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Yearly Review – My Favorite Fragrances of 2019

Same digit numbers must really like me – in 2018 my Yearly Review was the 111th post of that year. Turns out that my summarizing post for 2019 is going to be the 88th one in this year’s calendar. It’s quite obvious that I’ve spent less time on blogging than I did in the past years. All of you are so supporting that I probably don’t need to excuse myself for writing 23 posts less. But I really want all of you to know that there were a couple of reasons that contributed to such state of thing. First of all I tried way less new fragrances this year compared to last one. And if we are to believe numbers, Parfumo currently lists 3991 releases in 2019. As you know I didn’t attend Pitti Fragranze in September which also reduced my area of exploration. Brands rarely remember about you if you don’t show up. Few trips to Givaudan in France also took away few days from my schedule. I was just one step away from my dream, I didn’t succeed but I experienced something amazing.

Believe it or not but this year has witnessed the extraordinary amount of drama in the perfume world. I don’t know if you also follow other platforms where people share their thoughts on fragrance, like Youtube or Instagram. To tell the long story short, there was quite a ruckus between bloggers, youtubers, instagrammers and influencers. Things were especially intense shortly prior and post to Esxence. It was a real shocker to see how many brands are open to giving away their products only to be featured in a Youtube video or a post on Instagram. I am not like that and I refuse being put together in the same bag with these people. I will keep repeating that I’m not writing sponsored articles and that a sample or two is just what I need to test the perfume properly. All in all that trauma that followed me home from Milan made me question the purpose of my writing. All the words and opinions that were expressed, full of negativity, made me tired and less inspired to write.

It was a year full of ups and downs but I somehow made it through. With you and thanks to you. Now without any further ado let me share with you the retrospective of my favorite perfume in 2019.

Chanel 1957 – I certainly did not expect to fall for a perfume that Olivier Polge would describe as an overdose of white musk but the fact is that I like it pretty much. The smell of clean bed lining that just finished drying in open air, the delicacy of iris and powdery neroli make me feel safe and secure. And honey note adds a gorgeous luminosity to it. 1957 is simple but has something alluring in it.

Les Parfums de Rosine Bleu Abysse – Neo-marine fragrances have been appearing here and there for the last couple of years. They shy away from 90’s fashion of calone abuse and evoke oceanic sceneries in a new way. Bleu Abysse provides a resinous-balsamic-marine concoction with a hint of blackcurrant and sea salt. Without a doubt it’s my favorite from Les Extravagants line.

Masque Milano Kintsugi – Over the years Alessandro Brun and Ricardo Tedeschi have proven that they know how to maintain a high quality level of their brand. This year they introduced 2 fragrances out of which Kintsugi has my special attention. This modern chypre uses raspberry leaf & patchouli to replace forbidden moss notes and magnolia elevates it to something very sophisticated.

Memo Winter Palace – I can’t say that Memo Paris is my favorite brand but they have won me over with a couple of their fragrances. This year I was captivated by Winter Palace which as a perfume is an intersection between cold cologne notes of lemon orange and warm notes of red tea and soft amber. It’s a kind of perfume that suits all 4 seasons. I am a happy owner of that pretty bottle.

Francesca Bianchi Etruscan Water – It’s been a prolific year for Francesca as she has graced us with 5 fragrances. Out of these Etruscan Water was my clear favorite. This is a gorgeous citrus-fruity chypre done with recognizable style of Francesca. To me this perfume is also a nod to the classics of the past for there is something in this perfume that reminds me of vitange Eau Sauvage from Dior.

Mona di Orio Amyitis – In the past I’ve heard a lot of good things about Amyitis but it was discontinued before I became a fan of this maison de parfum. Luckily for me it was reissued in 2019 in the same state as Mona composed it (according to the brand info). It has a beautiful iris note with a soft oriental entourage and mellow woody tones in the base. I highly recommend this one.

Dusita Splendiris – I think of Pissara Umavijani as a friend so when she let me smell her fantastic iris composition for which she didn’t have a name I knew I wanted to help. Fragrantica organized a naming contest and my idea – Reve d’Aurore was one of the finalists. I visited Pissara at her Parisian boutique just a day before the results announcement, when perfume was named Splendiris.

Amouage Love Mimosa – I harly like anything from Amouage this days. For me this Omani brand was on a constant downfall for the past 3-4 years. Love Mimosa is a beautiful and realistic springtime in a bright yellow bottle. A charming evocation of pollen puffs on pom-pom like mimosa flowers. But my head still cannot justify the amount of money the brand is asking for it.

Jul et Mad Stairway to Heaven – It’s been 2 years since the previous Jul et Mad perfume was launched. This year the brand comes back to the scene with a composition inspired by Juliens and Madalina’s Himalayan adventure. Together with Cecile Zarokian they composed a fresh, metallic and musky scent, which similarly to Chanel 1957, is more enjoyable than one would expect.

Puredistance Gold – This year we were treated to 2 new creations from this luxurious brand owned by Jan Vos. Aenotus was a beautiful ode to cologne that whispers on skin. But I think that Gold has outshined it with its complexity and intricate sensuality that could seduce you by telling you one of the stories of 1001 Nights. It’s a richly glamorous perfume for special occasions.

Atelier des Ors Pomelo Riviera – I’m always in for a good citrus perfume but I find many of them to be bland, boring or simply too sweet to evoke the natural bitterness of lemons and grapefruits. Pomelo Riviera from Riviera Collection has a tartness and bittery flavor that I’ve been looking for. It’s a superb option for a summer fragrance that will transport you virtually to the heart of Cote d’Azur.

Jacques Fath L’Iris de Fath – Revived in fact in 2018 but I haven’t tried it on skin until 2019. It is a unique feeling to smell the legendary perfume on your own skin. It’s a wonderful fatty orris butter galore surrounded by jasmine and rose. Elegant and timeless. Due to its astronomic price I know that I’ll never wear it again. I can only but hope for the brand to make more accessible version.

Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus Elixir – During my summer vacation trip in Italy and in the Alps I experienced the smell of a real osmanthus plant and it is a cherished memory of mine. I have not had much contact with Ormonde Jayne (I know many love Ta’If) but their Osmanthus Elixir introduced this year was very close to that smell. A lovely perfume with Asian influences.

Hiram Green Lustre – Rose was a scope of big interest in niche perfumery this year and among multiple rosy releases Lustre from Hiram Green was received particularly well. Hiram has worked some magic with his natural raw materials, creating a fragrance that is rich, intensive yet airy and spring-like at the same time. Its magnificent & silky bouquet surely would cheer up many of you.

Perris Monte Carlo Arancia di Sicilia – I quite liked the first trio of citrus fragrances from Perris. This year they added a 4th one and it’s completely different compared to prior releases. What I especially like about it is that it combines the Mediterranean bounty of orange with cinnamon and almond liqueur, which makes it something more than a cologne. It’s a really interesting scent.

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Following what I already observed in 2018, niche perfumery this year was a lot about giving the world more crowd-pleasing fragrances with little backstory to them. Competition never sleeps and more and more brands are appearing out of nowhere – guess there’s less and less space for creativity and innovation. I’m not going to say if 2019 was a good or bad year for me. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like. But here you have it, my Yearly Review and a bunch of fragrances that I found memorable. Before 2020 comes here’s my wish for us all – never stop dreaming, you don’t know what’s waiting for you behind the corner. Here is to a prosperous New Year, may it be kind for all of us & may it bring lots of good things. Yours truly, Lucas.

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Yearly Review – My Favorite Fragrances of 2018

It was 110 posts ago (this one being 111) when we were welcoming 2018 with our arms wide open but it really feels as if the year started just a few days ago. While indeed 12 months have passed in a blink of an eye. Today many of us feel tired of current year and look forward to a fresh start in 2019 which will begin at midnight of upcoming Monday. Who knows what a new year might bring? For now all I know is that 2018 was meant to be revolutionary for me – I made up my mind about certain things and was ready to make some changes in my life. A lot was happening behind the scenes of the blog, especially in 2nd half of the year, things about which I didn’t want to tell you until I knew the outcome was in my favor. But in the end nothing has happened and I had no happy news to share. Simply said, I failed to complete my only new year’s resolution… but I’m not ready to give up!

2018 in perfume was a weird year in my opinion. Instead of moving forward many brands decided to make a step back (or at least stay in same place) by launching fragrances that brough nothing new nor exciting to the game. You could count the risk-takers on one hand while others were introducing pleasant but mass-appealing scents. Quiet whispers of market being too saturated seem to be something more than just a gossip. At the same time the air above the perfume world was filled with a general feeling of tiredness and with lack of creativity. I have no idea what’s gotten into everyone but you could clearly see that something was wrong – especially if you attended Pitti Fragranze. Many brands didn’t even come to Florence and chose to exhibit in Cannes just a few weeks later. Weird choice. Therefore I missed the chance to try many fragrances that debuted there.

Against all odds I made a list of my favorite fragrances in 2018 and am proud to present it to you.

Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle – going in a chronological order this was the first new release that I tried in 2018 and loved it as soon as I tried it. Being an Atelier Cologne fan from the start I was very curious to smell their new take on iris after Silver Iris in 2013. Iris Rebelle is beautiful and its woody, powdery facets make it effortless to wear. A classy yet modern choice for men and woman.

Hermes Agar Ébène – with Christine Nagel as a new in-house perfumer on-board there’s a chance that I might fancy more creations from the house in the future. Hermes makes it to my yearly review for a 2nd year in a row – this year with Agar Ebene, a dry, woody-spicy concoction that feels elegant in a masculine way, like a suit & tie. I bought a travel spray when I was in Milan in spring.

Neela Vermeire Creations Niral – by far the most luxurious and made with utmost care to detail iris perfume that was introduced this year (and not only this year). Inspired by silk trade between India and Europe, beautiful facets of rich, buttery iris, soft woods and spices feel on skin as the most precious of all existing fabrics. Neela and Bertrand did it again. Niral has gorgeous bottle too.

Atelier des Ors Nuda Veritas – 2018 marked a new chapter for this brand through introduction of new White collection – a triptych of fragrances inspired by Beethoven frieze and search for happiness. Harmony and radiance of the composition are two things that appeal the most to me in Nuda Veritas. It’s a very happy perfume full of light and gorgeous essences that improve my mood.

Aedes Musc Encensé – it’s hard to maintain a high level of your work yet people at Aedes seem to have mastered it! Another year and another perfume with Aedes logo made it on the list of my 2018 favorites. This year with Musc Encense, which returns to the roots of perfumery by reinventing a musk note. Ralf Schwieger broke a curse of white musk by creating something dirty yet sensual.

Chanel Paris-Venise – release of 3 lightweight Les Eaux felt like a breath of fresh air for the brand. I loved the basilic freshness of Paris-Deauville but it was a composition dedicated to Venice that stole my heart. Fresh, somewhat melancholic on one side and warm, creamy with a hint of sweetness on the other. I wore it on warm days and I wear it now and it still feels equally suitable in the winter.

Prada Infusion de Mandarine – I love to wear citrus scents in the summer but there are way too many similar ones on the market. When Prada decided upon citrus theme for the new addition to Les Infusions line I was enamored. The perfume remains faithful to the DNA of its predecessor and brand’s aesthetics. Infusion de Mandarine is also the most realistic mandarin I’ve ever smelled.

Amouage Imitation Man – it doesn’t happen everyday for a brand that I don’t get along well to land on my list of favorites. But if you strip this one down from all the press babble you realize the perfume is quite good. Multiply faceted and multiply colored iris is what makes this fragrance appealing to a person like me. I haven’t seen the bottle with my eyes yet but seems to be pretty too.

1907 Mon Âme – I think that even today not many people are aware of this Slovakian perfume house. To be honest I probably wouldn’t have known about its existence either if it wasn’t for Juraj, a fellow blogger from Croatia who is friends with the founders and helps them in getting some spotlight in the perfume world. Mon Ame is a perfect example of an opulent and decadent orris goodness.

Mona di Orio Santal Nabataea – I am a fan of sandalwood in perfume when it has that smooth, polished finish and smells elegantly, almost foody – like a woody pudding as some say. New perfume from Mona di Orio is not like that but still appeals. It has more texture, like a ‘porous’ surface of sandstone. A true match for the inspiration behind it. Note – it smells much better in cold temps.

Van Cleef & Arpels Rose Rouge – coming up with an original idea for a rose-centric perfume is not an easy task these days, I don’t think so. This iconic flower has been interpreted in so many ways that you’d think it’s impossible to create something new. VC&A teamed with Julien Rasquinet to compose a darkish, voluptuous rose dusted with cacao powder. It has an element of mystery to it.

Gallivant Tokyo – incense is a widely appreciated aroma in niche perfumery and for that reason I tend to be quite picky. Founder Nick Steward decided to bottle his personal experience of the city of Tokyo. Contrast between brightness of yuzu, warm spices and crude woods as well as greyish swirls of incense smoke feels unusual on the market at the moment. It also appeals to a bigger audience.

Hiram Green Hyde – I’m always a little bit insecure in expressing my opinions about natural fragrances since in my opinion slightly different rules apply to them compared to ‘regular’ perfume. Luckily in case of Hiram Green I don’t need to be shy with my feelings. In Hyde he took on a leathery theme & a powerful creation was born. Its strength and beauty outshine many other leathers.

Parle Moi de Parfum Orris Tattoo – for an iris fanatic as myself it’s important to have a choice and Parle Moi de Parfum, a brand I discovered for the 1st time this September, has an iris I don’t have. Orris Tattoo has a cool and regal feel, with iris playing on watery, carroty and violet-like registers. If you crave a transparent, airy iris perfume this one should be on your list of potential candidates.

Memo Moroccan Leather – last but not least we have a scented postcard from Morocco. Marriage of lush green notes with strong and full-bodied leather felt surprising when I tested this fragrance earlier in December. Its development into spices, tropical flowers and finally a marvelous orris accord sealed the deal for Moroccan Leather to be included in the list of my favorites of the year.

That way we made a full circle of 2018 in fragrance. I’m not sure if any brand really cares about my opinions but at least for you (my readers) my voice is not a soundless one & I hope you enjoyed this Yearly Review. For next year I wish you realization of any wish you might have & may 2019 bring us something exciting to look forward to – be it perfume or something else. With much love, Lucas.

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