Wednesday, June 08, 2016

More Top Perfumes You can Actually Find- An Updated List

A friend who was combing through my various perfume lists happened upon this post from 2008, Twenty Five Top Perfumes You Can Actually Find. She had a good laugh at the "Actually Find" part. Who wouldn't? Some have been axed (R.I.P Eau de Shalimar) and most have been gutted by reformulations and reconstruction of the entire line (Annick Goutal, Robert Piguet, Miller Harris, L'Artisan). A few of Uncle Serge's best have been put (or put back) into the exclusive bell jars, making them not exactly "hard to find" (because nowadays you can even order them online in the US), but still nearly impossible to sample (and the price markup in the US makes my eyes water every time I think of it). So what are the best perfumes currently on the market?

I stand by my selection of everything you can buy from Serge Lutens (minus the Eaux), as well as the older perfumes by Andy Tauer (though it's a good idea to let the bottle macerate longer. From what my nose tells me, they don't smell as rich right off the shelf). Tom Ford's Black Orchid is still a favorite (the Private Blend on the other hand has gone downhill and rolled into the gutter, in my opinion), as are the elusive but available (in Paris and NYC) JAR perfumes. Vero Profumo is doing as well as ever (Rozy is everything), and I'm willing to consent that you can find something good at Guerlain, even if it's becoming more and more difficult (and infuriating).

Still, among the jaw-dropping number of new brands and new releases there are quite a few perfumes that deserve a place on such a list. Major new players in the field that have appeared since 2008 include the current incarnation of Roja Parfums, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, and Aedes des Venustas store line. I've picked single perfumes and entire brands that I think are worth your time, skin, and nose power, and are most likely here to stay:

Bruno Fazzolari. You knew I was going to mention one of my most favorite American perfumers. With the exception of Room 237, which is a conceptual perfume that give me an anxiety attack upon sniffing (it's meant to do that, actually), I find his work smart, satisfying, and just beautiful all around.

Chanel Misia (from the Les Exclusifs range). A somewhat Guerlainesque Chanel that seems to work for just about everyone, and with a good reason.

This is as good a time as any to remind people that Pierre Guillaume is a brilliant perfumer, and almost everything under his Parfumerie Generale brand is a Good Perfume (I'm not a big fan of his Huitieme Art line, and find Phaedon too uneven). My personal favorites include but are not limited to Felanilla, Ilang Ivohibe, Bois de Copaiba, Musc Maori... I could go on. You know what? All of them.

Aftelier by Mandy Aftel is an all-natural line, but deserves to be regarded just as any other brand. Palimpsest, Haute Claire, and Bergamoss are in the "Soul Stirring" category for me.

Maai from Bogue Profumo by the inimitable Antonio Gardoni. Once upon a time perfumes used to smell like that.

Salome and Anubis by UK-based perfumer Liz Moores are magical.

Lavande Ombre by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger is an incredibly sexy take on what's considered a very pedestrian note. You'll never look at lavender the same way again.

George by Jardin d'Ecrivains just might be the best modern interpretation of orange blossom.

The late Mona di Orio has left a serious legacy, and the brand she created is now better established than ever. Vetyver and Nuit Noire are the standouts for me.

Masque Milano Tango, Montecristo, and Russian Tea. It was love at first sniff.

Etat Libre d'Orange has moved from being a gimmick to a major player that offers pleasurable high quality perfumes at palatable prices. My top picks are Tom of Finland, Like This, La Fin du Monde, and Rien, but I could probably own more than half their line and be very very happy.

What would you add to the list? The only rule is that these perfumes need to be in production right now.

Image: A 1951 press visual of the Miss Dior bottle. Another one that doesn't smell the way you remember it.


  1. What a fantastic list! And very hope affirming for my future olfactory happiness. The only scents I can tbink of to add to that at the moment are Charenton Macerations and several by Viktoria Minya.

    1. Adding on the Eris line, especially Ma Bete. Oh, and Memo, Aroma M, Hiram Green and Rania J.'s Ambre Loup.

  2. If by "actually find" you include fragrance that has to be ordered online (which I guess you do, since that's Aftelier), how about Ormonde Jayne? I love several of theirs, especially Ormonde Woman.

  3. I would suggest that the Oriza L Legrand line-up are well worth people's time and attention. A complete sample pack of the entire range (16 I think currently) is available from the website for 38Euro. That is for 16 x 2ml glass atomiser vials presented beautifully. They definitely ship across all EU, unsure about worldwide but I definitely recommend checking them out.
    Also, Caron. Ignore the awful "La Selection" reformulations and go instead for the Fountain/Urn parfums, beautiful gorgeous scents like Acaciosa, Alpona, En Avion, Farnesiana, French Cancan, N'Aimez que Moi, Narcisse Blanc, Narcisse Noir, Pois de Senteurs, Tubereuse and so on. They have some really stunning perfumes. Some also available in EDP/EDT. Not available on the website, but if you phone the boutiques (and there is one in NY as well as the Paris boutiques) you can order by phone and they ship to you. Prices start around 105Euro for 50ml EDP and 120Euro for 15ml pure parfum up to 300Euro for 100ml of pure parfum. Which although is still quite a lot, for 100ml of parfum is actually quite reasonable especially when you consider the quality.
    I also think Guerlain Liu (Parisiennes) and Angelique Noire (art & matiere) are worthy of a mention, plus some of their older beauties still in production like Vol de Nuit, Chants d'Arome, l'heure bleue (unless they have been meddled with in last year or two)
    I really need to try Bogue Maai

  4. Thank you for this inspiring list - I am reminded that there are more than a few things to try out there...always a nice thing!
    My list of wonderful available perfumes:
    1. Mohur by Neela Vermeire - the extrait is particularly beautiful IMO.
    2. I miss violet, an delightfully original and lush interpretation of violets from the different Company.
    3. Ambre oud from By Kilian. It's confort at a price, but still. I really really enjoy it.
    4. Secrets de rose by parfum de Rosine...fantastic: happy and a bit sultry.
    5. Shall I also mention how good and surprisingly rich Oud Palau (Dyptique) smells on my husband?
    6. It's June and wonderful orange blossoms are available: 'the' reference by parfums d'orsay and Seville à l'aube by l'artisan.
    From my list I sound like a rose/oud fan, which is the exact contrary to what I am: I usually dislike both notes!
    BTW, I am also curious to try another available perfume, Miyako, the one that got Dr. Turin back into blogging...I have been looking for an interesting osmanthus ever since the Hermes disappointed me (nothing new under the sun, after all)! I would love to know what you think of it!

    Thank you for your wonderful blog~ Zazie

  5. Aramis Calligraphy Rose, Sublime by Patou and Prada's Infusion d'Oeillet are all worthy of seeking out (imho). Calligraphy Rose is a thick, deep skillfully/seamlessly blended.

  6. I always look forward to your "list" posts! I'd add NVC's line, which is wonderful. Also Naomi Goodsir and Atelier des Ors. Everyone should check out Fraaagola Saalaaata, if only for fun!

  7. Is the Different Company new enough? Rose Poivree is still fantastic though different. The rose absolute in it is still magnificently naturual, brown-green and dirty.
    Patricia Nicolai's New York Intense is new(er) and is almost as good as the old New York, which has gone a bit meh itself.

  8. Cognoscenti Tomato Leather
    LUSH Kerbside Violet
    Several of the L'Atelier de Givenchy are very nice
    Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre
    Les Heures de Cartier
    Dior La Collection Privee


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