Colognoisseur Best of 2021 Part 3: The Top 35 New Perfumes of the Year

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To begin with the context of the list, I tried 621 new perfumes since January 1, 2021. That is about a third of all new perfume released during the same time frame. The list below is the best 5.6% of those I got to try. As you see in the title it has expanded a bit from the usual Top 25. I found that when I looked back, I had a tight list of 35 I was pleased with. I decided to make them all worthy of the main list with no Honorable Mentions this time around.

The Top 10 (Perfume of the Year candidates)

10, Diptyque Kyoto– The best of the four perfumes in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the brand. The magic of beetroot, and perfumer Alexandra Carlin turns this into a stunning fragrance.

9. Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Synthetic Jungle– Perfumer Anne Flipo turned in a sappy green thicket of a perfume.

8. Zoologist Chipmunk– Creative Director Victor Wong and perfumer Pia Long create a modern interpretation of those classic woody masculine perfumes of decades ago.

7. Azman Two Minutes After the Kiss– You might think there is nothing new in an oud-rose perfume. Perfumer Cristiano Canali will make you think again.

6. Masque Milano Lost Alice– Creative Directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi team-up with perfumer Mackenzie Reilly for a gourmand inspired by Alice’s Tea Party.

5, Francesca Bianchi Luxe Calme VolupteFrancesca Bianchi lives on the edge in her perfume making. This time it is the edge of sensual passion in this year’s sexiest fragrance.

4, Puredistance No. 12– Creative director Jan Ewoud Vos told me to give perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer’s perfume time to mature. When it did a magnificent powdery chypre was there to enjoy.

3. Rubini NuvolariAndrea Rubini and his creative team including perfumer Cristiano Canali take you for a drive on an F1 track all the way through the checkered flag.

2. Amouage Material– Creative director Renaud Salmon and perfumer Cecile Zarokian turn in the most audacious gourmand of the year using the tritest of ingredients, vanilla. By turning it inside out and back again they define something entirely new.

1. Amouage Silver Oud– All the reasons are in yesterday’s Perfume of the Year post. The short version: M. Salmon and Mme Zarokian made me care about oud again.

The Rest of the Top 35 in Alphabetical Order

Aesop Eremia– The apocalypse has never seemed so appealing.

Aftelier Perfumes Joie de VertMandy Aftel uses a vintage anise hyssop in a hymn to green.

Anatole Lebreton Racine Carre– This perfume is the answer to, “What is the square root of licorice?”

April Aromatics Wild Summer Crush– The exuberance of the summer and the possibilities of love explode on my skin with joy.

Chanel Paris-EdimbourgOlivier Polge is creating his own niche at Chanel with the Les Eaux. This is the best of them, so far.

Chris Collins African Rooibos– The best tea-inspired perfume of 2021.

Comme des Garcons Ganja– Everything Comme des Garcons has done well for thirty years, and counting is right here.

Diptyque Venise– This reminds you that Venice is not just water and canals. It is also the gardens on the islands.

DS & Durga St. Vetyver– I hear Jimmy Buffet in my head every time I wear this.

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris– Sometimes things are simple. Geza Schoen adds iris to Iso E Super. It is as good as it gets.

Freddie Albrighton Mabel’s Tooth– The most fun I had with a perfume all year from a new independent perfumer.

Hedonik Divine PerversionFrancesca Bianchi’s leather line has a perfume to match.

La Curie GeistLesli Wood finds the wood smoke hanging in the pine trees.

Laboratorio Olfattivo Vanagloria– This is a version of a vanilla throw blanket from Dominique Ropion.

Maison Crivelli Lys SolabergNathalie Feisthauer takes you to summer in the Great White North as the lilies bloom.

Maison Crivelli Hibiscus Mahajad– Perfumer Quentin Bisch creates a red-colored gemstone floral.

Milano Fragranze Diurno– The best of the new line by creative director Alessandro Brun. Perfumer Julie Masse uses a brilliant Amaretto accord to call up the echoes of the Lost Generation.

Naomi Goodsir Corpus Equus– Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour forms a horsehair leather fragrance.

Parfum d’Empire Mal-AimeMarc-Antoine Corticchiato can make perfume from anything, including weeds.

Phoenecia Perfume Oud Elegance Rose and Oud Elegance Incense– Perfumer David Falsberg gave two visions of no BS oud. Both are enhanced by the ingenious use of a hyraceum tinctured alcohol.

Sarah Baker Loudo– This combination of a cherry cordial and oud was as compelling as it got.

Scents of Wood Plum in Cognac– This was the perfume which made Fabrice Croise’s concept come to gourmand life under perfumer Pascal Gaurin.

Shalini Fleur JaponaisShalini and perfumer Maurice Roucel make a delicate artistic perfume.

Tom Ford Private Blend Ebene Fume Rodrigo Flores-Roux wakes up the echoes of the early days of the brand.

Zoologist Snowy Owl– At the end of last year I eagerly awaited this collaboration between Victor Wong and perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Snowy Owl was even better than I could have imagined.

That’s a wrap for 2021. I’m looking forward to what 2022 has in store.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Milano Fragranze Basilica, Brera, La Prima, and Diurno- The Highlights

Whenever I’ve traveled, I have a travel guide in hand. Before I get to my destination, I have the plan of what attractions to see. They’re mostly the famous ones, the usual suspects, the highlights. Creative director Alessandro Brun also must give perfume lovers the highlights of Milan in his new fragrance line Milano Fragranze. I look at the remaining four perfumes I didn’t cover yesterday: Basilica, Brera, La Prima, and Diurno. The first three are composed by Violaine Collas and the last by Julie Masse.

Alessandro Brun

The churches of Milan are both historical and sacred. In Basilica Mme Collas leans more heavily on the latter. This is a classic church incense type of fragrance. It opens with herbal notes of thyme and rosemary wrapping themselves around the frankincense. Both sources of green roughen the smoothness of the resin. There are times incense feels like a silvery monolith. The herbs break that up a bit. It leads to a woody base of sandalwood and cedar. These represent the polished wood of the benches and the sturdiness of the rafters.

Violaine Collas

La Prima represents the singular highlight of Milan, the opera theater of La Scala. Even an opera dilettante like me had to visit. Sig. Brun envisioned a beautiful woman in the audience on an opening night. Mme Collas interpreted that as a woman who would wear a fragrance as smart as her clothing. This has an intricate interaction of ingredients especially in the early development. Cardamom, orange blossom, osmanthus, jasmine, and davana are the notes of the scale leading to an engaging aria. Each of those ingredients wax and wane in a delightful way for a long time. It comes to an end when a gentle animalic accord sweetened with vanilla signals the end.

The art galleries of Milan is another highlight. Brera imagines the dreamy concept of the paintings coming to life after closing. When you’re the first visitor of the morning the scent of their cavorting hangs in the air. This results in a powerful shaded rose from Mme Collas. She uses two sources to form an uber-rose effect. The glow of saffron and the heat of chili pepper adds some texture. Patchouli and labdanum provide some shadows among the rose petals.

Julie Masse

Mrs. C is a mosaic artist and her desire to visit them has taken me to some fantastic, unexpected places. On our first trip to Milan one of her highlights was to visit Albergo Diurno Venezia. This was the Art Deco designed place to be treated to a bath in a private bathing room. There was also a barber shop to get a shave. As we walked through, I felt as if the Lost Generation echoed through the now dilapidated structure. Diurno is inspired by this place which is now being renovated.

Diurno is my favorite of this debut collection. The reason comes from the first second. Mme Masse has fashioned a brilliant amaretto accord. So many perfume versions are syrupy sweet almond. She remembers that amaretto translates to “a little bitter”. This almond doesn’t ooze it bites. Some sage sharpens that. Lavender and geranium offer a floral contrast without blunting the bitterness. A suite of green notes from balsam, vetiver, and moss adds a terpenic bitter harmonic to the amaretto.

Sig. Brun has put together a beautiful tour of Milan. All he asks is for you to follow your nose.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample set provided by Milano Fragranze.

Mark Behnke