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

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

The Expansion of the Perfumer’s Palette

Over the last year or so I have been fortunate to be given a bit of a crash course in new perfume ingredients. The chemist in me is fascinated with the structure of the molecules and the difference in effect moving bonds and atoms around has on a scent profile. Equally as fascinating is the way natural materials are extracted and then further separated via different physical techniques.

It is fun to meet a perfumer who is using a new raw material as they build a new perfume. There is a palpable enthusiasm at using something different. I wonder if the same kind of enthusiasm was present when new pigments expanded the options for the painters. I suspect any artist when given something new to consider they immediately begin to think of the places this could fit into their current imaginings.

I’ve also begun thinking about this because of the new wave of transparent minimal fragrances being released to appeal to the younger generation of perfume buyers. Since there is seemingly a market for minimalist constructions it provides an outlet for the different isolates of the cornerstones of perfumery to provide a different perspective.

What has been trending particularly this year is to use a particular isolate which is missing a characteristic part of the full-spectrum ingredient. For instance, the sandalwood used by perfumer Nicolas Beaulieu in Comme des Garcons Concrete is missing some of the austere woody character. The white flowers at the heart of Chanel Gabrielle can be dialed to a desired indole level by perfumer Olivier Polge. Daniela Andrier uses a specific less rooty version of iris in Tiffany & Co.

What is interesting is each perfumer adds in what is missing with a different ingredient providing an opaque abstraction of the keynote. M. Beaulieu uses rose oxide and its metallic nature to replace the desiccated wood. M. Polge uses a set of white musks to set off the small amount of indoles present. Mme Andrier lets patchouli provide a different earthiness.

This is what will drive this current generational shift in perfume styles. By having more options, the perfumers can more precisely find a desired effect. It is the definition of modern perfumery to take nature and interpret it through our sense of smell. With the cornucopia of new options, the expansion of the perfumer’s palette promises a creativity that fragrance has not seen before.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tiffany & Co.- Holly Golightly 2017

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Tiffany’s has always stood as one of those cultural touchstones where the name is synonymous with luxurious things. Very few brands can be identified by just the color of the container but Tiffany blue indicates something beautiful, and expensive, inside. There are many other references spread throughout pop culture. One of the most famous is the 1961 movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” based on the short story by Truman Capote. The film is much more beloved because it contains a happy ending for the central character Holly Golightly who is portrayed by Audrey Hepburn. I was reminded of all of this as I received my press sample of the new Tiffany & Co. eau de parfum.

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly looking in Tiffany's in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961)

This is not Tiffany’s first foray into the fragrance sector. Back in 1987 they would work with the Chanel creative team for six fragrances until 2003. Of those six, Tiffany and Tiffany for Men, were the stars. Perfumers Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge would design two classic fragrances which embraced the fragrance equivalent of the little blue box.

After 2003 they seemed to lose interest in fragrance and it was just those two first perfumes which were readily available for many years. I’m not sure when those disappeared from the stores but Tiffany has been without a branded fragrance for a few years, at least. When I received the press release in advance of the fragrance I was intrigued because this was going to be something very different from what had come before.

Daniela Andrier

One consistency was working with one of the best perfumers available; for Tiffany & Co. Daniela Andrier would begin the second phase of Tiffany fragrance. The major difference was for this to be a soliflore around iris. I have frequently described soliflores as perfume solitaires with that central note the radiant jewel. It seems appropriate for Tiffany and Mme Andrier to follow through on this analogy. Finally, this is part of the overall lightening of fragrance to appeal to a younger consumer. Tiffany & Co. is brilliant and sparkling in an opaque style.

Mme Andrier uses iris as her core note. This is not an iris which displays its rootier, earthy qualities. It instead is more focused on its higher register character with the powdery style more evident. Mme Andrier clearly wants to keep a firm hand on the powder quotient and so she surrounds the iris with a set of notes to hem that in. Early on it is an acerbic green mandarin providing a citrusy green contrast. To replace the earthiness lost, patchouli replaces a little bit of it providing a type of abstract iris accord. The rest is all fresh white musks providing lift and volume making the whole construct airy and light.

Tiffany & Co. has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I wore Tiffany & Co. I easily imagined a current day Holly Golightly wafting this. Mme Andrier has captured the Tiffany style in a different way than what came before. Probably a more contemporary way which will appeal to this generation who dream of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Disclosure: This review is based on a press sample provided by Tiffany & Co.

Mark Behnke