The time of the year has come again when we contemplate the past and venture into the future, every time hoping to be fledging ducklings and every year feeling the burden of experience weighting on our shoulders. Yet there's nothing like experience to make you get a better grip of reality and 2014 was a bumpy year for perfume in more ways than one.
They say misery loves company, but (happy) list-making also does, so for this project I'm working together with Persolaise and the Candy Perfume Boy, who will be posting their own reviews of the year's accomplishments. Without further ado, please consult my own list of Best (& Worst) Perfumes of 2014 and musings. Nota bene that this particular list includes ONLY perfumes issued in the past year. All highlighted text takes you to linked articles/fragrance reviews. To compare with last year, take a look at my Best of 2013 Fragrance List.
And don't forget to add your own opinions in the comments section below; I'd love to read them!
- Best mainstream perfumes of 2014 (women's)
Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez
In a confusing game of names endlessly recycled the Narciso Rodriguez brand produces another abstract floral with a backbone of mossy synths that manage to amount to much more than the sum of its parts. Feels smooth & radiant like the first day of spring hitting cold, pied de poule goose-bumped limbs.
La Panthere by Cartier
The new, newly formulated perfume going by the classic name that was used in mid-90s for a fruity chypre (only the vintage went without the definitive article) is a very brave, modern foray into the floral chypre family. Technically solid and deliciously enjoyable. You can even lure classic chypre fragrance lovers with this one!
- Worst mainstream perfumes of 2014 (women's & unisex)
Dolce eau de parfum by Dolce & Gabbana
Dull, almost imperceptible to the point of feeling like alcohol in water, blah. Don't be fooled by the very pretty commercial, your money can be invested elsewhere.
Limon Verde in Aqua Allegoria line by Guerlain
This accomplishes the dual feat of smelling trite and lasting for an hour tops. A disappointment from the AA line which had shaped up pretty well in recent years. Especially bad given that it was made with an eye on the huge Brazilian market and yet relying on a cliché. Tsk tsk tsk.
- Best mainstream fragrance of 2014 (men's)
Bottega Veneta pour homme
Juniper and pine bring freshness to the rich accord of leather, patchouli and fir. Like its women's analogue, very sophisticated.
- Worst mainstream fragrance of 2014 (men's)
A mindless, purposeless flanker since the eau de toilette does the (mediocre to begin with) job better.
- Most deserving best-seller 2014
A tropical floral like the house knows to make, injecting them with the finesse of creamy tuberose on a bed of soft solar notes, You can bet this limited edition will be around next summer too; it got crazy sales!
- Best niche perfumes of 2014
A Catherine Earnshaw of a scent; fiery, feisty, festive (makes me unable to stop myself from alliterating). If you like spicy florals and lament the demise of carnation scents (Floris Malmais discontinuation, for instance?) give this a try.
Colonia Leather Eau de Cologne Concentrée by Acqua di Parma
The deliciousness of a tough, true leather coupled with a hint of a saturated, dried fruity note. Despite the "cologne" denominator, surprisingly tenacious. We've been spoiled. Gents this shouldn't be reserved for you only!
Mohur extrait de parfum by Neela Vermeire Creations
The gorgeousness of the Mohur eau de parfum multiplied and lightly further sweetened and deepened. A true diva!
Une Nuit Magnetique by The Different Company
A very smooth floriental, the way Christine Nagel excels at. Perhaps not immediately noteworthy, but satisfying.
- Worst niche perfume of 2014
- Best All Naturals Perfumes of 2014
Palimpsest by Aftelier
Mandy's best yet and that's saying everything.
Ivy Tower by Providence Perfume Co.
A really green scent, more difficult than it might seem when dabbling in all naturals.
Musk Malabi by Ayala Moriel Perfumes
A natural composed "musk fragrance" that conveys the note and its feel without using musk from the deer. A tinge of delicious succulence, a milky hint of dessert and rose and you're there. Very pretty!
- Most wearable perfume of 2014
I've emptied half a bottle since August, dear reader. That should tell you something, me with the endless rotation of perfumes to fall back on. It feels like my contemplative, little lost soul perched on the window sill looking unto happier scenes and for some odd reason I deeply enjoy that feeling.
- Most outrageous prices for perfume in 2014
L'incendiaire by Serge Lutens: Info on the fragrance linked here but wow, $600 for 100ml!
[We're talking standard bottles, not limited editions or anniversary ones or anything fancy otherwise, such as Guerlain do frequently.]
The prices in general are going up-Up-UP!!!!!!! In hindsight, refer to my 2011 article on the Perception & Marketing of Luxury.
- Most Newsworthy Developments of 2014
- The sale of Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle to the Estee Lauder Group. I have said my piece on the latter sale especially and it looks like this is a development to be expected for several more niche brands in the near future. (keep in mind pending fragrance industry regulations).
- The quality decline at Chanel, for a long while now (readers complain about a "watering down" of Chanel No.5, Coco Mademoiselle, Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie and No.19, plus mediocre flankers & masculines abounding), is rather disappointing. I just heard that they're also penny-pinching on the packaging of expensive handbags lately, which sounds a shame.
- The re-issues: of cult fragrance Tea for Two (and L'Eau de Caporal) by L'Artisan Parfumeur. Plus the revamping of Jour de Fete.
- The continuation of historical re-issues by Guerlain supervised again by Thierry Wasser. (You can read fragrance reviews of the Guerlain heritage collection on this link).
- It's also refreshing to see Wasser being better appreciated in the press, after the smearing campaign against him when he first got rein at Guerlain (remember how it was suggested that Patricia de Nicolai should take his place?)
- A book dedicated to Dior Perfumes, authored by Chandler Burr: Dior, les Parfums. You can buy it here.
- The blogging scene has been changing too. Hundreds of blogs out there but things can be sketchy. I refer you to The Non Blonde's article on this, as she tells it better than I ever could.
- Advertising Campaign of the Year
My humble view is they could do better (the Night Train commercial with Audrey Tautou was dreamier and more engaging, although even than couldn't match the era of Jacques Helleu art-directed advertising), but they could also do much much worse (see the Brad Pitt Chanel fiasco), so...we'll take small mercies where we find them.
- Best discovery of the year
The Aesthetic Principle. The principle I'm stuck with, for good. Highly recommend you get to be too.
- Professional adventure of 2014
Please visit Persolaise and the Candy Perfume Boy for more Best of 2015 lists. And share your own lists or views in the comments, if you like!