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 Reviews Molecule 04 and Escentric 04- Herr Professor Doktor Returns

There are a few perfumers who are also trained chemists. Obviously when I am with them we geek out about molecules that smell good. What has always occurred to me during those discussions is we are able to take them a level deeper because we understand the chemistry as well as the perfumery of it all. It seems like there should be a way for those of you who are not chemists to have a way to enter the discussion too. Enter chemist and perfumer Geza Schoen and his Escentric Molecules brand.

"Herr Professor Doktor" Schoen

In 2005 Hr. Schoen introduced the perfume world to an interesting concept in releasing a pair of perfumes. Molecule 01 would feature one aromachemical only diluted in alcohol; for the first one it was Iso E Super. Escentric 01 would be a perfume in which the featured aromachemical was present in high concentrations. It has turned out to be a winning combination allowing consumers to experience a single building block and then see it as part of a structure. It has been followed up by 02 which featured Ambroxan and 03 which featured Vetiveryl Acetate. Now we have arrived at a new pair of Molecule 04 and Escentric 04 around the aromachemical Javanol.

Javanol

As with all the previous pairs Javanol is being used because it has become used in many new releases. It is a cost effective sandalwood replacement. Focused more on the creamy sweetly woody nature of real sandalwood while removing some of the drier more astringent character. It is that kind of crowd-pleasing ingredient which goes a long way and lasts a long time. Things consumers seem to conflate with quality. When you smell Molecule 04 that creamy woody quality is front and center. Hr. Schoen in the press materials mentions he detects a grapefruit aspect. I’ve smelled Javanol many times and I must say I have never experienced it and don’t when I wear Molecule 04. Another thing about a fragrance like Molecule 04 if you choose to use it as a perfume you wear often you will likely stop smelling it on yourself but almost everyone else around you will still be able to. It is because Molecule 04 as a single ingredient leads to you filtering it out because you become habituated to the smell. It’s like working in a garage and not smelling the motor oil because it is just part of your environment. Same concept with Molecule 04 you won’t notice it but it isn’t gone.

While the Molecule half of the equation is of interest it is always the Escentric side which generally puts a smile on my face. In Escentric 04 Hr. Schoen puts a really big grin on my face.

What has made the Escentric series stand out is Hr. Schoen takes these materials which are base notes and moves them up the pyramid so that they aren’t the finish line they are there right from the start. In Escentric 04 he uses grapefruit in the early going. Presumably to accentuate the grapefruit character I miss in Javanol itself. What does stand out is Hr. Schoen’s use of baie rose. I know he spent a lot of time with this ingredient recently and in Escentric 04 he uses it in a very kinetic manner adding fresh herbal counterpoints to the grapefruit while underneath the Javanol lifts it all up. Orris and rose provide an almost traditional woody floral accord in the heart. The biggest difference is that Hr. Schoen has doubled down on his sandalwood aromachemicals adding Polysantol. This other sandalwood aromachemical amplifies the sweet woodiness and the creaminess. I am guessing just upping the Javanol level didn’t create the effect Hr. Schoen wanted as well as combining the two molecules. Whatever the structural reason is the aesthetic result is like a detonation of sandalwood with orris, grapefruit, and rose shrapnel flung in all directions. In the base, he brings back his original two molecules Iso E Super and Ambroxan to form a molecular quartet of synthetic woods which last for well over 24 hours on my skin.

Molecule 01 and Escentric 04 have overnight longevity and average sillage but remember once they settle into the synthetic ingredients it alters your perception of this.

When Hr. Schoen releases these pairs of perfume I call him Herr Professor Doktor as he seeks to educate and delight at the same time. With his fourth lecture, he has outdone himself. Escentric 04 is one of the best perfumes he has ever produced.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Escentric Molecules.

Mark Behnke