2013 has been a rather good year for perfume though the ennui with the average perfumista is rising, mainly due to the avalanche of perfume launches with no real meaning. This is none less evident than in the state of perfume blogging where business and politics reasons obscure the genuine passion for fragrance. Still, this is a positive post where a bunch of us (you can see them at the bottom of the post linked) team up to list our discoveries of the year, to do a -hopefully helpful- round-up of 2013 in retrospect and highlight what needs to be praised.
The tsunami of releases and the decades in which I'm immersed in the perfume hobby mean that I have not sought out to test out just any perfume release, despite my professional implication in fragrance writing. On top of that there's a difference between respecting vs wearing a specific perfume as we discussed on these very pages and I felt that for once it was important to highlight what really took skin real estate again and again, rather than what was merely wetting my blotters.
So fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be an (interesting, I hope) ride!
Extravagant Splurge of the Year, Decked Out in Swaroviski Crystals No Less
Hedonist by Viktoria Minya. Forget the bling. Forget the brand out of nowhere. Forget everything and concentrate on the juice. It's gorgeous.
(Everyone is praising Amouage Fate, but I haven't gotten round to sampling it just yet!)
Neela Vermeire Creations. Exactly because I am what one can call dyed in the wool, perfumista since the cradle, I never have the urge to try what everyone else is talking about when everyone else is talking about it. This slowed me down in trying out what is one of the most worthwhile perfume lines in niche right now. The fact that its perfumer, Bernand Duchaufour, is spread awfully thin across niche, was another deterrent. Gross miscalculation, though, for all the reasons stated. These are true gems, the latest Ashoka, no less so than the previous Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling.
Most Beautiful Niche Scent, Limited Production
Tauer Perfumes Phi, Rose de Kandahar is everything you would want in a unisex niche perfume and more. Soft, silky, balanced in sweetness versus plush, with a suede and almonds background to the limited supply rose de Kandahar essence and a resinous base that sustains itself for eternity, this is a seriously good perfume.
Most gorgeous spicy rose
Majalis by Parfums de Rosine. Rose is not usually my thing, though I appreciate a good blend when encountering it. This is so spectacular, it changed my mind for good. A bottle is in my future.
Brand Discovery of the Year
Sammarco out of Switzerland. You heard it here first. You will remember it when you come up with the wonderful creations and the prized raw materials offered by this small artisanal perfumery.
Honorable Mentions in New Brands
Grand Cuir by Parfums Retro. Although the experience with this didn't go beyond a sample (for practical shipping reasons, not for lack of wanting!) I was impressed by the chameleon quality of this aromatic leather which oscillated between lathery lavender and butch, tough hide. I say, it has legs!
If Grand Cuir is only the first fragrance in the Parfums Retro brand, Scent of Canvas out of Spain has several fragrances all worthy of consideration for the dedicated fume lover. They even do oud in a novel way (imagine that!)
Quirky, Brainy Niche of the Year
GS03 for Biehl Parfumkunstwerke. Very wearable, very intellectual, a modern spin on the idea of eau de cologne which bypasses the usual tropes to reveal something resolutely contemporary.
Intense Florals Lovers Unite
Le Labo presented not one but two worthwhile florals to add to your collection. Lys 41 and Ylang 49 are what the doctor ordered for bouts of white floral hypoglycemia. (Reviews linked.) Lovely!
Best All Naturals
Tie between Moon Bloom by Hiram Green and Cuir de Gardenia by Aftelier. You can read the reviews linked and see. Honorable mention goes to Roxana Illuminated Perfume Figure 1, a really dark opus of patchouli.
Dead Celebrity Harvesting Advertising of the Year
Chanel unearthing the previously unpublished sound document and transcript of a Marilyn Monroe interview to Marie Claire, confirming what had first circulated in Life magazine, namely that No.5 is all Marilyn wears in bed. (Well done, Chanel, you just one-up-ed Dior for their transgression)
Curio News of the Year Vaguely Related to Scent
Air de Montcuq. If you know French, you'll get the joke. If you don't, well, it's toilet humor. :-)
Breakthrough News of the Year as Related to Perfume Authoring
Christine Nagel will (eventually) succeed Jean Claude Ellena at Hermes. But that's not all. Olivier Polge will (eventually) succeed his father at Chanel. Let's see…
Disappointments of the Year
I expected more. I got less than I bargained for. They're not bad (If you want butt-clenching bad, just try Repetto eau toilette!). Just not thrilling enough.
Revealing Interview of the Year
A perfumer divulges just why your favorite niche brands are raising prices all the time and why there are a hundred releases around vying for your attention. It all boils down to perfume marketing (which is not necessarily a dirty word).
WTF? Image of the Year
The prize goes to LM Hard Leather. Need I elaborate?
Artistic Homage of the Year
Passport a Paris by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (DSH) is a spectacular homage to (vintage, civet-rich) Jicky and the orientalized mood of the fin de siecle. I'm itching to get my own full bottle.
Valuable Reading of the Year
Without doubt the extremely helpful and elucidating book by industry professional Karen Gilbert, Perfume: the Art & Craft of Fragrance. (There's also an insightful perfume anecdote by Karen posted concerning fragrance budget for the formula, plus I conducted an interview with Karen on this link).
What else I wore this year? (oldies but goodies)
I wore a hell of a lot my Narciso for Her eau de toilette and Musc Oil ("vintage" version, so good!!), Etro Gomma, Guerlain Parure, Jasminora and Tonka Imperiale, Mohur by Neela Vermeire (the gift of a lovely person), L'Ambre des Merveilles by Hermes, Poivre Samarkande (Hermessence), Impossible Iris by Ramon Monegal and lots of Limon Kolonyasi in the heat of summer!
And on to YOU: What did you discover in 2013? What did you wear most in 2013? What did you hate?
Let me know in the comments!
Please visit the rest of the participating blogs for more best 2013 lists (the links will be updated wherever they're non specific later on; you can still consult them as they point to the Home page):
Ayala's Smelly Blog
I Smell Therefore I Am
The Candy Perfume Boy
The Fragrant Man
And best of all, that's YOU, my dear readers. Although not everyone is commenting all the time, I know you're there and I thank you for enriching my life with all your wise, thoughtful, inquisitive and all around intriguing commentary and emails. I hope that we will be seeing each other through 2014 as well and that the New Year will bring you nothing but joy, love and creativity!