How easy it would have been to make a "Best Of" list for 1970, the year I was born. Basenotes lists 37 perfumes that were released that year, and even if we take into account an incomplete database and the actual number was closer to 50 or even 60, a perfume aficionado had a much better chance smelling almost everything and keeping up with brands, launches, and industry gossip. With around 1700 new perfumes this year alone and a few latecomers from 2013, what are my chances to give you a comprehensive picture of 2014 in perfume? All I can do is look back and pause on moments, events, and scents that made an impression, good or bad. My "wow" moments, if you will.
Last year's baggage
- Masque Milano burst onto the scene in 2013, but I didn't get my nose into their samples until early 2014. The result is one bottle purchased and another one high on my wishlist, Montecristo and Tango, respectively. Remember the excitement of Serge Lutens in the early years? That's what I felt when discovering them.
- The perfumer behind Tango, Cécile Zarokian, is also responsible for Nuit Andalouse from Parfums MDCI, the sexiest white floral this side of Fracas.
These are the new perfumes that made me so happy to have a nose I felt like a puppy. Seriously, it's easy to lose the big picture sometimes, but there are still a handful of perfumers who create magic and reach into my soul:
- Scent by Alexis- The Poetry Of Longing. A brilliant symphony of chocolate and lust.
- Aftelier Palimpsest. A firetree grows in Heaven. Mandy Aftel bottled it.
- Vero Profumo- Rozy (Voile d'Extrait). Honey, rose, and fire.
- Bogue- Maai. For the people who loved Montecristo.
- Parfum d'Empire- Corsica Furiosa. Mediterranean sunshine.
- Viktoria Minya- Eau de Hongrie. Desert wine, immortelle, honey, and a legendary Hungarian queen.
- DSH Perfumes- Metropolis. It's hard to pick just one from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's latest creations, Some will get into next year's list, but Metropolis, a stunning art deco perfume belongs here.
- Aroma M- Camellia. A natural perfume that manages to smell like a classic French creation.
The Unexpected Pleasures
- Serge Lutens- L'Orpheline. I'd have never guessed this was a Lutens/Sheldrake creation. I would have never thought I'd enjoy this ghostly perfume. But I've been going through my bottle at an alarming rate.
- Dior- Cuir Cannage. I actually really like the Collection Privee from Dior, but their Leather Oud didn't do much for me, so I had low expectations. Here, the nice people of dior return to plush handbags and red lips.
- Hermes- Bel Ami Vetiver. The only semi-mainstream perfume on my list, I know. This was a horrible year for perfume counters at the department stores, as even a brand like Bottega Veneta managed to produce some truly horrid juice (Knot), not to mention YSL with Black Opium. I'm always suspicious at perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and his magic tricks, but this time it works beautifully. A gorgeous perfume you can actually buy at Saks. Hallelujah.
Before I continue to a short list of new(ish) lines that I discovered and loved this year, let's have a look at the head-scratching and not-so-good wow moments:
- Perfumes that missed the mark: It's a big disappointment when one of your favorite perfumers in the universe tortures a gardenia (Tauer Sotto La Luna: Gardenia). The same goes when for Frederic Malle producing a boring and bland barely-a-perfume (Eau de Magnolia).
- Speaking of Frederic Malle (you knew this one was coming), I wasn't really surprised by the sale to Lauder. Anyone who heard/read him speak over the last year or so could have smelled Mr. Malle's industry burnout. I was more surprised at the Le Labo guys doing the same, but whatever. At this point in the game things come, things go, and we all hoard vintage (even if that means 2008 batches of Dans tes Bras).
- I'm still not over Henri Bendel. The iconic NYC landmark got rid of its magnificent perfume and cosmetics department in favor of selling their own ugly merchandise.
- Making a mockery of perfumery and its clients is probably not a sustainable marketing strategy. Please don't pee in your perfume, even if Mr. Pregoni tells you so.
- The ghost of Diana Vreeland is haunting the hallowed halls of Bergdorf Goodman, throwing stuff around. Which is not even the beginning of what I hope she does in her grandson's house.
Back to positive thinking.
Lines to Watch
- Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger has actually been around for several years, and my favorite from them so far, Lavande Ombree was released in 2013. But I only discovered them last summer and was immediately taken with their elegance and beauty.
- Orto Parisi. The exact opposite of Au Pays French refinement, Orto Parisi comes from the creator of Nasomatto. Now with more goat.
- 777 Stephane Humbert Lucas. The aspirational price tags are off-putting, and I wasn't certain that we really needed another French brand that caters to Middle Eastern perfume preferences, but despite my better judgement I've found myself falling in love with these perfumes one by one. My favorites (beside the rob-a-bank O Hira): Soleil de Jeddah, Khol de Bahrein, and Black Gemstone.