2015 is finally here and seeing as we’ve all spent some time looking back at the year that has just passed, it seems fitting now to look forward to the year that will be. In truth, 2014 saw 12 months of pretty solid perfume output from the industry and it would be fair to say that there really was some beautiful fragrances released in the year, but as with every year, there was also a lot of less-great stuff, too.
To kick off the new year, I’ve put together a list of hopes and wishes for 2015. They cover what I’d like to see from the perfume industry, as well as some things that I would rather not have to see. I’ve also taken a brief look at some of the upcoming launches that I’m most excited about. 2015 is going to be a great year, I can feel it, so let’s hope and dream that this year will be even better than expected.
I sincerely hope that 2015 is the year that the perfume industry, and the world concludes its fascination with oud. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that I don’t like oud fragrances because that would be an untruth and I do in fact, love a few (Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s OUD is in my top five of all time, for example, and I’ve also written a Guide to Oud), but it would be fair to say that the fact that every brand has at least one in their line up leads to an oud overdose.
Over exposure breeds a lack of creativity and with so many ouds on the market (the Basenotes Fragrance Directory lists 496 fragrances with ‘oud’ in the name and 676 that list oud as a note), it makes it extremely difficult to come across anything new or exciting, especially as so many replay the same clichés and display pseudo-oud notes that are really either leather or wood smoke. So yes, no more oud please. Focus on something else, anything else. Rose? Tuberose? Vetiver, perhaps?. Anything but blooming oud.
Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of niche brands resting on gimmicks to sell their products. We’ve had perfumes based on blood types (Blood Concept) and perfumes that aren’t meant to smell like perfumes at all (Juliette Has a Gun’s pointless Not a Perfume). It’s a bit tiring to be honest, but things are changing and indie brands like 4160 Tuesdays and Papillon Perfumery, and niche brands like Maison Francis Kurkdjian and Arquiste, are changing the focus to allow the perfumes to speak for themselves. With these new brands, it’s all about the juice inside the bottle, and that’s exactly how things should be. I’d like more of this in 2015, please.
Another annoying trend we’ve seen in the last decade is the penchant brands have for ridiculous packaging. This often means that the majority of the budget is spent on crafting beautiful, or odd, vessels to carry the fragrances, with the tiny bit that’s left over being reserved for the juice inside. Further to this, many houses are launching luxury editions, which is essentially an excuse to Swarovski the shit out of the bottles in the collection (or, fill them with gold leaf, or even encrust them with actual jewels). Sure, the luxury editions have a market and people buy them, and a nice bottle is never a bad thing, but please, for Pete’s sake, let’s make it about the fragrance not the flacon.
The perfume industry is world of mystery, and of smoke and mirrors. That said, over the last few years we have seen a growing trend for perfumers and creative directors to dispel some of the myths around perfume by doing something rather spectacular – being honest. Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, is a good example of this and he is more than happy to be forthcoming with information about what goes into the brand’s perfumes as well as whether the classics have been reformulated or not. It may surprise some of you to know that our perfumes are not in fact blended by virgins on Midsummer’s eve using the blood of unicorns. They contain other stuff, like cedar wood.
In 2015 I’d like to see more honesty from the industry and less disinformation. Yes, perfumes are sold on a backstory, and that’s fine, but if you’re a brand’s creative director be honest about it, don’t call yourself a perfumer when you’re not. People respect honesty and it seems that none of the excitement or mystery is lost in a perfume if one knows a bit more about how it was made or who it was made by. Keep the stories of course, but please dial down on the embellishment.
2014 was a very good year for fragrance. Mainstream and niche brands unleashed a wave of beautiful and fascinating creations that seemed to be of unusually high quality (have budgets gone up?), creations such as Acqua di Parma’s Rosa Nobile, Catier’s La Panthère and Narciso Rodriguez’s NARCISO, for example. I’m hoping that 2015 will be just as exciting, if not even more intriguing and in hot anticipation, I’ve listed a few of the launches I’m most excited for in 2015:
Elie Saab Essence Nº5: Vetiver and Nº6: Neroli, and Le Parfum Resort Collection
I was really impressed with the Francis Kurkdjian-penned La Collection des Essences for Elie Saab. Each one presented a beautiful yet unusual take on their respective notes, with Nº1: Rose really standing out as something really quite tremendous. I’m therefore very much looking forward to testing out the two new ones in the collection, Nº5: Vetiver and Nº6 Neroli, when they launch later this year. There’s also Le Parfum Resort Collection, the Kurkdjian-penned and fashion-inspired flanker to Elie Saab’s wonderful Le Parfum to look forward too as well.
Penhaligon’s always do something interesting with their fragrances, whether that be pairing up with quirky fashion houses such as Meadham Kirchoff, or trying to bottle the scent of gin. Their upcoming launch, Ostara is intriguing because it takes a look at the daffodil, from bulb to bloom. I should also mention that is penned by none other than Bertrand Duchaufour who, let’s face it, is a bit of a dude.
Roberto Cavalli Paradiso
OK, so this one may seem like a bit of a stretch, mainly because Cavalli’s fragrances are never particularly intriguing, but Paradiso, with its cute little bottle, is inspired by, amongst other things, the “flight of multicoloured parrots in the azure sky” ¹. I don’t know about you, but that sounds really quite beautiful and I’m cautiously excited to test it out.
Versace Eros Femme
Another odd one I’m looking forward to is Versace’s Eros Pour Femme, especially seeing as I loathed the masculine. This is mainly because I’m wishing and hoping that the brand will actually create a decent fragrance for once – one that matches their OTT and wonderfully gaudy aesthetic. In truth, the notes list doesn’t fill my heart with promise (lemon, bergamot, pomegranate, lemon blossom, jasmine, peony, sandalwood, ambrox, musk and woods) ², but the fabulous bottle does.
Louis Vuitton’s Debut Fragrance
Way back in 2012, luxury fashion house, Louis Vuitton announced that it would be releasing its debut fragrance in conjunction with their recently appointed in-house perfumer, Jacques Cavallier. As you will know, it’s now 2015 and we are yet to see any fragrance launches bearing the LV name. Who knows when this will eventually launch and what it will be like, but with perfumer JC on the ticket (Kingdom, M7 & Nu), I’m hopeful that it will be something rather special indeed. Let’s see if 2015 is the year for Louis Vuitton.
I’ve also had sight of a number of other exciting launches, but due to embargoes cannot tell you about them just yet. Let’s just say that there will be a bevy of intriguing releases this year and I simply cannot wait to get my nose all over them. Here’s to 2015!
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Image 1 via blastr.com. Image 2 via Comme des Garçons [cropped]. Image 3 via polyvore.com. Image 4 via keepcalm-omatic.co.uk. Image 5 via lifestylerr.com. ¹ & ² via Now Smell This.