Monday, July 14, 2008

Top 25 of current fragrances we can still enjoy!

So often we perfumephiles come together online and discuss how things were different back then and how older perfumes were somehow deeper, richer, better. I always thought this makes us an anachronism! Most of us have not even lived that far back! Of course there is solid argument that the way ingredients' restrictions, mercenary cheapening of the formula, old names pastered onto completely different things and all around derivative creations are cropping up, the future of perfumery isn't too bright. So many fragrances have been discontinued as well, not to mention the crazy fashion of limited editions which leave the loyal fan seriously crestfallen when they finish the bottle with no hope of easy replenishing.
But in this joint project ~inspired by Perfume Posse's call to readers and my friend Denyse~ which we undertook with the Non Blonde, the Smelly Blog and Savvy Thinker, we tried to focus on what is out there still available, still in good form, still gist for our mills. We tried to celebrate the little gems that are awaiting our litte paws to gingerly open and apply!

Compiling lists can be both exciting and frustrating, though. There are just so many things one wants to include, but obviously some form of elimination should take place. I had to eliminate beautiful creations which were limited editions, such as the sublime Fleur de Narcisse by L'artisan. Some older classics which are still around and I loved dearly have changed dramatically with questionable results: Cabochard and Ma Griffe, for starters. Then there are those which are on precarious soil: Alpona is perhaps destined to discontinuation due to the heavy restrictions on oakmoss? The jury is still out. And some like Pontevecchio W by Nobile 1942, although I loved them, just couldn't fit into the alloted limit no matter how hard I tried to cram them.

So without further ado, here is an aplhabetical list of 25 fragrances I really love! By no means comprehensive and not highlighting their historical importance in perfumery (you can take a peak at my take on what marked scented history here). Just what has me always sighing with pleasure, my psyche elated and my mind appreciating, every time I open the bottles. Some are mainstream, some are niche, some are feminine, some are masculine, some are shared.
{Those which are highlighted have been reviewed on Perfume Shrine, the rest will get their share soon!}

1. Angélique Encens, Creed (nose: Henry Creed)
2. Avignon, Comme des Garcons Incense Series (nose: Bernand Duchaufour)
3. Bandit, Robert Piguet, in edp (nose: Germaine Cellier)
4. Carnal Flower, Frédéric Malle (nose: Dominique Ropion)
5. Chant d’arômes, Guerlain (nose: Jean Paul Guerlain)
6. Cruel Gardénia, Guerlain (nose: Randa Hammami)
7. Cuir de Russie, Chanel in extrait (nose: Ernest Beaux)
8. Déclaration, Cartier (nose: Jean Claude Ellena)
9. Diorella, Christian Dior (nose: Edmond Roudnitska)
10.Diorling, Christian Dior (nose: Paul Vacher)
11.Fifi, Fifi Chachnil (nose: Jean Guichard)
12.Film Noir, Ayla Moriel (nose: Ayala Moriel)
13.Fleurs d’oranger, Serge Lutens (nose: Chris Sheldrake)
14.Grand Amour, Annick Goutal (nose: Isabelle Doyen)
15.Iris Poudre, Frédéric Malle (nose: Pierre Bourdon)
16.Jasmin de Nuit, The Different Company (nose: Céline Ellena)
17.L’air de Rien, Miller Harris (nose: Lynn Harris)
18.L’air du desert Marocain, Tauer Perfumes (nose: Andy Tauer)
19.La Myrrhe, Serge Lutens (nose: Chris Sheldrake)
20.Mitsouko, Guerlain in extrait and edt (nose: Jacques Guerlain)
21.Narciso Rodriguez For her, edt and extrait (nose: Francis Kurkdjian)
22.Onda, Vero Profumo (nose: Vero Kern)
23.Opium, Yves Saint Laurent, in edt (nose: Jean Louis Sieuzac)
24.Vetiver Tonka, Hermessences (nose: Jean Claude Ellena)
25.Vol de Nuit, Guerlain, in extrait (nose: Jacques Guerlain)

Which fragrances comprise your top 25 list?

Please don't forget to check out the lists on The Non Blonde, Smelly Blog and Savvy Thinker as well.

Pic courtesy of jilly1964/photobucket and manipulated by me


  1. Thanks for a making of top 25. I do agree with you about an anachronistic spirit of talking about vintages you barely have chance to sniff. Sometimes it makes me desperate when I read a beautiful review about a vintage and understand I don't have a chance to enjoy it in the modern version.
    Like Cabochard that is still nice, but smells more like a refined and softer version of Van Gils. Or Nahema or Jicky... Gentleman where I miss a dirty darkness giving the depth to the perfume - the modern version is getting powdery and "flat".
    Thanks for concentrating your affords on what is still nice and beautiful.
    I've bought Mitsouko yesterday and enjoy it a lot.
    I think Declaration and Cruel Gardenia will be my next scents I'd like to try. Together with Vero's perfumes.

  2. I think my top 25 are as follows (but the order changes all the time!)

    Guerlain L’heure Bleu
    Guerlain Apres L’Ondee
    Penhaligon’s Bluebell
    Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’eau
    Diptyque Philosykos
    Costume Nationale Scent Intense
    Santa Maria Novella Melograno,
    Tann Roka Kisu
    Hermes Elixir de Marveilles
    Vivienne Westwood Boudoir
    Quelque Fleurs
    CDG Sherbert Series: Rhubarb sherbert
    Frederic Malle L’Eau De Hiver
    Guerlain Nahema (parfum)
    Miller Harris Fleur De Sal
    Vent Vert
    Serge Lutens Claire de Musc
    Caron Nuit de Noel
    Stella McCartney
    L’Artisan mimosa pour moi
    Chanel Bois de Illes
    Creed Spring Flower
    Aqua Di Parma original
    CDG Incense Series: Avignon

  3. I dearly love most of the perfumes you mention, except the Narciso (can't smell the musk) and the Fifi (I wear her lingerie, her fragrance has got some weird plastic note to me) and Ayala's (which I've never had the opportunity to smell, shame on me).
    I excluded Diorling because the current version is not up to par with the vintage, sufficiently so to make it to my upcoming "Better off dead or terminally facelifted" list! But to someone who doesn't have the original, it's still not bad at all...

  4. This is so difficult.
    Diorella - on bloody "special Xmas order" here! Rrrr Lovely in summer.
    Chole - the old one
    Quel Amour
    Champs Elysee
    Jardins de Bagatelle
    Bal a Versailles
    Anais Anais - I never buy it for it just disappears on me but its lovely.
    Ombre Rose - must buy some!
    Maja - the soap!!!!
    Paris - that is for my Mum .
    Rose de Rosine - again for my Mum
    Jean Nate - god I love this in the heat and we cannot get this in Australia anymore!!!

  5. A,

    you're very welcome and thank you for commenting!
    Indeed there is frustration in what you say and even more so when you're sent a beautiful decant that you know you will never be able to replenish when it finishes! *Ggggrrr*
    I have never smelled Van Gils but Cabochard has changed too much for my comfort, I have memories of my mother wearing it (it was a favourite). Maybe I will compare side by side at some point.

    Gentleman has been one of my most favourite masculines (so full of patchouli, so macho, and if it is challenged I will cry. I have of course read about it numerous times but didn't have the heart to actually try out and see. I think I should at some point (enough with the cowardice), but...powdery and "flat" is not what I would desire for this ruggedly handsome perfume.

    Mitsouko has changed, it's true and I do prefer the older version which I had the good sense (for once!) to stockpile to rest me a lifetime, but it's still miles ahead of many current compositions.

    Definitely try those you mention!

  6. Anonymous10:28

    Helg, thank you for the list, it would take me some time to create my own but what a inspiration, again! lillie

  7. R,

    thanks for stopping by and what a pretty list! I like several of them.
    Philosykos and L'ombre dans l'eau are PERFECT for warm weather, Stella is a quite decent fragrance for mainstream distrubution, same with Elixir des Merveilles.
    The Guerlains are classics, Bois des Iles was that close to enter my list as well (I opted for Cuir de Russie instead), L'eau d'hiver is one of the most well-crafted in the Malle line, feels like a featherdown pillow....

  8. D,

    we share many common tastes it doesn't surprise me.
    I have heard this about Narciso from others as well. Myself I find it different in all concentrations, I especially like the Musc parfum oil, it's so sensually lovely.
    Statistically speaking we're all anosmic to some form of musk (and half of the population is anosmic to andostenone while that half who perceive it perceive it in completely antithetical directions, so I am wondering what is accountable to smell and what to perception)

    Luckily for me I only get the tobacco-amber in Fifi; don't give me ideas though! LOL. Which concentration have you tried?

    As to Film Noir it's a very deep patchouli, real, not the ertsatz they put in trendy fragrances these days, which if you like Borneo or New Haarlem you should try out.

    Diorling is something I have compared to the vintage, but I still find it miles ahead of what is currently available, so I am not complaining too much; it's not a bad re-issue. For a smooth, chic "handbag leather", excluding the subliminar Doblis which goes for a pretty penny on auctions, I am all settled. For my other leathers, well... :-)

  9. M,

    classic tastes do tell in the end! Lovely choices.

    You can't beat Diorella for hot summers like our respective climates impose on us!
    I love the classic Guerlains too. They're so "perfumey", so there.
    I haven't tried the Maja soap, so I am noting it down in my "to sniff" list.
    And I dearly love Bal a Versailles: let's hope they don't discontinue it!

    Why can't you get Jean Nate in Australia anymore? They just stopped carrying it? Why is that?

  10. N,

    take your time and come up with it when you're ready ;-)
    You're very welcome!

  11. Wonderful choices !
    I can't fault 'em.

    Ah, me.

  12. Anonymous15:39

    Very similar to my Posse offering a few weeks back , with some minor tweaks due to whims on my part. Tried to keep niche down to a dull roar, and to just appreciate some mainstream scents.

    Arpege -Lanvin
    Diorissimo -Dior
    Fleurs de Citronnier -Lutens
    A la Nuit -Lutens
    Un Lys -Lutens
    Chanel #19- Chanel
    Chanel #5 -Chanel
    Donna -Lorenzo Villoresi
    Champs Elysees -Guerlain
    LHB -Guerlain
    Shalimar -Guerlain
    Jolie Madame-Balmain
    Paloma Picasso
    Opium -YSL
    Lolita Lempicka
    Youth Dew- Estee Lauder
    Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia -Estee Lauder
    Tabu -Dana
    Chloe (classic) -Largerfield , uniliver , satan ????

  13. Anonymous16:39

    Hmmm I know only 5 pieces out of your list. What a lame beginner I am. :-) And I don't have too correct information about reformulated scents.
    BTW Don't you know, if Magie Noir by Lancome was reformulated now? It has a new bottle.
    Thanks for great tips!

  14. I love reading these lists. What great taste everybody has! Your criteria--no dear departed or hopelessly altered--knocks out my top five (My Sin, Scandal, Ma Griffe, Cialenga, original Maja), but here's what's left:

    N'aimez que Moi (Caron)
    Infini (Caron)
    French Can Can (Caron)
    En Avion (Caron)
    Chamade (Guerlain)
    Mitsouko (Guerlain)
    Fairchild (Anya's Garden)
    Pan (Anya's Garden)
    Arpege (Lanvin)
    Nuit Noir (Mona di Orio)
    Mon Idee (Bourbon French)
    Perfume of Paradise (Bourbon French)
    Marguerite (Bourbon French)
    Rue Royale (Hove)
    Spring Fiesta (Hove)
    Declaration (Cartier)
    Ivoire (Balmain)
    Balmain de Balmain
    Fidji (Guy Laroche)
    First (Van Cleef & Arpels)
    Royal Delight (Creed)
    Fracas (Piguet)
    Bill Blass (the original, not the new one; I think it's still in production)
    Un Lys (Lutens)
    Le Dix (Balenciaga)

  15. Oh, no--I forgot Muguet du Bonheur! Can I go just one over the limit, please? ;-)

  16. Dear I,

    thanks for saying so, you're too kind :-)

  17. Nubelia,

    thank you for your list which is very nice!!
    I love Un Lys and A la nuit, as is probably apparent to anyone reading here. Why didn't I choose them? I set myself a limit to just how many Lutens I would cram and chose one from export, one from exclusives. I am unlucky in that I like lots of his...
    The No.19 and No.5 are really classic, perfect choices. What more to say? Baghari is a fine re-orchestration, the Guerlains are considered great for a reason....
    I am glad you like EL Tuberose Gardenia which I think is one of the nicest entries of the last year.
    The way you and Lady Kicky mention Champs Elysees makes me want to re-test it (had dismissed it long ago). You must have some reason to insist so!

  18. Dear L,

    don't you worry, perfume is such a vast field these days with 90000 releases a year (OK exaggeration but still...), we can't know everything. I don't know many, I am sure!

    About reformulations, basically everything has been reformulated at some point, sometimes many times over. It just isn't logical that something that was made in -say- 1919 has remained the same throughout the decades. If you cook a specific recipe, doesn't it change a bit according to the produce you can purchase?

    Usually a change in the box/bottle signals some sort of twinkering. Sometimes that twinkering is subtle, othertimes not so much. I believe Magie Noire has been reformulated, yet I don't recall it being "ruined". It's been a while since I smelled it of course, so I should refresh my memory before I solemnly swear it's so :P

  19. M,

    I wouldn't refuse you anything, you know it :-)

    I like all those I have sampled from your list. I should try Hove and Bourbon French at some point. The mere Louisiana air about them has a magnetic appeal to me...
    And I love, love, love Declaration which will be reviewed soon: isn't it the perfect dirty refreshement?

    Do you mean the Nude by Bill Blass? I am afraid I have only tested the newer one(?), which is an aldehydic floral to my nose and pretty nice.

  20. Declaration certainly is wonderful. I'll always be grateful to Leopoldo for introducing me to it. I'd love to see a review from you.

    About the Bill Blass--there was an eponymous cologne that came out in the 70s, and was very popular in this corner of the world. It's a fresh floral built around orange blossom, very similar to Sung by Alfred Sung, but lighter and "cleaner." Here's a link:

    I haven't had a chance to try the new, I'm curious to see how it compares.

  21. M,

    your wish will come true. How is Lee, by the way? :-)
    Thanks for the link with the pic. I have definitely never tried that one. The one I mean is also named Nude, not just the designer's name.
    It would be interested to compare indeed. I see if I have a sample and send it out to you, how does that sound?

  22. Last I heard from Mr. Leo, he was fine and looking forward to becoming a dog papa ;-)

    I'd love to try a sample of the new Blass--why don't we trade? I'll send you some of the old stuff, and some Hove and Bourbon French samps while I'm at it. I'll email you.

  23. Oh thanks for the news on Mr.Leo, how sweet :-)

    Let me first unearth my sample! I hope I can find it!
    Otherwise of course I'm toast :O

  24. Anonymous17:05

    Funny you should mention it Helg , I rue the day I sampled Uncle Serge scents, I did not want to yearn for scents not easily had or with too high a price point. I had wanted to remain immune , but alas , it was not to be.
    I have to admit that I adore some of his offerings and can no longer deny the genius.

    As for Champs , some find her too synthetic or bemoan her not being a true "inhouse" Guerlain or "too cloying" is another oft mentioned complaint. She might not be to your taste for the above reasons but if one is going to sample Champs, try both EDT and EDP , same glorious scent with very different results ... the EDT is very effervesent whilst the EDP packs a punch and has more depth.

  25. Anonymous17:06

    ps the above anon character is yours truly aka Nubelia , ooops

  26. N,

    thank you for the additional info. I promise I will make it a point to sample Champs again in both concentrations, when I am at a Guerlain counter :-)
    (and I see I made a funny typo above: Lady Kicky!! thank God I didn't made it Kinky! LOL)


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