Best New Releases of 2014



This has been a good year for perfume releases. For all that I sometimes grumble about the generic nature of fragrances put out these days, 2014 actually had a number of scents that really impressed me. Last year, I could not find a full 10 new releases for my list, and refused to simply include things for the sake of round numbers. This year, I have 15 scents that I actually think are good representations of their genre and were done very well, along with a few Honourable Mentions.

Violettes du Czar. Photo: Roberto Greco for Oriza L. Legrand.

Violettes du Czar. Photo: Roberto Greco for Oriza L. Legrand.

As I always emphasize, perfume reviewing is subjective and personal by its very nature, so winnowing fragrances down to some favorites is even more so. My criteria for selection varied. A number of the fragrances were not really for me, personally, for various reasons (a particular note or genre that I struggle with, discreet sillage, or something else), but were chosen nevertheless because something about the particular scent was either interesting, luxurious, evocative, complex and/or, as noted above, an extremely good example of its genre that also happened to be done in a very elegant manner. A handful of perfumes are on the list for the most subjective reason of all: I either bought full bottles for myself, plan to get them, or would love to do so if their price were not a consideration.

Ranking things is an utter nightmare, but the Top Five are firmly placed in accordance with my feelings. The remainder of the scents are ranked within one to three slots, plus or minus, of where they are in my estimation at the present time, though keep in mind that perfumistas are a fickle bunch who can change their mind from one month to the next, and I’m no exception. All of these fragrances were released in 2014. The problem is that some of the names that I would love to have on this list (like SHL 777‘s O Hira and Black Gemstone) technically debuted in very limited fashion in 2013, before being released globally this year. As a result, what I’ve decided to do is to write a separate list of my 30 personal favorites of 2014, things that I’ve covered this year but without regard to their official launch date. I’ll update this post with a link when I do. There is some overlap between the two lists, but not a lot.


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    BOGUE PROFUMO MAAI. Maai completely bowled me over from the first sniff, and there was never any doubt from that point forth that it would top my list of best releases of the year. For me, it is, quite simply, a masterpiece — one that harkens back to the very best of classical perfumery and to a time when IFRA/EU restrictions had not completely gutted fragrances. I have absolutely no idea how Antonio Gardoni managed to make a scent that screams oakmoss in this day and age, but he has. Not only is Maai a technical feat of mastery (and rather an olfactory miracle), but it is a superbly opulent, high-octane fragrance that fully earns my highest accolade: Wagnerian. It feels like the Ride of The Valkyries (and then some), with its seamless mix of green tuberose, jasmine, rose, and ylang-ylang, all heavily drenched in animalic notes that evoke a roaring black panther, then placed upon a darkly resinous base and cocooned with the thickest blanket of green. It is most assuredly NOT a scent for the faint of heart, NOT a scent for those who can’t handle animalic notes, and NOT for anyone who doesn’t like divaesque, heavy, profoundly bold fragrances with old-school glamour. Maai is the sort of scent that you either wear to seduce or when you want to feel as though you’re going to a red-carpet gala event. It stands out on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin, but the fact that it smells as though it was magically crafted in a time when oakmoss was not practically banned from perfumery has to be first on the list. Bottom-line, Maai is utterly magnificent, a rarity in this day and age, and unquestionably one of the best fragrances that I’ve smelled in years, not just in 2014. Simply jaw-dropping and stupendous.

  2. "Ancient Egypt" by Wiccka. Source: DeviantArt. (Website link embedded within.)

    “Ancient Egypt” by Wiccka. Source: DeviantArt. (Website link embedded within.)

    PAPILLON PERFUMERY ANUBISAnubis is a stunning, complex oriental by a new British artisanal house, and it was actually going to be first on my list of 2014 releases until I encountered Maai. Anubis initially appears to be the tale of its namesake, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, as represented by smoky, blackened resins mixed with incense, leathery castoreum, spices, and a dash of velvety roses, then placed upon the symbolic substitute for the Nile with the green-black iridescence of mossy, pink lotus blossom absolute. I think, however, that it’s really the story of how Anubis was tamed by the sensual femininity of the Goddess Bastet. She transforms him with labdanum amber that is lightly coated with a sliver of caramel sweetness, diffuses his smoke, silences his roar with a jasmine kiss on his leathered mouth, and eventually turns the entire scent into general, golden warmth. Anubis is a soft fragrance, not a powerhouse, and a little more discreet than I would personally like, but it is a hugely evocative, luxurious, rich oriental that made me mutter “Oh My God” out loud from the very first sniff. If you like scents in the vein of Dior‘s discontinued Mitzah with streaks of blackness like SHL 777‘s Black Gemstone, or smoky labdanum fragrances like Tom Ford‘s Amber Absolute (only with far greater complexity and layers), then you really must try Anubis. It’s glorious.

  3. Source:  Original artist unknown.

    Source: Original artist unknown.

    ROJA DOVE NUWA. Nuwa is one of my favorites from this last year, and a good example of the personal subjectivity of these lists, because it is not a scent that I’d recommend to a lot of people due to its opening as a concentrated spice bomb. Fierce, heavy levels of cumin and cloves, to be precise, atop blackened leather. (Plus, it has an astronomical price tag that puts it firmly out of most people’s reach, including my own.) I’ve always respected the luxuriousness and high-quality of Roja Dove fragrances, but none of them moved me enormously or passionately… until Nuwa. It is a Fallen Angel whose demonic opening reminded me of the darkness of the fantastic Black Gemstone, only with an avalanche of spices instead of citruses. Nuwa gradually blossoms into a mossy chypre that is spicy, ambered, and skanky, but also opulent in its depth and very classical in nature. Parts of Nuwa definitely resemble Rochas‘ famous chypre, Femme, in its vintage form but, when taken as a whole, I think the differences are ultimately greater. Regardless, I loved every bit of Nuwa, and I think it stands out with its stupendous richness. It was my Waterloo when it came to the Roja Dove line, and I would buy it in a heartbeat if I didn’t have to sell an organ (or two) to do so. It combines old-school, luxurious elegance and chypre opulence with a modern twist that is dark, bold, and filled with character. I have to repeat, though, that Nuwa is definitely not for the faint of heart.

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    NOBILE 1942 RUDIS. Rudis was inspired by a tale of a Roman gladiator clad in musky leather who drinks red wine for courage before entering the arena to fight for his life. Smoky woods, immortelle, tangy red fruits, roses, patchouli, earthy vetiver, and golden amber complete the rest of the tale, but single-malt Scotch is what really makes Rudis special. My God, is it glorious scent! Instead of Ancient Rome, Rudis transported me to the most expensive, private club in St. James, London, where the leather was smooth and well-burnished, glasses were filled with Islay whiskey, and smoke wafted from a fireplace that burnt dry wood. The mantlepiece bore vases of red roses dusted with saffron and cloves, while the tables next to the deep leather armchairs had bowls filled with tart, red fruits macerated in Bordeaux wine. Candlelight cast an ambered glow over the proceedings, but a wintry wind blew down from the Highlands, bringing peat and earthy vetiver into the room. As the night passed, some members switched from Scotch to red wine, and a golden warmth swept over the room like a thick blanket, thanks to sweet immortelle mixed with creamy suede. When morning came, everyone lay passed out in a drunken stupor, and all that was left was golden, spicy sweetness. It’s an intoxicating trip from start to finish and Rudis is high on my personal list of things to buy, but it is a scent best suited for those who love boozy fragrances.

  5. Artist unknown. Source: pinterest via eBay.

    Artist unknown. Source: pinterest via eBay.

    BOGUE PROFUMO COLOGNE RELOADED. Lost olfactory treasure from the 1940s, vintage essences, and an ancient recipe lie at the heart of a modern fragrance centered on a duet of lavender and leather. Cologne Reloaded takes the cornerstones of a very traditional barbershop fougère, and juxtaposes its cleanness with darkness, blackened leather, smoky resins, and a small streak of musky dirtiness. The result is classicism with a twist, and an elegant fragrance with a rather sensual drydown. I actually have a lavender phobia, and fresh, clean scents with neroli aren’t really my thing, even when they include birch leather and a touch of castoreum skank. Yet, I find Cologne Reloaded to be beautifully done, and a truly elegant, chic take on the classical genre. Plus, there is something utterly bewitching about its multi-faceted, creamy suede drydown. Many perfume houses have released colognes this year, including some which claim to put a modern twist on the genre while supposedly also having timeless elegance. Cologne Reloaded is the only one I think actually succeeded in that goal, and isn’t boring, replete with cheap-smelling synthetics, wholly commercial in feel, and/or underwhelmingly, safely generic. (Cough, MFK‘s Masculin Pluriel, cough.) Bogue’s founder and nose, Antonio Gardoni, really is enormously talented, and I’m so impressed with the line as a whole.

  6. Sir Frank Dicksee, "Leila," 1892. Source:

    Sir Frank Dicksee, “Leila,” 1892. Source:

    NAOMI GOODSIR OR DU SERAIL. Or du Sérail (Gold of the Harem) is a complex, multi-layered, ambered oriental with rich hookah tobacco, floral touches of exotic davana and velvety ylang-ylang, hay, honey, cedar, spices, and so much more. What made it stand out for me, though, was a particularly stellar opening where all those notes were drenched with Calvados cognac, resulting in a scent that I found to be compulsively sniffable and almost intoxicating. I’m a sucker for boozy fragrances, but I like them to have additional layers of complexity beyond just the liqueur, and also need them to be balanced; I don’t want to feel as though I’ve merely tumbled into a barrel of alcohol, as I did with Kilian‘s Apple Brandy. Bertrand Duchaufour accomplishes all that with Or du Serail, making it a definite stand-out in the genre for me. Although there are parts of the fragrance that appear later on that I’m not so keen on, and the long drydown isn’t very distinctive with its resemblance to a mix of Tobacco Vanille and Oud Wood, the first half is fantastic enough to make Or du Serail one of the best examples of a boozy oriental that I’ve tried this year.

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    VERO PROFUMO ROZY EDP. Imagine a land where the buildings are hewn from roses, peach, and passion fruit with small gardens where musky lovers frolic naked amidst purple hyacinths that bloom near green, mossy lawns drizzled with honey. Rivers of sweet juices run down the chin of someone biting into a fleshy peach. Tart tanginess from passion fruit mixes with earthiness and an almost briny, marshy vetiver. Animalic honey drips on a lover’s skin which gleams with muskiness. Those are some of the various aspects of the Eau de Parfum version of Rozy on my skin, and I loved it. The fragrance’s thick, opulent, completely heady and narcotic notes shot up to my brain, sending me into a waking dream of flashing images, and I felt almost pinned down in a languid torrent of sensuality. I’m not generally one for rose fragrances, but Rozy is a rare exception, perhaps because it feels more like a lush chypre, even though it doesn’t contain any of the traditional elements for such a scent. The dreaded rose lies underneath a wave of earthy, vetiver greenness, tantalizing, always there, but also sufficiently out of reach to avoid being too much for someone with rose issues. That said, I don’t think Rozy is for everyone, primarily because of the musky, earthy accords, as well as the slightly animalic honey. Plus, Vero Profumo scents can be quite polarizing in general, due to their bold character and the ripe sensuality of some of her signature notes. Some of them don’t work for me personally at all, but I think Rozy is a beautiful, stellar interpretation of both a modern chypre and a slightly skanky fruity-floral.

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    ORIZA L. LEGRAND VIOLETTES DU CZAR. Green fragrances are a difficult genre for me, which is one reason why violets aren’t my favorite floral note, but Violettes du Czar is the best violet scent I’ve tried in a while. Technically, the fragrance was released more than 150 years ago, custom-made for Tsar Alexander II (and later worn by his grandson, the last Romanov tsar, Nicholas II, as well), but Violettes du Czar was recently re-issued in largely unaltered form. Layers upon layers of violets, from the wild flower growing in the woods to its crunchy, green leaves, are given the added, wholly symbolic twist of Russian leather and gold (amber). Given my violet issues, parts of the fragrance were difficult for me personally, but Violettes du Czar is a truly evocative scent that’s like an olfactory time-machine, conjuring up strong images of the imperial rulers who wore it. It starts with a very fresh, clean bouquet that feels like an aromatic cologne infused with violets, iris, and citruses, but the part that appealed to me was when the crisp gentleman dandy turned into the warrior Russian wearing violets with Cossack leather amidst gunsmoke. Later, a smooth creaminess rises up to seep over the main note, giving the violets the feel of buttery suede, before it eventually takes over completely. Violets, iris, citruses, and greenness may not be my thing, but there is a definite elegance to Violettes du Czar that has a subtle, “je ne sais quoi” French chic-ness to it. In truth, a number of Oriza fragrances released this year have that same, very impressive, classical quality, especially Marrions-Nous with its floral-aldehydic, vintage Chanel No. 5 feel, or Muguet Fleuri with its strong lily-of-the-valley kinship to vintage Diorissimo, but Violettes du Czar is more interesting to me. Plus, I’m a history nerd, so the perfume’s tsarist background really tickles my fancy.

  9. "Venus Verticordia" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, circa 1864. Source:

    “Venus Verticordia” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, circa 1864. Source:

    HIRAM GREEN SHANGRI LA. Inspired by Lost Horizons and the utopian paradise of Shangri-La, Hiram Green’s sophomore release is another classical chypre with a modern twist. It alternatively felt like an inviting, warm, romantic scent that evoked visions of naked bodies and juicy peaches dripping on heated flesh as lovers cavorted in glens made of oakmoss and jasmine, but also, like a modern fragrance centered on Goth black leather corsets in a boudoir made of smoked roses. I actually had a rather inexplicable bout with phenolic leather-castoreum in the opening phase of some of my tests of Shangri La, even though castoreum is not a part of the scent at all, but I thought both versions were ultimately very well done. My favorite one opened with a damn sexy, utterly addictive, musky peach-rose bouquet with oakmoss and patchouli that bore a kinship to the gorgeous Chypre Palatin, only lustier. The other opening wasn’t really my thing, but no-one else has encountered remotely like castoreum, so it’s clearly an oddity stemming from my personal skin chemistry. The important fact is that both versions eventually merge into the same, glamourous bouquet — a floral-leathery chypre with smoky roses and jasmine that reminded me of Montana‘s vintage Parfum de Peau — before finally turning into a soft, iris-y suede shot through with spicy-sweet patchouli, along with a quiet muskiness, and the faintest hint of a rose-chypre greenness. All of it is handled seamlessly, with polished elegance and a deep, extrait-like richness that feels very luxurious, even though Shangri La actually isn’t that expensive as compared to similar fragrances in the genre. It’s definitely a scent that I would wear myself, and one that I recommend trying if you’re a fan of old-school chypres.

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    AFTELIER PERFUMES PALIMPSEST. “Walking on sunshine.” The lyrics to that famous song immediately ran through my head upon wearing Palimpsest, a fragrance that manages the rare feat of evoking golden light in a bottle. It instantly made me feel as though I were taking a walk in an orchard on the brightest of summer days. Sun-ripened fruits drizzled with honey hang heavy on trees, and are irresistible in their sweetness. There are lush peaches for as far as the eye can see, but a small portion of the orchard is devoted to zesty yuzu grapefruits, while bright, banana-yellow ylang-ylang flowers grow further in the distance next to the rare firetrees beloved by Aboriginal tribes. The flowers are a subtle touch that swirl discreetly in the golden, warm cocoon around you, along with tendrils of smoky woods, custardy vanilla, golden amber, and a hint of chocolate, but the overall feeling is that you’re walking in sunshine in a fruit orchard. Palimpsest is an all-natural fragrance, so the sillage is far too discreet for me personally, but it is my favorite scent from Aftelier Perfumes thus far, and I think it’s a really pretty interpretation of the fruity-floral genre that stands out for its unusual quality of radiance.


  1. Movie poster for Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981 version) with Sylvia Krystel. Source:

    Movie poster for Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981 version) with Sylvia Krystel. Source:

    LM PARFUMS ARMY OF LOVERS. Army of Lovers is technically another chypre with a very sensual side but, on my skin, it was really more of a leather fragrance, one that smelled of sex and evoked Lady Chatterley’s Lover for me. Imagine an aristocratic woman who comes from the arms of her lover in a stable or barnyard filled with musky leather, and who then gets ready for a ball by tossing on an haute-couture dress made of deeply velvety roses and jammy patchouli, covered with a fragile, light veil of oakmoss, a sprinkling of honey, and a dash of spices. That is Army of Lovers on my skin, a scent with a pronounced and obvious kinship to LM ParfumsHard Leather, last year’s #1 on my list of best new releases, but a much raunchier fragrance as a whole and with leather that is much dirtier in the early stages. However, I have a friend who didn’t find Army of Lovers to be very dirty at all, so it’s definitely going to be a question of individual skin chemistry. In a nutshell, though, Army of Lovers is a chypre sister to Hard Leather, but with roses and the mirage of oakmoss in lieu of Mysore sandalwood, smokiness, and woods. Parts of the scent were not for me, personally, but it is a high-quality, provocative, rather dramatic fragrance that manages to combine three different genres very well: leather, mossy floral chypres, and musky skank.

  2. Photo: Cara Delevigne For Vogue China. Source:

    Photo: Cara Delevigne For Vogue China. Source:

    PAPILLON PERFUMERY ANGELIQUE. An ethereal spring bouquet of silvery iris and white flowers dusted with mimosa’s golden sweetness. Then, a lush, orchid-like, champaca floral vanilla infused with boozy, fruited liqueur and smoky guaiac. Finally, an autumnal woody fragrance with masculine elements of burnt leaves, smokiness, and musk. That was the very surprising progression of Angélique, a chameleon scent that first filled me with visions of bridal white (and thoughts of how well it was named) before it astounded me by rapidly morphing into a completely different fragrance, one that was quite a pleasant surprise. In fact, I was sniffing my wrist with enormous appreciation at times. Although the drydown changed things for me, there are parts of Angélique that can well be called “exquisite” or “beautifully lush.” I’m really not one for iris fragrances, but Angélique is one that I would recommend strongly to anyone who love the genre, to those who are looking for mimosa and champaca with a twist, and to people who appreciate soft, discreet florals with an ethereal character.

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    ORIZA L. LEGRAND MUGUET FLEURI. I struggled for a while over whether to choose Muguet Fleuri or Oriza’s other floral release this year, Heliotrope Blanc whose clean, powdery, utterly cozy, heliotrope-mimosa-almond-iris-tonka bouquet evoked endless childhood comforts for me. In the end, I opted for Muguet Fleuri for one simple reason: it stands out more because it’s been a very long time since I smelled something that conjured up vintage Diorissimo, and nothing which has done it so well. Muguet Fleuri is a softer, floral, dewy, lily-of-the-valley cousin to Chypre Mousse, and actually predates Dior’s famous 1956 scent by a few decades because it was originally released in 1925, before being re-issued this year with small tweaks to comply with modern perfume regulations. It is a very Spring-like fragrance that evokes fairy forests of green where delicate lilies of the valley sway in the wind like bells, releasing crystal-clear chimes of floral sweetness. Its dewy liquidity parallels April showers that wash away the dirt and grime, leaving a clean, fresh greenness imbued with lightly powdered, alpine white in the soft sunlight. Yet, the vista of green and white is also infused with imperial purple, as wild violets dance The Rites of Spring alongside the muguet. All of it is really well-done, and Muguet Fleuri stands out amidst the many green scents that I’ve tried this year. 

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    AMOUAGE JOURNEY MAN. Journey Man grabbed me from the start with boldness that felt like a Chinese dragon roaring flames of Sichuan peppers at me. The intensely peppered fieriness is infused with boozy, fruited cognac that provides a richly golden, ambered sweetness, then countered by very dry woods, smoky incense, dusty cardamom, and a definite streak of blackened, leathery resins in the base. It’s a spectacular opening, though it’s definitely not for everyone. Journey’s drydown, however, is much less special. The boozy, spicy boldness eventually fades to an overly soft, simple, tonka creaminess flecked with abstract woods and a touch of amber. It’s pleasant, but not as distinctive or as appealing for me as that wonderful opening (with its distant kinship to some other perfume favorites of mine). Still, Journey Man is nicely done with both an evocative and an elegant feel, as well as an original handling of spiciness via the Sichuan notes, so it’s definitely one of the more interesting fragrances that I tried this year.

  5. "Tobacco Rolling, Vinales, Cuba." Photo by April Maciborka and David Wile. Their sites: (link to full website gallery embedded within) and

    “Tobacco Rolling, Vinales, Cuba.” Photo by April Maciborka and David Wile. Their sites: (link to full website gallery embedded within) and

    PARFUMS DE NICOLAI CUIR CUBA INTENSE. In a parallel, alternate universe, there is an old Cuban farmer who rolls out tobacco leaves on cedar tables covered with thick, black licorice paste, then layers them with generous amounts of sweet coumarin crystals, before dusting them with geranium rose, bits of lavender and mint, and a touch of lemon. Rolled into cigars, they are lightly doused with civet and musk, then nestled between sheaves of sweet hay, and left to dry in a room filled with golden ambered warmth which carries the faintest traces of rum and honey. Over time, the cigars change until, eventually, the tobacco is no longer even tobacco. It has turned into leather. First, into a dark, sweetened leather dusted with spices and, then, finally, into the creamiest calf-skin with supple smoothness and a hint of sweetness. Parfums de Nicolai’s newest release has many parts that appealed to me, particularly its unusual, tropical vibe in the opening stage where sweetness, spices, darkness, humid moistness, dryness, and a gooey, almost resinous licorice all cha-cha-cha down avenues made from dry, fragrant tobacco leaves. The only reason that the scent is not much higher on my list is that Cuir Cuba Intense also had a profoundly aromachemical streak which I struggled with; civet that felt overly sharp and synthetic at times; and a muddled second stage. However, the drydown with its creamy, expensive calf-skin leather is really lovely. In short, the book-end opening and closing chapters of the scent are why it’s on my list.


For Marrions-Nous, Edward Steichen photo, 1931. Molyneux dress. The Condé Nast collection.

For Marrions-Nous, its opening conjures up one of Edward Steichen’s photos. Source: The Condé Nast collection.

There are a few fragrances that almost made the end of the list as good representations of their particular genre, and which I’ll include here as Honourable MentionsPapillon‘s romantic, very lush, full-bodied rose-rose-rose bomb, Tobacco Rose; Oriza‘s aforementioned Heliotrope Blanc, whose sweet innocence and deliciously comforting, milky, marshmallow-almond floral bouquet really got to me, despite also containing elements that I normally struggle with, like endless powder, cleanness, and iris; Oriza‘s very Chanel-ish, classically 1920s, chic aldehydic-civety-floral, Marrions-Nous; Piotr Czarnecki‘s rich gourmand oriental, Sensei, with its coffee, tobacco, boozy resins, smoke, and cinnamon amber; and one of Surrender to Chance‘s debut releases, the evocative, highly original twist on jasmine called Cold Water Canyon that takes a green, non-indolic, fresh version of the flower, then unexpectedly infuses it with a wonderful sage note, followed by pine, a very authentic “mountain canyon” accord, and myrrh. If Cold Water Canyon didn’t have such weak sillage and longevity on my skin, it would be ranked much higher and would probably have been on my full list of the 15 most interesting or appealing releases of 2014. [Amended to add: in my fatigue, I accidentally omitted a scent that was in my written notes, SHL 777‘s Qom Chilom. It’s a very creative, original fragrance that takes tart, sour Morello cherries, cedar, almonds, silky vanilla, and heliotrope, then injects them with highly rubberized black latex, ash, cherry cough drops, and a clean oud. Qom Chilom is not for me, but it’s a wonderfully inventive scent that cleverly juxtaposes light and dark, masculine and feminine, harsh blackness and soft sweetness, all tinged with cherried ash. It’s extremely different from anything else I’ve tried, in any genre, so it deserves to be mentioned here.]

"Powder Palace" painting, ARTbyKristen on Etsy. (Website link to her Etsy shop embedded within.)

“Powder Palace” painting, ARTbyKristen on Etsy. (Website link to her Etsy shop embedded within.)

Finally, there is LM Parfums‘ newest scent, Épine Mortelle. It is a pure parfum which I just received a few days ago, so I haven’t had time to write an actual review, but Epine Mortelle impressed me in early tests with a wonderful, foresty-green, pine-like treatment of roses before it quickly segued into a better, more expensive, angelica-infused, mimosa-dusted version of YSL‘s vintage Paris with a hefty dollop of Malle‘s Lipstick Rose. Neither roses nor make-up scented, lipstick violets are my personal thing, yet Epine Mortelle felt like a very refined, elegant, adult twist on the genre with some unexpected spice flourishes, an enjoyable streak of gourmand vanilla, and a truly lovely, forest-y opening that I couldn’t stop sniffing. Its main bouquet definitely treads well-covered ground, and its long, overly safe drydown wasn’t my favorite part of the scent, but Epine Mortelle is a better, more complex, interesting fragrance in my opinion than Malle’s highly over-rated, utterly boring, and painfully synthetic Lipstick Rose, or YSL’s overly simplistic, sweet and girlie Paris. Epine Mortelle also smells very expensive, and has superb longevity and great sillage. I’ve actually pondered at length whether I should put it up on my full list in lieu of something like Amouage’s Journey Man, even if I haven’t had the time to test Epine Mortelle extensively to see if my feelings change with a third or fourth test. I eventually settled for a spot here in the Honourable Mentions instead, but perfumistas are rather fickle souls, and I have the strange feeling that I’ll regret this placement and that Epine Mortelle should probably switch places with the Amouage when each scent is considered as a whole. Still, thinking about rankings and the finer nuances of things is starting to slowly drive me mad, so just consider both Epine Mortelle and Journey Man as odd, fluctuating cases.

Well, that’s the round-up for new fragrances released in 2014 that stood out to me for one reason or another. Next time, my list of 30 personal favorites of 2014, even though many of them actually debuted a while ago.

49 thoughts on “Best New Releases of 2014

  1. Great list.I have 7 from your top 10. The best discovery for me this year was trying the Henry Jacques Oils on the 6th floor in Harrods. The Henry Jacques brand seems to have been around for ages, but there is little to no info about them in cyberspace. Even their little boutique in Harrods has a clandestine aspect, with everything hidden behind wooden panels and no info on the products. Their Oils are pricey, starting at £400 for just 15ml, but some of them such as a tuberose called Dentelle Au Coeur and a floral leather called Roi Sans Equipage were INCREDIBLE and the oils have the richness and complexity of the original Amouage white box attars.

    • I would love to try them, C, as our tastes align so closely and I really trust your assessment. Lucky devil to have found something with a feel comparable to not just the Amouage attars, but their white boxed, original version! Dammit, UK Postal issues are so unfair. I doubt I’ll ever find the brand here, alas, never mind more practical/affordable samples of them. Oh well, enjoy, my friend. I know you must smell fantastic.

  2. So much sampling to do! Thanks for compiling this fantastic list – I’m positively dying to try Maai and Violette du Czar!

  3. I have a lot of sampling to do. I do have a bottle of Maai,and I’ve tested the Papillon trio and the Rozys but all the new Oriza ones and the others I don’t know.I I haven’t even caught up with your best list from 2013.But I promise to try harder☺

    • LOL! I’d be curious as to what you thought of the Orizas. Honestly, I can’t really see the vast majority of them as being your thing, and not only because many of the ones I covered in 2013 are very light in feel and soft in projection. Like, I just can’t see you in Chypre Mousse, the powdery florals, or the boozy patchouli Horizon. That said, there are one or two from that original lot (like Relique d’Amour or Reve d’Ossian) that might work, and you might enjoy some of the 2014 releases. I don’t have a good sense of your tastes, so it’s a bit hard for me to guess. Still, hopefully you’ll find one or two things from one of these lists (regardless of brand) that may sound appealing enough for you to try.

      Happy new year, my dear, and may 2015 be a great year for you.

      • Actually,I have quite various tastes I think,and I even have a bottle of Chypre Mousse,but I don’t wear it in the winter,I much prefer it in the summer.It has wonderful dark shade feeling to it with a tinge of sweetness and warmth.I pretty much adore it.

        • I do like a bit of powder but not excessively. Indeed Jardin d’armide for example nearly suffocated me,I didn’t like it at all.I love boozy notes,but not when they’re overpowering.As a guide,Ambre Russe smells too intensely of cheap vodka,at least in the beginning, for me to enjoy fully.I did like Horizon but it didn’t last long,and Reve d’ossian was a cinnamon fest on me.A little bit unpleasant and boring.I found Relique d’amour quite atmospheric and interesting,but I liked Chypre Mousse more so I ended up buying that.Some of my absolute favorites that I have full bottles of are Chypre Palatin,Fate Woman,Alahine,Ormonde Woman,Trayee,Onda Voile d’extrait,Rubj EDP,1740 Marquis de Sade,Maai,Miller Harris L’air de rien

          • This was wonderful, Ana, because it gave me a much better sense of your perfume tastes than I had before. There are a lot of chypres and mossy greenness on your list, but also some florientals. I’m not at all surprised that Jardins d’Armide almost suffocated you. The mere memory of that one makes me wince, and it was a total scrubber on me as well. I’m also not surprised that Horizon didn’t last long on you. That was an issue I had with it as well. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYY for my beloved Alahine being on your list. That made me really happy. And Fate Woman is such a chic, elegant, and sexy fragrance. Definitely one of the best releases of 2013, but also one of the best from Amouage in recent years as a whole, imo.

        • How great that Chypre Mousse worked for you, Ana. It certainly is one of those polarizing fragrances that isn’t for everyone, but I’m always happy to hear that someone has fallen for it. 🙂

  4. Excellent list Kafka! I knew Maai would rank #1. I haven’t smelled/sampled all of the “Best
    of 2014”, but Maai blew me away.
    LM Parfums Épine Mortelle sounds like something I may like, too.

    • P.S. You’ve suggested Dove’s Nuwa to me and reading your review again makes me seriously intend to sample it. I’ve discovered I do have a perverse like of cumin in fragrances. Something I’ve discovered over my sampling journey these last 6 months. But the question of the astronomical price leaves me wondering where does one draw the line at selling body parts?! 😀

      • NuWa has already been brutally reformulated in the UK. The Cumin has all but disappeared and the new NuWa is a very tame citrus n’ rose fragrance with a soft amber/vanilla base.

        • I read this yesterday with enormous sorrow. And then I heard the same thing repeated by someone else today. I cannot tell you how sad I am that Nuwa has essentially been gutted. What you’re describing is absolutely nothing like the fragrance I love. I realise that it was probably a very tough sell as it was (especially at that price), but still…. Really dismal news. Thank you for letting me know, C. I referenced the changes you mentioned in my new 2014 list of personal favorites. 🙁

      • “A perverse like of cumin” — LOL! Heh. Cumin is certainly not for everyone, either in food or fragrance.

        And don’t ask me about drawing the line at body parts; I’m still trying to figure that one out! 😉 😀

    • I was thinking about you and your rose thing the other day. You know what you need to get samples of? Mohur Extrait from Neela Vermeire Creations, and Teo Cabanel’s Alahine. The latter is one of my favorite fragrances (of any year), and I think you’d love it, Don.

  5. Love your list – it has given me a bunch of new perfumes to try, especially since a number on your list have been my favourites too. Completely agree with Bougue’s Maai at the top of your list – it was love at first sniff for me. Same with Cologne Reloaded, even though it is more masculine, I still wear it. I too also loved Naomi Goodsir’s Or du Serail and still can’t decide if I like it better than Cuir Velours. I like Vero Kern’s work but find it hard to wear and Rozy is the first one I can see my self wearing for a full day. Another great one for me this year is Chanel Coco Noir parfum extrait – I was so surprised since, while I am an old school Chanel fan, I have never liked Coco or its flankers and didn’t like Coco Noir in EdP. But it shines in extrait strength, plush and oh so Chanel!

    • How great to hear that Cologne Reloaded worked for you, as well as Maai. I can also understand your feelings about the Vero Profumo line, some of them are difficult for me as well, while a few others have left me rather cold. I think Rozy is different, though, so if you haven’t tried it, I hope you get a sample. As for the Extrait version of Coco Noir, thank you for the tip and the heads-up! I would never have thought of trying it, as I wasn’t keen on the EDP version (which I actually own)(don’t ask me why, as I have no idea. lol). I’ll definitely look into the Extrait.

  6. Oh Kafka – what a wonderful post. I’ll be reading it over – time and again – just to re-enjoy your luscious, compelling, seductive and downright evocative writing. Such a treat. Bravo, dearest Kafka. Thank you – and Happy New Year!

  7. Or du Sérail, Anubis and Black Gemstone were my favorites out of your list. Not a success for you, but Copal Azur was very good on me. It was a good year all in all.

    • It was a much better perfume year than 2013, I think. BTW, it always makes me happy when you tell me that you loved Black Gemstone. 🙂

  8. I’ve had a migraine going on two days now so I haven’t much hope of leaving too coherent a comment any time soon. . .suffice it to say I loved your list! Great fun.

    Someone asked me what my faves for the year are and I immediately thought of O Hira and Khol de Bahrein (my two faves) but, yep, they are technically from last year. I’m not sure what my fave for this year is just now. . .

    There’s a bunch of frags on your list that I haven’t tried yet and it pains me. . .yes indeed! Bogue’s Maai, Rudis (which I’d forgotten about), and Violettes du Czar (which surprised me being in your top ten)! And now there’s the very new Épine Mortelle, which sounds like it might be something that would knock my proverbial socks off.

    I wanted to go on a no-sampling diet as I have my new(ish) collection of absolutes and essential oils to go through. . .but today I’ve already broken that promise with something I now can’t remember the name of!

    I’m thinking that my “scent of the year” might be labdanum essential oil. I’ve been pining away for a bottle of O Hira and well, guess what? Some plain ol’ high quality labdanum does the trick! 🙂

    Happy New Year, dear Kafka!! Thanks for continuing to provide all of us fans with olfactory food for thought and lots of lemmings!! Hugs!!!

    Eh, I didn’t do so badly writing with this headache!!!

    • First, I hope your headache has gone away by now and that you feel better. Second, I thought of you when trying Epine Mortelle, and I think you would absolutely adore it, my rose-loving friend. The opening in particular. Epine Mortelle should be one of the first reviews of the new 2015 year. 😀 Speaking of, Happy New Year! May it be the best one ever for you, health-wise, artistically, and in every other way as well.

  9. I absolutely adore Maai! I get more tuberose than you did, but it’s the first tuberose fragrance I’ve loved.

    • Lucky devil to get a lot of tuberose in Maai! I’m deeply envious. I think that would make the perfume EVEN better, if that’s possible. lol. We’re going to have to work on your tuberose issues and slowly bring you over to the dark side, Katherine….. *grin* Have you tried Hiram Green’s Moon Bloom? That seems to be one scent that some even tuberose-haters fall for. If that didn’t work for you, however, then nothing will and Maai will probably be the only one — but what a super fragrance to fall for, tuberose or otherwise. 🙂

  10. Thank you so much Kafka — I am quite honored and just plain excited to have Palimpsest on your list! And I am so grateful for the beautiful, profound, intricate review you wrote of Palimpsest, just exquisite!

    • You’re very welcome, Ms. Aftel. It was my pleasure. As a side note, I used 3 of your Chef’s Essences yesterday, and thought about how much joy they’ve given me throughout the year. I want a fragrance with your Lemongrass, Blood Orange, Ginger, sweetened Cognac, and a dash of the Fir Absolute! I think it would be amazing. 😀

  11. I so enjoyed reading this. I have tried a number of the scents on your list, and I think that my next FB might be Or de Serail. It has weird moments but it holds my interest consistently, and works in circumstances where Maai would be a bit much. But I have so many new scent affections to consider, most of them because of your blog, my dear! Thanks so very much for your writing this year, and do get some sleep.

    • Maai is definitely not for everyday use, and Or du Serail is much easier, I think. It tempts me too, but then I think of the weird bits (as you put it so well) and I hesitate. But I can totally see you wearing it, so I hope you do end up with a bottle!

  12. Loved Reading your best of 2014 list ! Some new fragrances to try and look forward to, especially THE Oriza Heliotrope as I love heliotrope and THE Maai. Have a wonderful new year’s Eve ! Hugs to your German Furry Friend

    P.s. You are right, FM Musc Ravageur is not exactly my taste

    • I don’t know about you and Maai, Esperanza, as I don’t have the sense that you like animalics. At all! Whatever appeared on your skin with Musc Ravageur is bound to be a THOUSAND times more so with Maai. I’m not kidding. LOL. But I do think you might enjoy Oriza’s Heliotrope Blanc quite a bit. I hope you’ll let me know when you get the chance to test it.

      Happy new year, my dear, and may 2015 be a super year for you! A big hug, cherie.

  13. Wonderful list and writing! From your top 5 I’ve so far only tested Nüwa and loved it, mostly because of the cumin part.
    My favorite releases were Rozy, Mohur Extrait and Russian Tea from Masque. Rozy edp is on top of my wishlist for next year and there are only two spots on that list (at least I’ll try not to buy more than two bottles…).

    Yesterday, I received a sample of Violettes du Czar which I won in a draw and my first thought was: “That’s my fourth one and my favorite from the Oriza line” (Chypre Mousse made me feel quite nauseous, hahaha). It’s so intereting to see VdC on your list given that you are not a violet lover.
    Now it’s between this one and Khol de Bahrein for the second spot on my wishlist.
    Looking forward to your “favorite discoveries” round-up (Khol de Bahrein was one of mine this year).

    • Mohur Extrait is lovely. Absolutely lovely. It was actually on my 2013 Best Of list, because that is when I tried it and reviewed, but I really should have mentioned it here as well. I tend to forget that it officially debuted this year.

      As for Violettes du Czar, how great that it became one of your favorites of the year!! I’m so happy to hear that. As for putting it on my list, I did so because it’s truly an excellent treatment of violet with a very interesting character and with that Russian leather twist. This list is actually not about the fragrances I like myself, but about what is a really good, interesting, elegant and/or complex treatment of a genre, regardless of whether it suited me personally. Oriza’s Violettes du Czar is substantially better than others that I’ve tried, especially Mona di Orio’s Violet Fumée (Ugh.) I may not love violets, but I can recognise a good scent (I hope, lol) and so it went on my list. I’m not at all surprised that an actual violet lover would adore it, but I’m still glad to hear it. 🙂

      BTW, I’m not surprised at all to hear that Chypre Mousse was very difficult for you. It’s truly one of those Love It/Hate It things. Very polarizing, and definitely not for everyone. But a big yay that Khol de Bahrein was a big hit for you. It’s a fantastic fragrance, and the only iris fragrance that I own/like.

      • Haha, you know, Violet Fumée was one of my 2013 favorites and I still love it…now I am off to read your list of favorites!

  14. Great list, my dear Kafka! I’m afraid to try Tobacco Rose for fear I may end up with a FB of it, just like Anubis and Angelique. I have a sample of Palimpsest and Cuirass Cuba Intense (I think)!but haven’t tried them yet. I am looking forward to Shangri La, Cologne Reloaded and the various Oriza Legrand. As to MAAI, I know the NOT for everyone was a warning to me so I will stay FAR FAR away from it.

    By the way, have you been to the PayPal site lately? The dog on the login page reminds me of your Hairy German – big hugs to him.

    • Heheh, smart move regarding Maai. You’d hate it, and it’s most definitely NOT for you. lol! You know what I think you might like? Oriza’s Heliotrope Blanc, and possibly the Violettes. I don’t think the civet in Marrions-Nous will be for you.

      I haven’t been to PayPal lately, but I will go check it out for the possible German shepherd sighting! 🙂 Happy New Year, my sweets, and may 2015 be a fantastic year for you on every level. xoxo

  15. My dearest K,
    This list makes me so anxious. Since I have not tried them all, something in me starts to make noise inside of me: I want to place a huge order and sample each one of your best of 2014!! How greedy! Anxieties aside, it also brings me joy to know you had fun with so many perfumes, that you found love and passion in many new releases.
    I am excited for a new year of more scents to try and good things to come. It may sound trivial perhaps but I truly find solace in reading about scents and smelling beautiful things.
    Black Gemstone took my heart as you prophesied! I need to try Heliotrope Blanc and Anubis. Palimpsest did not work for me at all. I gave it away the very same day I got it and I am still debating if I should try Rozi. Oh rosy Rosy.
    Many hugs!

    • Well, I don’t know about love and passion with all of these releases. LOL. A good number of things on this list are not at all for me, personally, and don’t suit my tastes, but they’re very well-done in their genre, interesting, elegant, or have something that makes them stand out. Doesn’t mean that I would actually wear every single one of them myself! Those scents are on the new list of the 30 Personal Favorites of 2014. LOL. How was Palimpsest on your skin? Too fruity, foodie, honeyed, or something else?

  16. Oh, my comment got lost, so I try again with a shorter version:
    Thanks for the wonderfully written list with many perfumes I haven’t tried yet!
    My favorite releases were Rozy, Mohur Extrait and Russian Tea. Yesterday, I received a sample of Violette du Czar which I luckily won in a draw and I loved it immediately, so glad to see it amongst your favorites even though you are not a violet lover.

    Mito, Mitzah, Tango and Khol de Bahrein were amongst my favorite discoveries, I am very much looking forward to read your next round-up!

    • Your comment ended up in the Spam folder for some reason, but I dug it up and replied to it. 🙂

  17. I can’t wait to try Palimpsest, Shangri-La and Violettes du Czar!

    I do look forward to the Best Of lists…

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