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Yearly Review – My Favorite Fragrances of 2020

When this year was starting I greeted it with thoughts in my head and hope in my heart that it will be a special one. It was going to be a year of my 30th birthday, maybe an opening of a new life chapter after earning that 3 at the beginning of my age number… And only as a general comment, I thought that 2020 has a nice look to it. Clean & round – with only two 2 and two 0. The year turned out to be special, yes… Just not in the way anyone of us could imagine it to be. Even the most ominous dreams couldn’t predict that shortly after 2020 started the whole world would turn into some sort of a battlefield and that we’ll be fighting this invisible & dangerous enemy known as coronavirus.

When I heard first reports from Wuhan in China I really thought there was nothing to worry about since it was so far away from Poland. But week after week the reports on TV informed that Covid-19 reached Europe and that it was spreading fast. In Poland the first person with positive test result was announced on the 4th of March. From that day the number of new cases was increasing rapidly which eventually also forced my country to go into lockdown. Face masks, hand sanitizers and ‘stay at home’ slogans became a new reality for us all. Social life reduced to zero and home office solitude made us realize how much we miss these little things we took for granted. I hope it’s over soon.

It was a rough year, for me one like never before. Esxence and Pitti were rescheduled a few times and eventually moved to 2021. Without these events and due to pandemy I wasn’t able to try many new fragrances this year. Many times I wasn’t in a mood to write, therefore overally less posts in 2020. But against all odds I’d like to share with you this modest list of my favorites from this year.

Diptyque Eau Capitale – I like this perfume house and over the years I found a number of fragrances that I truly liked and added to my collection. As you may remember I like me some chypre so I was really curious to smell one that was rose-based. In this particular composition Olivier Pescheux proves that in modern day perfumery oakmoss is not essential anymore to create a good chypre that would stay true to the roots of this olfactive family. I’m a happy owner of 10ml spray of it.

Olfactive Studio Iris Shot – I was ready to tell you about this fragrance almost 1,5 years ago but due to some technical difficulties with caps production and because of pandemy the release got postponed by this much! But it was worth to wait for this silky smooth and buttery rich goodness that slightly dabs a gourmand territory with a suble touch of warm nuttiness and a hint of spices. It’s a luscious fragrance and quite addictive at that. Other two of triplets fell in love with it because of me.

Hiram Green Vivacious – One can never have enough iris, or violets for that matter & when Hiram Green brings up something new it is a reason to celebrate. I don’t know any other perfumer who works only with natural ingredients and who can create such long-lasting perfume. Vivacious is full of youthful energy of spring. It’s fresh, dewy and with a gorgeous floral sweetness of violet & orris. It beautifully marries powdery & flowery nuances. I simply can’t find any good reason to not like it.

Atelier des Ors Blanc Polychrome – One of my favorite brands introduced 2 new fragrances this year. I found the 1st one to be a rather not-special Ambroxan bomb while the 2nd one was a wow and it was ideal for summer months. It was a solar energy packed with vitamin C from citrus, with a tart acidity of rhubarb and a hint of breezy jasmine. Blanc Polychrome sources inspiration from classic eau de cologne but perfumer Marie Salamagne made it lighter and more modern.

L’Orchestre Electro Limonade – When I was on a lookout for an interesting hesperide perfume in the summer this was the new release that really grabbed my attention. Sparkling and fizzy aldehydes up at the top, follow by a not all all sweet cocktail of Mediterranean lemon, clementine and bergamot + ginger for that zingy twist. This fragrance also had rhubarb in it and in the base it was a warm, woody blend of cedar wood and amber. A perfume like a refreshing drink with a tiny umbrella.

Memo Ocean Leather – Personally I find Cuirs Nomades to be a very succesful and well executed line from Memo Paris. My no.1 is still Italian Leather but what the brand did this year was truly interesting to discover. This inconspicuous composition started with a citrusy top but then evolved into herbaceous marine concoction that was paired with a dense leather accord. Initially I thought it’s going to be a very odd pairing but on contrary, it turns out that they are meant to be together.

Van Cleef & Arpels Oud Blanc – Don’t get me wrong, I’m with those of you who think that oud fashion should’ve ended few years ago. By no means I’m not an oud fan but if it’s good one, I can take it. Interpretation from VC&A and Anne Flipo is a fragrances Turkish tale. Brimming with dark petals of richly scented rose flowers, resinously sweet glaze of candied dates and peaceful swirls of transparent smoke. Oud is just an addition here but it’s needed to glue all these elements together.

Gallivant Bukhara – In a year of lockdowns and closed borders “armchair travel” became the most effective way of discovering new places at the comfort of your home. Thanks to Nick Steward this year we could go on a short trip to Uzbekistan and experience Bukhara the way Nick remembered it. In collaboration with Ralf Schwieger a wonderfully spicy perfume was born with earthy & rooty orris that also features a more creamy and buttery side. It’s an iris worth to remember in this weird year.

Amouage Enclave – 2020 brough big changes inside Amouage. With Renaud Salmon as new creative director the brand is set to slightly change their perspective and the way of compositing new scents. In Renaissance Collection 4 fragrances were introduced and I loved Enclave. A contrast between warm spices and cold mint, when they collide the perfume gets steamy and full of energy. With a hint of rose and leather I found it to be a stunner. Plus the bottle shade is so pretty.

Puredistance Rubikona – Puredistance never rushes when it comes to presenting new fragrances. They are proud of taking their time to polish every tiniest detail of the formula. Who would’ve thought that this year we’ll be introduced to a perfume that was in the making for almost 3 years. Rubikona is a very elegant & sophisticated persona. A grand chypre with ylang, rose and iris which rest atop the warm notes of carnation, clove that lead us to a patchouli and cedarwood-infused base.

Olivier Durbano Aram – I’ve been observing his works for years and we always had enjoyable conversations when we met in Florence. Obviously this year that was impossible and I’m grateful that Olivier shared his new composition with me via post. I always liked Pink Quartz but Aram brought to me a much needed feeling of consolation for 2020. An astringent grapefruit, lots of resins & succulent greens plus many other notes were hiding a lot of light within. A light of hope.

Dusita Moonlight in Chiangmai – Save the best for last as they say. In this yearly review a new Dusita fragrance is easily in my top 3 of the year. I love the brand and I love Pissara. We spoke privately on video chats a couple of times during this pandemy but our conversations were never really perfume-focused. Moonlight in Chiangmai is a magical perfume that almost feels out of this world. Yet it’s a very wearable one. A lot of heart went into this Thailand-inspired perfume.

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We survived 2020, that’s the most proper way to say it. Despite all the hardships and difficult days we had to face let’s still try to look at the bright side of things. The one personal achivement I can share with you is that I lost over 20 kgs of weight, even though there was a lockdown, that I had a twisted work schedule and that doing any kind of sport was almost impossible due to restrictions. But I made it and that’s the thing I’m the most proud of in this wicked year. Now here’s to hope that 2021 will bring us a big relief and that a return to normality will be possible very, very soon. We shall learn to appreciate the small things all over again.

For 2021 I’m sending you my best wishes – be strong & brave, be healthy, seek happiness and don’t stop believing. A better tomorrow will come for sure. May 2021 bring us what we all long for!

With lots of love for a New Year 2021, Lucas.

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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 PalaceĀ 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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