Friday, December 28, 2007

2007: Fragrance Year in Review

The fragrances listed here are my favorites out of the ones I posted about in 2007. Unlike last year, I was sampling right up until the last minute. At one point I thought the list was headed in a more floral direction, but as it turns out, my love of spice and incense tends to win out.

The biggest surprises for me:
  • Out of all the rose scents I sampled, Bryant Park was my favorite. I re-tested every rose, and this one stood out every time.
  • I never expected to love Flowerbomb so much, but I reach for it on a regular regular as can be for someone who wear a different perfume almost every day!
  • Despite the list, this year I tended to gravitate toward lighter florals. As I mentioned in my "unsung" post, this list might have shaped up quite differently if I had written about some of the perfumes listed there: PC Tuberose Gardenia, La Chasse, and Infusion d'Iris.
But now, without further ado, my favorites of 2007:

1. Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie. "The light touch of mimosa at the top masks the darker heart underneath, made full by the cassie, rose, and jasmine, and finally grounded by the spice and powder of carnation at the end. Strange to say, but it's a lifetime in a bottle, a movement from light-hearted youth to womanhood and then on into personhood, coming in to one's full being."

2. L'Artisan Passage d'Enfer. "The notes in Passage d'Enfer seem innocuous enough: white lily, frankincense, aloe, and white musk. All that white! Doesn't white mean purity? Or does it symbolize an unbearable heat, a white flame turning everything in its path to ash? This is a soft fragrance, close to the skin, but dark with incense. White lily adds a bit of sweetness to the top, but the frankincense and musk dominate here, with the aloe serving to cool."

3. Bond No. 9 Silver Factory. "Even knowing the most general history surrounding Andy Warhol, I believe I would have expected something more unusual, or even jarring. Something cultish like POTL, or the love-it/hate-it, oft-copied Angel. Instead, Silver Factory, with top notes of incense, wood resin, and amber; a heart of jasmine, iris, and violet; and a base of cedarwood, is a beautifully restrained fragrance, and for all the woods and incense, it's not the least bit warm. It's an iris carved into highly-polished granite, a house in a snowstorm where the fire's gone out but the smoke still lingers in dry, still air, offering the promise of but not delivering warmth."

4. Mona di Orio Lux. "Something happens with this one. I don't know what it is. The high citrus notes die off and the sweet becomes more bitter, and after that it becomes so interestingly unique. I'm not sure if it's fabulous or cloying. I applied this around, oh, eight-thirty this morning, and by eleven, I couldn't get enough of myself."

5. Caron Parfum Sacre. "It's the sort of scent that requires a great deal of contemplation, and still, all I could come up with was this: the silk lining of an old purse. When all is said and done, that's what I smell: a faint, spicy powder, elegant and ethereal, a dream of travel to exotic lands, a memory trapped in fine smooth fabric flecked there with tobacco and stained here by an oily smudge of lipstick."

6. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb. "And so what if the dry down is slightly addictive? So what if you might start thinking to yourself that you can make it through the heady beginning (heady yet sort of refreshingly that tea?), that you can wade through gardens packed full of freesia, rose, jasmine, and orchid, just to get to the end, this patchouli for a hippie who's not only rich but also refined?"

7. Bond No. 9 Bryant Park. "I would have to be a sucker for Bryant Park right off the bat, though, because it has two of my favorite notes, rose and lily of the valley, along with patchouli, raspberry, rhubarb, pink pepper, and amber. I really love that the pepper in this is so evident, how it gives the patchouli a sophisticated edge, compliments the bit of sharpness the rhubarb offers, freshens the tart raspberry."

8. Guerlain Liu. "While not classified as a chypre (none of the characteristic notes are present), in the opening it's almost a dead ringer for Chanel No.5. I'm almost tempted to say it's like a Cher impersonator who does a better job at being Cher than Cher does. Or a Chanel impersonator that's better at Chanel. But it's not really better, it's just more Guerlain than Chanel, with that base of iris and woody notes and vanilla. It's powdery, earthy, slightly dirty, and ultimately comforting."

9. Annick Goutal Le Chevrefeuille. "This lovely has notes of honeysuckle blossom, honeysuckle vine, narcissus, jasmine, and lemon tree petit grain. I must admit, it wasn't anything like I expected. As a honeysuckle fragrance, I expected a softer, sweeter treatment of these delicate white and yellow blossoms, a scent akin to the taste of the nectar of these flowers. I found it much brighter and herbaceous, lemony at the top, with the sweet floral underneath appearing only as the scent softened over time on my skin. Truly, to my nose Le Chevrefeuille has the appeal of a floral tea with a refreshing squeeze of lemon."

10. CB I Hate Perfume Wild Pansy. "This seems to me to be the one in the collection that might make some perfume fans roll their eyes. Flowers and grass. So conventional. But I think half a dozen other perfumers could do flowers and grass and not do it so well. Personally I think this scent has a simple beauty, a freshness, a lightness of being. The wild violet has the clarity of the light tinkling sound of a glass bell. It's not a powdery scent; it is instead the embodiment of the colors purple and green--crisp, sweet, damp, uncomplicated."

Honorable Mentions
I can't quit without mentioning just a few more: Tauer Perfumes Le Maroc pour Elle was my rose runner-up, followed by Guerlain Nahema. Frederic Malle's Lys Mediterranee should be on a universal list of favorites somewhere, belonging to the world. Kai Perfume Oil is possibly the truest gardenia scent out there that I've tried, and it's well worth owning to wear on a hot summer day. And finally, my heart is broken that L'Artisan is no longer making their Vetiver perfume. I hope they come to their senses and consider a reissue.

I hope you'll share your favorites of 2007 with me. Best wishes to you all!

*image credits on original posts