Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in review (version Abigail)

2010 was the year I became exhausted from the onslaught of new releases, most notably the high end niche market. 2010 was also the year I began to lose hope for the future of mainstream perfumery, given that Celebrescents have taken over the market and aren’t going anywhere. It was also the year I found the largest number of reformulations; some of which people aren’t even talking about. I adore vintage perfumes, but I can’t spend my time chasing rainbows, I would much rather find something current and fresh than chase expensive 35 year old vintage bottles whose top notes have been lost.

On the whole this was the year I’ve been the most annoyed, jaded and least excited about anything happening in perfumery. But I’ve forced myself to stop and take note of the fact that if I’m still enthused about a handful of perfumes each year, well, that’s all it takes to keep the fires burning. As long as there are a half dozen or so perfumes that rock my world, whether they be new releases or plain old new to me, that’s what this hobby is all about. Because, let’s face it, I can only wear and enjoy so many fragrances in my lifetime and finding 5-10 winners each year is enough bounty to add to my already burgeoning collection.

It also hasn’t helped that, as Brian has already mentioned, I, too, felt a similar frustration with a strong current of snobbery, elitism and hypocrisy in the perfume blogosphere. For me, this fueled a sense of disinterest in perfume. I finally decided that I should continue to write because I want to offer the perfume community exactly what I, myself, set out to find when I read other blogs. I will continue to write and read only honest, enthusiastic, passionate, moving and fun posts. I would never write and will avoid reading anything with a snobbishly critical tone or a veiled intention or affiliation. I love smelling perfume and that’s all I’m here to communicate.

One thought I’d like to include is that I am so thankful for YOU. The biggest reason is that you make me feel LESS WEIRD!! This Christmas I visited family in North Carolina and for a solid week I felt like an oddball with a strange habit. Three times (not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES) my Mother told me that “so-and-so” requested I not wear perfume when we went out. The craziest part is that all three times were individuals I have never met before so they couldn’t have previously met me whilst wearing a kiloton of Shalimar. I’m sure my Mother mentioned to these folks that I have a business and a blog that’s all about perfume and these individuals decided they didn’t want to spend even a few hours around someone who might be wearing scent. Nobody in my family, extended family or even the endless encounters with Mother’s friends was remotely interested in perfume; they just wanted to be sure I wasn’t wearing any. This made me realize what a unique community we have here. I appreciate you and I value your interest in perfumery and I am hopeful that our numbers grow so I don’t have to spend much time feeling like a crack addict billowing wafts of Alahine in a corner by myself. It’s amazing how many suddenly have asthma when the topic of perfume comes up. Perhaps needless to say, I didn’t wear perfume for an entire week. I only wore it to bed at night.

2010 was the year I found a few beautiful new releases as well as a few scents that were just new to me. Typically I’m a lover of orientals, florientals and chypres but I found myself enjoying a bunch of sheer, light, seemingly simplistic beauties in 2010. Here’s a stream of consciousness list:

Atelier Orange Sanguinne and Trefle Pur: The entire Atelier line is about pure and natural smells. These fragrances smell so realistic, gorgeous and simple it’s easy to overlook them. If you’re like me and tend to prefer orientals, chypres or anything complex you might think “oh yawn” when it comes to a line like Atelier. But, honey, I gotta tell you, Atelier is killer in warm weather. Orange Sanguinne is the juiciest and most pure and realistic blood orange I have ever smelled. On me, Orange Sanguinne never goes sour; it stays perfectly zesty and sweet. Trefle Pur is a softly green scent, all meadows and clovers; it’s so simple yet so perfect for those occasions when you desire a refreshingly cool green scent.

The Different Company de Bachmakov: The Different Company has some great fragrances, most notably Sublime Balkiss and Oriental Lounge. TDC de Bachmakov is a treat for lovers of tea and spices. It wears softly yet stays with you through most of the day. It’s unusual but not overly so, you can wear this without feeling a little odd.
Canturi eau de parfum: I should have reviewed Canturi earlier. Canturi is an old school oriental fragrance. My only complaint is that I wish it was a bit more potent and projected more as it’s rather soft and subtle for an oriental. Canturi isn’t groundbreaking or unusual, rather it’s a classic oriental which was released in 2010, a year in which most releases were anything but classically styled. This alone is why I like it so much. Canturi leans toward the Far East for me; it’s very much an Asian inspired oriental. I smell dry plums and sake and it’s never especially sweet, it’s exceedingly understated. Canturi is a gorgeous oriental housed in my favorite bottle of the year.

Annick Goutal – the whole line: It was earlier this year that I stopped to realize just how exceptional everything from Annick Goutal is with a week long series on several fragrances from AG. There are so many beauties from AG and their newest fragrance called Rose Splendide took me by surprise. I’m never looking for a rose soliflore, but Rose Splendide is not just a rose soliflore. Instead, it’s an intensely green rose, think of the privet scent in AG’s Eau de Camille and add a dash of fresh roses – that is Rose Splendide. Rose Splendide is another one which seems so simple and sheer yet manages never to turn sour the way some rose scents do and also maintains its own unique green character in an endless sea of rosy fragrances.

Guerlain Chamade: I’ve always liked Chamade but just this year I took the time to actually wear Chamade, not just sniff it, and I fell hard. Five years ago, I would have said there was a strong ‘hair spray’ note in Chamade but somehow this has vanished for me. Chamade is astonishing and I’m trying to figure out why I think I must have it in pure parfum. I have so much perfume yet I feel I need a bottle of Chamade in pure parfum. Like soon.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz: DSH is an enormously talented perfumer and I personally find her orientals and gourmands to be fantastic. This winter I’ve been enjoying Mahjoun, Cimabue and Parfum de Luxe lots and lots. DSH American Beauty is one of my favorites, if not my most favorite, rose perfume. American Beauty wears well year ‘round but I especially enjoy it in winter.

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese and Dior Diorama: both are sublime creations from Edmond Roudnitska; Diorama was created in the 1950’s and Le Parfum de Therese is essentially Diorama’s modern offspring. Diorama wears like an evening scent on me and LPdT feels like a brighter, clearer day-time scent.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie: a seemingly simple, sheer and lovely Lutens. Bas de Soie snuck up on me and I love its soft iris/hyacinth/Chanel-esque charms. I like it more than Chanel 28 La Pausa which only lasts 17 minutes on me. Bas de Soie lingers for awhile.

Profumi del Forte Roma Imperiale: I previously reviewed this one; it’s basically the softest and most beautiful oriental wrapped in bunny ears.

Honorable mentions:
Jean Patou Joy: I know, this is about as exciting as listing Chanel No. 5, but have you really worn and smelled Joy lately? It’s an animalic floral with attitude by the suitcase.
Guerlain Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus: WHY was this limited edition? It is so incredible!
Ormonde Jayne Tiare: reminds me of Chanel Cristalle but I like it even better.
Solange Cosmic: I’m fixated on this one lately.
Teo Cabanel Alahine: my BFF 4-evah
Vetiver & Leather quandary: I’ve finally concluded my efforts to find a vetiver and a leather that I like. I’m throwing in the towel on vetiver fragrances; I hate them all. I like some classic fragrances considered leathery like Robert Piguet Bandit, but for the most part I don’t like anything that’s strongly leather focused; with the exception being Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather. Tuscan Leather is dry and herbal and reminds me of the New Mexico desert. It reminds me of cowboys riding on worn leather saddles. This one I love, especially on men.

Happy 2011 to all! And thank you so much for being here :)

Other participating blogs:
Scent Hive
The Non-Blonde
Smelly Blog
Roxana Illuminated Perfume
DSH Notebook
A Rose Behind the Thames
All I Am a Redhead
Schreibman's Live
Portland Fragrance Examiner
Sorcery of Scent


Angela Cox said...

Hi Abigail and Brian , this is the year the U.K went backwards politically and that really depresses me but....perfume kept my spirits up . This year I found some precious vintage and decided that my desert Island fragrance would be Une Rose at number one . I am still getting used to so many fragrances that the other nine are not decided. My family are having a lovely quiet New Year's Eve as we never really find a year worth celebrating when wars go on ,people starve . so it's a film for us and a nice cup of tea !

Sandi said...

I think that it has become trendy to be 'bothered' by perfume. Quality scents, worn properly, are not going to impinge on the space of someone you don't know unless they are way too close. I think it's all been brought on by an overabundance of cheap, nasty scents that some women wear by the bucketful. My SiL wears one that shall remain nameless, and she's big on hugging. My husband and I both need to change clothes and shower after we've been around her to escape the lingering miasma of fake vanilla.

waftbyCarol said...

happy New Year !
I enjoyrd this post so much , and agree with everything you have said .
I too even hate vetiver ...LOL!

Ines said...

You know, I find it ironic that IFRA limitations came about in Europe where I never ever encountered problems or any kind of remark hinting at my sillage or the type of perfume I'm wearing (and I've been known to go out among people wafting some let's say "strange" choices) and I keep reading about American distaste of perfume. :) Oh well.
After reading everyone's lists, I remembered so many things I forgot to mention.
I still have to try Alahine in the perfume version you love so much.

indieperfumes said...

I understand your frustration, when outside of a very small group you do get that knee jerk reaction against perfume. I too think it's because they don't know the perfumes we love, they are thinking of the onslaught of the hard sell of mixed fragrances while trying to get thru a retail experience at a big store. It's frightened a lot of people. The promoters should stop with the pouncing on people to spray them with those ultra strong commercial perfumes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abigail, Happy New Year!
The good people of North Carolina don't know what they are missing, if I may say so! But I know what you mean, I keep my perfume hobby from my family for the same reasons, sad, but less misunderstandings that way.
I love Goutal too, almost everything I tried from the line was special in some way. Your list sounds great, there are many perfumes on it, I look forward to exploring in 2011.

Vintage Lady said...

Happy New Year to both of you.

I am taking note of your entry. Thanks.

I felt this too, and was thinking the other day about the snobism that at times I found regarding what matters to me these days, perfume. As in everything there will always be such kind of elistist, snob and maybe also unsatisfied people just as it happens with wine, and so many other aspects in life. Such is Life itself! But I thank you for mentioning it, because I thought I was being too picky when the thought crossed my mind.


Marko said...

Not to wax poetic here, but THIS blog (out of the 6 or 7 that I religiously read every morning) is what has kept my perfume world sane and sensible in 2010. I'm not sure I get the same level of "snobbery and hypocrisy" from other sites (but you 2 have way more insight then I), but there is definitely something different and "special" about "I Smell Therefore I Am". Both you and Brian's honest approach to perfume and how it has made an impact on your lives is full of interesting tidbits, personal history and whimsical touches.....and is always beautifully written.

To me, you are like the GLEE of perfume blogs: an "outsiders" look into the world of fragrance all jazzed up with witty repartee, some horrifying predicaments (mostly with S.A.s), and a smattering of "feel good" moments. Now if I could just get you and Brian to sing and dance while blogging about perfume, my world would be complete!!!

Here's wishing the two of you continued success and happiness in 2011....and more time to stop and enjoy what you are smelling.

Marina said...

Happy New Year, Abigail! I am off to google Canturi. :)

Brian said...

Marko, it's always great to hear from you--and to hear from you with such compliments is an added bonus. There are a few people who seem to have been commenting and talking to and with us since we first started, and I look forward to another appearance from them like a friend coming through the door. It really is the best part of blogging, hearing back from smart, funny people like you over time.

Brian said...

Angela, I get so jealous when I hear someone has a desert island favorite--but happy for them and hopeful too, because it means the connections people make go above and beyond and under and around hype and buzz, and will always be happening.

ScentScelf said...

Um, you are a flaming weirdo, you know.


Blast you, BLAST! for bringing up Chamade. I just found beautiful teardrop bottle of parfum. Old school. Actually, another (blasted!) friend in perfume found it for me, and taunted, erm, enticed me with it. I can't afford it. I am moving mountains to find a way to make it mine.

Flaming weirdo. ;)

I finally made a decant of Oriental Lounge happen; I do enjoy that one quite a bit myself. Haven't yet experienced de Bachmakov; thanks to you, it just got bumped back up the "find it/try it" list.

Funny, leather and vetiver are tricky for me, too. I could cheat, and point out how much I am enjoying these early trials of Coeur de Vetiver Sacre, but truth be told, it drys down more to a beautiful not-too-intense incense than something truly vetiver. My gateway vetivers were Tauer's Vetiver Dance, which really is like dropping the Vetiver in ginger ale, and Ayala Vetiver Racinettes, which is all earthy rooty (and a hint of root beer...hmmm, apparently dunking vetiver in soda pop, at least in my imagination, is a good way to make it more palatable to me.)

Not that I have much to say about perfume. You odd duck, you.

Elisa said...

I am so grateful that my mom is understanding about, even supportive of, my perfume habit even though she is legitimately allergic to most perfumes. I apply lightly around her and she is willing to sneeze a couple of times to be in my happy company. I'm sorry you had to go a week without perfume! I'd be so grumpy.

I can't work up any kind of interest in vetiver either. I keep thinking I'll find it compelling eventually, but so far I haven't tried too hard.

Happy new year!

Tania said...

I hadn't thought of it that way before, but you're right - if there's even a handful of scents released in a year that are worth wearing, that's enough to be going on with. It's not like I need to spend more on perfume, after all! (Though I too am jonesing for Chamade all of a sudden - no idea why...)
Anyway, there are still a lot of existing scents for me to discover. I found Monsoon yesterday, for example - the 2008 one, not the original. A rather lovely warm rose, like a cheaper (much cheaper!) attempt at Amouage Lyric. And one I'd been gaily walking by without noticing, every time I shopped at Monsoon.

As for the 'so-and-sos' who 'request' that you leave off the perfumes - if it were me I'd be sorely tempted to refer them to the refrain of that catchy Cee-Lo Green song. And not the radio-friendly version, either!

Leather...... Have you tried DKNY Signature?

Scent Hive said...

Abigail, I was really looking forward to your list and really enjoyed reading this post.

I too love Eau de Camille, but at the moment, Songes is my favorite AG. And Ninfeo Mio (sp?) really took me by surprise! What a gorgeous dusty fig.

All the best in the new year,

Anonymous said...

D*^# IT, ABIGAIL. I was *not* going to jump in on a split of Rose Splendide... I wuz bad with unsniffed decants over the last two months, and they weren't all successful... but now I think maybe I do need some. (Favorite green roses of mine include DSH's Rose Vert - so lovely - and Silences, though of course Silences isn't primarily rose.)

Maybe you need a decant of Chamade parfum. Doesn't surprise me you love it - it's so oriental-ish in the base. I bought an empty Chamade parfum bottle and poured my parfum de toilette (pdt is nice, BTW, a bit powderier) into it, just to enjoy the bottle and scent more together.

I'm with you on leather and vetiver - I do like Cuir de Lancome and Citizen Queen, but they're both very soft. Cannot manage Cuir de Russie at all (bleargh, Eau de Cattle Working Pens, rawhide and iodine). And my chosen "vetiver" fragrance? Chanel No 19... not very vetiver, see?

I feel very, very lucky that I can wear whatever scent I like to work and family gatherings... I'm a light applier anyway, but still.

Thanks to you and Brian for making your blog such a lovely place to hang out and think perfume as well as *emotion* - which is why I got interested in scent in the first place. I don't need to know about the latest, or the perfumer or the house brand or what-have-you; what I really want to read is someone's emotional connection to fragrance, and that's here in spades. So thank you, thank you!

Smooches. And many wishes for a wonderful year ahead.