it doesn’t smell orris centric nor does it have a rooty, or metallic take either. Irissitible feels like a visual representation of Georgia O’Keefe‘s White Iris, resplendent in its multi coloured pastel hues. The perfume at times reads juicy then powdery with generous streaks of rainbow joy from the supporting florals – jasmine and rose. Another wonderful perfume from April Aromatics.
Red Shoes : Jacques Fath : Cécile Zarokian
Red Shoes is a stiletto rose perfume. This is no shrinking rose but a full bodied dancer garnished with patchouli and berries. Red Shoes really took me by surprise and it’s quite difficult to describe. There’s an overload of sharpness and spiciness that make for an interesting perfume. If you’re looking for a rose scent that is strong and complex with a dose of the WOW factor, then Red Shoes is a must try. To be fair, I really enjoyed all four of the fragrances in this series. There are two perfumes by Cecile and two signed by Luca Maffei (of which Velours Boisé is my other favourite).
Remember Me : Jovoy : Cecile Zarokian :
Cécile Zarokian is a perfumer who is doing great work right now. She has created my beloved Tango from Masque Milano and Remember Me is up there with her best. Think of a milky chai tea with a delicious sip of cardamom. The trick here is the transparent sheen, it’s not overly dense or syrupy. This is undoubtedly one of my most worn perfumes of the year that still manages to intrigue.
Y06-S : Blackbird perfume : Nicole Miller
One of the stand outs at the Essence show was the Blackbird stand. Nicole Miller is a creative force and has crafted a really interesting line of fragrances and incense. The bottles are great too and instantly likeable. Y06-S is like a radioactive banana candy. It’s one of those fragrances that is weird and wonderful and all the better for it.
Fleur de Peau and Tempo from Diptyque. The former is a great skin floral and Tempo, a full on patchouli in a modern dress. Cardamusc from Hermes is a simply stunning perfume oil, but unfortunately I have only tried it once but would love a bottle to fall in my lap.
I enjoyed Paris-Venise from Chanel and their trio of colognes concept. They were not really wow fragrances, although that isn’t what Chanel does, I know. Paris-Venise is also rather fleeting so just as well it comes in a giant bottle. Carat from Cartier isn’t the type of scent I usually go for as it’s clean, fresh and sparkling and made me think of babies. The bottle really does shine like a diamond though. The other perfume worth noting here is Nomade by Chloe, a more interesting designer scent that feels like a modern chypre, however there is a scratchy synthetic smell that lurks too close to the surface for me, so unfortunately means I can’t wear it. However if you’re anosmic to smelling the screech, it will likely be very enjoyable for you.
The big designer release of the year for feminine perfume had to be Joy, from Dior and it smelt fine if not a little boring, in the same way that Gabrielle from Chanel smelt perfectly reasonable but was lacking in any discernible personality.
There were perfume ranges that I enjoyed discovering in 2018 and look forward to their future endeavours. One is Sarah Baker Perfumes, a range with a great presentation and quirky scents. The other is Jovoy, a collection that I was well aware of, but hadn’t really had the chance to smell the scents, however Remember Me has opened the door here.
There are also fragrance lines to try that I have heard good things about including St Clair, Bedeaux and Frassai. I will undoubtedly also be trying Jeremy Fragrance‘s first perfume Office for Men! I’m sure there will be more discoveries at Esxence as well.
And that dear friends is a wrap. Thank you for reading and let me know about any of your discoveries too.
Notes : Images from the appropriate brand except for the cover photo and Sarah Baker’s Lace by Megan In Sainte Maxime. // Disclosure : I provide services for Atelier Des Ors so I’m undoubtedly biased in that regard. //