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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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Yearly review – my favorite fragrances of 2017

I’m not really a fan of sentimental mood that catches up to me year after year as I spend final days of the year at home with my family, staying as far as possible from any disturbing thoughts that could try to fog my mind. Unlike 2016, this year was tougher. Stressful mostly. Uncertain situation at work kept me trembling nervously as month by month another person was losing their job. For now I kept mine but I don’t know for how long. But there were also lovely things in 2017. Like summer holidays in Italy, or going to Esxence and Pitti Fragranze again. In mid-year I felt proud of my 5th blog anniversary. I’m glad you decided to keep me company for these past months.

But enough about me. We want to focus on what was good perfume-wise in 2017. Many of the brands decided to revive tuberose as a key element of a perfume. This tendency actually began last year but it wasn’t until last months, when it fully unfolded. Green notes have been used more often this year, with a special nod to rhubarb that made it to a couple of interesting fragrances. Global launch of Puredistance Warszawa as well as quite recent introduction of Le Galion L’Ame Perdue are a proof that old-fashioned, retro glamour is still in demand. Finally my favorite trend wave of 2017, which brought a bunch of marvelous iris perfumes. I couldn’t have been happier for these.

Without further ado I present to you a very subjective list of favorite fragrances in 2017.

Aedes Pelargonium – Aedes is one of the brands that puts their own bar really high. I think they wouldn’t launch a perfume they knew that wouldn’t attract attention of perfume aficionados. Together with perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer a modern take on geranium was born. It’s a perfectly composed blend of spices, woods and geranium. Another well done fragrance after Cierge de Lune!

Anatole Lebreton Grimoire – I won’t let an underestimated talent of Anatole Lebreton slip from my yearly review. I liked his brand from the very beginning and this year I got one more reason for that. Grimoire, a perfume inspired by old magic books, spell books really got me hooked & the smell of churchy incense combined with herbal, almost medicinal lavender was very appealing.

Carner Barcelona Sweet William – In 2017 a new trio was introduced, marketed under a name of ‘white collection’ with Sweet William being one of them. After testing quite many of them I know that I’m quite a fan of carnation fragrances. This one was no exception. Surrounded by a spicy veil this floral fragrance lingers on skin as a longing for a true love that’s yet to be found.

Jacques Fath Rosso Epicureo – after a very succesful introduction of four Fath’s Essentials in 2016 done by Cecile Zarokian, the brand was up to launch another 4 this year in collaboration with Luca Maffei. Who would’ve thought that a perfume that combines rose & tuberose, two flowes with completely opposite feelings that I have for them, could be so good? Really unexpected result.

Jul et Mad Fugit Amor – second edition of ‘les whites’ from Julien and Madalina brought 3 new composition to the front line. I became a huge fan of Fugit Amor, a carnation-centered blend from the atelier of Stephanie Bakouche. This fragrance is very dear to me as my skin gave it an exceptional twist, completely reconstructing it into a composition that smells clean & soapy, like a barbershop.

Atelier Cologne Clementine California – having a citrus is an important part of a perfume wardrobe if you ask me. That’s why I was happy to discover new Atelier Cologne (although quite late) and the fact that it provided a new feeling of freshness during the summer time. Even though summer this year didn’t bring much heat, I enjoyed Clementine California on multiple occasions.

Guerlain Lui – this year passed under a banner of perfume as a mean of expressing your gender freedom. Among many fragrances that were meant to be genderless we’ve had Lui. Despite its ridiculous pricing and exclusivity I liked Lui. Even if I didn’t find it gender-undefined. It’s a good fragrance, especially if you like benzoin and tonka. Oh wait, it had carnation too!

La Parfumerie Moderne Belles Rives – enter a beautiful dame wearing a big, dramatic dress that attracts all eyes. That’s how Belles Rives can feel. Absolutely the most beautiful iris in 2017. Very complex, with multiple facets and reflections. Buttery, powdery, velvety, smoky notes appear one after another. We had to wait for 2 years for this beauty to emerge… But it was worth it!

Ineke Idyllwild – among a bunch of greener fragrances that appeared on the market in 2017, Idyllwild deserves in my opinion to be called the best. It was the most unusual of the bunch and also the way it smelled was closer to a real deal – to a walk in a coniferous forest in the summer. If you were looking for a tranquil composition, Idyllwild was a good call. Especially in June-August.

Grandiflora – absolutely my best discovery this year when it comes to perfume brands in general. This little floral shop & perfume brand from Australia has been around for a few years now but that was my first chance to try them. Re-packed into new, smaller bottles the brand made a tremendously good impression on me, especially Queen of the Night (2016, by Bertrand Duchaufour)

Coolife Le Sixieme Parfum – If, like me, you still don’t have enough iris in your collection, you’ll be happy to be reminded of this one. Done by skillful nose of Luca Maffei who combined osmanthus, iris concrete and suede, Le Sixieme Parfum really deserves the attention, even if I didn’t pay attention to their previous creations. I’m always up for rich, voluptuous iris composition.

Berdoues Maasai Mara – I’ve been a good follower of Maison Berdoues this year & I have reviewed 4 of them. Plus I have a decant of Hoja de Cuba on its way. Maasai Mara made it to the list because it’s probably the most budget-friendly labdanum fragrance you can get. It’s quality compares with Le Labo Labdanum 18 or other similar sweet labdanum perfumes. And the bottle is attractive too!

Gabriella Chieffo Quasicielo – it was Gabriella’s first attempt to standing on her own as a perfumer. The result is a little bit of an oddity of a fragrance but don’t we all need to smell something odd once in a while? The perfume is not perfectly built, the transitions are not smooth but that’s all the charm this fragrance has to offer. Spices, citruses, resins play a weird but catchy song.

L’Artisan Un Air de Bretagne – I was never a fan of L’Artisan Parfumeur but this year I have to admit I felt a bit converted. I liked Sur l’Herbe and Au Bord de l’Eau but the smell of salty air, ocean breeze and seaweed – all combined in a bottle of Un Air de Bretagne really transported me to the Northern coast of France. This perfume is a journey and even calone can’t stop me.

Parfum d’Empire Le Cri de la Lumiere – Parfum d’Empire was inactive since Tabac Tabou launch in 2015. Since that time perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato was working on a new fragrance in peace, without being rushed. When he felt he was ready he unveiled Le Cri, a simple yet complex structure of 3 ingredients: rose, iris and ambrette. Purity of it says more than 1000 words.

April Aromatics Pink Wood – I haven’t tried too many fragrances from natural perfumers this year but from what I tried I really liked the one made by Tanja Bochnig. I believe that making a natural oud fragrance so that it doesn’t feel fecal or overpowering, but instead feeling balanced with high dose of rose, geranium and woods must have been a difficult task to complete. Bravo for this success!

Eris Parfums Mx. – Born from a slight frustration that all unisex are either citrus or that lean towards more masculine or feminine, Barbara Herman took things in her own hands and together with Antoine Lie they created a creamy sandalwood fragrance with many facets that can be easily worn by both men and women. Now that’s something that transcends gender stereotypes.

Puredistance Warszawa – Technically launched in 2016 but only for Warsaw, the perfume became available on a global scale only few months ago. As I admitted in my review, Warszawa is not a perfume for me due to its uber femininity and retro vibe. But I recognize its class and think it’s a wonderful perfume on its own, that’s why it appeared on this list. It’s a perfume with a story.

Diptyque Eau des Sens – I want to make 2 honorable mentions for fragrances that launched earlier and that I loved in 2017. Eau des Sens is one of them. It’s one of the most pretty and natural-smelling orange blossom fragrances I know. It’s very happy perfume that can be worn all year round – it smells surprisingly wonderful in winter as well. I’m glad I got to try it a year after its release.

Van Cleef & Arpels Moonlight Patchouli – If I was considering a most misleading name as one of the categories for this list, Moonlight Patchouli would be a winner. On my skin it smells not of patchouli but of a buttery iris bathing in layers of delicate suede. It’s sensual, enticing and calm at the same time. It’s like a purring cat. And it can feel formal and casual depending on occasion.

This concludes a list of my favorite fragrances in 2017. In this place allow me to wish you all good things for the next year – health, happiness, prosperity & may we find many lemmings from the fragrances that are going to be released in near future. See you in 2018! With love, Lucas.

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