Monday, January 2, 2012

The Year That Was 2011

I wasn’t going to write a Best of 2011 list this year because there weren’t many that moved me.  But then I decided to write something because I do enjoy ruminating upon the previous year through the perfume lens.

I encountered lots of mediocre to just plain good perfumes this year.  Several are receiving high praise and plenty of buzz in the blogosphere but I found them to be average and a little tiresome (I’m looking at you Bottega Veneta; which to me, is a colorless and subtle version of Gucci Rush with added suede).  I thought I was in love with Cartier Baiser Vole for a few days, truthfully the start IS a gorgeous lily, but I find the fragrance doesn’t hold up beyond an hour.  On me, Baiser Vole just falls apart into a bland musk after 60 minutes.  And Prada Candy is a pleasant and linear caramel-oriental, which is almost as if the perfumer created a gourmand base forgetting the rest of the fragrance. Candy is pleasantly delicious and I will not disagree with those who think this will be a big commercial success (seems a low hanging fruit to me, a wise business decision by Prada to jump on the gourmand bandwagon).  However, since I prefer abstract perfume over realistic candy/gourmands I instead would rather wear anything from Thierry Mugler A Taste of Fragrance collection; all of which are excellent.

Best niche: Parfum d’Empire Azemour Les Orangers
This starts with a beautiful orange blossom but quickly morphs into a major oakmoss adventure

Best department store: Love, Chloe Eau Intense
This isn’t an intense version of the original Love, Chloe.  Eau Intense is a soft, vanillic-oriental. Potency-wise it’s actually less intense than the original.

Department store honorable mention: Tom Ford Violet Blonde
This is a pretty floral I just wish had more violet 

Best packaging: Illamasqua Freak
Love the bottle but the juice inside may as well be dishwater, it’s that uninteresting.  But I love the bottle so much I had to have it nonetheless.

Most appreciated: Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Cherie par Camille
This, sadly, doesn’t work for me and I’m the biggest Annick Goutal fan.  But I am grateful for Camille Goutal’s boldness and respect for classic perfumery with this one.

Total embarrassment: Chanel Jersey.  I wasn’t as hard as others were on Chanel Beige.  But Jersey?  Pink Sugar is so much better than this.

Blasphemy: Dior changing Miss Dior Cherie simply to Miss Dior and relegating the real Miss Dior to “Miss Dior Classic”

Random find in my closet: Cacharel Loulou Blue.  Brian sent me a bottle of Loulou Blue probably 2 years ago.  I just pulled it out this fall and realized it’s quite good.  It reminds me of Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, in style, it’s a sweet, powdery floral-vanilla.  Truly a shame it’s discontinued.

Best “office friendly” fragrance I previously found ho-hum but lately am finding to be just right so often: Balenciaga Paris

Boring-by-perfumista-standards, but somehow these were hitting the spot perfectly many times this year: Donna Karan Cashmere Mist (coupled with the matching body crème) and Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude (also coupled with body crème).  I can’t explain this phenomena since I’m the first person to call these plain vanilla-musks useless, but I like these two.

Enough already
The seemingly trillion new niche lines and releases.  Enough is enough. 
Oud. I’ve been over oud from day 1 since I never liked the smell of rotting moldy tree gunk.
Celebrity fragrances.  I’m nervous that only Celebrity scents will exist 10 years from now. I am, however, hoping that Madonna’s fragrance is at least a cut above the rest.  And I will definitely try Lady Gaga’s fragrance.

Terrible ideas:
Blood concept
“Not Perfumes” (these ambroxan & invisible musk things that are mostly undetectable, such as Juliette Has a Gun’s Not a Perfume, Chanel No. 18, Molecule 02 by Escentric Molecules, Another 13 from Le Labo and so on…there are many others but I pay them no need)

Best cheap discount store finds:
Prada Intense (love this jammy, earthy number, and I realize it was quite a find to get this for under $40)
L de Lolita (chocolate floral oriental fix in what might be the ugliest bottle, ever, but for $17 I love this stuff)
Calvin Klein Truth, someone I just swapped with introduced me to this discontinued gem. I found it online for a reasonable price and I bet I’ll be wearing this when the weather warms up.

Older loves I’ve enjoyed immensely in 2011:
Etat Libre d’Orange: so many from this line are really great.  I feel like I’m in the minority who finds their cheeky marketing a riot (for those who find ELdO’s marketing annoying, you realize its satire, right? Almost all commercial perfume companies are serious about their ridiculously sexualized imagery while Etat is just poking fun).  I believe they have an upcoming fragrance called “Philippine Houseboy” which cracks me up.  The past few months I’ve been enjoying Vraie Blonde, Archives 69, Noel al Balcon, Putain des Palaces and Rossy de Palma. 

Parfumerie Generale Lounages: a soft, powdery floral, which is more complex that one might think.  But it is an old fashioned/vintage type scent, reminds me of Brosseau’s L’Ombre Bleue and maybe a little like Apres L’Ondee

I keep revisiting Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady and have liked it more and more every time

Cacharel Loulou continues to blow my mind

Atelier Vanille Insensee (was this a 2010 or 2011 release?) is within my top 3 favorite vanillas.  I don’t wear vanilla-centric perfumes often but when I’m hankering for a vanilla fix, I reach for either Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise or this.  Just fyi, this isn’t an “incense” vanilla, the name translates to something like “insanely vanilla” and not “vanille incense” as one might think.

Bond No. 9 New York Oud.  I don’t like oud so I guess this is an oud for those who don’t like oud. But I am sometimes transfixed by this.

Every year I rediscover just how much I love Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse and Guerlain Chamade.  Both are incredibly gorgeous.

Here’s wishing a wonderful 2012 to all our readers!  I hope each and every one of you out there has a healthy, happy, successful and contented new year.  


jensun said...

Lovely non-round-up! I enjoyed it.

I, myself, am on the fence with Bottega Veneta, which I think I like. I really prefer a more rough and dangerous leather, though. Baiser Vole is lovely on me, for hours and hours and hours. Sorry it feel apart on you. And I agree on most of the others you mention that I've tried.

Elisa said...

I'm so glad I converted you on Truth and L! That's almost as good as finding a new love yourself.

Baiser Vole falls apart on me too. I think it would make a great room spray though!

Anonymous said...

I like your list! I like the mix of recapping the 2011 launches but also your 2011 experiences of older perfumes as well. I feel just the same about Baiser Vole, although I think I'm going to test it again in the optimistic spirit of the new year and hope it doesn't collapse as quickly as I remember it doing.

Michael said...

Happy new year to you and Brian. Kept it going, I enjoy your blog very much.