Sun Through the Trees

Oud is a note that seems to have had a great deal of popularity over the last few years. Most perfume houses have an ‘oud’ in their line-up, in fact many have several – anybody who’s anyone has got one. Despite it’s prolific presence in today’s perfume landscape, it cannot be denied that oud is a wonderfully powerful material, that when used properly can be one of the most beautiful smells known to man.

Oud is the jigsaw piece that helps fuse European and Eastern styles of perfumery together, and whilst the oud that is used in western perfumery is much cleaner (and largely synthetic) than that used in the east, it has coloured the face of perfumery in bright arabian hues and taken us on exotic voyages to faraway lands.

Oud

Oud/Oudh/Aoud/Agarwood is a “dark, resinous heartwood” [1] that forms in infected Aquilaria trees. The infection is due to a specific type of mould, that changes the colour and density of the wood, leaving a strong, dark resin (the oud) in the core.

Due to its rarity and variation in quality and scent profile, oud is a very difficult and expensive ingredient to work with, hence why the majority of oud fragrances use a synthetic substitute.

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.

Violet Blonde

I like Tom Ford, I find the overall aesthetic of his brand appealing, I thought A Single Man was a triumph for a first time director and he may just be the most ridiculously good looking man on the planet (a fact that makes me hate him just a little). My thoughts on Tom Ford’s perfumes however, aren’t as glowing, in fact they are quite mixed;

Private Blends: I’ve always thought that the Private Blends are OK, I even quite like one or two (Oud Wood especially) but they are ridiculously overpriced for what they are, thus causing my general opinion of them to simply be ‘meh’.

Black Orchid: Gorgeous, dark oriental that is great for half an hour but then it proceeds to get on my tits, it’s one of those scents that, whilst smelling fantastic, takes a lot of effort to wear. I have to be in the right mood for Black Orchid.

White Patchouli: I wanted to love White Patchouli, you don’t know how much I wanted to, the bottle would look so good in my collection and the ad campaign with Erykah Badu was STUN-NING, BUT I point blank refuse to wear anything that smells like French Onion Soup. That said, I haven’t given up on it just yet.

Tom Ford For Men: My boyfriend/fiancée/long suffering wife’s signature scent. What more can I say?

Grey Vetiver: A really nice barbershop vetiver BUT why bother with that when you could have Guerlain Vetiver? One vetiver is enough for me.

Black Orchid Voile de Fleur: Surprisingly, this short-lived flanker to Black Orchid is the best of the bunch, creamy, dirty and slightly spicy flowers, right up my street!

Violet Blonde is the latest fragrance to join Black Orchid and White Patchouli as part of Tom Ford’s ‘Signature Collection’. I guess you’re now thinking, ‘I know what you think of the others, but what about Violet Blonde? Well, to put it simply; Violet Blonde was love at first sniff.

Marc Jacobs

I don’t know about you, but when I wear fragrance I wear it for myself and myself alone. Sure, I love to share my passion with others, that is a huge part of my hobby, but when I wear perfume, I wear it because I enjoy it.

And I wear what I like!

Ever since I bought my first proper perfume (Kingdom by Alexander McQueen) I have loved ‘feminine’ fragrances. Looking through my collection it’s obvious that the ratio of feminine and masculine is weighted considerably towards the feminine. To this day I find myself drawn to the feminine releases much more than masculines. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy wearing masculine fragrances but they just don’t wow me the way a lot of the feminines do.

I guess that I’m the King/Queen of fragrant gender bending.

Belle

Sometimes I just want to smell like a hooker. I accept that this may be somewhat of a sensational overstatement, but what I really mean is that when it comes to perfume, despite loving the classics, the symphonic florals and the exotic orientals, what I really love is the trashy, brash and over the top.

Sometimes it’s great to wear something that is loud, proud and ultra girly, I also find that these ultra-trashy scents work really well on a man, I have no fear of smelling ‘cheap’.

If you want cheap and trashy you cannot go wrong with Rush by Gucci.