Colognoisseur Holiday Perfume Buyer’s Guide 2017 Part 1- At The Mall

The Holiday shopping season is about to begin in earnest. In the US it is signaled by the day after Thanksgiving dubbed Black Friday. Every mall in North America will be filled with shoppers. I thought I’d help those who are out shopping with a checklist of the new mass-market perfumes which have come out this year. This all comes with the caveat that I think buying perfume for someone else is a very difficult task. My "How to Give Perfume as a Gift" can be found in this link. If you want to buy a bottle for someone here are thirteen you will probably find at the mall this weekend and throughout the Holiday shopping season. All are linked to the original review earlier this year.

In the Department Stores

At the fragrance counters of the bigger stores you will find these four:

Bottega Veneta Eau de Velours– A fruity floral leather ideal for the colder temperatures

Jason Wu– A transparent jasmine for someone who doesn’t want something “too perfume-y”.

Jo Malone Green Almond & Redcurrant– A fragrance equivalent of fruit cake; in a very good way.

Tiffany & Co.- An iris soliflore as brilliant as an amethyst solitaire.

The New Ones from the Big Names

2017 saw three mainstream releases from three of the biggest brands in perfume all of them seem to be aiming for the younger demographic. These should also be available widely at anyplace which generally carries these brands.

Twilly D’Hermes– A simple ginger, tuberose, and sandalwood fragrance meant to be someone’s first perfume.

Chanel Gabrielle– A slightly more complex white flower accord sandwiched between citrus and sandalwood.

Thierry Mugler Aura– Here the white flowers are found in a humid green jungle brimming with vanilla.

The Flankers

There have been some good flankers released this year here are three to consider:

Tom Ford Noir Anthracite– This is a very different version of Noir than the previous releases. More spicy and much darker.

Prada Candy Gloss– The cherry, orange blossom, and vanilla perfume is one of the most fun releases and one of the best of 2017.

Valentino Uomo Noir Absolu– A perfume for scarves and sweaters with spices, incense, iris, and sandalwood.

Bang for the Buck

These three are excellent choices at the lower end of the price spectrum

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Amethyst A gorgeous tobacco fragrance. Honestly the entire Elizabeth and James brand is a best buy.

Commodity Bergamot– A shaft of summer sunlight in a bottle glowing with citrus.

Ellis Brooklyn Rives– A fougere framed with petitgrain, neroli, cashmeran, and leather.

If you must buy perfume as a gift these are all good choices. In Part 2 tomorrow I’ll highlight the brands you might find in the small independent perfume sellers for Small Business Saturday.

Disclosure: All perfumes mentioned had samples sent to me from the brand except for Chanel Gabrielle which I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Elizabeth & James Nirvana Amethyst- Tobacco Trio

I don’t know this for a fact but I suspect that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been successful because they have a clear vision of their brand. That vision seemingly is not compromised by anything as the women collaborate on a burgeoning fashion empire in which their celebrity is being replaced with a reputation for quality. I think, besides knowing what they want, they also get involved to insure it happens. This has been true for their fragrance brand Elizabeth & James.   

The name comes from their other two siblings; the less famous ones. Starting in 2013 they have released two previous pairs of Nirvana scents. The debut pair were Nirvana Black and Nirvana White followed by last year’s Nirvana Bourbon and Nirvana Rose. The brand style has been to feature a tight core of three keynotes. I have found the first four to be some of the best things to be found at Sephora. When I received my new Sephora box and found samples of Nirvana Amethyst and Nirvana French Grey they were the first thing I tried.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Just as before I found another set of perfumes designed around three simple notes. I didn’t wear French Grey for the time necessary to review it but I found the mixture of lavender, neroli, and musk well done. I mentioned this in my review of Nirvana Bourbon that a simple construction like these fragrances are risky because they will fall apart if there is one part out of balance. French Grey shows the care necessary to pull this off.

Nirvana Amethyst was always going to be the one I gravitated to because tobacco was one of the notes. Honeysuckle and cedar provide a clean floral canvas upon which the rich narcotic tobacco can coat. This is where these notes must be so precisely chosen. The honeysuckle is kept at a medium volume while the cedar is a bit louder to provide a solid foundation. The tobacco is the trickster as it intersperses itself throughout the other two notes. As I focused on the honeysuckle the sweetness of the dried tobacco was apparent. The cedar brought out the darker facets as it contrasted the tobacco. Eventually it is all tobacco over the last couple hours.

Nirvana Amethyst has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have been unable to find who the perfumers that are behind the Elizabeth & James line; whomever they are they are doing excellent work. The entire Elizabeth & James line of fragrance is one of the very best bang for your buck brands. They are sold in an array of sizes including rollerballs that allow you to buy all six for the price of a normal bottle of another brand. The marketing is as smart as the perfume. I am going to be adding a bottle of Nirvana Amethyst to the other three I own.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke