Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scented Best of the Best for 2009

The end of the year (and of the decade no less!) usually instills a sense of recapitulation in all of us and why should perfume bloggers be any different? So, in a joint project of numerous bloggers (linked at the bottom), please read what we thought was la crème de la crème of l'art de la parfumerie (the art of perfumery) but also more importantly l'art de vivre (the art of living)!
[Click the highlighted links below for full reviews and articles].

*Best Perfumery Trends in 2009:
The ambergris note treated like skin-chiffon (Prada L'Eau Ambrée)
Greenery via Impressionistic watercolours (A Scent by Issey Miyake, Lauder Jasmine White Moss, Ormonde Jayne Tiare, and Cristalle Eau Verte for Chanel ~although the latter not exactly to my taste)
Ambrette seeds as the new "dry" martini cologne touch (Eau de Gentiane Blanche for Hermès)
Scent performances & exhibitions: Christoph Laudamiel created the fist scent opera. A brave new world indeed!
And may I say "enough with the mythos of oud"? Read the truth about this 2009-defining material (oud/oudh/agarwood) on our article.

*Best in Niche:
A very good year! Lots of worthy contestants for all tastes:
Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles : For sunny pine lovers.
Ormonde Jayne Tiare: The perfect crisp green floral chypre!
Andy Tauer Une Rose Chyprée: A decadent rich rose with mossy accents.
Ineke Field Notes from Paris : The gourmand touch in tobacco and orange blossom.
Amouage Epic Woman: Probably the best oudh and rose combo on the market right now.
Hermessences Vanille Galante: If you even remotely consider vanilla, well, "vanilla" (ie. non adventurous, safe, juvenile), give this a try!
Anya's Garden Starflower: A gourmand with guts! Unusual combination, great lasting power for an all-naturals.

*Best Mainstream:
A category which wasn't really stellar this year. Still a few examples I tried fulfilled my criteria, alongside a couple mentioned on the New Perfumery Trends abovie (the Prada, the Miyake, the Lauder...). To try out:
Hermès Eau de Gentiane Blanche
Narciso Rodriguez Essence

*Best Vintage Finds this year & History Write-Ups I enjoyed writing:
Chanel the elusive No.46
Medieval and Rennaisance Perfume Use and Perfumery
Nina Ricci Coeur Joie
Lancôme Kypre
Guerlain Loin de Tout: Guerlain re-copyrighted the defunct name right after our review. Here's hoping!
Germaine Cellier: La Fuite des Heures alongside Elysee 63.84 (review following!) were the crowning of my exploration in this perfumer's opus.

*Best Packaging/Advertising:
Natori by Josie Natori: Simply gorgeous bottle!
Chanel No.5 commercial with Audrey Tautou: The images in No.5's history are blinking and we get an eyefull of romanticism through Jeunet's glance.
La Prairie Life Threads: If only the (middle of the road) scents reflected the sheer beauty of the bottles!

*Best in Home-Scenting:
The new Frederic Malle home-scent line with as much attention given to the composition as in fine fragrances (creators Dominique Ropion, Carlos Benaïm and Sophia Grosjman were enlisted) and innovative media (fleurs mecaniques and scent-emitting incense pads) are the way forward.

*Notable Perfumers for their Excellence in 2009:
~Isabelle Doyenne: Her A.Goutal work ~and the difficult reformulations ahead~, her Les Nez contributions, her wonderful mien; she's a force to be reckoned with! Interview here.
~Sandrine Videault: Her foray into Les Nez with the anthropological and also anthropophagous White Floral Scentoon from the Blue Lagoon (Manoumalia, of course) was launched on the cusp of 2009, but it's included because of its sheer brilliance. Interview here.
~Andy Tauer: Is there a more generous perfumer or one who is more in tune with internet marketing? Not just generous, a genius too!
~Mathilde Laurent's long-awaited resurfacing at Cartier: We thought she had vanished. The lady is back!
~Jean Claude Ellena: In my personal pantheon he is the master of delicate artistry and philosophical exploration. His original work at Hermes this year proves he will go down in history alongside the greats.

*Best Brand Revival:
Grossmith: Three scents that smell natural, rich and positively caught in a time-wrap! Fit for historians comme moi and vintage-lovers alike. Looking forward to what else they will come up with in the future.

*Best Hype:
La Maison Francis Kurkdjian: He's quite talented, all right, but did anyone else get the feeling journalists were lusting over his fine figure too in devoting so much coverage to his new venture (breakthrough though it might be)? Impressive powers of suggestion at the very least.
Runner-up? Discussions on "the art of perfumery" are emerging as The New Black. Time to place the issue on a new level, folks! We're not through yet, but here's a bit to get you started.

*Best scent-related Realisation:
Celebrity scents are not going away. I have finally given up on expecting them to and just let them slide off my back with the occassional sniffing when caught with nothing better to do.

*Best Admission from within the industry:
Serge Lutens solving once and for all the (fake) dilemma of vintage-is-always-better: Admitting ALL scents (you heard this right!) are routinely ~and have always been~ reformulated every couple of years to conform to the regulations imposed by IFRA and legislation. Now you know!

*And an honorary Worst Piece of News:
The discontinuation of Guerlain's Attrape Coeur which we brought to you through these pages. It merits its place in the Best of 2009 though, because the mere asking for confirmation made artistic director Sylvaine Delacourte request an immediate board meeting at Guerlain! We feel vindicated: the perfume community (us) is being heard!

*Best Perfume Term Coined this year:
"Bootichouli" by indie perfumer Armando Martinez for the (dream-like; nay, Utopian) upcoming emergence of animalic chypres featuring civet and patchouli instead of the current "sanitized" ones. (Read all about it here). Could Sarah Jessica Parker with her upcoming "body odour" scent be on the cusp of something? See Best Realisation above.

*Best Inexpensive Finds (beauty & scent-related):
Diptyque Opopanax room spray: It's super economical (ml per ml), lasts well, can be sprayed on air, skin or fabric, has the best aspects of vintage Shalimar. What's not to like? Just grab it!
Nivea Teint Delight gel foundation: I believe this hasn't hit the US (yet). It's simply a pleasure to use for normal skins with no major concerns, very sheer like tinted moisturiser and feels like nothing on as it's water-based. Plus available in 6 shades. Not that my Chanel Vitalumiere is feeling jealous yet, but it's got its place in my stash, probably for summer. And it has a "fresh" smell too (might be a con for some, though).
Crazy Libellule & the Poppies Musk & Patchouli stick solid perfume. A simple "sent bon" (smells good) which is subtle, sensuous and nuzzingly warm. Does anyone know of a liquid alcohol-based equivalent? I'm smitten!

*Best Light Reading:
What French Women Know by Debra Ollivier. The eternal divide between American and French ideals, seen through the (witty & perceptive) gaze of a US-expatriate married to a Frenchman. Guilty pleasure.

*Best Gift I Got:
A Kindle. I rest my case...

What were YOUR favourite finds this year?

More participating blogs on these links, please don't forget to visit:
Mossy Loomings,1000fragrances, Smelly Blog, Bittergrace Notes, Shoes-cake-perfume,
Eiderdown Press Journal, Scent Hive, Olfactarama, Roxana's Illuminated Journal,
A Rose Beyond the Thames, The Non Blonde, Notes from the Ledge, I smell therefore I am,
Under the Cupola, All I am a Redhead, Perfume In Progress, Savvy Thinker

Pics via marieclaire, meblogging.com, profumiaromi.blogspot.com, laurenmechling.com


  1. Excellent year-end wrap up E! Loved reading your faves of the year.

    Happy New Year to you and all your readers!


  2. I know its not on the list but... this year I discovered Une Rose by Malle - one great rose :)

  3. Fiordiligi09:24

    Terrific year-end summary, dearest E! What a lot of ground you've covered this last year.

    Of course, I especially agree with you on the Grossmiths, and about the sadness of the departing Attrape-Coeur.

    Here's to a great New Year (and new decade)!

  4. E., i love your list!! Thank you.
    Wishing you a wonderful healthy and safe trip into 2010!


  5. Superb and complete as is everything you do, E! Your list reminds me that I still want to try Manoumalia and Vanille Galante, among others.

    Thanks so much for organizing this, and best wishes to you for a very happy new year in 2010!

  6. thank you so much for arranging the project- I am looking forward to reading everyone's answers. I hope 2010 is a very good year for you and all your readers.

  7. Anonymous16:58

    Wonderful summary of 2009. For myself, I will remember 2009 as the year both Hermes and Guerlain opened boutiques in my city....it's been wonderful sampling all of their offerings.


  8. Love your picks E- Happy New Year!

  9. Trish,

    thank you!! I do hope everyone gets a new year that is prosperous and creative, full of love and passionate pursuits.


  10. M,

    as always excellent taste. I agree, UR is a dark, shady and earthy rose that bypasses the clear, ladylike tonalities of so many others and becomes unique.

  11. D,

    dearest, thank you so much! It honours me to have such dedicated readers and friends such as yourself. And yes, we see eye to eye on several things, very true.

    Here's hoping to a wonderful new year (and decade)! Raising my glass alongside you. :-)

  12. N,

    you're most welcome and thanks for dropping by! It's great to hear from you always :-))

    Hugs to you and all my best for the New Year!

  13. Suzanne,

    thank you honey for this wonderful compliment, you really do flatter me!
    It's simply great to group together unique voices and see common threads that bind us together. I feel close to all of you.
    And by all means, do try Manoumalia and Vanille Galante!! (I would even send samples!)They're totally sample-worthy, even if you end up deciding they're not your speed.

  14. K,

    you're so very kind, thank you for participating!
    Hope 2010 finds us all content and satiated, among loved ones.

  15. Dagney,

    thank you! It is indeed wonderful when you suddenly have access to things you thought unreachable. I still remember the thrill of finding out our city's Hermes boutique had all the Hermessences!

  16. Jen,

    thank you so much for dropping in and commenting and glad we agree!
    Hope 2010 is splendid for you and bon voyage!! ;-)

  17. Mystic Knot10:08

    Thanks for a great round up - and for the little tidbit from Serge Lutens about the routine reformulation of scents. Oddly, it makes me feel a little better.

  18. Hi Dear
    FELIZ ANO NOVO! Beijocas de Elisabeth

  19. Anonymous18:36

    Dear E,

    This is a very thorough review of the year. I am looking forward to your writings for years to come.
    Happy New Year!


  20. My microbusiness in with that company of "big" niche perfumers? Thanks so much E!

    Have a wonderful New Year, and know you have helped "make" mine ;-)

    The creator of OIAB (ask Ida what that means, lol)


  21. Rappleyea14:22

    Happy, Happy New Year, E. I hope that it is a wonderful one for you. Thank you for all that you do. Great year end list. I love that SD called a board meeting at Guerlain. Think anything will come of it? Power to the woman! And I take issue with SL - vintage IS always better - lol!

    On a personal note: best perfume discovery - Chanel Cuir de Russie. Where have you been all of my life, the Guerlie Girl asks.
    Worst perfume discovery: Something in the Amouages gives me a headache! Ouch!!

    Hugs to you,

  22. Anonymous23:10

    Dearest E,

    Happy New Year to you!

    Thank you for the review; it helped me relive some of my own perfume moments of 2009. If I may, here are a few of my picks:

    Best in Niche: Andy Tauer all the way! A purchase of some samples plus a lucky win in his Advent draw has allowed me to sample all of his perfumes this year and what an experience it has been. I have been humbled by the way in which he has opened my eyes to ingredients I thought I "could not stand". I love all his fragrances for all kinds of different reasons.

    Best Mainstream: Guerlain's Idylle was a shocker after so many disappointments in their recent "mainstream" releases. It is complex and compelling off the top and i think I love it.

    Best Vintage: I discovered vintage Sous le Vent from Guerlain and if I could I would wear it everyday. Perfect.


  23. Nice round up! Totally agree with the Tiare choice in the niche category.

  24. MK,

    you're most welcome and yup, it adds to the respect for me as well. :-)

  25. Elizabeth,

    feliz ano novo!! And thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  26. Arwen,

    oh, you're so sweet and kind to me. Thank you, thank you!
    Happy new year to you and yours. :-)

  27. Anya,

    when something is worthy of mention, something is worthy of mention. Microbusinesses are where the real essence of perfumery is happening at the moment.
    And OIAB......hmmm, intriguing!! I will be sure to investigate.

  28. Donna,

    thank you darling and a most happy new year to you too!
    I enjoyed the involvment of paragons in the development of the "pulse" voiced on the fora and the blogs: it can only be good for the field.
    And so sorry about the Amouages...that's a bummer! Well, if you don't feel right, you don't feel right and you shouldn't stress yourself.

  29. Natalia,

    thanks so much honey for stopping by and for your recapping, always a pleasure to hear such things.
    I must give Idylle a proper try-put one of these days. *mental note* And who can argue with Sous Le Vent? Indeed one of the better times at Guerlain, both old and newer. As to Tauer, my feelings are well documented. :-)

  30. SophN,

    thanks for saying so! I thought Tiare was among the best things sniffed lately, definitely a winner and compliment-getter too.

  31. Liisa10:47

    I wonder, is that Natori sniff-worthy? And does the bottle have a screw-on spray? (I love to recycle used flacons, I like to make decants, not always the bottle favours carrying around and not always I feel like carrying a gallon of something while I like to have something in my pocket)... because the bottle is lovable.
    Speaking of the bestest bottle, I've snatched the Barynia extrait one. Now that's something.


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