Halle Berry

Awards night is always a tad emotional…

2011 has been a big year for the perfume industry, it has seen a total of 1200 [1] new perfume releases and as expected with such a high volume of perfumes being unleashed onto the market, it was a mixed bag – some were great, some were good and some were downright terrible. Sifting through the plethora of perfume releases this year has been great fun and for this end of year round-up I have picked out those fragrances that I feel are the very best of 2011, my ‘best picks’ if you will. These fragrances are the ones that deserve to be celebrated for their artistic merit, flair and quality, oh and because they smell good too!

There are a four main categories; Best Feminine, Best Masculine, Best Niche and Best Flanker, each with a winner, and because there were quite a high amount of fragrances worth celebrating this year I have also included a number of runners up for most categories. In addition to the first four categories I have included an extra one entitled ‘The Candy Perfume Boy’s Best Discoveries of 2011’ which celebrates three fragrances that I have discovered and fallen in love with this year.

Before moving on to my ‘Best Picks of 2011’ I would like to thank each and every one of you who reads and supports this blog. As The Candy Perfume Boy is just about to reach 50,000 hits in the next day or so, I must take a moment to reflect on how great this experience has been so far. I truly value everyone who visits and interacts with me on this blog and my absolute highlight of this year has been the interactions and friendships I have formed through The Candy Perfume Boy and Twitter (you all know who you are!). They are as important, if not more so, than the perfumes that have brought us all together.

O Tannenbaum

O Tannenbaum! is a joint blogging event where the finest of perfume bloggers have got together to each post a trio of reviews focusing on woody fragrances. Taking part in the project are;

All I Am – A Redhead: Part 1 & Part 2, Another Perfume Blog, Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies, Beauty on the Outside, EauMG, Eyeliner on a Cat, Fragrant Reviews (@FragrantReviews), Muse in Wooden Shoes, Olfactoria’s Travels, Parfumieren, Redolent of Spices, Scent of the Day, Suzanne’s Perfume Journal and Undina’s Looking Glass.

Please head over to their blogs to view their posts!

My tastes tend to lean towards those perfumes that are either floral, oriental or gourmand, and woody fragrances, whilst not being my favourite type, belong to a genre that I have learned to love as my tastes have developed and improved along my perfume-sniffing journey. For this reason O Tannenbaum! has been an intriguing post to write and I have tried to choose three scents that represent completely different aspects of the woody genre.

Tuberose

I have always wanted to ensure that The Candy Perfume Boy is a diverse blog that not only features perfume reviews but also showcases interesting articles and pieces on different aspects of perfume/fragrance. One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while is a series of guides to particular perfume notes and genres, including information on the fragrant facets of the note/genre as well as a list of ‘reference perfumes’ that showcase the note/genre in different and interesting ways.

I’m a tuberose freak, so it makes sense that I start with one of my favourite notes. Why do I love tuberose? Well, as you probably know, I’m a bit of a ‘Fragrant Magpie’, in the sense that I am attracted to those perfumes that are shiny, loud and showy and tuberose is most definitely shiny, loud and showy!

Tuberose

Tuberose is a night-blooming white flower, which despite the name, has absolutely no relation to rose whatsoever. The name actually comes from its swollen, tuberous roots. Tuberose has been used in for perfume for many years but it is also used as wedding and funeral flowers in some cultures.

On a side note, Tuberose is a flower that I’ve always wanted to grow, but it is really difficult to find in garden centres over here and a lot of places haven’t even heard of it, which is a shame because I need me some of those pretty white flowers on my balcony!

The Smell

Tuberose is a complex smell that can be described as; lush, green, cool, almost camphorous and also buttery, rubbery, exotic, sweet, tropical and like white hot flesh.

Animalistic

As Autumn and Winter draw in, it becomes time for us Perfumistas to have a wardrobe reshuffle. We put away our lighter, airier perfumes and drag out our rich orientals, warm woody florals, mouthwatering gourmands and our musks. In autumn and winter we look for those fragrances that bring us comfort when it’s cold and those that match the colours and festivities of the cooler seasons.

Muscs Koublaï Khän (Serge Lutens) and Musc Ravageur (Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle) are two of the most popular musk fragrances on the market, in fact they have reached cult status amongst Perfumistas and love them or hate them, nobody can deny that they are both formidable characters.

Despite the fact that they are both so popular and are both musk fragrances, Muscs Koublaï Khän and Musc Ravageur are two very different fragrances, in fact the similarity stops with the ‘Musc’ in both of their names. In this review I’m going to put pitch these two ‘Titans’ head to head to see which will be the victor and earn the accolade of ‘King of Musks’.

Wardrobe

Last weekend, after much nagging from my long-suffering partner, I decided to have a tidy of my perfume collection and samples box. Now, anyone who knows me well will be fully aware that tidying is not really something I do very often, in fact, it is something that I avoid at all costs.

Anyway, during my tidy up, I totalled up the number of perfume bottles in my collection and I was genuinely shocked when I came to the nice round number of 120. “How can I have so much perfume, I never feel like I have enough choice” I thought, “Do I really need so much?” and “Do I feel like I don’t know what to wear because I have too much choice?”

This led me to think in depth about my collection of fragrances, what would I choose if I were to reduce its size considerably?

Carnations

I’ve had a vase of purple carnations sat in my hallway for about two weeks now, they are suitably cheerful and they smell spicy and gorgeous. The problem with carnations is that they tend to hang around. Yes, they’re very beautiful but I’m at the point where I want them to move along so that I can refresh the vase with something else.

This is also how I feel about Vitriol d’Oeillet.

Serge Lutens has described Vitriol d’Oeillet as an ‘angry carnation’ and on the Serge Lutens website the description simply says “What is it, Doctor Jekyll?” [1] These descriptions lead me to believe that my tiny spray vial was going to unleash a huge, evil carnation monster that was going to eat me and ransack my house. A little farfetched I know, but I do have an active imagination.

What did come flying out of my little spray vial was something completely unexpected; A pretty and realistic spicy bunch of carnations. Just like the ones currently lurking in my hallway.

Us perfumistas/fumeheads/fragonerds/whatever it is we call ourselves are keen followers of the mantra ‘It’s all about the juice’, meaning that we don’t care about the marketing, the bottle or any of the other stuff that comes with a fragrance. We just care about the smell!

It seems that we may differ from the mainstream consumer.

In the mainstream perfume industry the bottle is seen as the key marketing tool for a fragrance. Those of you who watched the recent BBC4 documentary ‘Perfume’ would have seen that in the case of the latest Tommy Hilfiger fragrances (Loud for Him and Her) the bottle and the marketing were the prime focus of the development team and the juice very much seemed like an afterthought.

So how important is the bottle to a perfumista?

I asked my Twitter followers whether they were swayed by the bottle design when purchasing a fragrance. The general consensus seemed to be that no, the bottle doesn’t matter, however an attractive bottle does help. Some even mentioned that if the fragrance was good and the bottle was bad they would decant the juice into something more aesthetically pleasing. We kept coming back to the same conclusion – it’s all about the juice…

I feel that I may buck the perfumista trend slightly, if I love a perfume I will buy it, regardless of whether it has a nice bottle or not. That said, I do like a nice bottle and have on occasions found myself wanting a fragrance because it’s housed in a nice bottle (Hello Lola by Marc Jacob!) I can’t help that I’m drawn to shiny, pretty objects can I?!

There are some brands out there with some really fabulous bottles and in this post I would like to highlight just a few of my favourites.