From Latin America to China via Russia and India and the Gulf
From Latin America to China via Russia and India and the Gulf

If I could change one thing about my life it would be to ensure that I was better travelled than I am. In my head I long to be a great explorer scouring every corner of the earth. I want to walk the Great Wall of China, taste the street food in Mexico, eat lobsters in Maine (it all comes back to food with me), play with the cats at the cat cafe in Tokyo and float around the streets of Florence , but the problem is, I’m a bit of a wimp.

So, as much as I wish I’d visited all of these places, and I do truly hope to one day, I haven’t, in fact up until a few years ago I hadn’t made it further than France. It’s appalling, I know. Luckily for us armchair explorers, with Ormonde Jayne’s latest collection ‘The Four Corners of the Earth’ one can visit the most exotic destinations without even removing one’s pyjamas. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been to the Gulf, Russia, Latin America and China…

For the Four Corners of the Earth collection Linda Pilkington and perfumer Geza Schoen have taken Ormonde Jayne on a trip round the globe, soaking up the sights, smells and colours of four distinct cultures without diluting the brand one bit, and this is what makes the collection so excellent; the fact that despite the strong influences of their respective homelands, each fragrance still very much follows the Ormonde Jayne signature of refined, elegant fragrances. After all, it’s not just where we go that shapes who we are, it’s where we come from too.

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…

A New Dawn
A New Dawn

Hermès must win the award for the most consistent style of perfumes within one line. Ever since installing the incomparable Jean-Claude Ellena as their in-house schnoz, each perfume launch has been a variation on the theme of Ellena’s pastel shades and watercolours, evoking both clarity and luxury.

It is for this reason that their latest offering, Jour d’Hermès is so interesting, it manages to perfectly replicate Ellena’s signature style of spacious scent, but it does so bigger, brighter and bolder, almost as if he’s thrown down the watercolours in a moment of madness (read: genius) and opted for full technicolor. Jour d’Hermés is Jean-Claude Ellena writ large.

“From dawn until dusk, a luminous and sensual floral that flourishes.”

Jour, meaning dawn, is a perfume that captures the myrhiad of colours and emotions promised by the prospect of a new day. It is a perfume that seems to have arrived with little fan fair yet the odours that are contained within its rather simple and unpretentious bottle are most definitely worthy of attention.

"OMG! Who is she?"
“OMG! Who is she?”

Juliette Has a Gun is a curious little outfit. They seem to happily fill the space that separates niche and designer perfumes and does so in a young and fancy free way. The thing is, as much as I like the brand and one or two of the scents they’ve yet to have a hit as far as I’m concerned. Calamity J and Romantina came close but neither had the wow factor needed to convince me to part with any of my hard-earned dosh.

That said, the spunky, take-no-prisoners attitude of Romano Ricci’s heroines is definitely appealing to me and I’m always more than happy to dive into their new releases to see what they are up to. So far we’ve had charming girls, vengeful ladies, queens and delightfully calamities but with their latest release Juliette Has a Gun is unleashing the Mad Madame.

“For this new episode I wanted to pay tribute to a woman who dares. A woman slightly more mature than the previous episodes, but by no means better behaved! Mad Madame has this touch of craziness, which she is happily displaying. Endowed with a sense of provocation, she enjoys being looked at and igniting conversations. As Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Romano Ricci

Mad Madame is described as a green chypre “revolving around the metallic Rose Oxyde” and as you would expect from Juliette Has a Gun it is a fragrance with a strong character, as Mr. Ricci puts it; “Mad Madame has the knack of getting herself talked about. And she likes it.” What are they saying about this Madame? Well, I can tell you that it may not all be good.

Vintage Christian Dior
Vintage Christian Dior

I try to be mad at Dior I really do, I mean they have shamelessly reformulated a number of their modern classics (namely Dior Homme, Pure Poison and Hypnotic Poison) and whilst the newer versions still capture the essence of the original, it feels as if a small part of their spirit has been lost forever, like a butterfly who has been touched by human hands, beautiful still but irrevocably damaged.

So yes, I try to be mad at Dior, but I really can’t. “Why’s that?” I hear you ask, well I can sum the reason up in three short french words; La Collection Privée. That’s right, the problem is that the recent few releases from Dior’s La Collection Privée, along with a good few others in the collection (Eau Noire anyone?), are so good that I simply cannot stay mad, just like when Nigel makes me laugh when I’m attempting to be grumpy at him. I may be smiling at you Dior, but I’m still mad, somewhere deep down.

Grand Bal is the latest addition to La Collection Privée and as you have probably guessed from the introductory paragraphs in this post, it is another good’un. Taking inspiration from “Christian Dior’s great ball gowns, whose full skirts and beauty evoked the petals of a flower in full bloom” Grand Bal is a big, beautiful and buxom jasmine that accurately “embodies the intoxication of a summer’s night at the first light of dawn”. I was destined to like this wasn’t I?

Amazingreen
Amazingreen, the new fragrance from Comme des Garçons, is not amazingly green

If I had a penny for each and every time I had mentioned that green fragrances really aren’t my thing on this blog I’d have, well I’d have at least 6 pennies I reckon. 6 whole pennies people! In a time of recession that kind of money is not to be scoffed at. Now I’m not entirely sure why it is that me and green things don’t get on, perhaps I just prefer the flowers to the trees, shrubs and leaves, but whatever the reason the truth is that when it comes to me, it’s not that easy being green.

Now if there is one thing I have learned on my journey, wading through all of this perfume, is to never say never. One may think that one hates green fragrances but one can never speak too soon because quicker than lightning someone like Vero Profumo will come along with a fragrance like Mito or Andy Tauer with Verdant and one can’t help but coo at how beautiful it is. But then sometimes you’ll come across a green fragrance that is neither awful nor beautiful, one that is simply nice.

Comme des Garçons’ latest release ‘Amazingreen’ is one such green fragrance and it intends to be “an explosive fragrance that is as wild as the elements” where “organic greenery meets with the explosive elements of smoke and flint.” The sheer mention of the word “greenery” in the latter of these statements would usually send me running for the hills, but I was surprisingly intrigued by a fragrance who’s name promises something that is both “Amazing” and “Green”. What I found however, is a fragrance that isn’t really either of these things, and I’m not entirely sure whether that is disappointing or not.

Ormonde Jayne
The Ormonde Jayne Collection

Ormonde Jayne is a house that has always sat on the periphery of my perfume sampling. I have tried a number of their fragrances in passing (I have tried a shocking amount of things “in passing”) and have even visited one of their boutiques, but I don’t feel that I’ve paid them the attention that they deserve. So when the lovely people at Ormonde Jayne offered to send me one of their discovery sets I was more than happy to accept, because Ormonde Jayne is a house that I want to get to know.

Launched in 2002, Ormonde Jayne is a British perfume house created by Linda Pilkington. The Ormonde Jayne philosophy is simple: “[…]quality and true luxury, the pursuit of beauty and elegance.” [1] There is something very appealing about the sleek simplicity of Ormonde Jayne and the lack of bells and whistles is appealing. But don’t let that fool you, the perfumes themselves are very complex indeed.

This review focuses on Ormonde Jayne’s two signature fragrances: Ormonde Woman and Ormonde Man, both of which have been highly praised by many and received five star reviews from Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez in Perfumes: The Guide. Both wood-based fragrances are as enigmatic as they are sophisticated and having spent sufficient time with them I can understand why they are so highly regarded.

Mito
Mito – “The myth of a timeless eternity.”

Vero Profumo’s first three fragrances; Rubj, Kiki and Onda are unusual, not only in their style and composition but also in the fact that they are each five star fragrances that can easily be considered as modern masterpieces. They each also have strong personalities, multi-faceted in themselves, but incredibly diverse in character as an entire entity – a collection to be envied.

With her initial collection Swiss indie perfumer Vero Kern proved that she has a natural talent for perfumery as well as a clear and fascinating artistic vision that translates effortlessly into her creations. For her line’s fifth anniversary year Vero Kern is introducing a brand new fragrance, one that doesn’t break cohesion of the line but also brings an entirely new approach to Vero Profumo.

Mito (Italian for “Myth”), will be the latest fragrance from Vero Profumo to join her Eau de Parfum collection. Taking inspiration from Italy, specifically the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, smelling Mito is like opening a time capsule, unleashing a single moment where as time has stopped in the garden of Villa d’Este, allowing Vero Kern to paint an olfactory oil-painting of the trees, mosses, flowers, stones, sculptures and water that inhabit such a beautiful space.

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!

Central Park West

“A grand perfume for a grand neighbourhood.”

Bond No. 9 is the Octomom of the niche fragrance world – they just keep popping ’em out. This spring they will be releasing a total of six, that’s right SIX new fragrances, two of which are inspired by New York City as per the norm and four of which will be joining their I Love New York Collection.

I have been pretty vocal on my thoughts of Bond No. 9 and I stand by the fact that they have more misses than hits, perhaps due to the fact that they have released a whopping 64 fragrances since their inception in 2003, and that a lot of perfumes in the line are derivative, not to mention that they are the worst offenders when it comes to vomiting Swarovski crystals on to perfume bottles… They remind me of the line in the poem about the little girl with the little curl by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; “And when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.”

But that’s not to say that there aren’t any good Bond’s. There are in fact a good few that I would deem bottle worthy; Silver Factory is a remarkably cold and metallic incense, Chinatown is a work of genius (why don’t I own a bottle?) and I will always regret swapping away my beloved bottle of Fire Island, who knew I would miss it so much? So yes, it is true, when Bond No. 9 are good they can be very good.

In time for Spring Bond, No. 9 have released Central Park West, the sixth fragrance to be inspired by a New York park. Central Park West is inspired by “the magnificent greenery” of New York’s “greatest urban grassland” and is a spring-like green and white floral “designed to have the grandeur and largesse of the street itself”. A grand perfume for a grand neighbourhood.