Sorta Kinda “Best of 2017 in Fragrance” Maybe Not Really

So all the other serious fragrance bloggers are doing a “best of 2017” post, and I can’t (whine) (pout) do a serious one because A) SO MANY scents were released this year SO MANY SO MANY, it’s like a firehose blast of mostly-horrible or at best boring nonentities, and b) I still have to buy samples if I want to try anything that’s less mainstream than Macy’s, so there’s THAT.

I will,  however, tell you what I thought of the new releases this year that I did manage to test. It’s a short list, so bear with me.

Chanel Gabrielle: The first new (non-boutique) pillar fragrance since Chance edp in 2002, Gabrielle was supposed to be “a radiant and sparkling, purely feminine Chanel blossom” based on jasmine, ylang-ylang, orange blossom and tuberose. I like the bottle, and I like a just-pretty floral.

And, you know, that would have been fine . . . if Gabrielle only smelled like actual flowers instead of lab-created ones. Harsh citrus notes and that screechy nerve-wracking jasminoid thing I hate so much are cheapening the Chanel legacy for fine fragrance (especially after the laundromat-y No. 5 l’Eau).

Dior Poison Girl edt: I know I’m not the only person who remembers when Poison was, well, poisonous, with its toxic/intoxicating tuberose and its overwhelming cough-syrup-on-steroids menace. It was strong, it was polarizing, it was daring. (It was also durn near ubiquitous. You couldn’t walk through a girls’ dorm back in the day without coming out smelling of Poison yourself.)

Poison Girl (in either the 2016 edp or the 2017 edt) is barely there, and what I can smell is strongly reminiscent of some kind of frooty-caramel Sno-Kone syrupy thing you’d get at the fair. Another cheapened legacy (and I’m not even talking about what they did to Miss Dior and Diorissimo). Shame.

Papillon Dryad: Papillon, in contrast to those two mainstream releases, does itself proud with a green/earthy woody floral in a classical, yet very nature-conscious vein. It’s little more vetivery than I could have wished for, but is still amazingly good. Narcissus, jasmine, greengreengreen and foresty, then dry and haylike. It doesn’t quite measure up in my opinion to my beloved Le Temps d’une Fete — but then, I’m not sure anything could. Dryad is thisclose. Lovely in itself, really gorgeous stuff.

Amouage Figment Woman: Once I got past the erroneous mindset that it was going to be a fig perfume (shudder), I was quite looking forward to this “deconstructed tuberose.” On the contrary, it turned out to be a wisp of a really dull and not particularly pleasant floral thingy, in a deceptively pretty bottle (that blue is gorgeous!). MAMA IS NOT HAPPY.

Amouage, I swear, given me one more unwearable release and you and I are finito. I loved the original Lyric Woman. I struggled with Memoir Woman until I fell in love with it. I suffered through Honour Woman and Sunshine and Interlude W and Beloved W. I kinda sorta got on with Myths W and Bracken W. I said Gold and Epic and Journey were just “not my style.” I even defended you when people said you were too costly; I said you were worth it. But now? this? is the next-to-last straw. Get the next release right, or we’re through and I’m getting a restraining order.

Demeter Petrichor: “Cheap and fleeting but accurate” is Demeter’s unwritten motto for its real-life-smell fragrances, and Petrichor does not disappoint. Sure, it only lasts 50 minutes, and only smells like that intoxicating rain-on-dry-ground phenomenon for the first half before going weirdly chemical, but wow. Those first twenty minutes are a fabulous trip back into all the “dancing in the rain” experiences of your life. Add in a “Dr. Who” reference, and it’s pretty exciting.

January Scent Project Eiderantler, Selperniku, and Smolderose (the 2017 edp version of an earlier oil-based scent): Complete reviews of these are in the works, so I won’t be detailed now. I’m still not sure any of these are “me,” but they are bold and unexpected and, best of all, wearable. Hurrah for the indies.

Arielle Shoshana edp: You don’t even have to share the recent taste (ha, pun) for fruit in your fragrance to like this, because it is the sunniest, tropical-iest, happiest fragrance I tried this year. The passionfruit is big and real and smile-worthy, and it’s followed by a comfortable, creamy sandalwoodish drydown of great pleasantness. There’s ambroxan in the drydown and the sandalwood is probably Australian, but it’s nice all the same. I’m waiting for the 1-ouncer bottle, but it’s definitely on my wishlist. As it is, I need another 1.5 ml sample.

Neela Vermeire Rahele was released in late 2016, but did not reach the US until January of 2017, and I didn’t smell it until summer. It could have been so good. It could’ve been sooooooo good. Rahele should have been right up my alley: osmanthus, leather, rose, oakmoss, very classical and French.

Instead, somebody let B. Duchaufour use that fetid pondwater vetiver material he loves so much (paging Le Labo Ylang 49!), and it just ruined Rahele for me. I was disappointed. Your mileage may vary, of course, and the thing is well-composed and otherwise lovely.

That was it, those were the only 2017 releases I tried this year. Ten out of the more than 1400 (according to Basenotes), an abysmal percentage.

Oh well. Here are some 2017 releases I wanted to try, and may yet manage to smell in the coming year:

House of Matriarch The Longing (buttery floral gourmand, unfortunately a limited edition)
Jo Malone Green Almond and Redcurrant (woody-fruity raw almond, again a LE like so many of the JMs, and I wish they’d quit doin’ it, but it must make them some cash so I bet they’ll keep on)
Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences (tonka vanilla)
The two rosy “Grands Crus” releases from Lancome, Roses Berberanza and Parfait de Roses (oriental rose and jammy rose-vanilla, respectively)
Lubin Epidor (golden floriental)
Twilly d’Hermes (ginger tuberose)

What did you smell that was new (and good) in 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?

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