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Here we are then, at the very end of 2016. It feels, especially after the losses of George Michael, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, to name but a few, within the last week, a very bittersweet year. I say bittersweet because it’s not just the loss of the huge number of great talents this year, the likes of Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood… (the list is endless), but also because the world seems to be a much harsher place than it did one year ago. Whatever your politics, I think we can all agree that 2017 is the year that we all need to work together to make our world a better place.
From a fragrant perspective, 2016 has actually been a pheomenal year. I’d be lying to you if I said that it was easy for me to pick out my very favourite scents of the year because I really did like a lot this year, and it feels like there certainly was a huge amount of good stuff, whether that be unique and interesting new things, or familiar styles that were executed very well. But you will be pleased to know that I was able to narrow down my choices and pick out the winners of The Candies 2016. I do need a stiff drink after all that work though…
If this is your first time attending The Candies, I shall explain how things work. Firstly, you may attend in your pyjamas and you do not need to worry about drinking too much and making a fool of yourself, in fact, such actions are encouraged. We have a number of awards to give out, each of which is split out by Mainstream and Niche, and then by gender. There are also awards for Best Top Down Design and even a Sour Candy Award, which names and shames the worst perfume of the year. This year we also have the addition of the Best Scented Product Award which celebrates the best smelly product for your body or home. It’s a full programme, so let’s get started!
The mainstream wheel of the fragrance industry is forever a turning, it seems. For my last two Escentual columns I’ve focused on some scents that I would categorise as nicely done, without being groundbreaking (which, not every single fragrances has to be). Firstly we have the new Eternity Now duo from Calvin Klein, which consists of a sticky tropical fougére with industrial undertones for him, and a peach bubble bath for her. Check out my review of the duo here. Secondly, there is the new Eau de Cédre from Armani, a soft and supple citrus-woodsy thing that is inspired by a velvet jacket. Click here for my review.
Wow, what a whirlwind of a year 2014 was. The perfume industry has, as always, been nothing short of prolific in its output, with new brands popping up all over the place and the same big names releasing perfume upon perfume, and flanker upon flanker. It has, once again been a very busy year, and the hive of activity within the industry has meant that a great number of wonderful new olfactory treats have been unleashed on the noses of perfume lovers and consumers.
For me, this year has been one of great personal significance. In March I won my first Jasmine Award for my Guide to Violet, and shortly after in May, my best buddy and I tied the knot, only a few days before I presented an award at the Fragrance Foundation Awards. Then in August I was promoted at work, and in September my new husband and I headed off to Tokyo for the honeymoon of a lifetime. In short, it has been a fantastic year and one that will always remain truly in my heart as one of the very best.
To celebrate 2014 from a fragrant perspective, I present to you ‘The Candies 2014’. Those of you who have followed The Candies before will know that they are my annual perfume awards, celebrating the very best, and the very worst perfumes of the year (out of the 147 scents I have reviewed in 2014). Under the jump you will find the winners, losers and honourable mentions filed under neat little categories. So please, don your tux or ball down, break open the Bolly and take your seats for The Candies 2014.
[Also, please don’t forget to head on over to my dear perfume pals, Persolaise and Perfume Shrine, who are both joining me in sharing their ‘best of’ lists today.]
In life, I take a ‘leave it all to the last minute and hope for the best’ approach. Organisation is not my strong suit, and it is most definitely true that I work best under pressure. It will serve as no surprise then, that I haven’t quite completed my Christmas shopping yet, and yes, I’m well aware that it is exactly one week until Santa pays his annual visit. What can I say? I’ve just been busy with other things.
To help myself, and those around me who are also last-minute sort-of-folk, I’ve prepped a ‘Last Minute Gift Guide’ for my Escentual column this week. In this guide you will find; handy stocking stuffers for him and her, mid-range marvels and even big ticket splurges that will wow your recipient, even if they do depress your bank balance slightly. So, if you’re still looking for that one last gift, or just fancy a treat for yourself after being so wonderfully generous to everyone else, click here to check out my last-minute Christmas gift guide.
My last two Escentual posts have been a contrasting look at the old and the new, in the world of perfume. Firstly, I took a look at Calvin Klein’s Reveal a few weeks back. This is the most surprising and unexpected feminine from CK, that channels Thierry Mugler’s wonderful Womanity, of all things. Just when you think there are no surprises left to be had in the perfume industry, one jumps up and taps you on the nose! Click here to read my review.
Now we move on to the ‘old’. Following the disaster that is Black Opium, I wanted to revisit the flanker’s mother fragrance, Opium. Granted, the new formulation of Opium is reportedly a pale shadow of its former self, but the fragrance should still be celebrated for being a trailblazer that created the trend for big and bold oriental-themed fragrances that permeated the ’80s. Check out my thoughts on Opium here.
No perfume brand is quite as prolific as Calvin Klein. Since their first perfume in 1978 they have launched an impressive 89 fragrances (according to the Basenotes directory) and I’m pretty sure that there are a number of stealthy flankers that make that number possibly even higher. The truth is that, due to being the purveyor of a number of iconic scents, CK do love a good flanker to capitalise on their already existing brands, and who can blame them? Surely it’s easier to make a billion and one versions of CK One than it is to think of a decent name for a new scent (*cough*Downtown*cough*)…
So this year sees the launch of more flankers from Calvin Klein. The first is a duo of scents bestowing the CK One name – CK One Red for Her and Red for Him. These rouge editions of the iconic unisex fragrance are “inspired by the atmosphere of a party, which pulsates with super-charged, untameable energy”  which all sounds like good fun but at this present moment in time I’m still unsure where the ‘red’ element comes into it, especially as the fragrances are as devoid of the colour as the marketing spiel.
The third new scent is Endless Euphoria, the latest flanker to Calvin Klein’s Cloverfield monster of fragrance – Euphoria (2005). Following Euphoria Blossom (2006) and Forbidden Euphoria (2011), Endless is billed as a fragrance that translates the provocative fantasy of the iconic Euphoria into sheer uplifting sensuality”  and it certainly follows suit as a much lighter (so much lighter), more transparent and pastel coloured version of the original.
The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing/boyfriends/girlfriends/movies/insert-celebrity-mistake-here let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.
I am a child of the ’90s and I am not ashamed. Yes fashion-wise it was probably one of the worst decades but musically it was pretty ace, for it was the ’90s that bought us Brit Pop, Rave music and most importantly – The Spice Girls. Ginger, Baby, Sporty, Scary and Posh may have long gone their separate ways but I (and many other ’90s kids I’m sure) still hold a soft spot for these persistant purveyors of ‘Girl Power’.
To celebrate the world’s very best girl band I offer up a scented tribute of perfume selections that showcase the ‘zig-a-zag-ah’ that gave the Spice Girls their power. Mad, bad, ridiculous and brilliantly feminine these perfumes invite you to ‘Scent up your life’ and live just like the coolest thing to come out of the ’90s since MC Hammer and his Harem Pants.
The Perfume Lovers London events organised by Lila Das Gupta as part of Olfactory Events are a fabulous opportunity to learn about perfume, to talk to and meet with like minded perfumeophiles and discover a plethora of new, exciting perfumes. It’s safe to say that every event is a joy to attend so the news that one of my favourite bloggers, Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels, was going to be holding her very own event was very exciting indeed!
I’m sure that I’m preaching to the choir here, but Olfactoria’s Travels has become a go-to blog for many perfume lovers and it’s teeming with beautifully written reviews, informed discussion and passion from Birgit and Tara, who have both changed the face of the perfume blogosphere.
For her event, Birgit promised to take us on a journey through the world of amber, a sensible subject choice seeing as she has rightfully earned the title of “Queen of Amber” through her love for the genre. Now, I’ve made it no secret that amber isn’t my favourite genre of perfumes, but that’s not to say that I don’t like it either, I simply haven’t had the right amount of exposure to it, but now thanks to Birgit and Perfume Lovers London I feels as if I am well-versed on the subject!
Ahh flankers, there is nothing within the glorious world of perfume more guaranteed to make my eyes roll. Don’t get me wrong, there are some pretty good flankers on the market, take Guerlain’s Shalimar Parfum Initial or Chanel’s No 5 Eau Premiere for example. But on the whole the majority of flankers stink (see Marc Jacobs Bang Bang), they are a cheap way of marketing a new fragrance without having to come up with a new name or bottle and tend to carry no ingenuity whatsoever.
CK One Shock for Him and for Her are the latest in a long line of flankers to Calvin Klein’s iconic Unisex fragrance CK One, originally launched in 1994. With CK One Shock they have released “Two sassy new fragrances that flaunts youth innate sense of provocation”  Calvin Klein has proved to be the king of flankers over the years, the majority of which have been pretty terrible so I did not approach these two with high hopes.