I think we can all agree that 2020 was a flaming dumpster fire of a year. Truly, it was trash. I’d say we could take a look back at the year, but I don’t want to turn around and face it, what with a global pandemic that has killed, at the time of writing, 1.79 million people, and all of the horrendous things that have gone along with it. So I’m not going to do that and instead we’re going to spend a few minutes taking our minds away from the world with the greatest distraction there is: perfume.
Every year I hold “The Candies”, my annual perfume awards. Well, they’re not really awards. Nobody actually wins anything, and the only person that gets tipsy on champagne during the process is me *hiccup*. No, The Candies are essentially a round-up of my favourite scents of the year. They’ve evolved somewhat over the years, with varying categories, but now in the vein of keeping things simple, The Candies showcase my ten favourite perfume launches of the year and also my least favourite, which is dubbed the “Sour Candy” (however, not this year because the last thing we need in our lives is negativity, am I right?). So here they are, The Candies 2020.
OK, OK, before we actually get into the smelly things I have enjoyed this year, let’s do the thing I said I wasn’t going to do and take a quick look back at 2020, but from a perfume perspective. Surprisingly, it has been a good year for perfume, and I say surprisingly, because the pandemic has changed so much of how the industry works. Many fragrances that were due to launch, didn’t, and have been pushed back. Stores have been shut and when they’ve been opened, testers haven’t been freely available. What’s more, many of us have been in and out of lockdown (currently on our third here in the UK, wooo!) and working from home, so wearing scent hasn’t felt like a priority, especially when we’re not going anywhere… So there have many barriers to perfume in 2020 but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been intriguing and beautiful fragrances launched, because there have.
Here are ten of my favourites…
As you may know, I am lucky to work with my close friends Nick Gilbert and Pia Long at Olfiction, a fragrance consultancy and perfume house. Yes, it is a dream come true. What you may not know is that we at Olfiction have been working on a candle brand for the last two years or so and today is the day that we share that brand with you. So, let’s not keep her waiting. Please welcome to the stage Boujee Bougies!
This picture shows what I’ll be doing a lot of this week: walking my little pupper, Pugsley. I’ll be taking a week to recharge my batteries so no posts this week, although I’m sure there will be some activity over on my instagram! I’ll be back next week!
A quick overview of some new scents for September 2020. Full IGTV video below the jump!
Click here to read my list of alternatives to traditionmal colognes.
I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.
I wear Nº5 L’Eau a lot. It’s easily one of my favourite CHANEL fragrances and it gets a huge amount of skin time in comparison to many other things in my vast collection. What I like about L’Eau is how it captures the spirit of Nº5 but has enough of its own character to be its own entity entirely. Nº5 L’Eau is fresh, sparkling, crystalline, luminous, lovely *insert lightweight, gleaming adjectives here* and next to BOY, it is my most worn CHANEL. So, it’s no surprise that I’m crushing on these new Nº5 L’Eau body products now, is it? Nope.
Sometimes I smell a perfume and I just don’t know what to make of it. Whilst many fragrances I smell can provoke an immediate reaction – filing themselves neatly in to piles of ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘ew’, and ‘oooooh’, some take time, and some forever remain in a purgatory land where an opinion is the absolution never to arrive. OK, so I’m being a bit dramatic (just a tad, mind) and this is all a very longwinded way of saying that sometimes, it takes me a while to make up my mind about a fragrance.
Aaaaaand you can probably guess where this is going, right? Yes, when it came to Opus XI from Amouage, the 11th instalment in the brand’s Library Collection (where Amouage does its most unusual and often challenging work), I found myself unsure what I thought, even after spending a considerable amount of time with it. Opus XI was created by perfumer Pierre Negrin – it takes inspiration from the Orient and presents oud, one of perfumery’s most popular materials, in an entirely new guise. It’s a singular perfume that brings nuances to a material that could easily be described as tired, forging something that really is fascinating.
One can accuse the perfume industry of many things, but one cannot call it unproductive. There are now over 2,000 launches per year and it feels almost as if a new brand comes into being every single day. Now, I’m not sure how I feel about all this olfactory noise – part of me thinks the more the merrier, after all, it’s exciting to smell new things all of the time. But the other half – the grumpy cynical half (sometimes he’s not a half and verges on a whole, I’ll be honest) – thinks that all this noise makes it difficult to discern what is good or not. How can one find the magic needle in all that hay? Sometimes it’s hard.
Perfume brands come from all sorts of places; from perfumers who want to go it alone and perfume fanatics who stumble into the industry wide-eyed and ambitious. My cynical side tells me to include the fact that brands can also come from entrepreneurs who have no passion for the subject but an eye for making money too, so let’s indulge him for a moment. In my experience though, the brands that work most successfully are those that come from people who are passionate about perfume (whoever they may be, perfumers, industry insiders or outsiders) but also understand the realities of the industry and retail. Ostens is one such brand – it comes from two industry veterans, two people that not only love perfume, but understand it too – two people who understand the challenges consumers have relating to perfume and have crafted a brand that makes it both accessible and experimental.
Ever since couturier Paul Poiret launched the perfume house Parfums de Rosine in 1911, fashion and fragrance have always had an unbreakable link – a seam and a stitch that has brought them together. Today fashion houses, high street brands, and all that sits in between, have fragrances in their portfolio, attempting to, with varying degrees of success, distill their brand identities into scents that provide an accessible entry point for the consumer.
Founded in 1994, AllSaints, the London-based fashion brand, has always moved to the beat of their own drum, so it’s no surprise that it has taken them a long time to get into the fragrance market. AllSaints is all about a free-spirited coolness – an easy, ‘I wear what I want’ spirit. With a price point elevated above many high street brands, AllSaints has always struck me as a place one goes for pillars in their wardrobe – investments like a leather jacket that goes with anything, perhaps. It’s a brand that favours neutral colours, with an aesthetic that enjoys contrasts – juxtapositions of hard and smooth, of wood and metal.
With their debut collection of fragrances, AllSaints has captured the laid back, London-spirit of their brand in three scents that “contrast, complement and contradict”. The fragrances – Sunset Riot, Metal Wave and Incense City – are housed in structured square bottles topped with concrete caps. The boxes and labels each feature a polaroid negative of a flower – a design touch intended to showcase the link between fragrance and memory. It’s a collection that has been put together with clear thought and vision, and truthfully, this shows in the fragrances themselves.