You have no idea how strongly tempted I was to leave this post completely blank.
As in, there was no best of 2016.
In a year that saw the deaths of so many favorite entertainers as well as a particularly vicious and disheartening political scene in the US, not to mention tragedies the world over, it’s hard to find any “best of.” This was not a great year for me personally, though it did hold some highlights — namely, the birth of my youngest nephew and some great trips to Hawai’i and Belize.
Even where perfume is concerned, I don’t have much to say since I tested few new fragrances this year. According to Basenotes, there were 1580 fragrances (heavens, don’t go check, it’s overwhelming!) released in 2016, of which I smelled maybe a dozen? For what they’re worth, however, here are my thoughts on the new releases I did manage to smell:
Chanel No. 5 L’eau: Well-done, an update that keeps the spirit of the original. But I don’t like it. All that laundry musk! No, thanks.
Eris Parfums Belle de Jour, Ma Bete, and Night Flower: I am a big fan of Barbara Herman’s writing; her book Scent and Subversion is a fun read, and I still read her reviews of vintage classics at Yesterday’s Perfume blog. I was pretty thrilled to hear that she was launching a new fragrance created by perfumer Antoine Lie, and then it turned into three new fragrances described as “vintage floral animalics” and I was even more excited. I really need to give these full reviews. In a nutshell, they’re nicely composed, coherent, throwback in the best kind of way, and yet somehow I didn’t love any of them. (Maybe I need more “floral” in my vintage floral animalics? In any case, it’s not Eris, it’s me.)
Alexander McQueen McQueen Parfum: Luxurious, decadent, wide-load Big White Floral. I like it. I like it a lot, actually, but it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel. If you enjoy this genre, you’ve smelled something close to it before. I already own a buncha BWFs, and the price on this one is high enough to discourage purchase.
LM Parfums Aldheyx: This is your friendly AldeHo here, saying Don’t Bother With This One. I suppose I was thinking this could be something like Iris Poudre, that face-powder-and-maribou-mules fluffy delight. Nope, it’s soap and Conversation Hearts candy, in an old record store swept clean.
Amouage Myths Woman: Sort of a cross between Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fete and Balmain Jolie Madame, both of which I love, with galbanum and narcissus and jasmine over a deep, dry base. The narcissus in this thing is utterly swoony, I tell you. Unfortunately for me, Myths W ends up with more of that early-’70s type vetiver-musk drydown than I’m really comfortable in, and so I don’t adore it the way I do the other two. Very well done, very worth trying if you like narcissus.
Dame Perfumery Soliflores – Gardenia, Narcissus, Rose de Mai: All gorgeous. All relatively short-lived, but quite inexpensive so I don’t mind. The gardenia is almost bleu-cheesy, so beware if you hate that, but it avoids the earthy thing I don’t like. The rose is just plain lovely. The narcissus is truly funky up top, but very quickly moves to narcotic. Wow.
Tom Ford Orchid Soleil – Plasticky cake-batter white floral. Um, no. I mean, it’s kinda genius in a Barbie doll sort of way, but it makes me feel sick.
Maria Candida Gentile Rrose Sèlavy – To be frank, a disappointment. I was expecting the “green notes, May rose, Turkish rose” in the description, but this one is pretty patchouli-heavy and rather bitter with some harsh woods. Boo. On the other hand, a guy could probably carry this one off with aplomb.
Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream – apparently, Charlotte Tilbury is one of those makeup artists who become minor celebrities and then launch their own makeup lines (something like Mary Greenwell, whose first fragrance, Plum, I still love). This was described as a woody floral with pheromones (yeah, right!), and it sounded nice, so I scrounged a manufacturer sample. It’s a lot like Coco Mademoiselle, a patchouli floral, only minus that screechy high-pitched icepick-to-the-eyesocket thing that ruins Coco Mlle for me. It is also unfortunately minus the nice Chanelly drydown, with a metric tonne of Iso-E Super instead. After a period of time, it makes my head hurt. The packaging is terrible, like a plastic reproduction of Depression glass.
Giorgio Armani Sì Le Parfum – the extrait version of the original. It’s another Coco Mlle/La Vie Est Belle/Flowerbomb “pink chypre” clone. I liked Scent of a Dream better, TBH, because it was way less sugary.
I tested a fair number of Alkemia and SIXTEEN92 (indies you can find on Etsy) fragrances as well, too many to name or review individually. All of these were oil-format, and I need to tell you that 2016 was also the year in which I swore off oil-format fragrances forever. My skin is a good deal drier than it was in 2009 when I first started seriously testing stuff, and I find now that oils sink in and don’t radiate scent at all past the first ten minutes. For me, that’s a waste. I’m not even trying with these anymore. (Of course there’s an exception, which is Tauer Rose Delight body oil, which does last for several hours on me and pleases me very much with its gourmand rose during, but maybe the difference is that it is an actual body product rather than an oil-format fragrance?)
I would still like to test these 2016 releases: Masque Romanza (narcissus!), and the rest of the Dame Perfumery Soliflore line, especially Honeysuckle, Osmanthus and Mimosa. Neela Vermeire Rahele sounds like a gorgeous floral. Smell Bent’s Celebrity Garden Party and January are on my radar too. I have samples of the SAVF line (incense) that showed up in my Christmas stocking, as well as one of L’Artisan Natura Fabularis 26 Tenebrae. Penhaligon’s Equinox Bloom (tea, spring flowers) sounds lovely. So does Galop d’Hermes, but I already have Kelly Caleche edp and I’m not convinced I’d need both. I’d like to smell Providence Perfumes’ Love-in-a-Mist, but it’s super-pricey and all-natural, so I won’t test it.
How about you?