Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best Perfumes Of 2010

2010 was a very good perfume year as far as I'm concerned. Despite the economy that has yet to bounce back fully and the IFRA drones that are still out there trying their best to kill the industry, many perfumers managed to get their groove back and create some outstanding scents. There was excitement in the air,which is something we dearly needed. It's the first time in years I was able to compile a favorite list based only on perfumes released this year, and I'm actually cheating- while I decided to go with a list of ten, several of these slots actually include more than one fragrance. And then there's a group of honorable mentions, all quite fabulous.

Sometime in the next few days I plan to post an addendum of not-so-random thoughts served with a side of snark, because it can't all be puppies and rainbows. But this is a "Best Of" list, so I'll address one of the most important movements of the year- the growing public interest  in independent artisan perfumery, including all natural/botanical scents. The Natural Perfumers Guild and its current president, Anya McCoy, made a huge contribution to educating the public and promoting the cause and concept of natural perfumery as a luxury product made of the finest ingredients by artists committed to creating beauty.

Between the Mystery Of Musk project and the Outlaw Perfumes initiative, McCoy and the Guild pushed several very small lines into the limelights and encouraged the creation of some of the most interesting and vibrant perfumes of recent years. Showing the world what a talented perfumer can achieve when freed from bureaucratic restrictions, I hope the Outlaws will forge a new path and inspire others to take a stand against IFRA. How awesome would it be?

But enough with that. Let's have fun with the great perfumes of the year.

1. Andy Tauer was on a roll in 2010- Orange Star, Eau d'Epices, Une Rose Vermeille, Carillon Pour un Ange. Each one of them is a joy to wear. The latter is a soul-stirring masterpiece (yes, review coming soon).

2. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz- Musk Au Natural, Cuir et Champignon and  Mata Hari made my year. Rich, dark and tempting, they are works of art that elevate American perfumery. I dearly hope this talented perfumer gets international recognition.

3. Serge Lutens had some serious 'splainin' to do  this year, namely L'Eau. Both Bas de Soie and Boxeuses are the redemption we hoped to see and smell.

4. L'Artisan- Coeur de Vétiver Sacré. The most a-typical L'Artisan since Dzing!, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré is rich and complex, holds my interest for hours and smells incredible.

5.Absolue pour le Soir Eau de Parfum by Maison Francis Kurkdjian proved that dirty animalics are alive and well.

6. Roxana Illuminated Perfume- GreenWitch. This botanical perfume is a green chypre. It took me a few weeks before I could hear the ocean when wearing it, but all of a sudden it was there. Remarkable and original, a must-try for chypraholics.

7. Puredistance Antonia- Highbrow, high cheekbones and exquisite beauty.

8. Vero Profumo in EDP- Vero Kern adapted and adjusted her iconic trio extraits (Kiki, Onda, Rubj) into an almost user friendly eaux de parfum. The result didn't lose an ounce of beauty or originality.

9. Mona di Orio Les Nombres d'Or (Cuir, Musc, Ambre)- Can there be anything new to do with classic single notes like amber, leather and musk? Apparently so, when the perfumer is Mona di Orio. The theme, as always, is sensuality, and nobody does it as well as Mona.

10. Guerlain owed us some good juice. Especially since they keep butchering their classics, reformulating and discontinuing their gems and instead churning out questionable pink and purple stuff in bottles aimed at mob wives and the garden variety oil tycoon. But Tonka Imperiale smells like a true Guerlain and the limited edition Shalimar Ode a la Vanille and Arsène Lupin Dandy are also the real thing.

As I said above, I've forced myself to stop at ten, but there several special mentions and kudos-  By Kilian created a beautiful jasmine, Love And Tears, that combines top quality ingredients and wearability. It's a rare thing. Anya McCoy contributed two gems to the Outlaw project, Light and Amberess. I have a feeling they're both going to be a great success. The juvenile delinquents at Etat Libre d'Orange seem to have gotten over themselves and gave us some real beauty this year- Tilda Swinton Like This and the new Josephine Baker. Annick Goutal released one of the best summer perfumes- Ninfeo Mio, putting a beautiful new spin on the fig theme. As for 2009 releases I fully adopted this year, I must mention the Tubereuse trio from Histoires de Parfums, and my favorite one from it, No. 3 (L'Animale). Parfum d'Empire's Wazamba is a regular part of my rotation and Mona di Orio's  Jabu is all sunshine.

Please visit the other participants for more fascinating lists:

Scent Hive
I Smell Therefore I Am

Smelly Blog

Images: and Roxana Villa


  1. Thanks very much for this list. I was pleased to see that a couple of your choices overlapped with mine.

    Have a wonderful new year.

  2. how could I have forgotten the L'Artisan Vetiver! It is so good- thanks for reminding me, I will be going for another visit to smell it until I can afford a bottle

    Wishing you a very happy New Year

  3. Nice list. And I'm happy I'm not the only one out there praising Vetiver Sacre, it is my "Best of 2010".

  4. Thanks, Gaia. My lemming list is longer because of you, and my wallet is salty about it. Happy New Year, anyway. :)

  5. Happy New Year! I've thoroughly enjoyed the Outlaw series, and I'm so glad I finally succumbed to the lure of Roxana. I've tried a few of her marvellous potions now, and was lucky enough to find a 1ml vial of Greenwitch in my stocking at Christmas. Love at first sniff!

  6. hehee " The juvenile delinquents at Etat Libre d'Orange seem to have gotten over themselves and gave us some real beauty this year- Tilda Swinton Like This and the new Josephine Baker" - though oddly enough these are two I haven't tried yet - must put on my samples-to-purchase list. Thanks for the read!

  7. I couldn't agree more regarding Jabu. :)
    I love these lists because I always end up with so many things to try. Even though I follow what's happening in the perfume industry, I still manage to miss many so I'm looking forward to the one's I haven't tried yet.
    Btw, I can't believe I forgot to mention Antonia.

  8. I'm right there with you Gaia when it comes to Green Witch and Dandy. I knew there'd be overlap with these lists which is part of the fun.

    Thanks for a terrific post my dear and Happy New Year!


  9. This year indie perfumes did "grow" and this makes me really optimistic. I think 2011 will be another terrific year for these thoughtful and talented independent houses.
    You have some real gems on your list. So many that I have yet to try but can't wait to!

  10. Gaia, what a treat to see GreenWitch make your list, thank you I'm super grateful. Gosh I just love that you could hear the ocean. What a terrific image!

  11. A heartfelt, belated thank you, Gaia, for finding my work worthy of your top ten of the year! :) I cherish your words and just love what you do here at the Non-Blonde! Happy New Year to you!


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