Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best of 2006

Well, everybody else is doing it, and I love making lists, so I am joining the party!
Instead of using the usual categories (i.e. the best of fragrance family this or that or evening or day time perfumes, etc.) I am going to summarize my olfactory events of this year, perfume-wearing wise (My next post will cover my personal view of the year past from my point of view as a perfumer). I invite you to join me here and tell me which perfumes brought laughter and pleasure to your life this year, and that you would like to remember this year by.

The Discovery of the Year:
Farnesiana by Caron.
This pure parfum of acacia flowers (relative to the mimosa but with deeper notes) is brilliant and original. Paired with vanilla and almondy heliotrope notes, it is modern even decades after it was created. It makes most of the current gourmands look shallow and silly, and shows that there is no end to innovation in perfumery, even when it comes to … well, florals…

Favourite New Niche Perfume of the Year:
Songes by Annick Goutal
I finally found a Goutal I love!
This magical white floral by Isabelle Doyen is everything I need in a floral: a soft opening (rather than heady), a complexity (ylang ylang, jasmine, gardenia, nost just one note) and a sweet, comforting base to ensure interest, richness and longevity. This is soft, opulent and envelopes me with comfort and beauty.

Favourite New Mainstream Perfume of the Year:
L by Lolita Lempika.
I was so underwhelmed by it when I first smelled it on a scent stripe when it came out in the summer. Wait till the weather cools down, and try it on your skin – it’s like melting vanilla on your skin and like melted buttery cookies in your mouth. I don’t find the immortelle particularly apparent though. A tint of orange and cinnamon makes it a bit interesting at the top, but overall it’s a wonderfully linear scent. It’s another loveable creation from Maurice Roucel, with his signature chic vanilla.
Favourite scented body product:


Favourite Classic of the Year:

Le Parfum de Therese
This genius of a Chypre seems to have so much to offer yet is very lighthearted. I think it’s exactly what I need and it is now my most favourite of all the classic Chypres that I own. I like the cheerful sparkling citrus and tart plum, the rejuvenation of basil and the watery melon notes, the luscious yet light jasmine, and the subtley complex base notes, with just a hint of leather for dryness and the classic Chypre accord. It seems to be perfectly balanced and balancing, as a good Chyre should be, and oh so flexible. The only reason I don’t wear it all the time is because I savour it for warm days so it will remind me of the gorgeous hot spring days in Jerusalme in my previous visit there, when I wore it between dry stones and beating, blinding sun rays and it was as appropriate as a simple linen dress.

My Surprise of the Year:
I like Jo Malone’s Vintage Gardenia. In fact, I enjoy Jo Malone quite a bit recently, but this scent is going to be an all-time favourite. It just hits me in the right spot. It’s elegant and clean and simple, but not too simple. It reminds me of things past but not painfully so. I like it on its own or with a tiny amount of Black Vetyver Café, which I think works utterly well with the cardamom note in it. But otherwise I find layering quite confusing to my nose… I found myself wearing it day after day for over a week's period which is quite unusual for me. Yet another white floral I like, besides my own Tamya and White Potion, and this year's new love - Songes!

My 180 Degrees Twist of Fate of the Year:
I love Narciso Rodriguez!
Well, after having a longish love&hate affair with Narciso Rodriguez I finally settled down and am ready for commitment. I have just about every size possible of this scent and carry it almost always with me when I travel. This spring I really ennoyed it immensely, and I find that it is one of the most original modern creations possible. I am even going to give it full attention by dedicating a review of it on my blog. Really soon!

The Re-Discovery of the Year:
(And by this I mean a scent I haven’t worn for a long time and re-discovered it’s beauty this year).
I am afraid to say – none. I have been mostly indulging myself with perfumes that are new to me, and for some reason staying away from my old time favourites for the most time. I have worn very little Mitsouko, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit or any other Guerlain classic this year. Which is kind of sad in a way… I think I needed to stay away from the flood of emotions they contain within them. I think Miss Dior (or more so, the mourning of it’s reformulation) was the main event for me in that area. I have fallen in love with it again, and have been really digging the lighter Chypre qualities in it (the green top notes, that is). Perhaps is says something about me – is it not wanting to go to deep emotionally? Is my taste changing? Am I becoming a shallow gal who can only get excited about new things? I think it’s seeking simplicity and enjoying a perfume for a more extended amount of time, and it was new ones (to me) that really answered to my mood this year.

Self Discovery of the Year:
I like lighter scents.
I find myself staying away from my heavy orientals and chypres more than usual, and leaning towards woody, musky compositions more often than ever. Scents that I find myself surprised to return to over and over again are the ones that I have been wearing the most this year (see below).

Most worn this year: The perfumes I have been wearing the most this year are also more simple, and tend to be more dry than sweet. I think the top-worn are:
Razala
Narciso Rodriguez
Le Parfum de Therese
Vintage Gardenia
Agent Provocateur

The Disappointment of the Year:
Black Orchid by Tom Ford
I am neither a fan nor a hater of Tom Ford and his olfactory concepts. When his first scent was approaching, I was easily able to hold myself together and wait till whenever it hits the local counters. Though the packaging is quite beautiful (though not particularly original, considering the similar designs of Nuit de Noel and Habanita which preceeded Black Orchid by decades), the name is particularly corny and over used in my opinion. So you see, when I mean disappointment I refer to it purely in the olfactory sense.
At first, Black Orchid seems to stand up to all the expectations it tried to set in the packaging and marketing campaign. The opening notes are definitely luxurious, Femme-Fatale infuses mushroom sautéed in their very own arrogant sexual secretion while deeply inhaling spices. There is some nicely done chocolate accord as well… But if you think this is the base, you have been miserably deceived. These carnal notes wear off quickly, gradually revealing a phase of rum-soaked berries (not so bad on their own, really) and than a short lived rose opens up, only to be brutally murdered by an aquatic patchouli accord. From now on it will only go downhill, resembling a better-version-of-Allure-Sensuelle, which while is quite an achievement on its own rights, it is also frightfully disappointing in its own original way:
In Black Orchid, Tom Ford had proved to the world that it is possible to create a perfume with marvelous opening that smells worser and worser as it develops on the skin, thus creating the most disappointing fragrance of 2006.

* I can accept the idea of a perfume opening with less than lovely notes, and becoming better thanks to interaction with the skin (though this is not always the case, of course, because of body chemistry etc.). But to intentionally create such a devolution from fantastic to unoriginal is quite insulting.

Favourite Scented Body Product:
Azuree Body Oil
This is a really fun scent to wear, and I have been particularly enjoying it over the summer. It’s not so heavy as it may sound. And the texture is not too oily either, albeit rather moisturizing. You can read my full review here. I also found out I actually like body oils quite a lot, in the summer anyways. It adds a nice protective layer before swimming in an over-bleached swimming pool, or truely salty ocean - and the scent is nice when blended with either of these chemicals...


The Best “I Love It But I Never Wear It” Perfume of the Year:

Chinatown
Like Cait, I discovered this much later than anyone else, just this summer. Not the best time to try Chinatown if you ask me… It is one of the most unusual perfumes I recently added to my collection, though I know some will disagree and compare it to something else. I think it’s unusual for its combination of spices, florals and sweet patchouli and vetiver base. I only wish I had more occasions to wear it, as it just doesn’t work for me in every day use (and I am known for wearing whatever I want whenever I want). I hope I will find good opportunities to wear it, but overall I had more times when I found out it was the wrong scent to wear for the occasion (i.e.: dinner) or that I applied too much. The sillage on this one deserves a cautious label on the packaging. Preferably accompanied with illustrations and measuring droppers.

The Naughty yet Nice Perfume of the Year:
Agent Provocateur
Starting with a vintage Femme Fatale air to it, Agent Provocateur seems to be for a lady in the dark. However, if you spray it early enough before leaving the house, it dries down to a satisfactorily subtle musky and woody (vetiver, that is to say) with a hint of tartness – which is quite versatile really.





Best New Perfume House in 2006:

For the most part, this year has been quite disappointing in my opinion in terms of new releases. One refreshing standout was the launch of Anya’s Garden – a line inspired by botanical gardens from around the world. The perfumer, Anya McCoy, is also a landscape architect, and the director of the Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild. It is not a surprise that her scents are dedicated to gardens. I love the concept as well as the perfumes. These are complex, well structured creations that are original and innovative and use unusual notes in an otherwise classic structure. The results are quite stunning, with complexity and imagery that sucks you in and transports you to their own realms. My favourite is Pan, of course, as it uses goat hair tincture, moss, Seville lavender absolute, hay and is deeply amebry as well as aromatically rejuvenating. Fairchild is also quite a standout, with its myriads of intertwining notes of exotic and narcotic flora singing in counterpoint. I can’t say I smelled all the perfumes that my fellow members of the Guild are crafting with much love and attention to detail, but McCoy is a great example and a leader in the field. I think I ought to also give Anya the award for the most promising perfumer for 2007, as I can’t wait to smell what else comes under her hands!
The image above, by the way, is a digital collage by Anya McCoy herself. I love it and wish you all a full and fragrant year, just as the image suggests!

Next post:
My personal accounts of the fragrant events of last year as a Natural Perfumer, and my outlook for the next year, fragrance-wise.

To read more year-end reviews of a few other perfume blogs, I recommend visiting these blogs (it's really interesting to see some repeating themes, and the comletely differnt systems each created for their categories):
Perfume Shrine

Legerdenez
Cognoscented
Aromascope
Perfume Posse
Perfume Smellin' Things
Victoria's Own
Pink Manhattan
Sweet Diva

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3 Comments:

At December 31, 2006 12:50 PM, Blogger Cait Shortell said...

Happy New Year. I love your list. We share so many favorites. I want to try Anya's perfumes. Thank you for your impressions, your perfumes and your blog!

 
At December 31, 2006 2:27 PM, Blogger Victoria said...

I love Farnesiana too, and Parfum De Therese. And I agree with you about Chinatown. I do love it, but I don't wear it. I still have a decant and can't reason to buy the beautiful bottle, although I want it badly.

I'll be re-testing Vintage Gardenia now, although I don't own any JMs, they aren't really me for some reason. But hey, I've changed my mind before!

Great list, Happy New Year! - Victoria

 
At January 02, 2007 12:44 AM, Blogger Sali said...

Happy New Year, Ayala. I just recently discovered that I really like Farnesiana and am wearing it right now. It feels festive and rich, like a fancy Mediterranean dessert, like Baklava (which I also love) or a liquer (maybe Frangelico). It's heavier, sweeter, muskier and spicier than usual for me but I think I found a new love to acquire this year! Nice list (and nice pics of lovely you). All the best in 2007.

 

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