Champagne, party streamers and some glittery outfits-- we're ready to help 2011 leave the building and look at the perfumes that made the year into what it was, for better and worse.
2011 was the year that department store brands almost redeemed themselves, or at least kept me from fully losing my faith in humanity. Elie Saab, Bottega Veneta and Tom Ford Violet Blonde from his signature line smelled really really good. I also enjoyed spending a few hours in Jean Paul Gaultier's masculine-oriented Kokorico.
Of course, not everything is well on the shelves of our department stores. Dior stunned many of us when they renamed the reformulated version of Miss Dior Cherie, their low-brow strawberry juice, as Miss Dior. Robbing the iconic and much-abused original Miss Dior of its name (it's now called Miss Dior Classic). I'd have said "what a shame", but the people at Dior obviously have none.
The most heartbreaking moment for the perfume community happened early in December. Perfumer Mona di Orio passed away leaving a gaping hole in our hearts. As a fan of her work, the loss and grief are too big for words. Mona was a shining star whose talent and creativity amazed and delighted. 2011 saw Mona di Orio gaining a much deserving recognition and expanding her distribution. The perfumes she launched this year in the Les Nombres d'Or series (Tubereuse, Oud, Vanille and Vetyver) brought Mona new fans and were among the biggest delights of my perfume year.
Andy Tauer kept taking his art to new heights. Zeta was a dream of linden blossom and his Tableau de Parfums venture brought us Miriam. Both are romantic, emotional and breathtakingly beautiful. I wouldn't have expected any less.
Serge Lutens managed to surprise everyone by putting popcorn and buttered toast in his Jeux de Peau then going the opposite direction with some serious floral action. Beyond all the death talk, I felt that De Profundis is an original and interesting perfume. And it smells great.
Technically, L'Artisan Parfumeur Traversee du Bosphore was released in late 2010, but I bought it sometime in December or even in early January, so I'll mention it here. Otherwise I'll have to get cranky about the boring Batacuda that L'Artisan offered us this year, and it isn't even worth the snark.
Among the many discoveries I made this year, two happened while traveling. In Montreal I found an intriguing Canadian brand, MonSillage. Perfumer Isabelle Michaud created a highly-styled yet very personal line. Aviation Club is theoretically a masculine, but the refined leather has delighted me every time I grabbed the bottle from the husband's part of the cabinet. The other discovery happened in Paris. Bois Richeux 1178 is a natural perfume from a special garden outside Paris.
My best vintage find of the year was utterly accidental and jaw-dropping good. A Jacques Fath perfume coffret. And, yes, it includes a small amount of Iris Gris. My hands still shake every time I hold the box. One day I might be able to talk about it in a semi-coherent way.
Annick Goutal (or rather her daughter Camille) deserves a special award for courage. Releasing a bold, full-bodied perfume that's more than tinged with a vintage feel in today's Bieberfied market is a risk. Mon Parfum Cheri, Par Camille is an adventure in iris. I wanted to send both Camille and her perfumer, Isabelle Doyen a thank you note and maybe some flowers.
The most encouraging trend we saw this year was the continuing expansion and success of the smallest independent brands. Apparently, if you make it and it's really really good, they will buy. This brings us to my very personal absolute favorite perfumes of the year. These little luxuries are as fabulous as it gets and I could not pick just one as the top perfume of the year, so you get five. In no particular order:
Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes has pushed herself farther this year. Her 2011 perfumes Haute Claire and Secret Garden are as beautiful as they're approachable. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is responsible to my other toe-curling-good perfume moments of the year: Vert Pour Madame, Pandora and Paradise Lost are each a journey in a bottle; a journey to places modern perfumes rarely go. The latter was part of the Clarimonde Project, a unique idea that has brought the very best out of its participants. As an observer, I was blown away by the beauty and depth of the discussion. The perfumes that were created as a result were soul-stirring.
Wishing you a wonderful 2012 and eager to hear your discoveries and perfumed joys of the year.
For more about the best and worst of 2011 please visit Another Perfume Blog, DSH Notebook , EauMG , Perfume Shrine , Perfume Smellin' Things, Scent Hive and Smelly Blog .