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I feel as if Les Infusions de Prada best showcases the DNA of the Prada brand. It was Infusion d’Iris, the genesis of the collection, that really birthed that inimitable Prada signature that is now so familiar. This Prada trademark is the result of the fusion of two materials; iris and benzoin, both of which come together to create a fizzy, powdery, grey and sweet, gauzy aroma that is so luxurious and so ‘Prada’. It’s glorious and to be found front and centre in the brand’s many infusions.

Speaking of infusions, the latest to join the collection is Infusion de Mandarine, a fragrance that seeks to distil the essence of mandarin and merge it with that Prada signature. Created by perfumer Daniela Andrier, who is responsible for most (if not all) of the Prada fragrances, Infusion de Mandarine presents a cacophony of orange notes wrapped together in a little juicy package. This may look like an unassuming citrus on the surface but boy, it is anything but!

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My Baby Blue Bakelite Girl
My Baby Blue Bakelite Girl

The perfume and fashion loving public have been longing for a fragrance from clothing and accessories brand, Miu Miu for quite some time. Known largely for their handbags and shoes, the Prada-helmed fashion house knows youthful style quite unlike anyone else, and their aesthetic is undeniably feminine and fun. It’s no surprise that Miu Miu lovers would be keen for a fragrance to represent the aesthetic of such a key fashion brand. On the perfume front, Miu Miu’s parent company Prada has released a decent crop of exceptional perfumes in conjunction with the talents of perfumer Daniela Andrier. It stands to reason then, that a decent scent from Miu Miu would be a no-brainer, and despite some dissenting voices on the blogs, I really think it is just that.

“Natural and timeless in a contemporary way”¹ is the manner in which Miu Miu are describing their eponymous fragrance, which is penned by none other than Prada-favourite, Daniela Andrier, of course. Housed within the most gorgeous bottle to have graced the shelves of department stores in quite some time, Miu Miu the fragrance feels like a baby blue throwback to the pastel-shaded ’60s and ’70s, whilst keeping very much in line with the modern tastes of today. It also centres on lily of the valley, which means it’s a white floral, which therefore means that I was destined to fall for it hook, line and sinker. Just as expected, I did.

The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year
The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year

Can you believe that 2013 is coming to a close already? I certainly can’t! It only feels like yesterday that I was sat at my laptop, tapping away at the first reviews of the year and looking forward to the exciting new smells that next 365 days would bring. It has, all-in-all, been a very good year, with lots of interesting new perfumes launched, and on a more personal note too, as this year I took on the exciting role of Fragrance Expert for Escentual.com.

The perfumes have come thick and fast over the year, and once again the industry has seen an increase in the overall number of perfumes launched. Over the year we’ve seen our fair share of masterpieces, duds, flankers and celebrity money makers in, and as with any other year it has been a roller coaster ride of an experience sifting through just a tiny portion of what has been released.

In this post – my annual perfume awards (‘The Candies’) – I’m taking a look at my fragrant highlights of the year and those perfumes that have impressed, moved and surprised me. I’m also highlighting the specific scents that have failed to meet the mark this year and are disappointing enough to warrant naming and shaming. So sit back, don your red carpet gown (or suit), pop the champagne and enjoy The Candies 2013.

[Please also head over to my fragrant brothers and sisters who are sharing their very best perfumes of 2013; Persolaise, Olfactoria’s Travels, Eyeliner on a Cat, Fragrant Moments, Perfume Shrine, I Smell Therefore I Am, SmellyBlog and The Fragrant Man.]

An Outdoorsy Kind of Guy
An Outdoorsy Kind of Guy

Seeing as it the very last week of Movember, a month in which we celebrate all aspects of masculinity, it’s only fair that we also take time to look at some pretty epic masculine fragrances. Over the course of the month I’ve been featuring classic masculine scents on Escentual, but this week I’d like to focus on two new and very well executed fragrances for 2013 – one designer and one ‘niche’ – starting with the newly launched Bottega Veneta Pour Homme.

The astute amongst you will know that Bottega Veneta have already proved that they take the world of perfume seriously with their debut feminine fragrance launch of the same name. The feminine was a masterfully composed (if perhaps a little too whispery) ode to the leather goods for which the brand is famous for and it appears that its masculine counterpart has been subject to the same degree of thought and quality control.

Created by perfumers Daniela Andrier (Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, Candy and basically everything else good they’ve done) and Antoine Maisondieu (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fat Electrician and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones), Bottega Veneta Pour Homme feels very much like an extension of the luxury leather feel of the feminine Eau de Parfum but in a more outdoorsy, nature-filled and relaxed manner.

Marni Eau de Parfum
Marni Eau de Parfum

Too often us perfume lovers (and bloggers) can don our snobby caps and declare that all designer fragrance output is trash. This is more than just simple misconception, it is in fact a big fat lie, after all most of the perfumes that one would laud as a ‘classic’ are from designer outfits such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior – the most ‘designery’ of brands.

That said, there is still a lot of dreck out there and the general modus operandi appears to be to create inoffensive fragrances that cater to the tastes of the mass market. But it seems that there is a small revolution taking place, where some designer brands are changing the game by creating enjoyable and easy to wear creations with more than just a little hint of ingenuity. We’ve seen it from Bottega Veneta, we’ve seen it from Prada and we’ve seen it from Maison Martin Margiela. Now we’re seeing it from Italian fashion brand Marni.

Marni Eau de Parfum is the brand’s first fragrance outing and they are in safe hands, having picked esteemed perfumer Daniela Andrier (Prada Infusion d’Iris & Candy and Maison Martin Margiela Untitiled) to pen the project. The fragrance intends to capture the playful spirit of Marni’s fashion and is described as “the opposite of the standard concept of femininity”, a description that fills this fragrance gender-bending nerd’s heart with nothing but joy.