Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Favorite Fragrances from 2012

I feel the way I felt when I wrote my 2012 makeup feature. My tastes in fragrance are very specific. Put another way, there are certain fragrance notes that can ruin a perfectly good fragrance to my nose. The worst offender is patchouli. If I can smell it, I will hate the fragrance. Because it's a base note in many of today's fragrances, it's hard to avoid. I've been very successful. While a few fragrances I love contain the ingredient, I can't smell it. The patch concentration must be 0.000001.

What you will find here is a list of fragrances categorized as florals, fruits, and gourmands. Many are crossovers. These 2012 introductions delighted me as we rolled through 2012. So did many others, but I cannot write a book this afternoon. How did I choose? These are the fragrances I wore the most. They are also fragrances that you can easily find and purchase.

Presented in no particular order, here were many of my successful purchases. I'll admit there will be many I forget to list. Mine to enjoy; yours to discover.

CREED introduced several fragrances. They had a banner year. I had two uber-favorites: Jardin d'Amalfi and Fleurs de Gardenia.  In your first moment with Jardin d'Amalfi, your senses fill with the characteristic scent of citrus - symbolic of the Amalfi coast - woods, apple, and rose in an artistic blend of fresh green, fruity perfection. The top notes are tangerine, bergamot, pink berries, and neroli. The heart of Jardin d'Amalfi was composed with Virginia cedar (an evergreen fragrance that is light and fresh), French apple, and Bulgarian rose. The base dries down with Haitian vetiver, white musk, and (oddly) cinnamon. Fleurs de Gardenia has top notes of pink berries, fresh, ripe blackcurrant, and engaging galbanum. The middle notes are First Love gardenias, Double Blush roses, lavender peonies, lily of the valley, and pink jasmine. The base notes are soft musk, pink patchouli (no, I cannot smell it at all), and Virginia cedar.

Guerlain's Mon Précieux Nectar made my year scrumptious. Mon Précieux Nectar  opens with top notes of petit grain and "bitter" almond powder. The heart is composed with orange blossom and jasmine. The base notes are sandalwood, gaïac wood, vanilla, white musk, and barely detectible incense.

By Kilian Forbidden Games is one of Kilian Hennessy's three In the Garden of Good and Evil fragrances introduced this fall. Created by Calice Becker, the notes are apple, peach, plum, cinnamon, Bulgarian rose, geranium bourbon, jasmine, vanilla, honey, and opoponax. Honorable mention goes to Kilian's Good Girl Gone Bad from the same collection and the two Asian Tales fragrances: Bamboo Harmony and  Water Calligraphy.

Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum was the first fragrance introduced by the prestige leather brand (a new one is coming in 2013). There are four key notes in Bottega Veneta's Eau de Parfum: Sambac jasmine, Brazilian pink peppercorn, bergamot, and Indian patchouli (yes, patchouli, and I like it). Additionally, the fragrance includes plum, benzoin, and oak moss.

Tom Ford introduced four new fragrances with his Private Blend Jardin Noir Collection. Three are gorgeous. Jonquille de Nuit is a gorgeous fragrance, characterized by its key notes of narcissus, violet absolute, mimosa, and orris. The key notes of Lys Fume are pink peppercorn (for pleasant and subtle spice), lily, ylang ylang (for zip), and vanilla absolute. Ravishing! Ombre de Hyacinth is a green floral with a reminder of spring's delicate, fragrant hyacinths. The key notes are hyacinth, violet leaf, jasmin absolute, and Persian galbanum resinoid.The fourth? I found Café Rose, the darling of perfume connoisseurs, a disgusting patchouli bomb.

I totally fell for the House of Houbigant's newest fragrance, Orangers en Fleurs. This beautifully sophisticated fragrance is centered around the warm head notes of orange blossom. A heart of Turkish rose and Egyptian jasmine is highlighted by a subtle combination of tuberose and orange leaf absolute. The accord is delicately balanced by the fresh floral note of ylang, slightly spiced with nutmeg.

On the Jo Malone front, Blackberry & Bay delighted me - and many others. An initial burst of sweet, fresh, juicy berries is tempered by citrus and bay, yielding a lovely, balanced treat. Once Blackberry & Bay dries down, vetiver keeps it fresh, while cedarwood grounds it. In my opinion, one of the best Jo Malone fragrances in years.

The limited-edition L'Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l'Aube created by the prolific Bertrand Duchaufour, offers notes of avender, pink pepper, lemon tree leaves, orange blossom, jasmine, magnolia, beeswax, incense, Benzoin Siam, and Luiseiri lavender to remember an afternoon experienced by Denyse Beaulieu, author of The Perfume Lover. You can read the story at Fragrantica.

Monodie, a little-known Eau de Parfum by Ys Uzac, is a high-spirited play on mirabelle, a small yellow plum, whose taste is less tart than other plums, with a jammy undertone picked up by the drop of caramel in the base notes. A splash of summery colors adorn this sunny melody: pink grapefruit and red rose contrasting with the tart green of rhubarb and the deeper resinous tones of galbanum.

Un Bateau pour Capri was presented by Eau d'Italie to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Inspired by the glamorous women who have stayed at the hotel (hink Grace Kelly or Liz Taylor on a cool summer morning, head tied in a printed silk scarf, large dark sunglasses, boarding a wooden Riva speedboat headed to Capri), Un Bateau pour Capri has notes of peony, freesia, peach, Sambac jasmine, rosa centifolia, heliotrope, solar wood, cedarwood, and musk.

Unter den Linden by Tanja Bochnig is a natural perfume from April Aromatics that left me in a trance. Lindenblossom CO2 extract from Bulgaria and linden blossom absolute extract from France mixed with magnolia blossoms and a citrus note create this delicate fragrance with a beautiful, light, powdery, sweetly floral scent of honey. It smells like linden trees in full bloom.

i Profumi di Firenze Frangipane e Cocco offers flirty top notes of coconut and blood orange on an elegant, alluring base of frankincense take you away to an exotic reverie. The notes are frangipani, coconut, blood orange, and frankincense. I purchase almost every i Profumi di Firenze fragrance that is introduced, and this one left me yearning for an additional bottle.

I had to have ELECTRON, one of the A DOZEN ROSES fragrances. It opens with a dose of roses and violets, transporting me to a garden with the top notes. As the scent matures, I can smell the green tea, but I'll have to admit I don't know what cattleya orchids smell like - plus musk on dry-down.

Mito is one of them most fascinating fragrances I purchased. Vero Kern’s long-awaited composition was inspired by the magical gardens of the sixteenth century Villa d’Este on Lake Como in Italy. The myths the name conjures might be the gods and nymphs whose statues people the garden. The notes? Citrus blend, magnolia grandiflora, white magnolia champaca, jasmine, galbanum, hyacinth, cypress blend, and moss. Absolutely, totally gorgeous.

Oscar de la Renta introduced a new collection of Essential Luxuries, and I love several of them. Perfumer Calice Becker created all of them - and it shows. The line was inspired by de la Renta's "most loved people, places and things.” Right now, I can't name my favorite among favorites. They are definitely worth your attention, as are the new fragrances in Christian Dior's Privée La Collection.

I've been wearing New Look 1947 and Cologne Royale the most. These are beautiful fragrances.

I discovered a few extraordinary vintage, niche, and must-have pre-2012 fragrances this year, with help from my friends at Peace, Love, Perfume, a Facebook group of perfumer lovers (whether perfumers, writers, YouTube reviewers, or just fans like me). I've found lasting friendship there, as my wallet slowly emptied in 2012. I'm sure they will tell me about a new fragrance I must have - probably as early as this week. One of them, Xerjoff Nio (shown below), would have been included in this feature if I could have found its date of introduction.

That's it for today. It takes me many hours to write these "best of" features, and I must clean up and go to celebrate 2013 with my family and friends. Happy New Year!

Update: I told you I'd forget favorites. Oh, how I miss my mind! I must add Ramon Monegal's Impossible Iris and Neela Vermiere's Bombay Bling. Because I just purchased Jour d'Hermès, it's not fair to say it's one of the fragrances I've worn the most this year, but by any other measure, it should be on the list. I also forgot to list NEST's Midnight Fleur, shown below in all its gorgeousness. My bad.

Photos courtesy of the brands


Claudia said...

OMG...fabulous choices, some of which are my favorites also. Thank you for posting and I must admit Jardin D'Amalfi and the new Fleurs de Gardenia from Creed are fabulous. I have been contemplating the i Profumi di Firenze - Frangipane e Cocco for quite some time now, maybe a bottle will find itself into my home. Happy New Year lovely lady.

Brooklyn Fragrance Lover said...

Excellent! Thanks for posting.

Dovey said...

Hi Charlestongirl, Happy New Year! Thus looks like a beautiful and luxurious list of scents, many of which I have not seen or tried. I feel the same way about patchouli; I can only take it in small doses and prefer none at all!

Anonymous said...

Dear Charleston Girl,
I live in Florida and grow cattleya orchids in the back yard. When they bloom, their scent is strong, and usually reminds me of 'Old Spice' Men's After Shave...
Happy New Year, and thanks for your Favorite Fragrances post. I have learned of some new ones to pursue!
Chris KG

Mamavalveeta03 said...

That's one of the things I love about your blog posts: You are so exhaustive in your research. Never one to write a "quickie". And I appreciate it!
I have found the Jo Malone fragrances particularly nice and fresh for summer, but there is no staying power for winter with my dry skin (and Pomegranate Noir,the only one that would probably last, wasn't to my liking).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the thoughtful post. I have tried a few of these and will try samples from the rest!

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Claudia. You are responsible for one or two of my faves. Much appreciated!

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Carlos. It's always fun to look back at a year.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Dovey! I wish today's perfumers could recognize how many of us despise patch.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Chris,

Funny, but I've never had an opportunity to smell them in masses. Good to know; thanks!

Happy New Year!

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, MamaVal, both of the "best of" features took most of an afternoon. I try to be thorough, but I do forget faves.

I really dislike Pomegranate Noir. B&B smells good and has staying power. Try it. I'm sure you can get a sample at the counter.

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Anonymous!

Scentabulous said...

Great, great picks ... Fabulous. Happy 2013! Scentabulous

Evelyn said...

I need to print these out along with Gaia's and just got to a few stores and try them all! Actually I really want to try Orangers en Fleurs, something about it is telling me to make the effort to try it. :) I expect 2013 will be a very fragrant year, I' sure.

AnneD said...

Oh thanks CG, I have admired many of your choices throughout the year and it is great to see what you felt rose to the top. I plan on several purchases with the new Hermes at the top of the list. I appreciate your opinion and I look forward to trying many of these fabulous fragrances.

Gauri said...

Mon Precieux Nectar sounds great!! I wanna try it.

Charlestongirl said...

Happy sniffing, Scentabulous!

Charlestongirl said...

Evelyn, I purchased Orangers en Fleurs as soon as it hit the counters and have never looked back. Hope you love it!

Charlestongirl said...

Enjoy, Anne! Nothing better for enhancing one's mood than a happy fragrance!

Nemo said...

It was utterly because of YOU that I bought the 3 NEST fragrances in rollerballs. I love them, just love them. I was just about to order CHANEL #5 when your NEST feature came out, just in time to save me from Brad Pitt's corny ads. Instead of the same old, and arguably even worse than old, I bought the NESTs instead. So thank you!

lovethescents said...

Delightful list. You surprised me most with Mito. That was one that didn't quite work for me. I'll have to play with that sample again.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Nemo,

Nothing wrong with No. 5, except Brad. :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Lovethescents,

Mito is one of the richest florals I've purchased in a long time. Adore it!