The average US consumer prefers fragrances like Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Christian Dior J’Adore and Bleu de Chanel. Exploring lists of top sellers is no doubt very interesting as it reveals a lot about trends and preferences, all of which influence what you and I will find on the fragrance counter next season. Yet, I find the likes and dislikes of blog readers to be much more fascinating. For one thing, you are a group with a strong interest in fragrance, which has nothing to do with how many bottles of perfume one owns or whether one can recite the names of the legendary perfumes off the top of their head. If you are reading perfume blogs, then you probably already have a passion for fragrance. You assess a new perfume differently and you are likely to pay more attention to the scent itself rather than the bottle and other marketing trappings.
Therefore, when I recently asked for your top five favorite fragrances, I realized that it would be interesting to determine which out of the 1000+ fragrances mentioned make it into the blog reader’s top 20 list. The results are analyzed below. I also include the top 15 favorite houses and a selection of favorite fragrances from certain notable perfume houses. There were over 200 respondents, most of which were women. Enjoy!
Top 20 Reader Favorites
1. Guerlain Mitsouko (1919)
Even when I got the first half of the responses to my poll, I knew that one of the Guerlain classics would make it into the top 5. Mitsouko got into the top position by a 20% margin, a testament to its legendary status. An autumnal chypre, with a delicious peach top note.
2. Guerlain Shalimar (1924)
Shalimar’s popularity endures even the onslaught of the fruity compotes and cotton candy perfumes (it has been occupying the top 10 best seller list in France for decades.) Therefore, it is not surprising that it has a cult following among blog readers given their strong preference for niche and classics. A gold standard oriental.
3. Guerlain Après l’Ondée (1906)
Après l’Ondée possesses an exquisite form and a striking character. In contrast to some classical Guerlains, it feels more modern and streamlined to me, a baroque composition in pastel shades.
4. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue (1912)
A darker, moodier sister to Après l’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue is another classical legend. Not at all surprising to find that it finds lots of love among blog readers.
5. Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower (2005)
Carnal Flower is an example of a fragrance that enthralls not because it is challenging and complicated, but because it is simply stunning. Excellent raw materials, bold arrangement and a strong character. More of that in mainstream perfumery, please!
7. Chanel Bois des Iles (1926)
Ernest Beaux, the creator of Bois des Iles named it his favorite fragrance. Edmond Roudnitska, the author of Christian Dior Diorissimo and Rochas Femme, named it one of the most original fragrances, surpassing the beauty of No 5. Stunning!
8. Christian Dior Diorissimo (1956)
It is hard to find another classical floral that can compete with the timeless beauty of Diorissimo and its remarkable harmony.
9. Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle (1998)
It is obvious that we, perfumistas, like to be challenged. Few fragrances achieve it as easily as Tubéreuse Criminelle, a plush floral that hides its creamy heart under a harsh, diesel fuel and wintergreen accord.
10. Chanel Coromandel (2007)
Patchouli and elegance is not the most readily obvious pairing, yet Chanel succeeds admirably in crafting a fragrance that weaves a sophisticated tapestry out of patchouli. Dark wood and chocolate accents give it a lush, vintage twist.
11. Jean Patou Joy (1930)
Another absolutely stellar composition in terms of the quality of its ingredients. Most respondents specified the parfum as their preferred concentration of Joy. The EdP with its rose and the EdT with its jasmine accents are beautiful, but the parfum is truly exquisite.
12. Andy Tauer L’air du Désert Marocain (2005)
A perfumer friend once derisively said to me, “all you bloggers like is incense and balsam!” “Yes, we do,” I replied. “If you keep feeding us fruit compotes, do not be surprised that sooner or later we start demanding praline and ganache.” If you like praline and ganache, then L’air du Desert Marocain will delight.
13. Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur (2000)
A modern interpretation of Guerlain Shalimar, Musc Ravageur places all of its emphasis on the animalic notes. It finds lots of love on blogs, amongst both the bloggers and their readers.
14. Chanel No 19 (1971)
I love seeing No 19, an austere green floral chypre, being mentioned frequently as a favorite on blogs, mostly because it is not a particularly easy genre of fragrance to love. Clearly, a well-made chypre can still have a following.
15. Chanel 31, rue Cambon (2007)
While mainstream perfumery treats the chypre genre of fragrances (a composition style that relies on strong citrus, moss, patchouli and amber accents) as another receptacle for gourmand notes, niche perfumery continues the classical tradition of retaining a dry, champagne like effervescence. A great modern example in that vein.
16. Serge Lutens Chergui (2001)
Serge Lutens is the darling of niche fragrance lovers. Chergui is one of his darkest, richest compositions, therefore it is not surprising that we love it so.
17. Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman (2002)
By far the most popular Ormonde Jayne fragrance in Bois de Jasmin’s poll. A full-bodied oriental that wears a dark rose corsage.
18. Robert Piguet Fracas (1948)
Dazzling, challenging, decadent, Fracas has always been a controversial fragrance. Therefore, among the perfumistas who love something different and unusual, it should be popular. Fracas is a high-quality, unique fragrance that has long been recognized as an iconic fragrance with a cult appeal.
19. Chanel Cuir de Russie (1924)
Leather is always a popular note in niche perfumery, and when paired with iris, as in the case of Cuir de Russie, it becomes buttery and soft. A classic!
20. Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist (1994)
Iris gold standard!
Top 15 Favorite Houses
Parfums de Nicolaï
Favorites from Notable Perfume Houses
Amouage tie between Jubilation 25 and Lyric Woman
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise
Balmain Vent Vert
Diptyque L’ Ombre Dans L’Eau
Donna Karan Black Cashmere
Estée Lauder Private Collection
Miller Harris L’Air de Rien
Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête
Source: Bois de Jasmin top 5 favorite perfume poll via blog, facebook, twitter and email.
Image credit: antique perfume bottles by ian via flickr.