Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Best & Worst in Fragrance & Style: a Recap & a Giveaway

It's that time of the year again. Making lists is fun because it makes one think they're smart and organized. Reading lists is fun too, because it allows one to vehemently disagree with what are idiosyncratic choices to begin with. So see if you share or not any of Perfume Shrine picks for 2012 in the comments and we will all have fun.

The past year was generally not exactly bad for perfume, though it was largely repetitive (even Lutens reprised Passage d'Enfer for his L'Eau Froide!). The bad news is probably coming in 2013, if Dr.Ian White, chairman of the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Protection (SCCP) is to have his way. The (new and "improved") impending perfumery restrictions (look up our tag Restrictions under the Index on the right hand column of the site, if you're clueless) mean a total recomposing of the entire Guerlain, Dior, etc canon! Unpaid, I might add, so it's a conflict of interest on a very high level. This is also NOT necessarily only due to opting for cheaper synthetics (in lieu of naturals) or for "allergy-risk-minimizing" ingredients; one issue that is not talked about is stabilization (for instance, the molecules that account for the beauty of Diorissimo have been restricted because they can't be effectively stabilized from batch to batch, which meant the ruin of Diorissimo...)

But for now, let's explore what 2012 brought...

pic via

Worth Investing In Mainstream Fragrances 

L'Ambre des Merveilles (Hermes)
[NB. I'm not including Jour d'Hermes (a review of which is linked here) as the wide release is scheduled for 2013]
Spicebomb (Victor & Rolf)

"Meh" Mainstream Fragrances

Florabotanica (Balenciaga)
Gucci Premiere (Gucci)
Coco Noir (Chanel)
La Vie est Belle (Lancome)

The greatest crime of the above is their lukewarm aspect. Not reprehensibly bad, and I'm sure they will have their fans, but in the end...yawn inducing.
collage via
Niche Lovelies: Fragrances Worth your Time 

Opardu (Puredistance)
Une Voix Noire (Serge Lutens)
Loretta (Tableau de Parfums by Andy Tauer)
L'Homme Infini (Divine)
Tawaf (La Via del Profumo)
Fis de Dieu du Riz et des Agrumes (Etat Libre d'Orange)
Hedera Helix (Roxana Illuminated Perfume)
...also see my Personal Discoveries below.

With possibly the exception of Hedera Helix (an all naturals composition focused on the elusive greenery of ivy) the above mentioned are not getting praise for sheer innovation so much, as for their exceptional mastery in execution. Smooth, polished, masterful, they create their own little space which like true beauty requires a second (and third, and fourth) glance.
pic via
So Ugly It Deserves to be Enshrined as an Exemplary Artifact of our Crazy Times
I'm talking about the Nikki Minaj perfume bottle. Yes, this above is a perfume bottle... I know!!

Perfumes You Wish Weren't Exclusive, But Darn They Are (For Now...)

The Guerlain Les Deserts d'Orient line, destined for the Middle East Market (though there are a few bottles available in Europe, here and there, too -a reader has since informed me there are some at Bergdorf's too): Rose Nacree du Desert, Songe d'Un Bois d'Ete, and Encens Mythique d'Orient are too beautiful not to be enjoyed by more perfume lovers, so get some if you can.

Hors Categorie 

Dark Passage (Tableau de Parfums by Andy Tauer)
Delicious patchouli. Dark as the pitch-black night. Decidedly limited distribution, whoever got one owns a true collectible.

Losses of the Year

The death of master perfumer Guy Robert signaled the toll of an era gone the way of the dodo. His masterpieces Dior DioressenceMadame Rochas, Hermes EquipageAmouage Gold, and Hermes Doblis are an ephemeron reminder of how perfumery used to operate.
Josephine Catapano quietly passed away full of days, but it was the Shock of the Year to hear of the untimely death of Alec Lawless; his wit and knowledge will be missed.

Kickstarting Discourse of the Year

The MAD Museum exhibition The art of Scent curated by Chandler Burr. Not the first fragrance exhibition in an academic setting, as erroneously reported on some journalistic venues, but the first to disassociate the jus from the packaging, the fashion houses and the advertising paraphernalia completely. A brave new step ~with controversy naturally attached to it, as befits such projects.

Greatest personal "discoveries" in 2012

The entire Ramon Monegal perfume line
The Maria Candida Gentile perfume line
Monegal launched this summer in the USA, although it comes from an old perfumer quite active in Spain. Mon Patchouly, Mon Cuir and Impossible Iris are absolutely smashing (and full bottles are on my wishlist). The rest of the line is also wonderful (Dry Woods, Umbra, Lovely Day etc), you really can't go wrong! C.M.Gentile produced fragrances rich in gorgeous naturals for a while, but I only got to know her oeuvre in early 2012, so I consider it apropos (read my reviews of Exultat, Cinabre and Hanbury on these links if you like).

Celebrity Fragrance Talk Yawn of the Year

Fame by Lady Gaga
If Gaga of all people can't bring out a controversial juice on the market, the whole celebrity fragrance concept is artistically doomed. Not that we didn't suspect as much all along.

Celebrity Fragrance "No Kidding" of the Year

Truth or Dare by Madonna 
Madonna issues a celebrity fragrance (and a sheerer flanker too) a million years after her zeitgeist zenith. But the juice is good!

Time-Sensitive Editions you Should Have Grabbed When You Could

Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia (Guerlain)
I'm never sure whether any of the newer Aqua Allegorias actually start out as limited editions or just get axed when they don't perform as expected (Herba Fresca and Pamplelune are in the line for ages, for example, whereas Flora Nerolia due to no fault of its juice disappeared all too quickly). In short, if you like it, stock up.

Promising Upstarts

Rouge Bunny Rouge fragrances
The chic and playful makeup brand has dabbled in fragrance. Pas mal! I'm going to write up a bit on those in the near future.

collage by

Butt-Clenching Commercial of the Year

Chanel No.5 featuring Brad Pitt
When the SNL spoofs are more interesting, hilarious and non sensical than the commercial itself you know you've hit an all time low. This goes under the "what were they thinking?" tag and should be defended in a court of law under the temporary insanity plead. I sure hope Joe Wright's ego gets a needed resizing (he's not that great) and that the people at Chanel recover. Commercially I'm told the Brad Pitt fronted campaign rejuvenated interest at the counter (wtf?!). Artistically speaking, it's -sorry- the pits.
As one commenter accurately says: "Brad Pitt looks like a wet labrador. A wet, loyal labrador who's talking about I dont know what. Soaked dogs isnt something Chanel is known for so I'm just as confused as everyone else as to what's going on in that ad".  Couldn't have said it better myself...

And now time for the Giveaway: One lucky reader gets a big goodie bag with mini bottles/decants of ALL the fragrances I thought as worth sampling this year! All you need to do is write a comment with your own thoughts, feelings, opinions, agreeing/disagreeing in the comment section below the post, anything goes.
Draw is open till January 2nd midnight internationally; the winner will be announced on January the 3rd.
Good luck!!


  1. Anonymous05:08

    I'd never seen the Nicki Minaj bottle before, and the picture gave me a good laugh! Happy holidays and thank you for the drawing.

  2. I actually got into fragrance this year, so I've had tons of discoveries! In terms of scents released this year, I am particularly fond of Volutes and Seville a l'Aube. Thank you for sharing your list, and for the drawing!

  3. Heather F05:17

    That Nicki Minaj bottle is indeed hideous...shudder. And I agree about the Brad Pitt commercial's awfulness, particularly as it could have been so interesting, or at least provocative (of more than just embarrassed giggles), in theory. Thanks so much for the giveaway, and for the awesome list!

  4. Since RM Umbra is my new "badass armor" fragrance, I am raising a solidarity fist in support of the Monegal mention.

  5. Excellent list and yes, I love reading all these lists as the year winds down. I'm not sure how I feel about the Chanel 5 ad: I certainly agree with everything you and your commenter said, but on the other hand I've experienced commentary about the ad all over the internet, in print, on TV talk shows, on NPR, in conversations, everywhere. I can't help thinking that any publicity is good publicity and that if that's what Chanel wanted then they got it in spades. It would be refreshing for Brad to use a bit of his fee on a good shave and haircut :-) The only mainstream perfume I would add to your list is Tom Ford Noir, with which I have recently fallen in love. Thanks for the drawing and for your hard work, I really enjoy your blog everyday.

  6. Miss Heliotrope05:39

    As this has been my first year seriously into scent, I think your summary highlights why I keep coming back to - and commenting on - Perfume Shrine.

    You explain things clearly & obviously with passion for perfume & its surrounding culture, but with sufficient intelligence & distance to make your opinion - whether I always agree or not - worth reading. I have learnt not just what new perfumes are out there, but the history/art/language of perfumes past as well.

    I have gone on to bore my long suffering husband about them (he is nice enough to have bought me Mitsouko EDP for my birthday & to pay attention to the scents he wears, too). I have purchased sample sets for me and others. As someone who is home ill, I have a whole new enjoyment that gives a lovely scent to my days.

    I also like the idea of sample give aways...

  7. Hannah06:31

    I am indeed interested in the new Hermes fragrances! I tried Un Jardin Mediteranee and adored it... until the drydown, when it got strangely pond-water on me. I think I shall have to try it again, as I am hoping that it was just a fluke. Sephora still lists Lys Soilel as for sale, so maybe I should try to get a sample before it's gone forever?
    Thanks for the giveaway, and thanks for the laugh. The Brad Pitt head on Marilyn Monroe is hilarious.

  8. I love reading the year-end lists; your subject titles are wonderfully fun. One of my favorites this year is Slumberhouse Pear & Olive; really different and compelling in a laid-back way.

  9. Enjoyed your list Helg and I can't wait for next Christmas when Chanel will have Nicki and Brad walking hand in hand in another Chanel No.5 ad! LOL

  10. Nice ronudup.

    I like some of the "Meh" frangances, and think that Loretta smells like Red Bull (the thai version). It doesn't bode well on my level of perfume sophistication.

    Seville a l'Aube is the much hyped, but worthy contender for " Limited editions to grab" (while it's still available).

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  12. It seems as if the meh and celebrity cotton candy scents have taken over the fragrance counters and my friends' pulse points. Truly hoping the pendulum swings back and we are headed for some passionate fragrances with something to say.

  13. As a newbie I haven't even thought about making any sort of list :)

    The Pitt ad... I have such a low threshold for second hand shame that I haven't bothered watching it...

  14. Anonymous08:57

    I must keep this post and make sure I refer to it before making rash decisions!
    Agree totally about That husband caught sight of the poster instore during the Boxing Day sales, and asked me why on earth he was the face of a womens perfume. Yup, that's good advertising.
    My faves include Seville a L'Aube, and Interlude Woman.
    The Justin Bieber bottle is er, different, isn't it!
    Thanks for the draw,
    Jackie b

  15. Guy Robert's Equipage (among others) is a real masterpiece which (even after reformulations... don't get me started) still stands way above many of the new liquids thrown into the market every year. Robert's passing is a great loss to the world of perfumery.

  16. Els v M.09:41

    Hi, I'm new in the perfumeworld, so there is a lot to investigate. The mainstream fragrants are rather easy to get hold on for me. I share your love for Hermes l'ambre des merveilles and would love to have a full bottle, the Meh Mainstream fragrances are indeed meh. Lately i received a card from Serge Lutens with 4 wax fragrances, i have to admit that I didn't immediately like une voix noir. The other fragrances are hard for me to get hold of. But with this list I know what to pursue. You made me also interested in the greatest personal discoveries. Thanks for this interesting recap and the genrerous giveaway.

  17. Oh Equipage. I went to the Hermes in Barcelona over the fall and begged them to search to see whether they had a bit of Equipage. In the vintage it's my favorite leather. I know it had been reformulated sometime within the past ten years, but I think they did it again. Now it's practically sheer and listless. So disappointing.

  18. what a great recap! My personal discoveries of this year - and my love for ever - were Diptyque Vetyverio and Jo Malone Iris and White Musk. I found out i tried No one of parfumes you mention in this post, but i saved your post and will use it as a reference!
    Thanks, enter me!

  19. Most of the above scents are such that I would love to sample, but I simply do not have the means to... *sad* Niche perfumes are so expensive, even to sample, but many of them sound so fabulous!! The only one I have tried on out of all of these is Spicebomb and I though that one was nice, but nothing special... I love spices, but I still found it quite boring. I have tried much better (and cheaper) natural indie perfumes...

    On second though I do own one of the perfumes mentioned in this post, I have a huge vintage bottle of Madame Rochas EdC. Glorious scent, though the new formulation that I smelled for comparison was nasty and headache inducing... But all respects to Guy Robert, there went a genious!

  20. Thanks for the laughs, Elena! Of the scents you mentioned, I have only tried Rose Nacree, and I have a bottle of Lys Soleia (love it). Basenotes has 1366 fragrances listed as launching in 2012. Crazy, huh?

    My favorites of the ones I tried: all of the Neela Vermeire fragrances, Ann Gerard Cuir de Nacre and Ciel d'Opale, Kilian Forbidden Games, and Guerlain Shanghai and Lys Soleia.

    Really curious about the Ramon Monegal and Maria Candida Gentile lines.

    Thanks for the draw!

  21. Anonymous13:20

    Great list! L'ambre des Merveilles was a favorite of mine as well. Happy New Year to all!

  22. Anonymous13:24

    My favourite perfume this year was Mona di Orio Vanille. I wonder how far the line will go after her death. Will a favourite perfume be discontinued soon?

  23. I have to agree with you on the Nikki Minaj.....It's Bloody Scary! I really didn't like the Madonna perfume either though! Yuck! Great Post!

  24. Oh, my stars! Brad Pitt as the face of Chanel #5!!! Poor Mlle must have spun in her grave!
    Still - I can see that it did re-ignite interest in the fragrance.
    I stopped at the Chanel counter in Dillard's in Tyler, TX to see if they had my beloved #22 (they'd never heard of it!), and commented to my daughter about the absurdity of Brad Pitt as spokesmodel. An immediate, an animated conversation ensued between us, and 4 of the SA's in the department about the interest at the counter. No one in East Texas favored Mr. Pitt as the Face of #5, but -- sales of the scent were up . . .

  25. I don't know if I can justify this but I feel as this year has been ,if nothing else then at least interesting fragrance-wise. Amidst all this talk of banning and regulating several new entries popped up that managed to capture my attention and imagination. Among the most interesting niche fragrances I tried are the newest Arquiste, Volutes and Tonkin Musc. I never got to sample Voix Noire as my sample got lost on the way (DAMN!). From the mainstream scene Hermes again took the prize for quality and aesthetic vision with the new entry to the Maraveilles line. Also Lalique gains points for quirkiness of the new Homage (not a favorite of mine but definitely bold move against the current of male oriented perfumery). I hope 2013 will be even better and I have a feeling it will be so.

    PS: one of my biggest disappointments was Luna Rosa by Prada. A lavender vomit by one of my favorite perfumers? Really???

  26. Firstly, I have to say I love the Brad Pitt collage you have featured in this post! It is so hilarious and totally illustrates the absurdity of having him represent Chanel No 5.

    Anyway, to me, 2012 was particularly memorable in perfume terms because I went to a perfume launch for the first time ever! This was for l'Artisan Parfumeur's Séville à l'Aube by Bertrand Duchaufour. I will always remember hearing about how Séville à l'Aube came into being and the smell of the Spanish lavender absolute which turned out to be a crucial element in the creation of the perfume.

    I've hardly tried any of the amazing perfumes you mention in this post so I really really hope I will win the giveaway!

    Finally, like many, I will be heart broken if the perfume restrictions will take place. Let us all hope for the best in 2013!

    Happy new year to all! x

  27. as always, an enjoyable post!

    the ramon monegal line is one of my own cherished "discoveries" this year, thanks to your mentioning it previously. and i'm hoping that guerlain will expand the oriental line currently marketed in the mid-east, since it sounds too beautiful to keep from other perfume lovers...

    please enter me in the drawing---i would be enchanted to have the opportunity to sample your picks.

    a very happy new year to you and yours!

  28. The Nicki Minaj bottle is sort of dreadful, but it's also sort of awe-inspiring in its dreadfulness. It could have been boring, or it could have been a total rip-off of the flowers-stuck-on trend, but it just went for it, right off the deep end.

    I bet the contents are another nondescript fruity floral as boring as everything else aimed at that age group these days, though. I had hopes for the Lady Gaga scent, and that was a massive disappointment: there's no reason to think this one would be any better.

  29. Anonymous16:59

    I also love the Ramon Monegal line which I discovered through bloggers like you--thank you! I got some decants from various places and when I realized Neiman Marcus carries them I bought one--Mon Patchouly. Later I visited our Houston Neiman's store and sampled some others and then felt I 'had to buy' Kiss My Name. These are wonderful and I love the heavy bottles.

    Two that aren't on your list that I'd put up pretty high are Diptyque's Volutes, which I bought in EDT (it seemed less smokey) and also Amouage Interlude Woman. What a strange scent but just weirdly interesting. I have just some small decants not a FB, can't make up my mind--but that blue bottle is tempting too.

    I'm one of the only people I know who really likes Chanel Coco Noir. I bought a little bottle. It got a lot of bad reviews but I love it. Not for every day though and I prefer original Coco. (And the less said about the shaggy-dog Pitt commercial, the better.) But I do not much like the amber version of Eau/Elixir des Merveilles, I much prefer both originals (I actually like the Elixir the most), but also have the Eau Claire version).

    Thanks for your list which gives me ideas of other new things to sample!


  30. OMG, how did I miss that Nicky Minaj bottle? That makes the Marc Jacobs bottles look positively classic & restrained in comparison. (I just hate those bottles. I'm nearly 50 years old and I spend a mint on perfume. I. Don't. Do. Cute.)

    Fell hard for What We Do In Paris Is Secret this year. HARD. And my first L'Artisan love (which is bizarre, I know) - Seville a l'Aube. What a beauty. I continue to get excited about Francis Kurkdjian, who's becoming my favorite nose. Went "meh" at the new Kilians. Fell in love anew with Chanel No. 5, just in time to have Brad Pitt make a mockery of it. (Close your eyes, think of Paris, and spritz, sweetheart.) Sniffing is still about the best fun I have, and I'm dying to sniff a few in your list, so please enter me in the draw!

  31. Stephan17:34

    Your list is very tempting to me, and I'm glad to see Loretta and Une Voix Noire. I'd be most interested to try the new Guerlains, Les Deserts d'Orient. Thanks for the draw.

  32. I feel as I was out of the loop this year and really didn't try many new releases. Honestly, the only one above I think I have tried is the Lady Gaga and my thoughts were the same as yours. I am very curious about the L'Ambre de Merveilles but it would be nice to sniff all of these so please enter me in the draw.

  33. Thalia18:10

    I got into vintages this year, so my discoveries were Intimate by Revlon, My Sin, and the original formulation of Niki de St. Phalle. There's just an endless world of beautiful things to sniff and explore!

  34. I actually considered buying the Nikki Minaj perfume just for the freakish bottle. Yes, I'm a little twisted. And no, I haven't bought it. Yet.
    Happy New Year and thanks for the giveaway! :-)

  35. I agree with a lot of what you said. And the restrictions become ever scarier - is there anything left untouched at all?

    From this year's offers, I've bought voix noire, have a good decant of Loretta (and of dark passage!). In stuff you haven't mentioned, I got Angel Cuir. And I'm thinking about Vero Kern Mito if it comes out in parfum.


  36. Eleni20:35

    This was the year that I got into perfume,so I am new at this. I've learnt so much from this blog! Your comment on the Chanel no.5 ad was spot-on,I thought Brad Pitt seemed a little lost.
    2012 was the year that Tea For Two was discontinued, I think - and I am lamenting this because I just fell in love with it.
    Thank you for the give away!

  37. Anonymous20:48

    L'ambre des merveilles and Guerlain's
    Lys Soleia are my favourites for 2013
    Furthermore,I would love to try Les Deserts d'Orient
    I am looking forward to an innovative,exquisitely fragrant 2013


  38. Impossible Iris was the one perfume I most wanted to try this year... but haven't yet! Thanks for putting together a goodie bag for a lucky winner!

  39. ElizabethC21:14

    I really, really want to try Une Voix Noire by Lutens and Loretta by Tauer. This Christmas I was able to treat myself to Pear + Olives by Slumberhouse - Beautiful!

  40. Merlin21:14

    The only 2012 niche release that I got to sample was Volutes, and I liked the EDP and EDT. And, since they are not available here (my brother brought the samples from London) I, thankfully, don't have to choose!
    I haven't tried Florabotanica (haven't seen it here) but I absolutely agree with all the other mainstream releases that you list as meh.

  41. Very awesome list! I definitely want to try your top picks :-) Have a Happy New Year!!

  42. annemariec22:20

    Now that I am exploring neroli and orange blossom notes, I am kicking myself for missing the Guerlain Flora Nerolia. However, this year I did snatch a bottle of Tiare Mimosa going at a very reasonable price, and I'm glad.

    Many thanks for the draw, and all the best for 2013.

  43. Thank you for an entertaining read! I agree with some of your choices as being very good, and I've had some very nice discoveries myself this year! All in all I'm very pleased for my 2012 olfactory experiences!I got some lovely things like Absolue pour le soir, Dzing!, Cuir de Lancome, Rossy de Palma, Oud Cuir d'Arabie, Donna Karan Gold, I've discovered the beauty of Vero Kern fragrances and I have decants of Musc Tonkin and Loretta so what's not to like about this year? Thanks for the draw!

  44. Anonymous23:28

    the exclusive guerlains totally need to come this way - to the states! and the monegals are on my list to sniff (eventually)- they sound really nice.

    did mona d'orio die this year? or was it last year? i've lost track of time. RIP, regardless.

    and, wow, what a genius guy robert was! i love all of those scents, and i'm sure the rest of his fragrant legacy is just as amazing. but he's cooking up new beauties on another plane, i am sure.

    cheers and happy new year!

  45. Joaquim00:27

    O'Driù! Please, this house deserves more atention...Allegradonna, of the few TRUE avant-garde lines, imho.
    Thank you for the draw!

  46. Kandice01:37

    I've only recently fallen down the perfume rabbit hole so I've just started exploring many of the fragrances mentioned. But based on what I've read, I would love to try Dark Passage by Tauer - here's hoping I find at least a small sample somewhere! Thanks for the draw!

  47. Lynne Marie02:57

    Great listing!I've added to my list of "must try" especially the Puredistance Operdu, I keep reading glowing reviews of it. I am, apparently, the only person on the planet who liked the Brad Pitt Chanel no.5 add and I don't even like Brad Pitt! What I took from it was that he was talking about the love of his life and I gotta say that if if my husband spoke about me that way, I would be so touched. It just came out sort of dorky sounding(as intense love sometimes does) but the intent was touching.
    Thanks for the draw!

  48. Anonymous03:51

    I think those Desert d'Orient Guerlains are a little easier for people to get their hands on than you give them credit, if they're motivated. Which is a good thing. I actually liked Florabotanica. Of course I love Opardu! Last thing, the Nikki Minaj bottle may be ugly (or charmingly ugly), but the juice is far, far uglier. Easily the worst perfume I smelled this year because it smells so non-descriptly exactly like the generic pink screechy floral you hope it won't be. Too bad, I think Nikki herself is good fun :(


  49. Anonymous04:06

    This is also, for me, the first year I have become more curious about perfume and have learned so much from this blog. I also discovered four natural perfumers here, and treated myself to full bottles from two of them. Tawaf is one; it is so beautiful on my skin and I also learned where to sample some scents that can only be found at niche perfumers. Please enter me in the drawing - what I can't wear, perhaps I can swap. The Guerlain line for the Middle East market sounds delicious enough to fly to Dubai for. Thank you for all the time you put into this blog. I bookmarked so many articles they needed their own folder.

    Happy New Year,


  50. I am glad I wasn't the only one confused about Mr Pitt fronting the Chanel No 5 ads. I jsut didn't get it. Bring back Audrey Tatou.

    My fragrance discovery this year, although not new to the marketplace, is Aqua Universalis Forte by Maison Francis Kirkdjian. It's my Christmas gift to me. I love how it mellows and changes and is still with me at the end of the day.

  51. Every night just before bedtime, I look forward to receiving your latest posts via email. My list of perfumes to sample is getting longer and longer!

    My 12 yr old son, our Canadian relatives and I spent a 1/2 hour at the JAR "room" at Bergdorfs in NYC last week -- my new favorite fragrance is Golconda! Unfortunately I'll have to wait until I win the lottery to be able to afford a bottle but we had a lot of fun discussing each fragrance. The sales clerk let us try on the earrings, too. Despite the slightly pretentious atmosphere at Bergdorfs, he was very warm and friendly and we had a good time.

    My husband surprised me with a bottle of L'Artisan Tea for Two a few months ago so that is my current go to fragrance.

  52. Totally agree on Une Voix Noire--it is on my "to buy" list! I'd add Vero Profumo Mito and L'Artisan Seville a l'Aube, both wonderful.
    Thank you for the draw!

  53. I'd love to get my hands on the Guerlain Les Deserts d'Orient line! Overall, I think this has been a truly lackluster year for perfumes!

  54. Anonymous06:17

    So so so disappointed in Lady Gaga's Fame. I'd be happier if it smelled bad, because at least then it would be daring. But Fame really is just boring.

  55. I am rather terribly concerned about the new regulations; I only really seriously started getting into perfume this year and am operating on a tight budget, so it's not possible for me to go out and buy whatever will inevitably be destroyed by regulations before it happens. So I am sitting here worrying about which perfumes to try and smell and possibly save up the bucks to buy. What gives me hope are the niche perfumers; your list for lovely niche releases is quite inspiring, and I have faith that new good scents will continue to be released, even despite restrictions. I will forever mourn the nature of perfumery, though, in that once a formulation is gone, it is essentially gone forever, leaving behind this haunting shell of memory while younger sniffers can never experience it again.

    This is all to say: what to smell/buy ASAP before regulation sinks its fangs into our already watered-down grandes dames? Any and all opinions for this newbie are appreciated.

  56. Gisela09:32

    This is a wonderful list, and a your Chanel pic is hilariously funny! While Ambre des Merveilles is to sweet for my tastes (although really good executed..) and the Maria Candida Gentile line didn't work for me I agree with Lys Soleia being beautiful. It got quite a bit of skin time this year - especially nice layered over Caudalie's Huile Divine.
    I second the mentionings of Mito and definitely have to get samples of Ramon Monegal's line next year. Thanks for the draw and a very happy New Year for you!

  57. Hallo Elena,
    My biggest discovery in 2012 has been the house of SSS (Sonoma Scent Studios), which encapsulates all I could ask from fragrances. Laurie's Ambre Noir and Winter Woods translate my own nature into smell, to the point that they helped me towards self awareness. It's incredible, but great perfumers are God sent! And needless to say, a big thank you for your posts. They are true gems in the field, so elevated, elegant, and elaborate (eee)!
    Happy holidays and may 2013 be a most joyful and inspiring year for all of you!
    Lots of love,
    Alexandra from Giannitsa-Greece

  58. hatice10:15

    I miss the perfumes of the yester-era... The ones that were associated with and evoked so much memory/emotions, thoughts and dreams. Of all the ones mentioned in the above lists, I'm looking forward to trying RAMON MONEGAL line. Have a happy new year full of great smells:)

  59. Eva H.10:16

    Like others, I only really got into perfumes this year so I made quite a few discoveries - both good and bad (Un Jardin sur le Nil, why do you have to get so sweet during the dry down??).
    I mainly discovered that I was prejudiced against certain perfume notes. Patchouli for example. I am just now branching out into the different aspects of this note (Yves Rocher Cocoon is my go to "snuggle" scent right ow) Or floral notes in general. I will never be a lover of big floral scents but I can appreciate L´Artisan Mimosa pour moi.
    I do love Kelly Caleche but not on myself.
    The most unlikely discovery is Lush Twilight. The mix of lavender with vanilla and tonka is so pretty. The dry down reminds me of Prada Candy, but better.
    I wish you a good start into the new year. Hopefully without too many restrictions (to me this is like restricting art..).
    Thanks for the draw!

  60. Anonymous10:22

    Awesome giveaway!! You always do the good stuff.
    I have fallen hard for Neela Vermeire and her creations.
    Keiko Mecheri: Un Jour d'Ete and CHANEL in all forms, quite a few Guerlains and finally got some Fracas Parfum.
    So many fabulous micro niche releases from Olympic Orchids, Aftelier, A Wing & A Prayer, One Seed, Tommi Sooni, SOIVOHLE and others.
    Happy new Year,
    Portia xxx

  61. Thanks for a great year with you and the great recap. Looking forward to all of your posts in 2013!

  62. I fell in love with Ramon Monelgal's Impossible Iris and Cuirelle.I have to admit the entire Monegal-range is impressive.Another love is Seville a'Laube from L'Artisan.Lys Soleia and Flora Neroli by Guerlain were must have's in this summer to me.:)I agree, the best celebrity parfum this year no doubt Madonna's Truth or Dare,but I think, not that hard to get this position in this category nowadays...:)
    Discover of this year to me the Histoires de Parfums line,I just love Capriciuse Tubereuse from this house!:)
    Dissapointment of the year: Gaga's Fame, Coco Noir by Chanel and the all Testa Maura range and Olympia Music Hall by Histoires de Parfums in the niche category.

  63. Sorry,I meant Flora Nymphea by Guerlain..;)

  64. Elena, thank you so much for such a wonderful blog! I am a fellow Greek archaeologist/blogger too and I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. I hope 2013 will bring you everything you have wished for. Καλή Χρονιά and keep up the good work.

  65. CharlotteH13:07

    I always seem to miss the Guerlain releases and will need to seek out the Les Deserts series. Of course, it seems they are not available anymore...story of my life. Thanks for the draw - there are so many good ones listed that I'd love to try!

  66. Anonymous13:09

    I love your lists and always end up feeling I am missing out on some lovely new scents. Will the new regulations change my favorite go to Dior's Diorella ? or Eau Savage ? Such sadness. Should I stock up ? Thanks for you blog and Happy New Year.

    ps I always look forward to new scents from Frederic Malle. Maybe a new one for 2013 ?

  67. I haven´t tried most of them but I agree with terrible No. 5 advertisement. Brad simply doesn´t look sexy there. Thanks for this opportunity! All the best in 2013!

  68. Hi,
    I'm quite new to this "discovering" perfumes game so quite a few that are "new to me" are in fact oldies!
    I bought une voix noire which didn't sit well on me & santale majuscule which I love!
    Also love Tauer's white pentachords, reverie au jardin & zeta.
    Would loooooove an oportunity to try a bagful of newbies, thanks for the oportunity.......fingers crossed!

  69. Thank goodness for sample vials, otherwise I would never be able to try most of these perfumes. I also rue that perfume is sold in smaller bottles. I have had in mind to find a signature fragrance...but none so far seems to grab me in entirely that I think about it, my home, my wardrobe, my life...all eclectic, so why not my perfume collection as well. Part of the fun each day is making the choice. Happy New Year

  70. I mean I rue that perfume is NOT sold in smaller bottoms (my comment above)

  71. Anonymous14:56

    That Brad Pit commercial is one of the stupidest things ever. Was there even one person who was led to purchase fragrance as a result of that?

    My bests for 2012 new fragrances: Santal Majuscule, Volutes, Interlude, Orangers en Fleur.

    In the "new to me" fragrance list: vintage Tabac Blond, current Narcisse Noir, Hindu Kush, vintage Nuit de Noel.


  72. Anonymous14:57

    Shoot, in the "new to me" list: Jo Malone's Vintage Gardenia should be in there too.


  73. ChristineB15:03

    I did not manage to sniff many new releases in 2012 but of those on your list, I was seduced by the easy to wear, sunny Lys Soleia, perhaps to counteract our dreadful UK summer!

    I also want to add my agreement to your comment on the sad loss of Alec Lawless. A few years ago I went to a book club event at a local pub where the book under discussion was Perfume by Patrick Suskind and Alec Lawless gave a presentation accompanied by essential oils and absolutes to smell. He was knowledgable and funny. I bought samples of his perfumes and I kept intending to go on one of his perfume days in the future. I never did, alas.

  74. Anonymous15:14

    Loved reading your recap. I wish I were more up to date on sampling the new releases. Maybe I'll win the draw and it'll happen ....

    My "new" discovery this year is old: Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil. I sampled it in 2005 and it didn't do anything for me. But now, suddenly, I can't get enough.

    I've also been very loyal to my lifelong love, Chanel Coco.

    It's been such a stressful, crummy year that I've mostly stuck to my old favorites -- as a comfort, I'm realizing. I'm really ready for 2013. I hope it's a good one.

    manon729 at yahoo dot com

  75. Cheryl15:26

    The face saving rush to combat Brad with Marilyn was timely, but for me No. 5 is all about Maria Callas.
    Thank you for the lovely suggestions, and for the draw.
    Best wishes for a brilliant New Year.

  76. Sandra Levine15:59

    I fear for the perfume industry.

  77. I have never thought of making any kind of list except grocery lists. But Chanel having Brad Pitt for a #5 commercial probably wasn't the greatest idea. Especially since there are rumors of new restrictions that have the potential to ruin #5 or get it discontinued. That would be catastrophic if that happened.

  78. Thanks for the heads up on AA. And now i am on a mission to sample the Ramon Monega line. thank you!

  79. Ravenna16:19

    What a year! I must admit I am a bit surprised by your love of Ramon Monegal- I tried 4 of his frag's this year and found them all leaving me wanting more- glad you're enjoying them though. I think the release of this year that I have worn the most would be Interlude Man by Amouage. Although not the most daring or creative scent to come out this year, it's just beautiful and makes me feel like I'm oozing luxury when I wear it. As I'm reading around other bloggers lists I have been surprised not to see Aftelier's Sepia but once. This is a work of true olfactive art in my eyes, probably the most evocative scent of the year for me. Gaga, Minaj, Brad boy- take a hike. Oh, and take that boring beauty Coco Noir with you, thanks. Happy holidays and thanks for the draw!

  80. Anonymous16:31

    "wet labrador" is perfectly expressed, especially as I hit the mute button to avoid listening to that nonsense!

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  81. VeniH17:09

    I totally fell in love with perfumes this year only, so my greatest 2012 discoveries are all the wonderful blogs and forums about perfumes, including Perfume Shrine :-) Reading them makes me happy to no end.
    Speaking of perfumes themselves, I started discovering the Guerlain production as a whole, thanks to one very special lady who brings these treasures to the Czech and Slovak perfume lovers. Nearly no Guerlain creation is unreachable for her, what a miracle! So now I am looking forward to my decant of Rose Nacré du Desert eagerly :-)

  82. This was a year in which I was determined to use up a lot of my old samples and focus on my full bottles, so I didn't get to do much sampling of new scents. Still, I couldn't resist a decant of Seville a l'Aube and I'm glad I got it. Now that I've had a year of being good, I'm raring to get back to sampling, and especially want to try Mito, Loretta, and the whole Monegal line.

  83. Fernando17:38

    I am truly amazed at the Nikki Minaj bottle. It probably falls into the "so bad it is interesting" category, sure to be coveted by collectors in a decade or two.

    I'm one of the lucky ones with a small spray of Dark Passage. It took a while for me to appreciate it, but my wife liked it at once when I tried it on... which is good enough!

    There are several you mention that I haven't tried yet. A useful list!

  84. What a great giveaway, thank you!

    After years of shying away from vanillas I have discovered a few I love; 7 Billion Hearts, Profumum Vanitas and a few others.

    That Nikki Minaj bottle is shudder-worthy!

    And a wonderful, magical 2013 to all!

  85. Anonymous20:54

    This giveaway sounds amazing! I had a chance to try some Ramon Monegal and Maria Candida Gentile, thanks to a perfumista friend and I have to agree with you - both lines are amazing. Next on my list to try and smell are the 2 new Hermes'. Spicebomb also sounds up my alley. The pic of the Nikki Manaj bottle looks crazy...kind of scared to see it in real life. Thanks!

    Dagney Betty

  86. This has been my first year immersed in the world of fragrance. It has become such an essential facet of my life, it's hard to imagine how I lived without it before! Your site has been one of my most valued resources to learn and explore through this world. Thank you! I haven't had the opportunity to try most of the fragrances on your list, but I'll look forward to tracking down samples in the new year. A couple of my favourites from the 2012 releases I have tried are Santal Majuscule and Volutes.

  87. Dawn22:05

    The Chanel ad with Brad Pitt has to be one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences I've ever had. They missed the mark, painfully so. In regards to the Nicki Minaj fragrance, I actually saw a sales rep tucking the hideous tester bottle behind others! It made my day!
    Thanks for the draw!

  88. Anonymous22:58

    I really enjoyed your best of 2012 list. I have some Ramon Monegal samples to test once I get over my end of year cold. Definitely agree on the Nicki Minaj bottle,ugliest thing ever. Thanks for the draw. Peace and Happiness in the new year.

  89. Great post, thank you!
    After a hiatus of almost a year I am catching up in all things perfume. Am in a blissful frenzy. Do you think one could get the Guerlains in the Emirate Airports?
    I moved from Europe to California in 2011 and am discovering 'local' treasures. Right now Sonoma Scent Studio, Mandy Aftel and all American Classics you can get so easily online (but are difficult to send into Europe. We have terribly restrictive customs regulations now). Please include me in the draw - I have missed so much...

  90. Too bad about Brad . . . but the Minaj bottle is as heinous as the woman herself, so not surprising at all.

  91. Ingeborg04:05

    I would have liked to try the gardenia perfume from Arquiste and the Roman Monegal line, but with those not available locally it is a bit tricky. Among my discoveries this year are Seville à l'Aube and the Aedes de Venustas sgnature scent, both out of the ordinary. Also enjoyed Ann Gerard, the flowery Ciel d'Opale and the chypre one.

  92. Solley Eaton05:14

    My personal favorite is Vetiver Tonka by Hermes.
    As a newbie I discovered the niche perfumes very quick (thanks to a friend of mine) but still there are so much fragrances to try and like/dislike.

  93. great list and thanks for mentioning "Dark Passages"
    had lot of fun with the categories
    A very happy, healthy and fragrant 2013

  94. Next collage: Brad's mug on the Minaj bottle. Heh.

    My discovery this year was Givenchy Dahlia Noir. Lovely. The L'artisan Seville is atop my lust list.

  95. bradamante09:18

    Dear Perfumeshrine - of course I love to be in the draw! I think we had a pretty good year, fragracewise. The good things were around, and really good, and the bad things were appropriately horrific, as they should be (here's to you Brad ;-)
    But now for something completely different: do you think it would be possible - and amusing - to do a blog about perfume references in literature? If I remember correctly, Linda Talbot wore Mitsouko in Nancy Mitfords unforgettable The Pursuit of Love. And I thought I read somewhere that a hard boiled detective (Philip Marlowe maybe?) wore Fracas, which I find a sign of utter coolness. Also Narcisse Noir has been rumored to have made an apparition in a detective noir. Well I know nearly nothing, but I would love (LOVE) to know more. In the meantime: have a lovely new year, dear Perfumeshrine!

  96. MariaA12:42

    It has been an intersting year and I quite agree with your choices!! SL's Une Voix Noire and Lys Soleia are my favorites of this year and I made many many new discoveries thanks to my fragrance friends! Wish you all the best Elena!! Greetings from London!!

  97. Anonymous13:14

    Detested the Brad Pitt ad, especially since it replaced the delightful, short-lived ad of Chanel "firsts".
    Even worse than seeing the Brad ad on TV was constantly encountering his scruffy visage looming out from Chanel counters in the department stores. Second Chanel insult -- putting a boring scent in that beautiful Noir bottle.

    But all is redeemed by the great work being done in niche. I'm really wanting to sample the decidedly different from each other Loretta (loved Miriam, eager to see his take on a diffrent era and personality) and Opardu (Puredistance M and Antonia are wonderful).

    It's good to see the really small indies getting recognition too. My favourite in that category this year is Ayala Moriel's Treazon -- it converted me to tuberose.

    Thanks for a great year of blogging and for this generous giveaway.

    -- Lindaloo

  98. I like Interlude Man this year. It is nice during cold days.

  99. Ariadne15:01

    OOhhh, such a yummy giveaway! I love making lists too, makes me feel I can act imperious without causing irrevocable offense. Brad P. was/is just a hilarious howl. Nikki is a pink Borg Trekkie maybe? I am also getting very weary of the J'Adore Dior TV ads. Boring and do not make me want to sample the perfume.
    I am excited to see the rise in popularity of the niche lines this year. I believe this will be a growing facet of the industry and will offer a respite from the sagging offerings of the mainstream perfume houses. YAY!

  100. solanace16:20

    Great list. This year I loved Santal Majuscule, above all releases I tried. Can't wait to try Une voix noire... Thank's for the draw.

    And thank you for sharing that labrador comment. It granted me a good laugh at the maternity - actually a little too good for my post c section condition!!

    I wish you a great 2013, and please keep gifting us with your wide knowledge and delicious prose!

  101. Anonymous17:53

    The hilarious thing about the Nicky Minaj bottle is that it's way more tasteful than she is, especially around the, uh, poitrine. (If you don't believe that's possible, google Nicky Minaj wardrobe malfunction.) Thanks for your generosity, not only in organizing this draw but for all you do to make Perfume Shrine such a resource and joy. Best wishes to all for 2013, nozknoz

  102. lilacskin19:33

    funny, i recently added four of yr niche picks to my own wishlist...especially interested in the ELdO...

  103. lol, pitt's head on minaje's bottle would be awesome!

    I haven't had too many major discoveries this year, I think the only way I've been able to keep up with things is through the untitled series from Open Sky. I've been stuck in a coco mademoiselle rut all year, but agree with the "meh" category. One day I'll be able to get into the niche fragrances, though.

    Thanks for the drawing!

  104. Haven't had a chance to try many of those on the list, but agree with the awfulness of the Minaj bottle. Thanks for the draw.

  105. "Soaked dogs isn't something Chanel is known for". I burst out laughing! Thank you for that one!

    Florabotanica broke my heart. That gorgeous packaging. That 'meh' perfume. sigh.

    Fwiw, you can get the gorgeous Deserts at Bergdorf. Encens Mythique is the stuff of dreams!


  106. Andrea 12104:50

    The "end of year" lists are a lot of fun! I was disappointed in Florabotanica as well. I do like Marchesa, although I wish it lasted longer... The sample giveaway is a great idea to close out the year; Happy New Year!

  107. Hi Elena,
    like a lot of your readers I didn't get to many new scents this year so I can't compare them the way you do, but of the ones I did get to Musc Tonkin by PDE was the best closely followed by Cuir Fauve by Keiko Mecheri.
    The greatest disappointment was Creature by Kerosene, more because of the build up than anything else.

    As for Brad Pitt, I can imagine the creative director saying, "We've been trying to work out whether you should come across as a total dick or a complete prat, but we now have a script that will allow you to do both!"
    They succeeded to expectation.

  108. Jennifer05:27

    Around here in Alabama most of these won't be availiable locally til next year or later-the Lancome La Vie scent HAS arrived though and reminds me of Unruly by either coty or Prince Matchabelli the scent didn't do so well in the 90s it makes me wonder how well it'll do this decade. I think I may have seen Spicebomb and Florobotanica (at least a display) and I've seen the dreck (Nikki Minaj and Gaga) . I would love to be in the draw to get a "nose up" on what's comming soon. Thanks!
    Jennifer aka bookwyrmsmith at live dot com

  109. Annemarie10:03

    I too belong to 'the first year into perfume' group and what a joy it is. I like your blog very much and spent many hours reading in the archives, there is so much information there. So thank you Elena and I hope you will continue in 2013.

  110. Anonymous12:03

    Happy New Year, with many future classics and milestone creations coming up in the worlds of scents! On a different note, in a recent trip to Greece -after having spent almost 2 years in Dubai without traveling- I realized how rain seems to enhance and embellish scents in nature... I wish I could capture them in a bottle...

  111. I do agree with most of the comments of yout list! The bottle of Nikki Minaj is indeed hideous at the very least...i am looking forward to try the new S. Lutens however. I found the information about the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Protection very worrying but glad to know it!

  112. One of my favorite releases this year was Atelier Rose Anonyme. I also loved Opardu. I have a long list to try that includes Santal Majuscule, some ELDO, Aftelier Sienna, Amouage Interlude Man & Woman, and Mon Patchouli. I did love that the Chanel commercial prompted so many great parodies!

  113. I so love these kinds of posts!
    I do agree on Fame or Brad for Chanel :) And my best 2012 fragrance is Anima Dulcis!

  114. Tegan Harris14:45

    I have only recently delved into the world of perfume, and it is a wonderful and enlightening experience! It is made that much more so by your wonderful blog. Thanks for all your insights, and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts in the new year!

  115. Barbara15:59

    Winning your goodie bag would be a wonderful start to the new year!
    My fragrance disappointment for 2012 was Coco Noir. Had such high hopes for it and was lemming it so much because I love the original Coco. It was a total scrubber on me! Still love the bottle though!

  116. Kym L16:21

    I only bought a single new release this year - blind buy as Shalimar Madagascar was not available to sniff. It's okay. Although I tried to find something - I found myself perhaps overwhelmed by the selection and underwhelmed by the scents this year. Bought plenty of bottles, though - just nothing new. That's okay, I'm stocked up on classics like vintage Halston & Safari, VdN and Jicky.

  117. Μαριαλένα17:11

    Thank you for the great giveaway and for all your great posts throughout the year. This year has stood as a new beginning for me, discovering new things and new brands that I hadn't come across in the past when I was only shopping at department stores, and your blog has helped me in sorting out what to sample online. So what I'm trying to say is please enter me in the draw. Ευχαριστώ!

    My personal perfume pick this year has been Red Roses by Jo Malone, not because it is new, but because a dear friend offered it to me marking a very special day. For that, it's really special to me and I hope it remains so for ever!

    Thanks for the laughs on the Minaj bottle. How horrible!

  118. If I ever see that Nicki Minaj's perfume is available on the cheap, I'll probably buy it just for the insane bottle. I'm most excited about Etat Libre d'Orange's Fis de Dieux as well as their Afternoon of a Fawn, despite that I've yet to smell either one of them.

  119. I'm with you with Ramon Monegal line and pretty much agree with Maria Candida choice. Anima Dulcis is on my fav. list too.

    I was wondering why on earth Chanel had to put Brad Pitt in advertising No. 5, especially if it is true that every few second someon purchases it.

  120. @Bradamante,

    I have already foreseen your wish it seems:
    Perfume in Literature: Setting the scene and characters.

    Enjoy! :-)

  121. Omega22:25

    I agree with most things written here! My fave discovery was the Ramon Monegal line as well. Ambra Di Luna is my fave scent of the year!

    My least fave releases were: Coco Noir, Le Vie est Belle and the Gucci Gorgeous Gardenia, Glorious Tuberose, blah blah blah collection.

    One I smelled that I hope I never smell again: Miel de Bois, Serge Lutens

  122. Guerlain continues to amaze me and remain one of the reasons I most wish I were wealthier. Ah well. Hoarding my samples so they las as long into 2013 is my master plan, but reading your delectable blog isn't making this little obsession, er, hobby any less pricey!

  123. I just realized that even more terrifying than the Minaj bottle are the new restrictions. How many more ruined/mutant classic fragrances will we experience? I feel like eating a famous cake made with flour and butter of course, but also made with egg powder, milk powder, chocolate substitute, vanilla substitute and artificial orange flavor. I prefer to eat something else. Anyway, I always like to read the year-end lists but I really loved this one, my dear Elena, because once again you expanded my horizons. Last two years I mostly got into vintage so I had not the opportunity to try many of the new releases, except of the mainstream fragrances of course (the meh list is very successful). But I’d love to try Guerlain’s “Les deserts d 'Orient”, and “Une voix noire” and Tauer’s “Dark passage” as well (I’m dreaming of them as being both very retro). I think that the Ramon Monegal series would be an interesting experience too. As for the Brad Pitt collage, it is so inspired that even my neighbors could hear me roaring with laughter in the middle of the night.
    Congratulations for one more wonderful post and thanks for the draw.
    I wish you a very happy New Year!

  124. I've tried so many few frags this year that I've lost count. Standouts have been the Neela Vermeire frags, the Ramon Monegal frags, the Maria Candida Gentile and Ann Gerard's frags.

    The worst moment for me was Brad Pitt's nightmare commercial. I had to turn my Chanel frags around so they couldn't see it, LOL :)

    Thanks for the draw, as always !

  125. I've had a terrible time this year even trying to keep up with the new releases--I'm still stuck in 2011's releases! I have been able to try a few, and sadly I haven't been particularly impressed. While I can see that Ambre des Merveilles is a well-made fragrance, it was far too cloying for me to wear. I'm definitely intrigued by Jour d'Hermes (I'm fortunate to live near a boutique), but I haven't made up my mind yet.

    Thank you for the draw, and best wishes in the new year!

  126. Another great year for the Perfume Shrine. Your blog is the best! I hope 2013 (year of the snake!) is a great one for you and all readers!

  127. I agree about Coco Noir being 'meh'. I love Coco and was hoping that Chanel will bring this gorgeous scent to a dark side but it didn't happen. The fragrance smells good but I probably won't be as disappointed if they didn't label this juice as Coco Noir...

    The Nikki Minaj bottle is ugly: it looks like a garish ornament that' belongs in the tomb of some old Egyptian Pharaoh (with very bad taste).

    Thanks for the draw and I wish you a very Happy 2013!

  128. Great post! I am a newly obsessed perfumista, and I am still in a discovery phase, so this whole year was a personal discovery of likes and dislikes...

    I love the meh designer category...I felt the same about all! I've yet to try the Ambre des Merveilles, but I like Eau and Eau Claire, so I'm excited to try it.

    And thank you for the "niche lovelies" category...I am completely entrenched in a niche discovery right now, and I am loving the journey! I am interested in all that you have listed, but especially the Fis de Dieu!

    Happy New Year!

  129. Anonymous17:39

    Does the perfume in the ugly bottle smell bad?

  130. Rickyrebarco18:53

    Well, I agree with the fabulous taste of our esteemed perfumistas. I, too, thought Monegal's line was the best of the year (I know you said one of the best) but I say the "bestest" of all the new lines. I succumbed and bought 3 Monegals, Impossible Iris (impossibly gorgeous!), Ambra di Luna (soft like the light of the moon) and Mon Cuirelle (a stunning leather and floral- just amazing). And of course Andy Tauer is always at the top of the heap with any of his new creations. I bought Tauer's Zeta and am so in love with it. 2012 was a great year for perfume in my opinion.

  131. Kathy B18:58

    Trying to get my fabulous comments to post! Love the Monegals and succumbed to 3 of them, so wonderful. and Tauer's Zeta was my favorite of 2012, but may be it came out in 2011. Loved Tauer's Loretta also. yes, the Brad Chanel ad was the worst ever.

  132. Anonymous18:59

    Re: Nikki Minaj hilarious design, I was immediately reminded of this comedy sketch, enjoy! Happy 2013

  133. "Brad Pitt looks like a wet labrador. A wet, loyal labrador who's talking about I dont know what. Soaked dogs isnt something Chanel is known for so I'm just as confused as everyone else as to what's going on in that ad"

    This made me choke on my coffee!

    Neela Vemeire's Trayee was my best this year. Absolutely gorgeous.

  134. "Soaked dogs isn't something Chanel is known for so I'm just as confused as everyone else as to what's going on in that ad"

    Classic comment!

    Neela Vermeire's Trayee was the top of my best list. Absolutely gorgeous.

    Happy new year and thanks for all you do!

  135. I'm anxious to try the Ramon Monegal and Ann Gerard lines, the new Guerlains, as well as the Lutens gardenia and the new ELDO's. Of the stuff I *did* manage to sniff this year, Spicebomb, La Vie en Rose and Nostalgie found places in my collection. Happy new year!

  136. bradamante21:16

    Aha! Apres l'Ondee, not Mitsouko! My wishes wear granted before I even formulated them. Thank you dear Perfumeshrine and have a very lovely and fragrant year :-)

  137. bradamante21:24

    How lovely. My wish was granted even before I pronounced it. And so it's Apres L'Ondee, not Mitsouko! Bah Foei Toch! But dear Perfumeshrine, have a lovely and fragrant New Year and thank you for your beautiful blog :-)

  138. Rednails01:50

    Another of Guy Robert's masterpieces, now sadly watered down, is the former prim dominatrix Caleche. Sad that the master died, and now Hermes may be killing off his creation...Loved your's as eclectic as you are. Thanks for the draw, and Happy New Year!

  139. PeachOrDaisy(Karen)01:55

    Thanks for the write up, wonderful as always though I disagree about the Truth or Dare.

    Very best wishes to you for a beautiful new year! Cheers!

  140. Anonymous02:37

    I think you can guess what one of my 2 favorite scents of the year was-Tawaf! And Vetiver Oriental, which another scented friend sent me.
    i want to try Seville de L'Aube, and all the new SL scents. Girl from Berlin, especially.
    I hope that 2013 is filled with great things for you and your loved ones. Thank you for producing such a beautiful body of work, and for sharing it with us. It's such a generous gift!
    Yours very truly,
    Carole MacLeod

  141. Anonymous02:41

    I think I did not post my comment-

    Best discovery was Tawaf, of course! And Vetiver Oriental, sent to me by another fragrance friend. To have 2 new discoveries in one year is a revelation.
    I hope that 2013 is good to you, and to your loved ones. Thank you for producing such a beautiful body of work, and for generously sharing it with us every day.
    Yours very truly,
    Carole MacLeod

  142. Wow. I missed a LOT this year. I only tried one thing on this list (the new Merveilles) and though it was nice, it wasn't something that I had to have. I prefer Eau Claire.

    In my defense, I was pregnant (or had a newborn) for most of the year, so there's a lot I didn't get around to sniffing. I'm sure that I'll fix that in 2013!!

    I'm shocked that BELOVED by AMOUAGE isn't on more lists. Such great juice! And I haven't seen it mentioned on ANY of the must-try lists.

  143. Happy New Year. I tuned in to wish you and tell you how wonderful this blog is, especially because it is so very un-snobby and yet erudite to the max. i have referred to it so many times over from you in depth look at roses to your guide to inexpensive perfumes - go my dh a bottle of Tabac after referring to your guide.

    This year my biggest discovery is no one perfume house, but rather the world of niche perfumes. But yes, a few have really stuck me with delight and then some - Serge Lutens and Neela Vermeire. Serge because his medicinal/astringent take on the otherwise over the top lushness that the perfume world is makes me think of how an artist is in the end all about the truth. Neela because we need grace and delight in the world and because there is something historic but not nostaligic in her grace filled view of the world.

  144. I think my comment got deleted so here again: thanks for the draw andmy favourite houses this year (mind you my first year in niche perfumery is Serge Lutens and Neela Vermeire. I love the former for his medicinal and daring take on scents, a true artist, he is honest to the extreme. Although I sampled many I would love and even sent away via his blog for the envelope full of sold scents I could afford only one and it is a beauty - his Tubereuse Criminelle. I loved the refinement and grace of NV creations and got her discovery set. But so many inexpensive and wonderful perfumes to commend, as well _ smell Bent's Never Never Land layers with everything I own (it is pretty purely amber from what I can tell) and Pacifica is another great.

  145. so glad you highlighted the Arabian Guerlains... lovely, and sadly overlooked by many I fear.

  146. I received the Aqua Allegorias as a Christmas present. I had no idea they disappeared that quickly! Thanks for the draw and a very Happy New Year to you!

  147. Happy New Year! I was saddened to read the article about luxury perfume makers and allergy laws. Isn't anything sacred anymore?
    My beloved Diorissimo has already been downgraded. I hope Guerlain's Muguet remains unchanged.
    I am looking forward to another daily dose of The Perfume Shrine. Your blog is a pleasure.
    I am crossing my fingers again for another one of your draws. Thanks for the opportunity.

  148. CharlotteH17:48

    Thanks for the draw - a lovely way to start out the new year!

    I, too, agree about Coco Noir. I was in NM during the debut of this scent and all the SAs were a twitter about how great it was. I sniffed and thought it was nice, and I thought the bottle was gorgeous, but not particularly a standout. They were pushing the fragrance so hard that I bet there was some sales contest behind it.

    My favorite find this year is the Arquiste line, and my favorite release has to b the new Guerlain L'Heure d Nuit. Can't wait to find this in stores!

    Great blog :)

  149. I am new to this and your blog stands out to me for its reviews but also for the sheer pleasure of your good writing.
    I am glad you listed Ramon Monegal's perfumes as he scents are the ones that got me into this wonderful, exciting, stimulating expensive journey. I especially love Umbra, Mon Cuir and AgarMusk. I have now discovered Amouage and sadly, Mona d'Orio.
    I think this must be a little bit of what heaven is like- at least for me.
    Thank you

  150. PeachOrDaisy(Karen)19:48

    Happy New Year and thank you for the draw!

    I love your blog but can't agree about Truth or Dare.

    Hard as it is to bear but like to see more on IFRA rulings as they come down the pike. Keeping our fingers crossed it will all turn out alright.

    Best wishes to you..

  151. Wow, that's a great give-away! :)

    I couldn't agree more about the Guerlain Desserts d'Orient. I really have a problem with incence but Songes d'Un Bois took all my worries away and made me crave it!

    Never before have I seen the Nicki Minaj bottle and I'm not grateful you made me see it now. ;)

    I sincerely hope the EU comes to see some sense and stops self-regulating. People who love perfumes do not want that and people who don't love perfume, don't care. So what's the point?

  152. I rediscovered perfume this year after a hiatus since college. It is completely thanks to John Claude Ellena, Hermes, and an unexpected bit of time to kill in an airport. So now that I've spent a few hundred dollars on decants to try and learn something about what I like and do not like (largely to discover that I don't like most of the stuff that sounds good to me), I have finally learned that perfumes do not smell like the actual scents used to describe them in a large number of cases. Tea and basil were my biggest disappointments while cardamom was a pleasant surprise. Here's to a new year of new scents!

  153. In Barcelona niche firms are somewhat difficult to find. We do have a Monegal Shop, and I have smelled some of his offerings. The Cuirelle I like it very much, but not enough to shed the euros. Of the mainstream offerings I can find here I liked (and bought it) L'eau de Chloe.
    On a very personal side, I discover that I can still buy Caron, Scherrer and Gres perfumes in Spain, although I have to travel to Madrid... The main dept store in the country carries those lines, but only in their Madrid shops.

    I didn't like the Coco Noir perfume. I found stupid the # 5 commercial, but not as stupid as the one with Julia Roberts in it. I loved when Chanel did stories in its tv commercials, and Lancome put lovely-unphotoshoped ladies in theirs.

    But the lowest point has been going to Sephora in Madrid and got said that Shalimar was discontinued. One of the SA's there, very eager from me to try Guerlain's Le Petit Robe Noire, said so when I said that I prefer the older Guerlain's. I understand that they have to sell the new stuff, but not educating their salesforce on the "old" (their history) is plain stupid. Sephora is so boring now....

  154. I wish that Lys Soleia had showed up anywhere near me! What a bummer.

    My fave of the year might be Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient. Honorable mentions to Baiser Vole in extrait and Seville a l'Aube.

  155. As always, an interesting post. Now I know yet another reason my bottle of Diorissimo doesn't smell like it used to.

    Regarding the bests, the Monegal line looks fascinating, and is so beautifully packaged - hope it makes it to a source near me for testing at some point.

    Thank you for another year's delightful reading, and for the chance to enter the draw.

  156. Not sure my comment 'took', so first of all, thanks for a year's worth of fascinating reading, and for the beautiful images / music / extras that make this such an entertaining blog.

    I hope that the Monegal line comes to a source near me soon to try - didn't look like Australia was one of the sites yet, but perhaps in travels somewhere I'll come across it.

    All the best for 2013, and thanks for the chance of the draw!

  157. trying again to get my comment accepted here. not sure why the last attempt did not go through. Please forgive if this is a duplicate.

    first off, thanks for the chance and for a great blog, well written and informative. The highlights of my year is pretty much contained in the word 'niche,' ie I did not know of such a thing till this year. Within the realm of niche I have loved discovering Serge Lutens, Mona di Orio and Neela Vermeire.

  158. Anonymous04:28

    Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday comes from the future. It's so robotic. I believe, we all will praise its design in the year 2112. lol.

  159. Thanks so much for the informative list and helpful links :) completely agree about the Brad Pitt/Chanel No. 5 commercial!

  160. Dear Perfumeshrine, somehow my answer does not make it to the comments section. Third attempt: thank you for both the aforementioned post and for your reaction! And of course a very happy and fragrant 2013 :-)

  161. Oh, that Nicki "perfume" always scares me on Fragrantica.
    For me, 2012 was about discovering classic orientals but new mainstream releases were little bit disappointing (especially Coco Noir), so I skipped them.

  162. Bradamante,

    sorry about that. It's just that after a specific number of days, posts' comments are put on moderation to avoid the HUGE spam content that would otherwise appear on the site. Your comments are of course published now!

    And glad you saw the link! Happy new year to you!

  163. To everyone who thought they had their comment "eaten":

    They were NOT! They were just held in moderation limbo as I was sipping the champagne. I had to do this so as not to have the board flooded with the inordinate amount of spam i'm getting these days.

    Sorry for keep you waiting and rest assured your comments are ALL read one by one and given the proper attention they need ALWAYS.

  164. Barbara,

    I have no idea on how the Minaj perfume in the ugly bottle smells like: Minaj is an unknown here and there is no chance in hell that bottle is coming to our shores, a fact for which I'm rather thankful. :-)

  165. Had a particularly funny moment with the Anon who says the Minaj bottle is robotic. It IS! I do think future archaeologists would have a field day with such artifacts unearthed. :-P

  166. Also, rest assured good people, you have expanded my "to try" list immensely through your insightful comments.

    The Neela Vermeire line is one I hadn't had the pleasure to test and is high on my list for 2013.

    Thank you!!

  167. i didn't like Chanel 5 commercial either, I think it was ridicilous. Mainstreams was disappointment all :/ But I found some nice tuberose, amber and leather fragrances at this year. My biggest love at this year was Le Labo's Patchouli 24, but yes I know, it was not released at 2012... =D

  168. Thanks for adding more to my list. I agree with the Brad Pitt commercial being so bad and the SNL spoof of it being so good. I also agree that Madonna's fragrance was quite good and lasted on the skin for hours!

  169. NeenaJ21:18

    I shudder to think that our society will be judged by that Nicki Minaj bottle.

  170. I have always loved perfume but started to pursue it more in 2012. So far - enjoying it immensely but have to hold back as my wallet can only be so deep!

    I imagine the Nicki Minaj may make it on some future perfume book under "unbelievable".

  171. Nina Z01:33

    As I've been reading through the "best of" lists from you and other bloggers, I've realized that I'm always behind at least a year. I haven't yet sampled any of the fragrances on your list, nor have I had a chance to sniff the Ramon Monegal and Maria Candida Gentile perfume lines. Now I'm making up my "to try" list for next year (though hoping I win those samples!).

  172. Latifah01:33

    I will start by saying that this was an interesting year. While all of my personal discoveries were not necesssarily releases from this year, they were still very significant for me. I picked up a sample of Black Saffron approximately a month ago and fell in love. It is absolutely beautiful. While I do not find it incredibly complex, there is something understated and lovely about it. It takes you away to a far away place... at least for a while. Another one of my new favorites is Volutes. I really do enjoy the Diptyque line very much. I also purchased my first from the Frederic Malle line. I decided to go with Lys Mediterranne. It is an absolutely beautiful scent. There is something so powerful about it. I smell the entire Lily, not only the petals but the stems as well. I know that Vitriol d'oeillet didn't get the best reviews but I adore it. There is a spicy aspect to it that I enjoy. As far as the Brad Pitt ad, I didn't love it. I also didn't hate it. I do not typically like celebrity fragrances. I find them lackluster efforts for a qiuck buck. Boyfriend by Kate Walsh is the only exception that comes to mind. Nicky Minaj... REALLY? That is literally the most ridiculous bottle ever. I can't even imagine what the juice smells like based on the bottle alone. The fragrance I am most interested in sampling would be Tawaf. Honestly, they all sound intriguing in different ways. I really appreciate the opportunity.

  173. Latifah01:36

    I will start by saying that this was an interesting year. While all of my personal discoveries were not necesssarily releases from this year, they were still very significant for me. I picked up a sample of Black Saffron approximately a month ago and fell in love. It is absolutely beautiful. While I do not find it incredibly complex, there is something understated and lovely about it. It takes you away to a far away place... at least for a while. Another one of my new favorites is Volutes. I really do enjoy the Diptyque line very much. I also purchased my first from the Frederic Malle line. I decided to go with Lys Mediterranne. It is an absolutely beautiful scent. There is something so powerful about it. I smell the entire Lily, not only the petals but the stems as well. I know that Vitriol d'oeillet didn't get the best reviews but I adore it. There is a spicy aspect to it that I enjoy. As far as the Brad Pitt ad, I didn't love it. I also didn't hate it. I do not typically like celebrity fragrances. I find them lackluster efforts for a qiuck buck. Boyfriend by Kate Walsh is the only exception that comes to mind. Nicky Minaj... REALLY? That is literally the most ridiculous bottle ever. I can't even imagine what the juice smells like based on the bottle alone. The fragrance I am most interested in sampling would be Tawaf. Honestly, they all sound intriguing in different ways. I really appreciate the opportunity.


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