It's that time of the year again. Making lists is fun because it makes one think they're smart and organized. Reading lists is fun too, because it allows one to vehemently disagree with what are idiosyncratic choices to begin with. So see if you share or not any of Perfume Shrine picks for 2012 in the comments and we will all have fun.
The past year was generally not exactly bad for perfume, though it was largely repetitive (even Lutens reprised Passage d'Enfer for his L'Eau Froide!). The bad news is probably coming in 2013, if Dr.Ian White, chairman of the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Protection (SCCP) is to have his way. The (new and "improved") impending perfumery restrictions (look up our tag Restrictions under the Index on the right hand column of the site, if you're clueless) mean a total recomposing of the entire Guerlain, Dior, etc canon! Unpaid, I might add, so it's a conflict of interest on a very high level. This is also NOT necessarily only due to opting for cheaper synthetics (in lieu of naturals) or for "allergy-risk-minimizing" ingredients; one issue that is not talked about is stabilization (for instance, the molecules that account for the beauty of Diorissimo have been restricted because they can't be effectively stabilized from batch to batch, which meant the ruin of Diorissimo...)
But for now, let's explore what 2012 brought...
|pic via basenotes.net|
Worth Investing In Mainstream Fragrances
L'Ambre des Merveilles (Hermes)
[NB. I'm not including Jour d'Hermes (a review of which is linked here) as the wide release is scheduled for 2013]
Spicebomb (Victor & Rolf)
"Meh" Mainstream Fragrances
Gucci Premiere (Gucci)
Coco Noir (Chanel)
La Vie est Belle (Lancome)
The greatest crime of the above is their lukewarm aspect. Not reprehensibly bad, and I'm sure they will have their fans, but in the end...yawn inducing.
|collage via dailymakeover.com|
Une Voix Noire (Serge Lutens)
Loretta (Tableau de Parfums by Andy Tauer)
L'Homme Infini (Divine)
Tawaf (La Via del Profumo)
Fis de Dieu du Riz et des Agrumes (Etat Libre d'Orange)
Hedera Helix (Roxana Illuminated Perfume)
...also see my Personal Discoveries below.
With possibly the exception of Hedera Helix (an all naturals composition focused on the elusive greenery of ivy) the above mentioned are not getting praise for sheer innovation so much, as for their exceptional mastery in execution. Smooth, polished, masterful, they create their own little space which like true beauty requires a second (and third, and fourth) glance.
|pic via evilmolly.com|
I'm talking about the Nikki Minaj perfume bottle. Yes, this above is a perfume bottle... I know!!
Perfumes You Wish Weren't Exclusive, But Darn They Are (For Now...)
The Guerlain Les Deserts d'Orient line, destined for the Middle East Market (though there are a few bottles available in Europe, here and there, too -a reader has since informed me there are some at Bergdorf's too): Rose Nacree du Desert, Songe d'Un Bois d'Ete, and Encens Mythique d'Orient are too beautiful
Dark Passage (Tableau de Parfums by Andy Tauer)
Delicious patchouli. Dark as the pitch-black night. Decidedly limited distribution, whoever got one owns a true collectible.
Losses of the Year
The death of master perfumer Guy Robert signaled the toll of an era gone the way of the dodo. His masterpieces Dior Dioressence, Madame Rochas, Hermes Equipage, Amouage Gold, and Hermes Doblis are an ephemeron reminder of how perfumery used to operate.
Josephine Catapano quietly passed away full of days, but it was the Shock of the Year to hear of the untimely death of Alec Lawless; his wit and knowledge will be missed.
Kickstarting Discourse of the Year
The MAD Museum exhibition The art of Scent curated by Chandler Burr. Not the first fragrance exhibition in an academic setting, as erroneously reported on some journalistic venues, but the first to disassociate the jus from the packaging, the fashion houses and the advertising paraphernalia completely. A brave new step ~with controversy naturally attached to it, as befits such projects.
Greatest personal "discoveries" in 2012
The entire Ramon Monegal perfume line
The Maria Candida Gentile perfume line
Monegal launched this summer in the USA, although it comes from an old perfumer quite active in Spain. Mon Patchouly, Mon Cuir and Impossible Iris are absolutely smashing (and full bottles are on my wishlist). The rest of the line is also wonderful (Dry Woods, Umbra, Lovely Day etc), you really can't go wrong! C.M.Gentile produced fragrances rich in gorgeous naturals for a while, but I only got to know her oeuvre in early 2012, so I consider it apropos (read my reviews of Exultat, Cinabre and Hanbury on these links if you like).
Fame by Lady Gaga
If Gaga of all people can't bring out a controversial juice on the market, the whole celebrity fragrance concept is artistically doomed. Not that we didn't suspect as much all along.
Celebrity Fragrance "No Kidding" of the Year
Truth or Dare by Madonna
Madonna issues a celebrity fragrance (and a sheerer flanker too) a million years after her zeitgeist zenith. But the juice is good!
Time-Sensitive Editions you Should Have Grabbed When You Could
Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia (Guerlain)
I'm never sure whether any of the newer Aqua Allegorias actually start out as limited editions or just get axed when they don't perform as expected (Herba Fresca and Pamplelune are in the line for ages, for example, whereas Flora Nerolia due to no fault of its juice disappeared all too quickly). In short, if you like it, stock up.
Rouge Bunny Rouge fragrances
The chic and playful makeup brand has dabbled in fragrance. Pas mal! I'm going to write up a bit on those in the near future.
|collage by fashionista.com|
Butt-Clenching Commercial of the Year
Chanel No.5 featuring Brad Pitt
When the SNL spoofs are more interesting, hilarious and non sensical than the commercial itself you know you've hit an all time low. This goes under the "what were they thinking?" tag and should be defended in a court of law under the temporary insanity plead. I sure hope Joe Wright's ego gets a needed resizing (he's not that great) and that the people at Chanel recover. Commercially I'm told the Brad Pitt fronted campaign rejuvenated interest at the counter (wtf?!). Artistically speaking, it's -sorry- the pits.
As one commenter accurately says: "Brad Pitt looks like a wet labrador. A wet, loyal labrador who's talking about I dont know what. Soaked dogs isnt something Chanel is known for so I'm just as confused as everyone else as to what's going on in that ad". Couldn't have said it better myself...
And now time for the Giveaway: One lucky reader gets a big goodie bag with mini bottles/decants of ALL the fragrances I thought as worth sampling this year! All you need to do is write a comment with your own thoughts, feelings, opinions, agreeing/disagreeing in the comment section below the post, anything goes.
Draw is open till January 2nd midnight internationally; the winner will be announced on January the 3rd.