It's not just the big household names (Chanel, Lancome) that disappointed. Even that category of luxury-pretending to be niche looked dire. Overpriced juice from Tom Ford (the Jardin Noir series) and By Kilian (Asian Tales and In The Garden of Good and Evil) was lacking in both inspiration and respect for the customer. We can tell when we're being served thin regurgitated synthetic crap and when the professional noses working on the formula were silently weeping into their notebooks and asking why they didn't choose a safe career such circus life.
That said, I still found more than enough to love and wear this year. The vast majority comes from small and independent perfumers and lines, where there's still more artistry, vision, and integrity than accounting. Imagine that. This is my very personal list of the perfumes that made my year. As usual, in no particular order (because I'll cry if you try to make me choose):
- Vero Profumo-Mito. Destined to be a classic.
- Aftelier- Sepia. An emotional journey.
- La Via del Profumo- Tawaf. Perhaps the most beautiful jasmine I've smelled in years.
- Serge Lutens- Santal Majuscule and Une Voix Noire . You can't mistake these two for anything other a Lutens/Sheldrake creation (and a bonus point for finally bringing the exclusive Salon line to the US).
- Amouage Interlude Man and Opus VI. Smell like a million dollars.
- Anat Fritz- Tzora. Smells from a faraway land.
- L'Artisan- Seville a l'Aube. The hype was justified.
- Maison Francis Kurkdjian- Oud. Even if you're totally over oud.
- CB I Hate Perfume- 7 Billion Hearts. Thief of hearts.
- Ayala Moriel- Treazon. If I had a category for sexiest perfume of the year this would be the winner.
- Andy Tauer/Tableau de Parfum- Dark Passage. A limited edition, non-commercial release, which means too many people are deprived of this magic.
- Sonoma Scent Studio- Forest Walk. Irresistible even for a city girl.
- Parfum d'Empire- Musc Tonkin. An exercise in clean and dirty. Complex and fascinating.
- Providence Perfume Company- Moss Gown and Divine Noir. A glimpse of a vintage world composed with love and inspiration.
- DSH Perfumes- Mirabella (technically a re-release from 2011, but absolutely perfect), Paradise Lost (another one from late last year).
- Immortal Mine- Immortal Mine by Maria Mcelroy and Alexis Karl Another stunner lingering from the Clarimonde Project).
- Parfums MDCI- Chypre Palatine. Exceptionally modern yet grounded in tradition.
- Ramon Monegal - New to the US, a well-crafted full line from Barcelona.
- Arquiste- On the market for a couple of years now, the seven fragrances are elegant and tell beautiful stories.
- Neela Vermeire Creations- Launched late last year, three perfumes that bring various aspects of India.
- Kelly & Jones- Notes Of Wine. Five fragrances inspired by wine. Quite original (and they smell good).
- Keiko Mecheri Bespoke Collection. Seven perfumes that do justice to the raw materials.
- Robert Piguet Nouvelle Collection- After resurrecting the classic catalog, the house of Piguet commissioned perfumer Aurelien Guichard to create five new fragrances that make a successful statement.
What were your favorite 2012 discoveries? What am I missing?
Best Wishes for 2013. May it be a good, peaceful, and fragrant one.