Best of 2012 : Perfume and Pleasure

Last year, when writing my overview of the best fragrance launches of 2011, I would never have guessed that one year later I would be living across the ocean and speaking more French than English in my day-to-day interactions. And yet, here I am typing away as the Belgian rain splashes against my window. It’s been a roller coaster ride, with some exhilarating highs and dispiriting downs. I try not to dwell on things that are still challenging for me, and instead I try to keep my mind open to new discoveries.  My Belgian journal describes some of the highlights from this year.

As for perfume highlights, 2012 brought a number of great discoveries. For my best-of-the-year list, I chose fragrances based not only on technical excellence, but also on whether they gave me a rush of pleasure. I really think that this “butterflies in the stomach” sensation is the only important criterion for selecting a perfume.

The list in alphabetical order.

Arquiste Boutonniere no.7

Boutonniere no.7 tempted me with its promise of a masculine gardenia–can there be a more feminine flower!–but it swayed me with its memorable composition of gardenias crushed with green leaves and wet roots. Vetiver gives gardenia an unexpectedly stoic character, and here we have yet another gem from Arquiste.

Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu

Fils de Dieu is one of the best plays on Guerlain Shalimar. It swaps the opaque richness of musk and ambergris for milky rice and soft leather, while the top notes are green and tart. You can almost smell lime zest on your skin. All of these gourmand allusions aside, Fils de Dieu is a sensual potion.

I also enjoyed the warmth of Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun, also from Ralf Schwieger, the same perfumer who created Fils de Dieu.

Olfactive Studio Lumière Blanche

Olfactive Studio is my favorite niche brand newcomer–it has an original concept, well-crafted fragrances and an elegant signature. I wear all four fragrances, but Lumière Blanche has become my fragrance of choice when I don’t know exactly what suits my mood. It’s comforting and sophisticated, bright and delicate, tender and wistful.

Hermès Jour d’Hermès

A flower petal shower courtesy of Hermès in-house perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena. It’s a rainbow of floral notes that unfold into a lush bouquet. Creating such a radiant effect is no small feat, but even more impressive is how sunny and happy Jour d’Hermès feels.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l’aube

Séville à l’aube was created as a collaboration between perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour, and writer, Denyse Beaulieu, (also, the author behind Grain de Musc). I enjoyed following their work, and the end result is exhilarating.  I enjoy Séville à l’aube for its contrast between the uplifting citrus top and the sultry drydown. This fragrance captures Denyse’s story of a romantic encounter, but Duchaufour’s interpretation allows anyone to fit the outlines with their own fantasies–a tantalizing combination.

Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire

Une Voix Noire wasn’t love at first encounter for me, mostly because it didn’t fit my expectations. I wanted dark and brooding, but this smoky gardenia is soft and mellow. In the end, I fell for its complexity, its unpredictability and its glamour.

The caramelized sandalwood and rose petals of Santal Majuscule deserve an honorary mention alongside Une Voix Noire.

Tom Ford Noir

Noir is Ford’s take on the magnificent Guerlain Habit Rouge, but with more tobacco, more smoke and more leather. It’s a Guerlain child, alright, but it makes a classical idea accessible to a broader audience and I applaud Ford for it. If anyone can make American men wear vanilla, it might be Tom Ford.

Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb

Spicebomb is a standout in Viktor & Rolf’s line up. It paints a picture of the gentleman’s library with its rich sweetness of pipe tobacco, dark woods and tangy leather. Like Tom Ford Noir, it can easily be worn by women who are tired of the caramel and acrylic flowers on the feminine side of the perfume counter.

Vero Profumo Mito

Thank heavens for creators like Vero Kern, who continue to defy trends and offer their own vision. Mito pairs the dazzling brightness of Chanel Cristalle with the ripe opulence of Rochas Femme, but the total is more than the sum of its parts. A fragrance for those who crave a dose of retro glamour.

Suzanna’s Best of 2012

There were 1366 scents released in 2012, the majority of which I haven’t tried.  Still, I envision myself with such a horde of samples, trying four or five a day, eliminating most, until I ended up with four scents so unusually wonderful that they deserve to be called the Best of 2012.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz La Vie En Rose

This take on Yves Saint Laurent Paris, part of an art collection retrospective accompanying an exhibition of YSL couture, stunned me with its gorgeous pastel interpretation of the vividly colored YSL original.  I used up my sample in a blink, unlike my bottle of Paris.  Envision a softer, less dramatic Paris with a violet-rose pastille as a central accord.  Simply gorgeous! This is fragrance as haute couture and a huge winner in the Dawn Spencer Hurwitz library.

Ramon Monegal Mon Patchouly

 The Monegal line, which debuted in 2012, is expansive.  It was a huge debut with scents ranging from musks to woods to florals.  Mon Patchouly stands out as a very original take on patchouli—it deep-ends the note into a bouquet of indolic jasmine and it lasts forever.  It’s a little rough around the edges and smooth at the core, creating a tension that is unusual in today’s perfumery.

Aftelier Perfumes Sepia

We should celebrate natural perfumer Mandy Aftel for having creative visions and for taking chances in addressing them.  Here, Aftel used the romance of ghost-town decay to build her fragrance of leathers, animal sweat, human toil, and weather-beaten woods.  This was the riskiest fragrance of the year and a must-try by the jaded nose that is tired of “note du jour” fragrances.  Aftel lives in her own world, olfactorily speaking.  Join her there for a lesson in the art of creation.

Aedes de Venustas Signature EDP 

I was mad about this from first sniff, owing to the tart rhubarb note that clings to the fragrance’s development.  Couple that with a hothouse tomato leaf—a favorite note of mine—over a shaggy vetiver base, and here was a seasonal fragrance par excellence.  I wore it throughout the summer, enjoying the peculiar turpentine tomato haze of an August afternoon tempered with incense.  Note:  Smashingly wonderful soap cake.

To see other “Best of 2012″ lists, please visit: Grain de Musc :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Perfume Smellin’ Things.

We wish you happy holidays and lots of joy and exciting discoveries in the new year!

What were your highlights of 2012?

Photography © Bois de Jasmin.

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135 Comments

  • Elizabeth: My highlight of 2012 came late in the year. The day before Christmas Eve, I got engaged! It was in the castle garden here in Schwerin, Germany, while the snow fell all around. Despite the snow, we managed to drink the little bottle of champagne the jeweler who sold us my ring gave us as an extra (his brother owns a wine store). I was, very appropriately, wearing Le Temps d’une Fete. December 28, 2012 at 7:33am Reply

    • rosarita: How romantic, congratulations! December 28, 2012 at 8:19am Reply

    • nikki: Congratulations! December 28, 2012 at 9:34am Reply

    • Barbara: Congratulations! What a romantic story! December 28, 2012 at 3:13pm Reply

    • Sarah: My husband proposed to me on Christmas Eve and we had a winter wedding. It snowed heavily on our wedding day and everything looked liked fairy tale like.
      Congratulations to both of you! December 28, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Congratulations! It sounds so romantic and just magical. Through your stories about your boyfriend and his impeccable taste in fragrance, we already sensed that you found a perfect half.

      And now you can enjoy planning the wedding (in Germany, perhaps?) :) December 28, 2012 at 4:18pm Reply

    • Ari: This is SO CUTE YOU GUYS December 28, 2012 at 7:01pm Reply

    • Claire: What a romantic proposal! Congratulations to both of you. December 28, 2012 at 7:21pm Reply

    • kaori: Congratulations! One of the best stories I have heard in 2012! December 28, 2012 at 9:07pm Reply

    • Marieke: How romantic! I wish you both much happiness. When we were little, my parents took us to see the Schwerin Castle. My father’s family is from Neubrandenburg, and we visited there a lot. December 29, 2012 at 11:00am Reply

    • solanace: VERY appropriately indeed!
      Congratualations! December 29, 2012 at 11:22am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: What a beautiful, romantic highlight! Congratulations. Mine was more prosaic: I found pure perfume in a sale : Nahéma (to my surprise, softer and easier to wear than the EdT) and L’Heure Bleue (reformulated, alas). And I found testers of my beloved Bois d’Encens!
    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU!! December 28, 2012 at 7:46am Reply

    • Victoria: What a great discovery!

      By the way, in Amsterdam today I made sure to go to Patisserie Holtkamp because of your recommendation. Now, I’m sitting at home and drinking tea with some delicious pastries. Their apple beignet was so good that we ate ours right in the street outside the shop. Thank you so much for mentioning the place! It was definitely a tasty highlight for today. December 28, 2012 at 4:21pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, delicious, isn’t it! So glad you enjoyed the pasties! December 28, 2012 at 5:33pm Reply

        • Victoria: And the store was so beautiful. I wanted to take a photo of the windows, but it was too rainy. Next time… December 28, 2012 at 5:44pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Did you enjoy Amsterdam? Apart from the weather which is a disgrace. December 28, 2012 at 6:35pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, very much! It’s such an interesting city, and there is a lot to see. We will be returning again soon, since due to the weather we didn’t walk around as much as we wanted. We went to the museums, so we mostly stayed inside. December 28, 2012 at 6:43pm Reply

  • rosarita: I always enjoy reading these lists and of course, reading gives birth to ever more lemmings. It’s impossible to smell everything but I’m very grateful for the online perfume community and for swapping, sample sites and blog drawings! This blog has long been one of my very favorites and I’ve especially enjoyed getting to know Suzanna this year, and the quality photos from both of you are a lovely bonus. Thank you for all your hard work. December 28, 2012 at 8:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your nice words! And in turn, I’m grateful for you and my other readers and visitors, because your support made such a big difference when I first moved and felt very lost. December 28, 2012 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Ari: Great lists both! I enjoy each and every perfume on both lists that I’ve tried, with the exception of Un Voix Noire (which was never going to be my thang anyway). I’m really glad to see that Seville a l’Aube hasn’t been discontinued yet- do you think there is any chance that L’Artisan will incorporate it into the main lineup, Victoria? December 28, 2012 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s a part of the permanent collection. It would be a big mistake for them to ditch it–a great fragrance and they really have nothing like this in the line. December 28, 2012 at 4:43pm Reply

  • nikki: I got to know my new favorite perfume: APOM by Francis Kurkdijan and have decided to do something fun professionally: going back to school and become an esthetician! More fun than working as MBA in business…! December 28, 2012 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Hurray! Congratulations, Nikki. I look forward to hearing more about it. Maybe, you can give us some beauty tips and pointers. I was just complaining to a friend that I can’t find a perfect pink lipstick. :) December 28, 2012 at 4:44pm Reply

  • Robin: Great list as always, but was really struck by your fabulous photography V! Love them all, but esp. the gate at the end. December 28, 2012 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, R! I fell in love with that pink gate outside the church. Even the doors were painted in that color. December 28, 2012 at 4:45pm Reply

    • Claire: I agree with you, Robin! How can I forget to mention the fabulous photography that graces this blog. December 28, 2012 at 7:44pm Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you both so much. As a photography student, I can’t be happier that you’re enjoying these shots. :) I hope to improve in 2013. December 29, 2012 at 4:17am Reply

      • solanace: I agree, Victoria’s pictures are always a joy! December 29, 2012 at 1:10pm Reply

    • nozknoz: I’m glad you mentioned this, Robin! I enjoy all the photos here – both the beauty of the photos and how they complement the post – and the ones of food always make me swoon! December 30, 2012 at 10:47am Reply

  • Lucas: Nice list both Victoria and Suzanna. Again – from your lists I tried some and some of them I liked, some didn’t take my fancy and I didn’t have a chance to try a few yet.

    Let’s continue this perfumed journey. Hope Chemist in the Bottle will get a kick in 2013. December 28, 2012 at 11:19am Reply

    • behemot: I hope 2013 will be a good year for you and your blog! December 28, 2012 at 1:28pm Reply

      • Lucas: Thanks Behemot! Have a lovely 2013! December 28, 2012 at 1:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Which did you like the most, Lucas? December 28, 2012 at 4:45pm Reply

      • Lucas: I think my favourite in 2012 was Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme. There were many releases this year that I didn’t get a chance to try so I’m saying this all based on what I tried from 2012 releases. Nuit Etoilee is also a memorable scent this year for me. Amyris duet from MFK also got my attention, as well as Interlude from Amouage. December 29, 2012 at 3:46am Reply

        • Victoria: A nice selection and quite diverse too! Amyris is so nicely done, so polished. December 29, 2012 at 4:18am Reply

        • nozknoz: Lucas, I already have and love two other wonderful rose oud perfumes and yet am still tempted by Rose Anonyme. It’s a lighter, subtle approach that I’d probably actually wear more often than the others. It’s not surprising that Patty at Perfume Posse included Atelier on her 2012 list as “best perfume house that keeps putting out great, wearable perfume.” December 30, 2012 at 11:04am Reply

          • Lucas: I love the way how papyrus interlaces with rose tones of Rose Anonyme giving that potpourri sensation. I love this scent. What other rose oud perfumes you have. I love one more, don’t have it yet – it’s Rosam from HdP. December 30, 2012 at 2:56pm Reply

            • maja: I love Rose Anonyme, too. Would buy a full bottle if I had the chance. It is so easily wearable and light but persistent December 30, 2012 at 3:08pm Reply

              • Lucas: I bought a big bottle but since it was quite and expense I split a big part of it keeping 50mls with me and selling 150mls away. That really lowered the cost. December 30, 2012 at 3:51pm Reply

  • Merlin: For me the best (perfume wise) was falling for Cergui. I’d tried it a few times and although I loved the sound of the notes, it just didn’t make that much of an impression next to all the other stuff I was trying. Then I went through a sample and was just thinking it was pretty nice when an SA gave me 4 samples – saying they just had lots at the moment. I went through all 4, almost obsessively. It became a near constant craving. Now I’m thinking that that is my signature and the others will just be for variety! Lets see how long that works;) December 28, 2012 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Chergui is very special. That combination of tobacco and sun warmed hay is irresistible. December 28, 2012 at 5:03pm Reply

    • hajusuuri: Merlin, I lemminged (a 2mL sample from Surrender to Chance) based on your comments over at NST. I don’t have it yet but I will definitely try it as soon as I get it. December 28, 2012 at 7:25pm Reply

      • Merlin: Hajusuuri, I’v read comments in which people say they haven’t been taken by it immediately, but have come back to it, at some time, and fallen in love! I far preferred it to Volutes EDT and EDP, as well as Spicebomb and Mugler’s Pure Havane, Fumerie Turque and TF’s Tobacco Vanille. These are all different, but all contain tobacco. (I have to admit that I may be swayed a little since I could never afford the TF anyway. I like that one because it projects so well – but the other side of that coin is that it is quite relentless). December 29, 2012 at 3:07pm Reply

  • behemot: Great lists, Victoria and Suzanna. I second Seville a l’Aube. It was a surprise for me.
    This year, I have also discovered Maria Candida Gentile line and liked their “Sideris”. My fall favorite scent among new releases include “Ambre des Merveilles” by Hermes.
    My big breakthrough was finding a tuberose fragrance I not only tolerated, but also fell in love with, SL Tuberose Criminelle.
    And , of corse, my visit at the Osmotheque Museum in Paris and meeting Patricia de Nicolai wa a milestone.. Good year for me in a fragrance territory. December 28, 2012 at 1:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Jola, yes, that would have been a dream come true for all of us. You’ve got the best intro to the Osmotheque possible. December 28, 2012 at 5:36pm Reply

  • Daisy: Fils de dieu, Afternoon of a Faun, Seville à l’aube, and Spicebomb make my list too!

    L’Ambre des merveilles would also make my list. Did the Neela Vermeire trio launch in the US in 2012? If so, that counts for me too! December 28, 2012 at 1:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I thought that NVC launched in 2011, but I may be wrong. Anyway, it’s a great niche line, and I look forward to more news from them next year. December 28, 2012 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Interesting lists. I got to thinking about all the catching up I need to review in my scent outings. I recently tested the Guerlain trio and discovered Rose Nacree to be my favorite of all and revisited Apres L’ondee, which is beautiful and contemporary despite the age of its creation. Bonne Annee and Happy New Year 2013! December 28, 2012 at 1:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree on Apres L’Ondee. It does feel remarkably modern, not at all dated. Such a gem! December 28, 2012 at 5:39pm Reply

  • Mandy Aftel: Such a special acknowledgement to be selected in your end-of-year list! I am thrilled, and truly appreciate your fantastic support for reaching people who might not otherwise try natural perfumes. December 28, 2012 at 2:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Mandy, and happy holidays! December 28, 2012 at 5:40pm Reply

  • Barbara: My highlights perfume wise were Ambre des Merveilles, Seville a l’Aube and Fils de Dieu, all of which I found thanks to your reviews.

    Reading Bois de Jasmin is always a pleasure. You’re such a kind and generous person, and everyone who comments here is also friendly and warm. I love being a part of this community. Happy holidays! December 28, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Barbara. I hope that we continue to share and inspire each other in the new year. December 28, 2012 at 5:40pm Reply

  • Sarah: It wasn’t launched in 2012, but I discovered Caron Parfum Sacre this year. It is now my Holy Grail. How did I miss this before! December 28, 2012 at 3:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’ve found it now, and that’s all that matters. :) Enjoy it, Sarah! December 28, 2012 at 5:41pm Reply

  • Persolaise: Thanks for this list, Victoria… and I was so pleased to see that you’ve included Seville, Mito and Noir, and mentioned Faun too.

    May 2013 bring us at least as many fragrant delights as we had this year. December 28, 2012 at 3:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: A nice wish! I’m joining you in hoping that it will be so. December 28, 2012 at 5:41pm Reply

  • George: I have only tried three of your and Suzanna’s best of fragrances (Spicebomb, Aedes DV and Seville a L’aube) and based on the fact they were three of the most interesting fragrances I sampled this year, this is an extra incentive to get my act together and try the rest of your respective lists (esp. the two gardenias)

    Thanks to you both for another great year of reviews, signposting (as ever) the exquisite and the interesting! December 28, 2012 at 4:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, George!

      Boutonniere and Une Voix Noire are really distinctive, but maybe a bit love or hate, as most interesting perfumes tend to be. December 28, 2012 at 5:35pm Reply

      • George: As Denyse has contributed below, I should also add that my highlight of the year was smelling Seville a l’Aube, forming my own impressions of it as a scent, and then reading the Perfume Lover, and finding that my impressions were very close to those of the intentions of the creators. I also loved the book because although I’d read a lot of the perfume lore before, it was written in such a fresh way.

        I also loved the whole discussion (oh, o.k. argument) around the Chandler Burr Untitled Series and the Chandler Burr Art of Scent exhibition, although primarily as a stimulus for thinking about what good scent criticism can be, rather than accepting the approach Burr seemed to be wanting to impose (to the exclusion of alternate- and to my mind more imaginative and better approaches) December 28, 2012 at 5:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: I 2nd both of these. Denyse’s book, along with Alyssa Harad’s and MJ Rose’s, turned out to be a great addition to my book shelf. Denyse herself introduced me to a few of my favorites this year.

          And the whole discussion around the MAD exhibit and the perfume as art was stimulating. There is so much more to say on this topic. December 28, 2012 at 5:58pm Reply

  • graindemusc: Dear V., I couldn’t embrace more your “butterflies in the stomach” criterion. To reprise that Greil Marcus quote I’m over-fond of using, such lists are “the pleasurable byproduct of wow.” And somehow I’m not surprised we cross paths in about half our choices! Jour d’Hermès was truly a late, but thrilling discovery. December 28, 2012 at 4:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love that quote, D!

      Isn’t Jour d’Hermes such a welcome discovery! December 28, 2012 at 5:33pm Reply

  • annemariec: Sonoma Scent Studio’s Nostgalie was a 2012 highlight. Beautifully done, with first rate materials, and affordable.

    Seville a l’aube was 2012′s disappointment. It gets a huge amount of love, but on me it is close to a scrubber. Sigh.

    Reading the lists on the blog is making me depressed, not because of the number of new releases in 2012 (that is a given) but because of the pricing. So many of these fragrances are so darned expensive and there are so many of them! This is hardly a new problem, but reading all the ‘best of’ lists today has focussed my mind on it.

    Fortunately in the perfume world there are opportunities to buy and exchange samples. But that caters to relatively small numbers of people. I so often wonder who are the buyers of full bottles of Arquiste and Ramon Monegal and Maria Candida Gentile and Francis Kurkdjian? And so on and on and on. We are talking $150 minimum per bottle, often a lot more, and then there will be shipping on top of that (which in my case is never less than huge). And of course perfumes are rarely offered in bottles less than 50mls.

    Who can afford it? Well, there must be customers out there but they sure don’t live in my street.

    So my resolution for 2013 is to redouble my efforts to find the best perfumes at reasonable prices, and to keep looking for the fragrance houses who dare – or who have somehow devised a business model that allows them – to sell in small bottles.

    And no, I don’t count the places that insist you buy three small bottles at once, usually of the same fragrance. That’s no help.

    End of rant. :) December 28, 2012 at 4:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that apart from Arquiste, most of the fragrances on my list are in the reasonable price bracket. Of course, niche fragrances were never cheap, but when Serge Lutens seems like a bargain next to some other brands something is wrong.

      The rise of price in the fragrance industry is a complex subject, and there is certainly lots of aspirational pricing. The luxury retailers artificially inflate the prices. Then, the prices of raw materials are increasing further and further. The niche makers feel this more than the large brands, since they often pay a much higher price for their oils.

      Ironically, I smelled one of the Mr. Clean floor polish products the other day and it smelled way more expensive than the new “prestige brand” perfumes I was testing. December 28, 2012 at 5:27pm Reply

      • annemariec: Thanks for listening to the rant. Yes, I do get your point about the cost of raw materials. Even the lower priced niche places, like Nicolai, may have to up the prices soon.

        I have a hand wash at the moment scented with orange and patchouli, and the orange is satisfyingly non-sweet and the patchouli has a salty facet I love. Makes me happy every time. :) December 28, 2012 at 5:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: Feel free to rant anytime. The overpriced fake luxury gets me every time too. The most frustrating part of fragrance shopping is that the price tells you very little about the quality of the product. December 28, 2012 at 6:02pm Reply

      • annemariec: And I should apologise: your list is indeed reasonable. I guess I was thinking of all of the 2012 lists across the blogs as a group. Etat Libre d’Orange should really be on my ‘to try’ list for this year. Fils de Dieu sounds lovely. December 28, 2012 at 6:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: No need to apologize! Even the “reasonably” priced niche perfumes are expensive. So far I bought most of these in small sizes or decants. December 28, 2012 at 6:39pm Reply

        • Ariane: Anne-Marie,I went into the Ramon Monegal store here in Barcelona the other day,and he sells all his perfumes in 15 ml bottles for 27 Euros,I so wish that others would follow this example!!I waited for a whole year to finally give in to buying Puredistance Antonia,by far the most outrageously expensive frivolity,but I love it so much…! December 29, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

          • Victoria: Wow, that’s a great offer! In the US, it’s only sold in the large sizes, with quite a markup! December 30, 2012 at 4:00am Reply

          • annemariec: Yet another reason I wish I could visit Barcelona! I envy you! I liked Entre Naranjos very much. December 30, 2012 at 2:46pm Reply

      • nozknoz: Victoria, re Mr. Clean, two or three years ago, I heard LT/TS predict that as the functional fragrances get better and better, and perfumes get cheaper and cheaper (in terms of their ingredients), functional products will smell better than perfume! It appears we’ve reached the point on the graph where the two lines intersect. December 30, 2012 at 11:49am Reply

        • Victoria: I can see that more and more. When some fine fragrance companies give perfumers less money per project than the household product companies, you know that something is wrong. December 31, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

    • Deborah: I’m a budget conscious single mom, and I can sympathize. I fell in love with Kurkdjian’s APOM last year and I saved for a few months until I could justify the purchase. I would rather have only one bottle of a great perfume than many bottles of ho-hum scents. I don’t regret splurging on APOM. December 28, 2012 at 6:13pm Reply

      • annemariec: I have a sample of APOM. I was attracted to Kurkdjian because the perfumes seem to be about a few, simply expressed ideas. So far there has been nothing I’ve fallen for, but APOM is lovely and I can see it being well worth every cent. I saved for months last year for Tauer’s Reverie au Jardin, so I know where you are coming from! December 28, 2012 at 7:56pm Reply

        • Deborah: I surprised myself by liking it as much as I did. Usually I like heavier scents. December 29, 2012 at 10:25am Reply

    • Suzanna: I can recall fewer than ten years ago, “expensive” niche frags from Malle were $75 and from Lutens, $89. I bought my first from those lines at those prices. Bell jars were around $125. The gap between “mall” scents and niche, price-wise, was not wide. Today, it is enormous. Ebay had not run off the decanters, and I used to buy small decants with regularity–they were affordable.

      Then came the double whammy of increasing prices coupled with a surge in the number of annual releases. This caused perfume discussion to become unfocused and random; whereas in the past many people would have tried, let’s say, Chergui as it was released, now we had new releases that seemed impromptu, from houses and noses we do not recognize, and which only a few will try and discuss. I stopped keeping up with it a couple of years back, when I didn’t want to commit to buying $40 worth of samples each month. Also, there are things that one should try for various reasons not to do with smelling wonderful, too, and this adds a dilemma to the purchase of samples.

      I appreciate your rant! December 29, 2012 at 1:40pm Reply

      • annemariec: Interesting. I do wonder if there will be a corrective on the cost of niche, or if this is how it be for the future. I’m no economist but surely a period of rapid expansion – both of of product and the cost of it – has to come to an end at some point, especially if the number of actual perfume buyers is not expanding as well?

        I don’t even try to keep up with new releases, being as I am still trying smell the classics I feel I should know! I do use the decant services a lot tho’. I used to buy minis a lot off eBay, but it is more cost effective now to scoop up several 3 ml samples in once purchase, and pay one shipping fee. But even there I’m planning to cut back in 2013, and enjoy what I have. The proliferation of releases can, as Deborah suggests above, focus the mind on what it is you really want.

        One thing in my favour is that for several years the Australian dollar has been very high against the US. That is damaging for the Australian economy in crucial ways (exports, domestic tourism) but it makes imports cheap and has funded my perfume collection in no small way! December 29, 2012 at 4:13pm Reply

    • nozknoz: Annemariec, in searching for vintage perfumes, it’s always interesting to see how many were available in quarter-ounce bottles, and other concentrations were available in a range of sizes, too. Not to mention beautiful coffrets!

      The up side these days is that there are many online etailers who offer samples, such as LuckyScent, and decanters such as Surrender to Chance and The Perfumed Court (no affiliation). I was also happy to see some very nice exploration sets this year (Ann Gerard, Neela Vermeire, Ys Uzac, FM Editions de Parfum, Xerjoff).

      Maria Candida Gentile offers 15-ml travel size bottles for 25 euros on their own website. There appears to be a sale going on there now, too. December 30, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

      • annemariec: Oh lord, those MCG travel sizes are very tempting! Hanbury is the one I have always wanted to try, but it would be a blind buy. I’d better get a sample from Indiescents first. One good thing – last time I looked at the MCG site the shipping to Australia was astronomical; now it is quite reasonable. So thanks for jogging my elbow on this.

        I’ve used STC and TPC for ages. Weirdly, the TPC site has been down for days and days … December 30, 2012 at 3:11pm Reply

    • Marie: annemariec, thanks a lot for your rant!

      I always wonder about who can afford those high class niche lines that nobody knew just two years ago but that justify their (ridiculous) pricing (now often more than 200 EUR a bottle!) with good quality ingredients – and the packaging, the perfumer name and surely just because they know somebody will pay that much.

      So my New Year’s resolution is similar to yours: looking for less expensive perfumes or smaller bottles. And keep boycotting most of the new ultra hyper niche lines – maybe there will be a reaction aka price reduction someday…

      I wish all Bois de Jasmin readers a happy and wonderful year 2013! January 3, 2013 at 4:32am Reply

  • Annikky: I agree with the ones I have tried and I will try the ones I haven’t. If this makes any sense :)

    I have just been teased by my younger sisters for falling for perfume in “great old age” (I am 32). But they are careful not to overdo it, as they benefit greatly from my new hobby – where else can they test Chanel Exclusifs or the hits of US indie scent scene? Teasing or no, it has been a wonderful perfume-year for me, sniffing through classics and perfumista-favourites and discovering scents everywhere (most puzzling: vanilla in the cold autumn air near a Brussels car park). From the new releases, SSS Forest Walk and Neela Vermeire trio would make my list in addition to the ones mentioned, although I guess NV was actually launched in 2011.

    Victoria and Suzanna, thank you. December 28, 2012 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Makes perfect sense! :)

      I know what you mean about discovering scents everywhere. That’s the most fun by-product of this adventure. December 28, 2012 at 5:32pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I keep meaning to try Forest Walk. It certainly sounds like something I would like! December 29, 2012 at 1:30pm Reply

      • Annikky: Suzanna, it is of course difficult to predict these things, but going by some of the stunning photographs of yours, I’d definitely say you need to try this one. December 29, 2012 at 3:43pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I still haven’t smelled all of these. But could not agree more on Fils de Dieu. I got a sample of Mito recently and liked my first try but it is too early yet to really have formed an opinion. My first impression is that while lovely it will not replace either Rubj or Kiki in my affections.

    I thank both you and Suzanna for supplying me with so much food for fragrant thought.

    I hope your stay in Belgium will have more highs and fewer lows in 2013, and wish all of you all the best for the New Year! December 28, 2012 at 6:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I still prefer Rubj, but Mito is such a delight. I admit that I wasn’t smitten with it when I first tried it, I don’t remember why. As I kept wearing my sample, it really grew on me. Now, I even crave it.

      Thank you for your nice wishes! I also hope that your 2013 will be filled with much joy and many great adventures. December 28, 2012 at 6:46pm Reply

  • Claire: I wish I have such great lists, Victoria & Suzanna! I will have to think and mull over the highlights of 2012, but in the meantime, I am glad I found this wonderful blog of yours. My best wishes for many many years of blogging to come. December 28, 2012 at 7:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Having a blog gives me more incentives to smell more that I would have otherwise. But of course, you have to wade through so much chaff to find something worthwhile.

      Would love to hear what caught your attention, and meanwhile, I also wish you lots of happiness in the new year. December 29, 2012 at 4:21am Reply

  • Madeleine: Hi Victoria and Suzanna!

    Wonderful lists! My favourites of 2012 were Seville a l’Aube, Une Voix Noire, Santal Majuscule, Flor y Canto and Perle de Mousse. I am still anxiously awaiting my Boutonniere sample and must get my hands on Mito and Lumiere Blanche.

    Best wishes to both of you and look forward to more of your wonderful posts in 2013.

    Madeleine December 28, 2012 at 8:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love your choices too, and I see that we have some favorites in common.

      Lumiere Blanche and Still life were the perfumes I wore the most from Olfactive Studio. I find the whole collection to be so well-done. December 29, 2012 at 4:24am Reply

  • Ingeborg: Hello!
    Possibly my best discoveries of new scents this year were Seville à l’Aube, Aedes de Venustas signature scent and L’Ambre des Merveilles. Sadly the Seville-scent was not under the Christmas tree, so I use sparingly the last part of my 10 ml decant, hoping I can get hold of more! I do wish I could find some sweet notes in SL Santal Majuscule, it turned rather sharp and buttoned-up on my skin. The Arquiste and Monegal perfumes sound lovely, but cannot be found where I live, so have not been sampled yet. December 28, 2012 at 9:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know that some other people also found Santal Majuscule either too sharp or too sweet on their skin. I guess, those rich woody-ambery notes can really be hard to pull off.

      Hope that you get your Seville soon. Maybe, for the Valentine’s Day? :) December 29, 2012 at 4:26am Reply

      • Merlin: I found SM too heavy – and I tend like orientals and gourmands. For some reason it just seemed to sink… December 29, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: I can see why it might happen. It’s an interesting perfume, but yes, it’s on a rich, heavy side. December 30, 2012 at 3:59am Reply

  • Perfumista8: I love best-of-year lists and yours in particular. I’m happily and regularly wearing TF Noir — one I became curious about after reading your review. In 2013, I hope to have more time to participate in discussions on this, one of my absolute favorite blogs. Thanks so much for your work, Victoria and Susanna. December 29, 2012 at 2:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! And I’m so glad to see more Tom Ford Noir fans. I got a bottle for my husband as his Christmas gift, and I’ve been wearing it myself too. December 29, 2012 at 4:28am Reply

    • Suzanna: Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. And please join in the discussions whenever you can. December 29, 2012 at 1:29pm Reply

  • Vanessa: Oh, great list, full of intriguing things I have yet to try. Lumiere Blanche will be on mine though, and many thanks for the introduction! December 29, 2012 at 4:52am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s my pleasure, V! And thank you for introducing me to Scandal and Lentheric when you visited this summer. December 30, 2012 at 3:58am Reply

  • FearsMice: Just want to say thanks for another wonderful year of reading (I’ve lurked here for a very long time), and thanks for making me aware of Olfactive Studio. I got their sample set and promptly fell in love with the line, especially Lumiere Blanche. Best wishes to everyone for a happy 2013! December 29, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: The Olfactive Studio is a winner all-around for me. I think that I would happy with any fragrance from the collection. Lumiere Blanche is also my favorite, at least so far.

      Happy New Year! December 30, 2012 at 3:57am Reply

  • Deborah: I was trying to leave a comment yesterday, but it looks like WordPress ate it. My favorite scent discovery this year was not perfume but body lotion, L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines Body Milk. It smells like freshly picked tea roses. December 29, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

    • Suzanna: I love this product also! Glad you mentioned it for all the rose lovers out there. December 29, 2012 at 1:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have the body gel in that scent. Like Suzanna, I’m glad that you’ve mentioned it, because it’s such a lovely rose perfume. December 30, 2012 at 3:55am Reply

      • maja: L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines body products are wonderful! I’ve bought a shower gel, a body lotion as well as soap. My husband also uses them. It’s such a wonderful rose for men, too. :) December 30, 2012 at 3:20pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, I will ask my husband to try it! Surprisingly how some quintessentially “feminine” scents can be fantastic on men and not at all strange. Well, men in the Middle East wear lots of rose and jasmine oil. December 31, 2012 at 10:21am Reply

  • Ariadne: Happy New Year everyone! May we never lose our sense of smell, sense of humor, or sense of wonder. December 29, 2012 at 10:27am Reply

    • Victoria: A wonderful wish! I’m joining you to wish the same to everyone. Happy New Year! December 30, 2012 at 3:55am Reply

    • nozknoz: Wonderful New Year’s wish, Ariadne. I will remember to use that, and wish you the same! December 30, 2012 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Lucas: Amazing wish! Good job! All the best to you! December 30, 2012 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Marieke: Thanks to winning your giveaway I’m now a happy owner of FK Amyris. I LOVE it! It arrived just before Christmas too. December 29, 2012 at 10:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Enjoy it, Marieke! I’m so glad that it made it in time. I didn’t think that it would. December 30, 2012 at 3:54am Reply

  • solanace: The baby perfumista is born, she is soooo cute! I chose Santal Majuscule to go to the maternity, my last fragrance for the next few months…

    Have a great new year, dear Bois de Jasminers!
    And Victoria, thank you so much for making our lives more fragrant! December 29, 2012 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m at a party right now, but I just had to say congratulations as soon as I saw the email with your comment. What wonderful news! I’m so happy to hear that both of you are doing well. I cannot wait to hear more stories about her, how she grows, and eventually, what perfumes of yours she will be stealing once she grows up.

      Santal Majuscule seems like a perfect choice! (I wore it yesterday for something far less momentous, but it felt so good.) The smell of a baby is one of the best perfumes anyway, you won’t feel slighted not to wear any scents. December 29, 2012 at 11:31am Reply

      • solanace: Thank’s so much, V! You are totally right about the baby’s smell, it is the best thing ever. The smell and the sweet, attentive eyes!

        I was very happy with my Santal Majuscule choice. Initially I was not wearing anything, but then, inspired by your townhall comment some months ago, I wanted to take my little fragrant cocoon with me to the maternity. SM feels somehow ‘unlit’, and smells like a thousand years old. It was the perfect counterpoint to the white walls and bright lights. And by the time the baby was there, it was a mere ‘welcome’ whisper, if that. December 30, 2012 at 2:49am Reply

        • Victoria: :) I can just imagine!

          I like your idea of Santal Majuscule as a counterpoint to the hospital setting. I definitely agree that it feels medieval somehow. I wore it a lot in the summer, but right now when our weather is dark and overcast, it feels too dark. December 30, 2012 at 3:53am Reply

    • Suzanna: Congratulations, Solanace! May she fill your life with beauty and love.

      I wanted to add that, like Victoria, I thought the Neela Vermeire frags were released in 2011. When I was considering which to include as my bests of the year, I immediately thought of them, esp. Trayee and Mohur. Because the official date is given as 2011, I did not include them here, but they are on my “Best Ever” list, regardless of year. December 29, 2012 at 1:27pm Reply

      • solanace: Thank’s, Suzanna! We’re so thrilled! December 30, 2012 at 2:54am Reply

  • J: Beautiful photos. December 29, 2012 at 4:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! December 30, 2012 at 3:42am Reply

  • carole macleod: i have been reading and loving your blog since your first Caron reviews-i will never forget how surprised, and thrilled i was to receive your thoughtful answer to some ridiculous question i had asked!

    My favorite discoveries this year were gifts from perfume friends-MDCI Chypre Palatain, SL Vetiver Oriental, and Tawaf. All so beautiful, chosen with care by people who thought i would enjoy them. i certainly did enjoy them, and what a thrill to receive them I doubt I would have the chance to try these, as they are hard to obtain here, so doubly grateful to my fragrant friends.
    i also bought Lys Solia-I thought it was limited, and did not want to miss it. I will wear it this summer when the weather is warmer.
    Best wishes for you and your family and the readers of Bois de Jasmin for 2013,
    Sincerely,
    Carole December 29, 2012 at 9:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Those first Caron reviews seem to have happened such a long time ago. Thank you for being around for so long, Carole. :)

      I got a little mini of Lys Soleia with some purchase I made, and it took me months to try it. But I got hooked. It’s been on my to-review list for a while.

      Happy New Year to you as well! December 30, 2012 at 3:45am Reply

  • Ada: What a wonderful list! I love Jour d’Hermes which I had the chance to smell this yesterday and it was a very pleasant surprise. Some of my favourites of this year are Santal Majuscule, Une Voix Noire, Guerlain’s Rose Nacree du Desert and DSH La Vie En Rose.

    Happy Holidays! December 29, 2012 at 11:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: I fell in love with Jour d’Hermes from the first moment I smelled it. I love its impressionistic floral bouquet (and yet, it doesn’t smell muddy or confused). It’s such a pleasure to wear it.

      Nice to see Rose Nacree du Desert on your list. I also enjoyed it very much. December 30, 2012 at 3:41am Reply

  • Poodle: Thanks for having such a wonderful blog! Happy New Year to you! Everyone has had such great lists and they are making me realize there are quite a few scents I want to try. 2012 was a good year perfume-wise. I “met” a lot of wonderful people on the blogs and tried many wonderful scents. I wish all of you nothing but the best in 2013. December 30, 2012 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for your nice words and wishes! I also loved getting to know more people. And, the best part, my move gave me a chance to meet some of the commenters here in person. :) December 30, 2012 at 1:53pm Reply

  • nozknoz: Victoria and Suzanna, I haven’t tried most of your picks yet – they are all going on my must sample list! In terms of new launches, the highlight for me was Seville a l’Aube, together with its story in The Perfume Lover. I’d also note the exploration sets from Neela Vermeire, Ann Gerard and Ys Pohadka. In terms of vintage, Guet-Apens. A disappointment was realizing, along with NST Kevin, that all the SLs I loved were the early ones. In 2013, I’m going to try to catch up on Pierre Guillaume, along with CB I Hate Perfume, Sonoma Scent Studio, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and Aftelier. Also, I started reading your blog more regularly in 2012 and will definitely be back in 2013 – thanks for making it an illuminating and inviting place on the web! Best wishes, nozknoz December 30, 2012 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! Hope that 2013 will bring us even more interesting discoveries.

      When I was packing for my move, I found an old bottle of Guet-Apens. It’s such a stunning perfume. Out of all discontinued fragrances people email me about, it remains the most requested one. December 30, 2012 at 1:58pm Reply

  • maja: Orientals have been my discovery in 2012. All of a sudden I found myself craving big, heavy perfumes that I have never imagined myself wearing before. I guess it’s good. :)

    Victoria, you have created such a beautiful, serene and informative place I love to visit almost daily. Thank you.

    I wish us all the best year ever. December 30, 2012 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Maja! :)

      It’s fun to see how one’s tastes change. It makes a lot of sense–as your olfactory palate encounters more and more scents, you will begin to accept those that seemed not quite pleasant in the beginning. I also notice that I enjoy heavier, warmer blends than I used to be in the past. December 31, 2012 at 10:23am Reply

  • hongkongmom: Hi all
    Always so great to read everybodies love and discoveries..and to see your beautiful photographs and being hosted by the very talented Victoria and Suzanna.

    This year I finally got my first bell jar with ISM and it is sublime. I caught its spirited beauty and weightlessness. I love it Added to that it was given to me by a very special person.

    Kikki parfum I caught when my spirit was so low…It touched my heart with her comfort and strength of feminine beauty and happy radiance. , and lifted me right up!It arrived from first in fragrance with a lovely note on exactly the day I needed it. Have not smelled it since…

    I fell for Loretta, together with Andy’s wonderful nature and correspondence… It was an incredible journey to go through the whole creative process of the film and personalities > To add, I won it and had to select one blind, out of all of his scents. Loved it on first sniff. a few weeks later I received a purse spray of Miriam and fell for that too!…I am very thankful for all these new loves and this wonderful perfume community and its hosts December 31, 2012 at 4:05am Reply

    • Victoria: I love the range of your 2012 discoveries, from the cool Iris Silver Mist to the plush Loretta. And the circumstances in which you’ve discovered these scents seem so special. Thank you also for your nice words! December 31, 2012 at 10:29am Reply

  • DSH: Suzanna and Victoria,

    Not only was it a thrill for me to have my YSL Collection reviewed here at Bois de Jasmin this year, but to find it on your list of best of perfumes is a dream. Thank you so very much! I am so delighted and honored.

    Bois de Jasmin remains an inspiration! Blessings for 2013~
    Dawn January 3, 2013 at 4:31am Reply

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