Top Selling New Fragrances Women and Men In France 2012

With the onslaught of new launches, you might wonder ends up a success and what vanishes into the perfume twilight zone populated by the 77th flanker on Very Irrésistible and minor celebrity fragrances. Every year the industry decries the fast pace of launches, and every year it goes on to produce even more. One favorite explanation is that we, the consumers, are demanding more and new things, but to me, to put it mildly, this is sheer nonsense. Blaming the consumer when the realities of making a profit in the fragrance market today have changed doesn’t make sense.


In the past, fragrance houses devoted years to developing new fragrances, because having a potential classic guaranteed consumer loyalty and established a brand’s reputation. The launches were gradual, usually starting in France or the US and slowly moving across the world. There was no expectation that a fragrance needs to be an immediate blockbuster, knocking it out of the park within the first quarter.

Today, the launches are global, meaning that a new perfume is designed to please consumers the world over, from San Francisco to Seoul. Despite whatever they say about globalization, fragrance tastes still have regional quirks, but in the process of appealing to the common denominator, the new launches become bland and stripped of any personality. If the perfume doesn’t sell well immediately or if its sales start to decline, it receives a boost with a flanker or gets axed. It’s cheaper to add a new product than to invest resources into supporting existing ones. The cycle gets repeated and repeated, and voila, that’s how we end up with over 1000 new perfumes each year.

Top 20 Best Selling Perfumes In France 2012

Top Selling Perfumes USA : Popular Fragrances Spring 2012

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances 2011 USA

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances for 2010 USA

Top Selling Feminine Fragrances for 2010 France

Top Selling Masculine Fragrances 2010 USA

There are other reasons for the lack of classics in the market today, but it might be better to cover them in another post. Instead, let’s see which of the numerous new launches sold well in France in 2012. The list is courtesy of the Fragrance Foundation, and it was compiled by the marketing agency tracking sales at department stores across France.

Top Selling Feminine New Launches

1. Givenchy Ange ou Démon le Secret Élixir

Givenchy must break a record for the number of flankers it launches.

2. Paco Rabanne Black Excess L’Excès pour Elle

3. Cacharel Catch Me

4. Chanel Coco Noir

A well-crafted, quality fragrance from Chanel. I only wish that they pushed the envelope a bit more, but clearly they went for mass appeal with Coco Noir.

5. Chloé  L’Eau de Chloé

This is one of the few flankers worth noting, a modern rose chypre with an earthy touch.

6. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire (relaunch)

It’s hard to walk one block in Paris (or London, Amsterdam, or Tokyo, for that matter!) without bumping into a La Petite Robe Noire ad.

7. Dior Addict L’Eau Fraîche

8. Lancôme La Vie Est Belle

For a brand that put a beaming Julia Roberts in its marketing campaign, this is a surprisingly humorless perfume.

9. Nina Ricci Mademoiselle Ricci

10. Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme (2012)

More candy flavors masquerading as perfume.

11. Dior Miss Dior Le Parfum

12. Yves Saint Laurent Opium Vapeurs de Parfum

Its relationship to Opium is tenuous at best.

13. Escada Sexy Graffiti

Fruity and bubbly.

14. Givenchy Very Irrésistible Electric Rose

Ah, I’ve spoken too soon. The 77th flanker to Very Irrésistible is in fact on the best seller list!

15. Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto

Manifesto is nicely done, but it feels market tested to near death.


I don’t have much to say about the successful men’s new launches, because with one or two exceptions, they are all flankers that I can’t even recall. I can’t figure out why this list is so bland–were there too few interesting masculine launches, or are French men becoming less adventurous with their perfume purchases?

Top Selling Masculine New Launches

1. Paco Rabanne Black XS L’Excès

I liked the original Black XS, but the new flanker is hardly daring, the ad (pictured above) notwithstanding.

2. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Essenza Homme

3. Chanel Allure Homme Sport Eau Extrême

4. Giorgio Armani Armani Code Ultimate

5. Azzaro pour Homme L’Eau

6. Hugo Boss Bottled Sport

7. Hugo Boss Boss Orange Man

Hugo Boss fragrances are the opposite of avant-garde, but they stay on concept—polished and straightforward.

8. Lacoste Eau Lacoste Rouge

9. Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum

Nice enough, but doesn’t improve on the original Eau Sauvage.

10. Gucci Guilty Homme

11. Guess Seductive Homme

12. Kenzo Homme Sport

13. Diesel Only the Brave Tattoo

14. Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb 

One of my favorite launches last year, masculine or feminine. A vibrant mélange of woods dusted with spices, it smells both elegant and cozy.

15. Dolce & Gabbana The One Sport

1st image: Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire, the making of the ad. 2nd image: Paco Rabanne Black XS ad.




  • theperfumeddandy: V interesting piece.

    Good to note that, despite the received wisdom that newness equals sales, not a single one of these made it onto the actual top 10 in terms of overall sales (though it might be even more dispiriting if they did).

    Unless that is my concentration is truly failing (and excepting the fiasco that is the innumerable incarnations of Miss Dior).

    Fir me the Chloe and the Chanel stand out (though surprised to hear you call the former a chypre).

    The Chloe is worn by many a gentleman on this side of the Channel and lovely it is too.

    It seems to do for the rose a little of what Balenciaga’s excellent L’Essence did for violets the year before…

    Little surprise that men are looking to new female releases with a list of re-treads as dull as that.

    Though thanks goodness we had nothing as awful as La Petite Robe Noire foisted on us… small mercy.

    Yours ever

    The Perfumed Dandy February 20, 2013 at 8:15am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, not many of these flankers end up as the overall top sellers, but still, what an unexciting list. As for Chloe, it has a chypre structure, but of course, it’s a modern take. Since oakmoss is severely limited, it’s now hard to get that dark, earthy feeling that the old chypres had. February 20, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

  • Rachel: As if the consumers want 1000 new perfumes! February 20, 2013 at 8:42am Reply

    • Victoria: We surely don’t! February 20, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

  • Rachel: Also I wanted to say there are too many flankers listed. Were there more flankers than real launches last year? February 20, 2013 at 8:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t count, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Launching a flanker is much less expensive than creating a brand new fragrance, so unfortunately, they just keep on coming. February 20, 2013 at 10:15am Reply

  • Barbara: Victoria, I hope that you received my email. Your blog wouldn’t load yesterday for me, I was worried.

    Back on topic, I wonder who buys all of these new perfumes. When I look at your list, it makes me think that new launches are boring. February 20, 2013 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Sorry about that, Barbara! The site had some server issues yesterday and this morning, but I keep my fingers crossed that everything is ok now. It’s not a good week for me in terms of technology (my computer crashed too!)

      I’m trying to be open-minded when I approach new launches, but I think that there is some sort of inverse relationship between quality and quantity. And we have lots and lots of new fragrances. 🙂 February 20, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

  • Justine: Aww, the French men are still fun, the choices are not. 🙂 February 20, 2013 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: They are! 🙂 I fully blame the poor available choices for that unexciting list. February 20, 2013 at 10:18am Reply

  • Daisy: Sigh. I find this list quite depressing! February 20, 2013 at 9:51am Reply

    • Victoria: I know what you mean! Me too. February 20, 2013 at 10:32am Reply

  • Ari: Just gonna go ahead and say it: this list is dismal. That Coco Noir is #4 makes me want to drink a bottle of it. February 20, 2013 at 10:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Coco Noir, I can understand, but Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme?

      But to tell you the truth, I now associate the Paris metro with the haze of fruitchouli. Occasionally, you smell a classic like Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, or Eau Sauvage, but Coco Mademoiselle and its clones are much more common. February 20, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

  • G.: Victoria, I look forward to reading your views on the lack of classics on the market today. In the meantime, thanks for sharing this with us. February 20, 2013 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! I know that the list is not all revealing–we all know that some of these unexciting launches do sell, but it’s still curious to see what exactly did make it to the best-seller category. February 20, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

      • G.: Out of sheer curiousity it is interesting to get an idea of what is selling (as opposed to what’s not) out there… February 20, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

        • Victoria: I agree! I can never resist to take a peek. And also, while they are never publicized, the fragrances that are utter duds are also fascinating. For instance, I always assumed (not sure why) that Lancome Magnifique did reasonably well, but apparently it was a resounding failure for Lancome. February 20, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

          • G.: That is interesting — I didn’t know that. February 20, 2013 at 11:52am Reply

  • george: I am too looking forward to the post on the lack of classics (or new classics, if that is not too oxymoronic) As to the listed bestselling fragrances, oh dear is all I can say, really….. February 20, 2013 at 10:42am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Your comment captures it all. Oh dear… February 20, 2013 at 10:57am Reply

  • Mel: Your analysis of the perfume launch landscape could apply to the film business! Fortunately, every year a handful of great movies manages to levitate above the market-tested “re-boots” that are force fed down the gullet of the American public via the multi-plex feeding tube. February 20, 2013 at 11:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Funny you should mentioned the film industry analogy. I was recently reading one of the old interviews with perfumer Calice Becker, in which she compared the big launches with the big Hollywood productions–the set characters, the mass appeal, the well-known plots. February 20, 2013 at 11:54am Reply

  • Elisa: Ditto on Spicebomb, I’ve been recommending it left and right, and got several compliments the last time I wore it out. February 20, 2013 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s terrific. I can also imagine it coming out under one of the well-known niche brands. February 20, 2013 at 12:09pm Reply

  • solanace: These flankers’ names are so silly! February 20, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was going to mention something in the post, and yes, I completely agree with you. 🙂 February 20, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

  • sara: the other day i went shopping with my friend for a new perufme. we could only do sephora, because my friend doesn’t have a big budget. in the end my friend got tired because as she put it, “everything smells the same to me.”

    i didn’t smell vapeurs opium, only regular opium and it smells nothing like opium i knew. that depressed me more than anything. February 20, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: At my former office, we had a monthly meeting with all of the perfumers to smell the new launches. Their comments were always the same–all of these fragrances smell alike! When even the professionals can’t tell them apart, what hope is there for the rest of us? 🙂

      The new regulations really make it hard to keep some of the classics in their original shape, and Opium is a good example of that. It was completely changed, and I agree with you that it doesn’t smell at all like it used to. February 20, 2013 at 4:21pm Reply

  • yin: is the creation of new flankers more economical because of the amount saved on concept/ad design? because i often feel like formula-wise, many flankers don’t even smell all that much like the original.

    re: that men’s list – i’m currently studying in milan, and i feel like all i smell on my male coursemates is acqua di gio or d&g the one. i don’t particularly mind either but it’d be nice to smell more variety. February 20, 2013 at 5:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s right! You don’t need to spend money on new concept, new brand, new name, advertising, etc. In the fragrance industry, the perfume brand client pays only for the final cost of the oil (not perfumers’ time or marketing research done by the companies that employ perfumers). So, a quick launch can be a boost, even if only short-term.

      Acqua di Gio is a classic at this point. Just to think that it was created in 1996! February 21, 2013 at 1:06am Reply

  • Victoria: I rarely delete comments except the spam, so I apologize for having to do so. I enjoy interacting with this community and I’ve only ever encountered a genuine love for perfume and desire to share that passion with others. We all have our own opinions and tastes, that’s a given, so let’s be respectful of each other. Just a reminder that you’re welcome to bash any fragrance, but please refrain from personal remarks against the participants and authors of this blog. There are always civil and thoughtful ways in which we can express our disagreements. February 21, 2013 at 12:56am Reply

  • Austenfan: So sorry this happened. Was wearing Thé Vert yesterday and reread your review of it. February 21, 2013 at 1:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Sigh…

      I love The Vert and especially the trail of scent it leaves. There is something soft and luminous about it and also very uplifting. February 22, 2013 at 2:49am Reply

      • Austenfan: I woke up with a terrible headache that day so treated myself to a nice bath and Thé Vert. I’ve also got the lotion, so I put that on as well.
        It’s quite tenacious, it just doesn’t project a lot but it gives this wonderful feeling of well-being and balance. February 22, 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

  • civava: I wonder if they themselves can name these perfume flankers of their own. It’s so boring so I’m really happy if at least once a year some perfume manages to stand out just a bit. February 22, 2013 at 2:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Perfumers usually keep track of the number of fragrances they win, since everyone one counts towards their bonus/or whatever remuneration system their company has, but if you bring a fragrance sample to them to ask which project it belongs to, they might have troubles identifying it by smell alone. 🙂 February 22, 2013 at 2:51am Reply

  • lupo: From a male perspective, ADG was a safe bet, and Essenza is actually an improvement on the origial, in my opinion. I was however expecting to see Eau Sauvage perfume ranking a bit higher, I remember someone at John Lewis’ UK told me it was selling like hot cakes. Still, the list is not particularly exciting 🙂 and I really can’t understand how Gucci Guilty pour Homme could sell so well. The power of marketing, really… February 22, 2013 at 2:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Maybe the UK market would have a different ranking then? I didn’t mind some of the fragrances, all which I’ve tried apart from Lacoste, but they just don’t generate a strong emotion. February 22, 2013 at 3:01am Reply

  • Montréalaise: I’m 58, so I’m old enough to remember the great classic perfumes in their original formulations. What is available now depresses me to no end. The reformulated versions of the classics either smell like something else entirely (and not a good something else) or they are a faint echo of the originals. The new releases all smell the same to me – there is absolutely none of the originality and uniqueness that made the great classics, great. February 22, 2013 at 3:12pm Reply

  • Alexander: Very interesting indeed. I feels like that the so-called “product life cycle” does not only become shorter and shorter in for example the very competitive car market, but the same also applies to the perfume market. More competition leads to shorter product life cycles in many occasions, and some could argue that in the perfume market, more and more brands are trying to establish themselves, trying to take market shares from established brands. June 1, 2013 at 6:22am Reply

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