Colognoisseur 2017 Year-End Review Part 3- The Top 25 New Perfumes of the Year

This year I tried 678 new perfumes which once again keeps me below the 50% mark of all new perfumes released in 2017. When sniffing this many perfumes there tends to be a lot of background noise as many coalesce into a generic sameness. What is presented below are the perfumes which rise above that.

The Top 5 (Perfume of the Year Candidates)

5. DSH Perfumes Gekkou Hanami– Independent perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz never fails to surprise me in a given year. In 2017 she has had many releases worthy of high praise. I was completely blown away by this first in her Haiku Series. Ms. Hurwitz builds a perfume of delicacy around themes of life and death in the moonlight infused with cherry blossoms. Both of the other Haiku series released this year; Tsukiyo-en and Tsukimi were almost as good.

4. Parfum D’Empire La Cri de La Lumiere– A spectrally transparent study of light as fragrance. Perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato uses a trio of ambrette, iris, and rose to form a perfume which will define light when I speak of it in relation to this art form in the future.

3. Naomi Goodsir Nuit de Bakelite– The creative direction of Naomi Goodsir and Renaud Coutaudier matched with the virtuosity of perfumer Isabelle Doyen provided the best tuberose of 2017. Their choice to focus on the green stemmy quality by editing out the flower they found something within which reinvents tuberose.

2. Bruno Fazzolari Feu Secret– What do you do when you decide to make a perfume from one of the most expensive ingredients you can? If you’re independent perfumer Bruno Fazzolari you take orris butter and challenge it with “dirty” notes like turmeric, birch tar, and eucalyptus. They don’t harmonize, they confront. What orris butter has to say in response is what makes Feu Secret special.

1. Ineke Idyllwild– A more detailed reason can be found in Part 2. Idyllwild is a contemporary fougere that pairs expertise and artistry. Ineke Ruhland is back after five years in a big way.

Here are the rest of the Top 25 in Alphabetical Order

A Lab on Fire California Snow– A brilliant debut for perfumer Mackenzie Reilly that is more Palm Springs than Lake Tahoe.

Aftelier Velvet Tuberose– After smelling so many tuberoses the last one of the year was one of the best. Mandy Aftel found the softer texture within.

April Aromatics Pink Wood– Independent perfumer Tanja Bochnig created this dynamic rose perfume for a competition where she finished third! Simply inconceivable to me.

Arquiste Esencia de El Palacio Azahares– The best of the collection from creative director Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux produced for a Mexican department store. Orange blossom, lavender, and iris show Sr. Flores-Roux’s brilliance with floral ingredients.

Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa– Creative director Sylvie Cervasel and perfumer Jerome Epinette pour a shot of rich esperesso over a full spectrum tuberose to fabulous effect.

Comme des Garcons Vogue 125– A mixture of Polaroid developer and cigarette smoke might not conjure the premiere fashion magazine in the world. That’s the genius of this perfume which never plays it safe while it makes sure both names on the label stand for innovation.

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Sale Gosse– The other significant perfumer debut this year. Fanny Bal decides a perfume of youth should smell like violet chewing gum. Makes me smile every time I wear it.

Eris Parfums Mx.- Creative director Barbara Herman with perfumer Antoine Lie continue their successful collaboration with a perfume which shows unisex does not mean boring.

Etat Libre D’Orange Une Amourette Roland Mouret Creative director Etienne de Swardt along with fashion designer Roland Mouret get perfumer Daniela Andrier to unleash her most sensuous perfume in years.

Grandiflora Boronia– Creative director Saskia Havekes working with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour capture an Australian greenhouse with an indigenous white flower providing the keynote.

Imaginary Authors O! UnknownJosh Meyer has gotten better and better; this is his best perfume. He finds a precise balance between a transparent tea accord and orris butter. Easy to write, much harder to realize.

John Varvatos Artisan Pure– Best mainstream perfume of the year. Rodrigo Flores-Roux adds to his legacy as the only perfumer for John Varvatos with a tableau of a summer hillside in Mexico.

Maison Kitsune X Heeley Note de Yuzu– Perfumer James Heeley channels the Maison Kitsune aesthetic and creates a salty broth of citrus which I just wanted to marinate in.

Masque Milano Times Square– HBO’s series “The Deuce” reminded us of 1970’s era Times Square. I had already had my memory revived with this perfume from creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi working with perfumer Bruno Jovanovic. A fantastic realization of this time period.

Memo Eau de Memo Creative director Clara Molloy and perfumer Alienor Massenet celebrated ten years of making perfume together by not looking back. Instead they launched the second decade with what they do best make some of the best niche perfume around.

Puredistance Warszawa– Creative director Jan Ewoud Vos was shown pictures of the Golden Age in Warsaw. Perfumer Antoine Lie turned this into the best Retro Nouveau perfume of 2017.

Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s BlissLaurie Erickson made a perfume of rich viscous honey which enthralled me.

Vero Profumo Naja– Last year I made a wish for a new perfume from Vero Kern. Naja did not disappoint as it was an ever-developing tobacco focused construct. It was easily the perfume I have had the most fun dissecting this year.

Vilhelm Parfumerie Basilico & Fellini Creative director Jan Ahlgren continues to look to Hollywood for inspiration. Famed director’s Frederico Fellini’s love of basil was turned into a Nouveau Cologne by perfumer Jerome Epinette. Refreshing and innovative just like the name on the bottle.

Xinu Monstera– Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux found a kindred spirit in creative director Veronica Alejandra Pena. Monstera is the best of that collaboration as the scent of the leaves in the jungle slowly change into leather.

Zoologist Civet– First new perfume of 2017 was another triumph for creative director Victor Wong who had independent perfumer Shelley Waddington begin the year of tuberose with one of the most memorable. They fused it with animalic notes in the heart to create magic.

The Final Cuts (The Other 25 best perfumes of 2017)

Alber Elbaz par Frederic Malle Superstitious– Another successful collaboration between fashion designer and creative director via Dominique Ropion.

Beaufort London Iron Duke– A cavalry charge right into my perfumed heart.

Bottega Veneta Eau de Velours– Best fruity floral of the year

Bruno Fazzolari Ummagumma– The chocolate from Cadavre Exquis gets a starring role.

Cartier Baiser Fou– A fruit flavored lip gloss turned into perfume.

Comme des Garcons Concrete– The best example of making deconstructed mean something

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Amethyst– Best bang for your buck especially if you like tobacco.

En Voyage Figa Shelley Waddington finds beauty in superstition.

Escentric 04– Geza Schoen returns to his molecules with the best of the bunch.

Etat Libre D’Orange You or Someone Like You– Chandler Burr and perfumer Caroline Sabas made a better artistic statement on LA than “La La Land”

Fath’s Essentials Lilas Exquis– A fabulous lilac from perfumer Luca Maffei.

Gucci Bloom– There’s a new direction at Gucci; if there’s more like this it will be memorable.

Hermes Eau des Merveilles Bleue– Christine Nagel’s mineralic aquatic.

Homoelegans Paloma y Raices– Mamey and tuberose form a quirky fruity floral.

Jul et Mad Mon Seul Desir– A tapestry woven of osmanthus and oud.

L’Artisan Histoire D’ Orangers– A desert valley of orange trees.

Le Labo Mousse de Chene 30– Daphne Bugey shows that chypre is still alive and kicking.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood Extrait– Francis Kurkdjian rearranges the notes from the original and makes it better.

Mancera Red Tobacco– A fever dream tobacco.

Mona di Orio Dojima– Perfumer Frederik Dalman continues the Monaesque aesthetic.

Parfumerie Generale 19.1 Neroli ad Astra– The first of the re-works to stand equivalent yet different from the original.

Parfums de Marly Delina– The best feminine perfume from the brand, ever.

Tauer Attar AT– A fantastic limited edition from Andy Tauer.

Tiffany & Co. The jeweler returns to perfume brilliantly.

Tom Ford Noir Anthracite– The most noir of any Tom Ford with that on its label.

That’s it for my look back at 2017.

If you missed them; Part 1 was my broad overview.

Part 2 was where I revealed my Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review En Voyage Perfumes Figa- Superstitious Strength

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It was a little over seven years ago, that I was asked to join this new perfume blog called CaFleureBon. Conceived and overseen by Michelyn Camen it began the process of my becoming a better writer and observer on fragrance. In those early days, there were several large projects within the independent perfume community. Where a specific subject or inspiration was given to a set of perfumers and a chosen group of blogs would write about those fragrances. They were some of my favorite pieces to write. The perfumers would all interpret the project in very different ways often leading to very personal expressions of scent. Recently these projects have seemed to fade away until Ms. Camen decided to give it a try again in honor of the seventh anniversary of CaFleureBon.

The name is Project Talisman and the link to the overall project can be found here over at CaFleureBon. Boiled down it is the idea of different “eau de protection” representing items used to keep the bad spirits at bay. As always Ms. Camen has assembled a group of some of the brightest lights in the independent perfume community. While we were having our not regular enough phone call and she was telling me about this she offered me the opportunity to have some of them sent to me. I eagerly said yes and over the next few weeks I will be reviewing one of them every week. First up is En Voyage Perfumes Figa by perfumer Shelley Waddington.

I first encountered the small fist shaped charm with the thumb inserted between the index and middle fingers on a necklace worn by the most exotic woman I knew; when I was seven. Senhora Azevedo had come to Miami from Sao Paolo, Brazil. There was a rumor among the older kids that she was a witch. As she would sit in her front yard puffing on a cigarillo I didn’t think that was true. One day the chain on my bicycle came off the ring right in front of her. As I flipped my bike over to restore the chain to the gears she walked towards me. I had two instincts warring within me. One was to get the chain back on the ring as quick as I could and ride like the wind. The other equally strong desire was to face up to the cigarillo puffing apparition moving towards me. The second choice was what won out. From that day forward I would stop on my bike and have a few words with Senhora Azevedo on my daily tours of the neighborhood. Even on that first day I noticed the hardwood charm in the shape of a fist hanging from her neck on a strip of leather. Eventually I asked what it was. She would tell me it was a Figa. The way she pronounced it sounded more like Feek-ah. She told me it was there to protect her from the evil in the world.

Shelley Waddington

Ms. Waddington who has been on a creative roll recently decided to take on the Figa as her part of the Project Talisman effort. In her text accompanying the sample she says, “I chose this talisman because it conveys attitude. I strongly believe in peace through strength.” How this translates to perfume is as a clenched fist of beautifully poised floral notes with a resinous thumb thrust through the fingers.

Using geranium as the palm of her fist she slowly folds down fingers of bergamot, rose, jasmine, and violet. The early going is the clenched strength of these notes as they coalesce into a powerful floral accord. The geranium gives a green underpinning which also represents the space where the thumb composed of patchouli, labdanum and amyris thrusts itself through the fingers. This mostly resinous accord uses that subtle green as the launching pad to cleave the florals. Once the olfactory charm is complete a bit of vanilla and sandalwood ameliorate the force a tiny bit.

Figa has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Figa was the first of the Project Talisman perfumes to arrive in my mailbox. It was a perfect way to ease in to the project. It also encapsulates what I enjoy about these perfumes which come from these efforts. Figa is a continuation of the excellent work Ms. Waddington has been doing yet it feels more personal. I can almost imagine Senhora Azevedo’s spirit nodding in approval.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by En Voyage Perfumes.

To read the review of Figa done over on CaFleureBon by The Nosey Artist follow this link.

Mark Behnke