2019 was a good year for perfume and hopefully 2020 will be as well. There were worthy releases in the mainstream, amid the hundreds of meaningless flankers of course, as every year as of late, some bold moves, a few brand exclusives that refined themselves enough to enter the scene with confidence and generally good cheer prevailed. There were a few sell-outs, such as the impending one from LÓreal, but that is, alas, the reality of the market.
Without further ado, my personal picks from the thousands of new releases (not that there was time to sample everything of course, but I'm persevering) were as follows.
Un Jardin sur la Lagune by Hermès was inspired by a secret garden in Venice, Italy, and its abstract glossy petals from another dimension (a citrusy, waxy magnolia sprinkled with algae-smelling dew) carries the interpretation of the place in one's mind's eye as you let it unfold on your skin. Beautifully sweeping, yet oddly comfortable, like a hug which greets you with joyful playfulness, which can be enjoyed by both men and women and is perceived by others without invading their personal space.
Gucci was already showing signs of resurrection from indifference with their daring Guilty Absolute launches last year, but their 2019 Bloom Ambrosia di Fiori and Memoire d'Une Odeur confirm that positive course. The former is full of the splendor of a full-blown ripe gardenia and the latter a most refined, botanical take on the clean whisper of a scent of woods and chamomile that can be so popular for discreet company.
Two releases which were surprising were Tom Ford's Metallique, an aldehydic elegant marvel which is incongruous with the brash image of the provocateur brand, and Libre by YSL, a fresh and not-too-sweet feminine lavender which is not condescending to the women buying it. Bottega Veneta Illusione for Men and Terre d'Hermes Intense Vetiver are both fresh, but not predictably so; they bring a refined touch to the craze around them of butch aromatic fougères. Finally, Nomade Eau de Toilette is an excellent freshening up of the standard – and already superb – eau de parfum formula, reinforcing the slightly peppery zing of freesia and refreshing the middle section.
Everyone who loves Lutens creations must at least sample La Couche du Diable, a return to the brand's splendid past, with a deeply saturated chiaroscuro of a spicy balsamic scent. Zoologist brought us Zoologist Bee, a wonderfully wearable intimate scent of animalic nuance.
Dusita overwhelms with the beauty of Splendiris, a starchy and metallic cool iris and violet, which projects like a laser beam straight to its target – our heart. Two major brands issued fragrances without deviating too far from their given genres, leather and clean musk respectively, and managed to give them texture and ambiance that makes you come back to them again and again: Cuir Intense comes from Guerlain boutique exclusives and 1957 comes from Chanel Les Exclusifs.
Last but not least, the newest Hedonist Absolute Iris expounds on the delicate synergy between starchiness and cocoa powder which sometimes makes an appearance in perfume blends (L'Erbolario's Iris is one of them). But Viktoria Minya buttresses this fluffy and dry chord with a very discernible leathery touch, not particularly bitter, thanks to the elements that adorn its base notes, making it an iris that does not project like cosmetics but rather as the talc put on before donning a leather piece that gets worn on the flesh directly. It's a cool scent, compared to the other two Absolutes, but compelling all the same, beckoning and promising, while denying at the same time. An enigma!
Predictions for 2020:
I think we will see a lot of perfumes borrowing retro elements from older creations, especially in men. After all, releases like Sauvage (Dior) or Aventus (Creed) did, along with the dosage of ambroxan at its borders, and became over-populated because they were relatively different in the ocean of the increasing sweetness of male aromas that interfere with boundaries. and why not?)
Lavender for women (my article on that, HERE) will continue to be our focus, we will see even more roses and almonds (in the form of pure almond, dandelion and tonka), as well as more refined varieties of sandalwood or variety, or of synthetic origin with sophistication in the bouquet that it had not had before. The newest molecules in the musks and white florals categories will also feature prominently in modern compositions.