Candies 2012
The Candies 2012

I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?

Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!

Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.

So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…

The New Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme
The New Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme

In life there are only two things that are certain; death and change. Both of these certainties are also rife within the perfume industry, with ever-tightening restrictions on ingredients and brand cost-cutting leading either to the demise or the change of some of the world’s most beloved perfumes.

Most of the time perfume reformulations are cloak and dagger affairs, with brands swearing that “absolutely nothing has happened to your beloved Mitsouko, so please stop with your questions, or else…” But this isn’t the case with the new Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme, which the brand are fully admitting has been subjected to some “fine tuning”. Well, one can’t help but admire their honesty!

“Warm and voluptuous and a touch of creamy sweetness, this fragrance is for a woman who is compelling and sensual. It is made up of contrasts, an exuberance of sinuous details that strike the balance between strength and gentleness. Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme for women is not afraid to face any challenge, and does so with a strong sense of self and a fierce determination.”

The re-orchestrated Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme is described as having an “innately soft yet seductive character” and I would say that it definitely leans more to the soft side of things rather than the seductive. This may lead to some disappointment for long-term lovers of the original, which I’m led to believe was a bit of a floral-bomb. My advice? Stock up while you can…

La Petite Robe Noire
These Boots are Made For Walkin’

Guerlain’s ode to the Little Black Dress, ‘La Petite Robe Noire’, has a confusing history. First it was released as a pricey boutique exclusive, then there was the sequel ‘La Petite Robe Noire 2’ (and yes it was about as good as you would expect a sequel to be), the first of five planned additions to Guerlain’s wardrobe. Following all of that Guerlain has now decided to relaunch a new version of La Petite Robe Noire as part of its main collection, and in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser has gone in and tweaked things a little bit.

Now, I don’t mean to be smug (OK maybe just a little) but I have always said that La Petite Robe Noire was wasted as a boutique exclusive, strongly believing that it would be a massive hit if it were unleashed into the world of mainstream perfumery, and from the response it’s getting on the counters I think it may just be as popular as I expected.

Taking inspiration from the most classic and versatile pieces of clothing – the little black dress, La Petite Robe Noire is the perhaps the most fun, free-spirited of Guerlain’s many offerings. It comes billed as “the epitome of couture for the skin” [1] and if you’re wondering what “couture” smells like, the answer is, in true Guerlain style, a big fruity floral gourmand.

The Black Soul of Celebrity Fragrances
The Black Soul of Celebrity Fragrances

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, or Lady Gaga as she is more commonly known, is undeniably one of the more interesting pop stars around today. Forget Britney, Christina, Miley and all those other pretenders, Gaga is a true visionary and a real star. Oozing with talent and more than her fair share of batshit-craziness, Gaga is like the rebellious love child spawned from the spliced DNA of David Bowie and Madonna.

OK you get it, I’m a fan and whilst I refuse to class myself as a ‘little monster’ I must admit that I was genuinely excited about Fame, I mean if anyone was going to do an interesting fragrance then it would be Gaga.

Apparently cooked up in a laboratory deep within the bowels of the Haus of Gaga (Lady Gaga’s fashion collective) Fame is described as an “opulent, crushed floral” [1] that, with it’s black coloured juice that is invisible once air born, represents the black soul of fame. Crazy huh? – Not really because Fame is all style and no substance…

Fame had the makings of a truly great celebrity fragrance; great bottle? Yep! massive gimick (the black liquid)? Yep again! and amazing ad campaign? Hell to the yep! But the one area that Fame disappoints is most definitely the most crucial, that’s right folks I’m talking about the smell and as much as it pains me to say it one cannot hide the fact that in terms of scent, Fame is a complete dud.

Last week’s poll focused on the age old debate of spraying vs dabbing. Unsurprisingly, due to the fact that is the most commonly available application method, spraying won the battle with a total of 73.5% of the vote. What I found particularly interesting about the results was the fact that 20% answered that they didn’t care how the perfume was applied and a number of comments stated that it actually depended on the perfume as to whether they sprayed or dabbed, with dabbing being the preferred method of application for pure parfum/extrait and spraying for Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette.

The Poll

This week’s poll moves on to a completely different subject, that of perfume genres. Tastes in perfume tend to be fairly eclectic and most fumeheads own a number of bottles from a variety of fragrance families, but most will also have a favourite, and I want to know what yours is. Register your vote and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!

Orange Stars

Andy Tauer, the self-taught independent perfumer from Switzerland, offers a line of unique perfumes that vary in their unique identity, yet they all seem to share an inherent ‘Tauerness’ that runs as a coherent theme linking each scent to each other. Others have coined this link ‘The Tauerade’ (in the same way the Guerlain base is known as the ‘Guerlainade’) and my favourite example of the Tauer accord is in Orange Star.

Orange Star was released in 2010 and is one of the latest additions to Andy Tauer’s ‘Classics’ line, which includes such highly regarded scents as; L’Air du Désert Marocain, Lonestar Memories, Incense Extrême and Incense Rose. Andy Tauer describes Orange Star as “a rich citrus fragrance with a clean orange flower in its heart, and a soft elegant base that seems to last forever”. [1]

If I had to pick a favourite Tauer fragrance (it’s a hard task to pick just one) Orange Star would probably be it, it’s just so unique and not in an unwearable way (see Sécrétions Magnifiques), it is absolutely beautiful and wearing it is akin to receiving a big orange scented hug.

It can’t be easy being one of the most famous and well respected fragrance houses in the world, trying to find your place in a noisy market place populated by rapid-fire designer releases, countless ‘niche’ offerings and a constant stream of thoughtless celebuscents. It is a challenge to stand out amongst all of that white noise.

Guerlain is one of the most venerable fragrances in the world and they have the difficult task of striking the balance between being modern and staying relevant whilst protecting their heritage. It can’t be an easy balance to achieve, and I admire Guerlain for their modern take on classic themes.

On many occasions Guerlain has been referred to as the pâtissier of the fragrance world, and they have on numerous occasions reinvented the sweet pastry vibe of L’Heure Bleue (see Insolence) and La Petite Robe Noire feels like it may be the latest reinterpretation of the 1912 classic.

The first La Petitie Robe Noire (The Little Black Dress) was released in 2009 and the word on the street is that it has been a big success for Guerlain. This year Guerlain released a flanker called La Petite Robe Noire 2 (obviously Guerlains creative team were off on the day the fragrance was named), and it is rumoured that Guerlain will be a total of 5 fragrances in the La Petite Robe Noire Collection.