Sunday, January 3, 2010

Perfume: 2009 Reminiscing

The Enchanter asked me about my top ten scents for 2009. Sounds like fun! So this will be a list of the top ten fragrances that I tried for the first time in 2009 - even if they'd been around for decades before I found out about them.

And, while I'm at it, some disappointments, and then the whole monster list of everything that I smelled for the first time in 2009.

Top Ten fragrances first experienced in 2009:
  • Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture. This one broke through my dislike for tuberose and my distaste for florals. (To clarify my definitions, I don't consider Chanel No. 19, for example, to be a floral - it's galbanum that happens to consort with flowers.) I don't know where it got its magic from, but it was strong enough to make me buy a bottle.
  • Serge Lutens Un Lys. This needed Tubereuse Couture to pave the way for it. It's a sweet, gentle, nearly conventional floral, a category that I officially don't like, but I'm in love.
  • Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle. And this freakish mothball- and gasoline-powered tuberose followed right along. At least it didn't have to fight the "conventional" label.
  • Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan. I can't do this one justice right now - I'm indifferent to it in cold weather. But I know that in the summer its soft osmanthus with an edge of tea will knock me over.
  • Parfumerie Generale Harmatan Noir. A wonderful tea. Harsh desert and scrabbled comforts and... Oh, I can't describe this one. Get a decant. I keep telling myself that I can't buy another tea, but it haunts me.
  • Le Labo Patchouli 24. The closest thing to the real scent of tea leaves that I've ever found in a fragrance. Yes, I know it's really birch tar, but to me it's tea.
  • Chanel Cuir de Russie. Utterly satisfying leather. 
  • Fendi Theorema. The culmination of my orange quest; I finally have my winter orange.
  • Shiseido Feminite du Bois. I didn't know that I was on a cedar quest, but it turns out that I was, and this is the destination.
  • Balmain Vent Vert vintage parfum. A wonderfully dangerous green, like blinking carnivore eyes at the edge of a twilit forest. Tragically reformulated into a merely nice scent without the least hint of danger. I must get a supply of the vintage.

I'm surprised that Vent Vert is the only green in the short list - this was a year for green fragrance introductions. I liked Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss, and Issey Miyake A Scent, and Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane. I even bought the Lauder and the Miyake, but none of the three floated to the very top of my personal list. Perhaps this isn't surprising - when a note isn't fully established in fashion yet, I suppose there's a limit to the risks that can be taken with it.

Top Five disappointments first experienced in 2009:

I'm saying "disappointments", because I'm not comfortable calling these "bad". Some are highly regarded fragrances that just clashed with my nose. The good news is that only five entries on the 2009 list were real scrubbers for me.
  • Creed Aqua Fiorentina: This started out nice, if over-fruity and with a taste of Kool-Aid. Then it turned a little cloying. That got worse and worse and worse, until phrases like "saw my arm off" came to mind. Maybe it's my skin.
  • Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps D'Une Fete: It's a well-regarded fragrance from a well-regarded perfumer. It's a green and loved by green freaks. I'm a green freak. I should have loved it. But not only didn't I love it, it was a scrubber.
  • Andy Tauer l'Air du Desert Marocain and Incense Rose: Again, well-loved by many people I respect. And I couldn't bear it. I suppose that I should have anticipated this result from the notes lists. There's a limit to what even the most talented perfumer can persuade my nose to like, and myrrh or coriander with ambergris go past that boundary.
  • Fresh Violette: I had high hopes for this one, but it was sweet, powdery, aldehydic, and without anything interesting enough to make up for those sins. And not even anything particularly pretty - the violets were unconvincing.

And, The list of everything that I know (with reasonable certainty) that I sampled for the first time in 2009. For scents that I've written about, I link to the primary post - generally the one with the Review Roundup and the review.

Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise

Andy Tauer Lonestar Memories
Andy Tauer Incense Rose
Andy Tauer l'Air du Desert Marocain

Ava Luxe Sweet Absinthe
Ava Luxe Milk
Ava Luexe Figuer
Ava Luxe Moroccan Mint Tea
Ava Luxe Midnight Violet

Balmain Vent Vert EDT
Balmain Ivoire
Balmain Vent Vert parfum, vintage

Bois 1920 Come la Luna
Bois 1920 Vetiver Ambrato

CB I Hate Perfume Tea/Rose
CB I Hate Perfume Wildflower Honey
CB I Hate Perfume Cedarwood Tea
CB I Hate Perfume The Fir Tree
CB I Hate Perfume Just Breathe
CB I Hate Perfume CB93
CB I Hate Perfume Walking In The Air

Comme Des Garcons Tea

Chanel No. 19 EDP
Chanel Cuir de Russie

Creed Original Vetiver
Creed Aqua Fiorentina

Czech & Speake No. 88
Czech & Speake Citrus Paradisi
Czech & Speake Cuba
Czech & Speake Neroli
Czech & Speake Oxford & Cambridge
Czech & Speake Mimosa
Czech & Speake Rose
Czech & Speake Dark Rose
Czech & Speake Frankincense

Diptyque Tam Dao

Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss
Estee Lauder Tuberose Gardenia
Estee Lauder Private Collection
Estee Lauder Sensuous

Etat Libre d'Orange Jasmin et Cigarette

Fendi Theorema

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Fresh Violette

Guerlain Mitsouko Vintage Parfum

Hermes Kelly Caleche

Hermessence Rose Ikebana (I really never reviewed this? I'm surprised.)
Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan
Hermessence Vetiver Tonka
Hermessence Vanille Galante

Issey Miyake A Scent

Jacomo Silences

Jean Desprez Bal A Versailles

Le Labo Jasmin 17
Le Labo Patchouli 24

L'Occitane Bergamot Tea

Lolita Lempicka Lolita Lempicka
Lolita Lempicka Lolita Lempicka Man

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate
Lorenzo Villoresi Musk

Maboussin Maboussin

MDCI Un Coeur en Mai
MDCI Peche Cardinal

Miller et Bertaux No. 3: Green, green, green

Parfumerie Generale Aomassai
Parfumerie Generale Bois Blond
Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba
Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere
Parfumerie Generale Drama Nuui
Parfumerie Generale Felanilla
Parfumerie Generale Harmatan Noire
Parfumerie Generale Iris Oriental/Taizo
Parfumerie Generale L'Oiseau de Nuit
Parfumerie Generale Musc Maori
Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture
Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps D'Une Fete
Parfums de Nicolai Number One
Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums de Rosine Ecume de Rose

Possets The Gingerbread Whorehouse
Possets Flossing

Raphael Replique (Vintage)

Robert Piguet Fracas
Robert Piguet Visa
Robert Piguet Bandit
Robert Piguet Cravache

Rochas Tocade

Serge Lutens Un Lys
Serge Lutens A La Nuit
Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle
Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque
Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Shiseido Feminite du Bois

Tom Ford Private Blend Velvet Gardenia

Yosh White Flowers
Yosh Kismet


  1. Wow! "Possets Flossing" is a perfume? I have to try this some time.

    Anyway, strictly within the terms of reference, the one scent that I tried in 2009 that also features in your top ten is Un Lys. I bought a bottle of it too! And though I also like Osmanthe Yunnan and Cuir de Russie very much, I made their acquaintance in 2008.

    The scent that disappointed me in 2009 that appears on your list is Creed Acqua Fiorentina, which smelt much more like a designer fruity floral to me. In 2008 I also didn't get "Le Temps d'Une Fete" - too indolic - while Incense Rose was too medicinal and asphyxiatingly smoky.

  2. Great to see a list of the perfume that you've experienced for the first time in 2009. But it makes me feel so behind as I honestly don't think I've tried a single one for your list. Yikes - I need to get cracking.

    Really looking forward to trying out the ones that you list. And will be reading your reviews with interest as I get on and try them.

  3. I'm so impressed with your list. You've inspired me to start writing down what I'm sampling to keep track, etc. I see you mention Moroccan Mint's a favorite of mine and I'm devastated that it is discontinued.

    I've never tried PG's Harmatan I must. Speaking of tea, have you tried CSP Ecume de The? It's light and delightful and completely un-CSP-esque :-)

  4. Yep! About Flossing, that is, flittersniffer. I forget what it means, or what it smells like. (OK, now I have to look, and I find that "Flossing is named after the dainty stitching put on many corsets to keep the stays in place." Cool. OK.)

    I just remember that it was Nice. I should try it again.

    Yes, Un Lys is just falling-over amazing. I haven't bought my bottle yet, but it's going to happen. Maybe I should just break down and buy it right now, before something happens to it.

    Acqua Fiorentina on my skin was like a parody of a designer fruity floral as designed by Tim Burton (the Nightmare Before Christmas guy). I am assuming that it's my skin, because no one would like it if it always smelled the way it does on me.

  5. SignatureScent, I have a freakish/nerdish/somethingish tendency to focus on the hard-to-find scents, plus I usually veer away from women's scents, so that may explain why there's so little overlap between our Sniff Experiences.

    Yay! I'm glad you'll be reading.

  6. Thanks, LoveTheScents! And, yes, the whole Ava Luxe thing is upsetting. :( The only thing that consoles me for the loss of Moroccan Mint Tea is that it does sometimes make me sneezy. I would have bought a full bottle anyway, but at least I can tell myself that It's Just As Well that I can't.

    Of course, if she brings it back, I will promptly buy the full bottle.

    Yes! Harmatan Noir! Now, you might be disappointed - it's probably a love it or hate it perfume. But I'm 'way over on the love side of the scale.

    Ooh? No, I never tried CSP Ecume de The. It's on the sniff list now.

  7. The added incentive to like Ecume de The is that it is allegedly Juliette Binoche's signature scent - or one of them, along with Cristalle. Lovethescents kindly introduced me to it and Moroccan Mint Tea, which I like despite not normally caring for mint in any incarnation.

    Is Harmatan Noir very close to L'Eau Rare Matale? Have a feeling that one became the other in some order, possibly with a slight tweak. If so, I could send you a sample of that, LTS?

  8. I think that I love L'Eau Rare Matale for the same reasons that I love Harmatan Noir, so it's worth sampling either one. I keep telling myself that they're practically the same, but of course if they were that identical, I wouldn't so badly want to own Harmatan Noir. :)

  9. Ooh. I missed the Juliette Binoche mention. And the Cristalle mention. If a Cristalle lover loves it, then it must be fabulous, right?