New Perfume Launches and Fragrance Trends : January 2011

 trend

Oud, jasmine, oriental notes appearing even in the most unexpected places (like celebrity fragrances,), the revival of classical perfumery forms… While the fragrance market continues to confound and confuse with the flood of new launches, I find it interesting to observe trends forming and ideas trickling down from luxury perfumery into the mainstream. While it is difficult to predict the shape of the year based only on January, I have decided to include in my trend overview a few common themes I have noticed since the last quarter of 2010. I started jotting these notes down for myself about two years ago, and they help me to make sense of new launches as well as keep track of interesting developments. I generally try to include notes on fragrances already released, but whenever relevant, I also include mentions of new launches that fit the themes.

Crème Brûlée : Dark Side of Gourmand

There has been a general emphasis on the darker, oriental notes in the new launches over the past few months, and the edible accords have also received some scorching. The most provocative of the recent launches with a gourmand theme, Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau takes the idea of buttered toast and develops a herbal-woody composition around it.

It is memorable in so far as it pushes the gourmand concept into a savory direction with the use of nutty and milky (lactonic) notes. Less provocative, but interesting nevertheless, is Sensuous Noir, a flanker by perfumer Annie Buzantian to the original Sensuous. Despite my expectations of candy floss, Sensuous Noir has a strong dry amber and pepper accent, which offsets the richness of its warm woody gourmand composition. Buzantian’s Firmenich colleagues Alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavallier have together created Yves Rocher Secrets d’Essences Vanille Noire, a gourmand woody fragrance, where the crisp accord of mandarin and mimosa provides a counterpoint to the smoky vanilla notes. Likewise, Lolita Lempicka receives a darker guise with its flanker Minuit Noir. Created by Annick Ménardo, it has a stronger licorice and patchouli note, minus the original’s bright herbal accent. What makes some of the new darker and richer gourmands different from the fragrances in the past is the heavier emphasis on woods, toasty notes (pyrazines) as well as the spices.  In many cases, they serve as nice counterbalances to the gourmand sweetness.

Orient Express : Coming to the Mall Near You

While the Middle Eastern realities are far from pretty, the fragrance world continues to regale us with Arabian Tales in the form of incense, oud, sandalwood and dark, rich roses. Christian Dior Leather Oud, Armani Privé 1001 Nights, Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady, by Kilian Incense Oud, Bond no. 9 New York Oud, among others, explore rich woody notes set against warm oriental accords. There are also some notable explorations of the woody oriental genre in other areas of the market. Café Black Label Pour Homme explores oud paired with licorice and amber, but sets it against a fresh accord (notes: orange, cognac, apple, floral accord, cedarwood, oudwood, amber, licorice.) It was created by perfumers Michel Almairac and Sidonie Lancesseur. A Spanish brand J del Pozo has jumped onto the bandwagon by launching Arabian Nights, a mascluine woody oriental fragrance of rose, thyme, cedarwood, guaïac wood, patchouli, sandalwood, saffron, oud, amber, labdanum. While the Middle Eastern perfumery has a very rich tradition, the recent Orient Express fragrances have relied on the same themes to convey an idea of opulence and richness. At best, the results are an interesting synthesis of French and Eastern aesthetics; at worst, it is a genre heavily laden with stereotypes. However, if I am forced to choose between incense amber or yet another caramel fruity-floral, I will personally go for the former. I am still waiting for Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Oud and Avon Oud for Her and Oud for Him.

Classical Flowers : Jasmine Harvest

There is a strong tendency towards classical forms in today’s fragrance market, and classical white flowers have been particularly predominant over the past year in all categories, with tuberose being the leading lady. However, there is now a new emphasis on a different white floral–jasmine. There have been a few animalic, indolic jasmine blends like Nasomatto Nuda, an Italian line created by Alessandro Gualtieri as well modern fresh, radiant jasmines like Christian Dior J’Adore L’Or. A rich jasmine sambac note set into an accord with violet and tuberose is explored by Christian Dior New Look 1947 (peony, ylang ylang, pink pepper, jasmine sambac, rose, tuberose, iris, benzoin and vanilla) an interesting orchestration, but one that begs for a high concentration. By Kilian : L’Oeuvre Noire Love and Tears by Calice Becker uses aromatic, herbal notes as a twist in its modern luminous jasmine accord. Likewise, many new spring launches feature prominent jasmine notes, such as Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Jasminora (jasmine, lily of the valley, green leafy notes.) Floris Amaryllis takes the classical white floral bouquet and makes it crisp and bright with marine notes (it also includes bergamot, clove, lily, tuberose, ylang ylang, myrrh, frankincense, patchouli, musk, heliotrope, tonka bean, vanilla, caramel.) Cartier’s first major feminine launch Cartier de Lune takes the white floral route with its aldehydic rose and jasmine composition. While it is a modern rendition, the classical elements are prominent.

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24 Comments

  • Ann C: Do you predict that the white flower trend will continue this spring? Even though, or perhaps because, we’re in the dead of winter with another major snow storm bearing down on us, I am longing for spring. Which spring launches are you looking forward to the most? February 1, 2011 at 6:54am Reply

  • Olfactoria: Thank you for your analysis.
    I am very much on board with the dark gourmands. The new Lutens is the launch I look forward to the most. Will we see a review from you before the launch? February 1, 2011 at 7:44am Reply

  • Marina: Could be worse…right? 🙂 February 1, 2011 at 8:47am Reply

  • Victoria: Ann, white florals and fresh florals in general are very popular for spring-summer launches, although it is interesting now to see more classical takes, especially on mimosa and jasmine. I am curious about Annick Goutal Le Mimosa, simply because their other soliflores are lovely. I know that I will probably be disappointed, but the new flanker to Guerlain La Petit Robe Noire with notes of iris, orange blossom, white leather and marshmallow really intrigues me. I do not know why.

    Also, I am looking forward to Agent Provocateur flanker L’Agent and 1697 Frapin. February 1, 2011 at 9:23am Reply

  • Victoria: I also like the darker edible accords, which I feel makes them more abstract. Like in Sensuous Noir, the burnt gourmand note adds a very teasing, delicious touch. Yet, it remains abstract, not “cake in your face” effect of many other gourmand notes. Jeux de Peau, of course, goes for the extreme of the burnt! February 1, 2011 at 9:28am Reply

  • Victoria: That is a given in any circumstances. 🙂 February 1, 2011 at 9:29am Reply

  • violetnoir: And the oud train just keeps on a coming! I am so through with it, but I have to admit I love Rose Oud. It is gorgeous, and way out of my price range! How long to you think the trend will last, V?

    Have you tried the new Lutens? I can’t wait to read your impressions.

    Hugs! February 1, 2011 at 11:57am Reply

  • Victoria: I smelled it recently, but have not yet worn it myself properly. My first impression–very interesting, a la Chypre Rouge with a darker, toasty accord. I like the burnt, toasty note and a hint of savory gourmand.

    Rose Oud is my favorite out of this trend so far. In the Orient Express trend, I like Portrait of a Lady too. I recently smelled Etat Libre d'Orange Rossy de Palma, which is not new, but it really impressed me with its fabulous, dark rose note set against a rich, oriental backdrop.
    As for the trend, I think that it is also a reflection of fragrance companies trying to break into the new fine fragrance markets in the Middle East and India. They have their own very distinctive traditions, so to compete, you have to offer scents in the same genre. I still see plenty of launches in this theme, so it is difficult to say when it will be through.
    Maybe, soon, since Dubai is no longer quite the glittering El Dorado that it used to be due to the effects of the financial crises. February 1, 2011 at 12:26pm Reply

  • phil: Victoria, I am not a frequent commenter on blogs, but I read yours daily, I am thrilled that you returned to delight us with your reviews and interesting articles. You have a very sharp eye for details and I value your observations. I learned a lot reading your blog.
    Will you do more of these trend overviews in the future? I am hoping that you say, yes! I found this post to be very interesting and useful too. Do you observe any masculine trends specifically?
    Phil February 1, 2011 at 1:13pm Reply

  • dleep: I have only tried one of the fragrances that you mention in your article. I loved and purchased Sensuous Noir. I hope to get a chance to try the others you mention. I love dark gourmand fragrances. Thanks for a lovely article. February 1, 2011 at 1:23pm Reply

  • Elisa: Dark gourmands are my weakness. I thought Sensuous Noir could have passed for a niche with all that boozy wood. It particularly reminds me of the (unaffordable, for me) Tom Ford line. February 1, 2011 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: Elisa, I will take Sensuous and Sensuous Noir over any Tom Fords, if I were forced to choose. Well, Velvet Gardenia is unbeatable, but that one has been discontinued. Sensuous and Sensuous Noir are very interesting, well-balanced and have a distinctive character. February 1, 2011 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Victoria: Phil, thank you for your kind words. I am so happy that you liked this overview. Previously, I just wrote these trend summaries for myself, but this month I decided to share. If it is interesting, I will certainly post them in the future.

    As for masculine trends, there are lots of launches in the aromatic fougere family. Seems that there is a strong tendency towards the classical and the familiar now. February 1, 2011 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are welcome! 🙂 I also enjoy the darker edible notes, always an interesting twist. I hope that there will be more savory gourmand fragrances. Womanity by Thierry Mugler went into that direction, but maybe not far enough for my taste. February 1, 2011 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Elisa: I like TF Noir de Noir, but not as much as the similar Rossy de Palma, which you mention below! February 1, 2011 at 1:58pm Reply

  • Victoria: I cannot believe that I missed Rossy de Palma when it came out a couple of years ago. It is just the kind of fragrance that I love. Plus, the natural rose note in it is astounding, such fine material (not that a good material makes for a good perfume necessarily, but still, it is so rare to smell this much of natural rose in fragrances today.)
    I like Noir de Noir too. My other favorites are Champaca Absolute and Tuscan Leather. February 1, 2011 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Elisa: I deeply love RdP — it’s probably in my current top 5. It’s like wearing a red dress. Makes me very happy. February 1, 2011 at 2:16pm Reply

  • Victoria: Elisa, what a perfect way to put it! I also associated it with fabric. The moment I smell it, I imagine yards and yards of heavy crimson-red satin. February 1, 2011 at 2:30pm Reply

  • dee: Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Oud? Yes please! I’d love to have that in bath gel and body lotion, to go underneath all my niche stuff 🙂

    Thank you for the trend report V., spot on! February 1, 2011 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: While I was being facetious, I would like that too. Especially as a shower gel or a foam bath! BBW shower gels are very good, both in terms of scent and function (nice, foamy leather.) My most recent discovery is Cotton Blossom, warm, powdery orange blossom. I wish it were available as the EDT, since the body splash does not last that well. February 1, 2011 at 3:33pm Reply

  • violetnoir: I have to admit that I was not crazy about PofaL. I thought I would be as crazy about it as I was when Carnal Flower made its debut in December 2005, but I was not. Something in the base really bothered me, like a chemical bath cleaner or something like that. To be fair, it was just a sample decant, so further testing is warranted. February 1, 2011 at 11:38pm Reply

  • dee: I was thinking more on the lines of “smarty pants,” but it’s such a great idea! Surely there are some great oud synthetics, or will be soon if there aren’t already, and, as you say, the shower gels are quite wonderful for the price! 🙂

    The last time I was in B&BW, I think I tried cotton blossom, but I don’t remember it. I went in to sniff the Twilight Woods, which I liked, but did not end up purchasing—though, now that I think about it, I’m soon to be in the market for some more shower gel! February 2, 2011 at 1:11am Reply

  • Victoria: R, it is very sharp in the drydown. I like it very much, but this note makes it a little difficult for me to wear that often. February 2, 2011 at 9:11am Reply

  • Victoria: D, so true. Most of the oud fragrances on the market are made with some sort of oud replacements. They are not necessarily synthetic, they could blend naturals and synthetics to achieve the oud effect, but very few use the real thing. Apparently, Dior Leather Oud does.
    Well, some BBW fragrances do have oud listed as a note (ie Citron)… February 2, 2011 at 9:15am Reply

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