2014 In Review: 30 Personal Favorites

Source: designzzz.com

Source: designzzz.com

My list of favorite fragrances that I’ve tried this year is quite different from yesterday’s list of the best new releases of 2014. The latter centered largely on scents that I thought were good, very elegant or interesting representations of their genre, regardless of whether they were my personal cup of tea, and they were only things that debuted in 2014. Today’s list is purely about what I really enjoyed and does not consider the date in release at all. So, this time around, there are very few qualifications and caveats, and the vast majority of these fragrances are things that I bought for myself, am thinking about buying, or would love to buy were their price not a consideration.

You will notice that a good number of the fragrances are not complex masterpieces at all, but quite simple in nature. One reason for that is that I love cozy, comfort scents, and they are generally not very nuanced or multifaceted to begin with. Plus, mindlessly simple but really well-done fragrances that combine richness with soothing warmth are, in all honesty, a huge relief to me after a long day where I do nothing but analyse every nuance and change in a scent for hours (upon hours) on end.

Ferdinand Leeke,  "The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde," (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

Ferdinand Leeke, “The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde,” (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

A few other points. As always, I have to repeat my mantra regarding the subjective, personal nature of reviewing in general, and how a list like this is even doubly so. With regard to the rankings, it’s always an utter nightmare, but the Top Ten chosen here are generally quite firm in order. There is a bit more leeway with the next 10 names, as a tiny handful could go up or down one to two places of where they are at the present time. I’m most undecided about the placement of the last 10 which are the most subject to fluctuations in order. One reason why is because perfumistas are a fickle bunch who can change their mind from one month to the next, and I’m no exception. The other reason is that I’ve gone back and forth on a few scents, switching their places repeatedly until I just gave up in the end. So, for now, this is where things are, for the most part. Finally, you will notice that some of my summary descriptions are verbatim from my list of best, new releases of 2014 or from my mid-2014 best or favorites list. My apologies in advance. Covering almost 60 fragrances in two days is rather an exhausting process, so I hope you will forgive me.


  1. Source: picvenue.com

    Source: picvenue.com

    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. "Desert Mirage" by Carolyn Schiffhouer at Ebsqart.com. (Website link embedded within.)

    “Desert Mirage” by Carolyn Schiffhouer at Ebsqart.com. (Website link embedded within.)

    SHL 777 BLACK GEMSTONE. Until I tried Maai, Black Gemstone was my favorite fragrance of the year. An opening of black, smoky, tarry darkness is pierced by an astonishingly vibrant, bright yellow beam of concentrated, juicy, tangy lemon. The rest of the scent is a superb blend of shape-shifting notes, dominated by spicy patchouli, incense, and rich amber. Cedar, saffron, myrrh, tonka sweetness, and a touch of eucalyptus all dance around in the background, before the perfume transitions to a smoky, spicy, ambered richness in the drydown. It is layer upon layer of goldenness upon a deep base that feels like the darkest resins have turned to velvet or satin. Black Gemstone was love at first sniff for me, and a fragrance which I adore from start to finish. My black bottle is one of the treasures in my collection, and something I turn to whenever I want to be transported away by really powerful, potent darkness.

  3. Source: appszoom.com

    Source: appszoom.com

    MAITRE PARFUMEUR & GANTIER AMBRE PRECIEUX. There are far more interesting, complex, and distinctive fragrances on this list than Ambre Precieux, and there are certainly better ambers in the world. The Rolls-Royce of mixed ambers (ambergris with some labdanum) is probably Profumum Roma‘s Ambra Aurea, while O Hira  (see below) stands above all else for pure labdanum ones. Yet, MPG’s fragrance is the one that I’ve found myself returning to again and again, often seeking it out every time I have a rare night to wear my own fragrances. I’m wholly, utterly, uncontrollably in the grips of some mad obsession with Ambre Precieux, such that I’ve gone through almost 70% of a 100 ml bottle in only a few months. I douse myself in it, spray it on my sheets, layer it on top of practically every genre of fragrance imaginable, and want to wear it constantly. Absolutely nothing about Ambre Precieux should justify any of this, especially as it’s an extremely simple, linear, uncomplicated scent. The thing is, I’m judging the fragrance by a very different standard than what is a good amber or an interesting scent. You see, Ambre Precieux is actually my ideal version of a gourmand fragrance. For someone with my extremely low tolerance for sweetness, this mix of caramel amber with vanilla, benzoin, and lightly powdered sweetness is practically a gourmand. It is never cloying, gooey, or sugary, thanks to the counterbalancing, very subtle effects of myrtle and lavender. The latter are more like suggestions than distinct, truly aromatic elements, but they keep the amber’s caramel nuances in check and ensure a perfect equilibrium between the various parts. The result is an incredibly comforting, cozy, soothing scent that relaxes me and simply makes me happy. As a side note, the new Ultime version (which is also reviewed at the link given above) does not have this effect on me at all, and is more of a proper amber scent. It’s nice, but I’m not crazy about the change in balance, the massive increase in aromatic elements and darkness, and the drop in vanillic sweetness. I’ll stick to the original. If one were to choose perfumes solely on the basis of illogical emotionalism and pure addiction, Ambre Precieux would probably top this list.

  4. Source: wallpaperswa.com

    Source: wallpaperswa.com

    SHL 777 O HIRA. O Hira is the Incredible Hulk of ambers, in my opinion, and in a class all by itself. It also has more elements than the mere umbrella description, “fossilized amber,” that is given as its one official note. Its labdanum is seamlessly blended with darkened woods, and with treacly, blackened resins like styrax and probably Tolu balsam. The molten, resinous juices are so beautifully honeyed, dark, leathery, and toffee’d, that I was instantly hooked. At a higher dosage, O Hira showed a naughty, animalic side that reminds me of Vintage Opium‘s base, and not just because both fragrances share the same sort of growling, drop-dead sexiness. In fact, I think O Hira on the right man or woman could be devastatingly seductive.The end result of all this is a civilized veneer of baroque, bronzed opulence which hides animalic, smoky, musky, and leathered elements, as well as a strongly blackened, slightly dirty heart. I think it’s stunning, drop-dead sexy, an utter beast, and it would be at the top of my “To Buy” list if the price were not so terrifying. In all honesty, the price (which is in another solar system, even by niche standards) is hard for me to justify. In the end, I’ll just cite to you my Roja Dove Rule and say that it comes down to a very personal, individual valuation when it comes to these sorts of ultra-ultra-luxury fragrances. I can’t afford O Hira and neither can most people, but it is truly an amber above all others, in my opinion.

  5. "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 that made me say, “Wow” and “Oh My God” out loud upon first sniff. In fact, it was actually going to be first on my list of 2014 new 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 impressed me from the very first sniff. Plus, it’s really affordable for what you’re getting, too. 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.

  6. Source: whoniversefanon.wikia.com/  Original artist unknown.

    Source: whoniversefanon.wikia.com/ Original artist unknown.

    ROJA DOVE NUWA. Nuwa is one of my favorites from this year, even though I would not recommend to the average person because of 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. At this point, I would normally say that Nuwa is not for the faint of heart, but one of my British readers who knows the Roja Dove line well commented yesterday that the scent has been “brutally reformulated” in the U.K. to remove much of its spicy, distinctive fieriness and its smoky Russian leather, leaving a very “tame” fragrance dominated by citrus and rose. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true, because I doubt Nuwa was a huge seller in its original form, but it’s still terrible news.

  7. Rooney Mara photographed by Mert & Marcus

    Rooney Mara photographed by Mert & Marcus

    HIRAM GREEN MOON BLOOM. Moon Bloom would definitely have been on my Best of 2013 list had I tried it at the time. I’m a sucker for the BWF genre (Big White Florals), and tuberose is my absolute favorite flower in nature. Malle’s much-beloved Carnal Flower has never impressed me much, but Moon Bloom is simply spectacular in its delicacy, richness, and depth. There is greenness that feels like dewy gardenia, along with blackness from the deconstructed tuberose, and perfectly calibrated milkiness from coconut that is never — not once — unctuous, buttery, gooey, or something resembling sun tan lotion. Moon Bloom is a masterfully created mix of lightness and darkness, richness and delicacy, that evokes a Pre-Raphaelite’s Ophelia. Those of you who have always been terrified of tuberose fragrances may be surprised by Moon Beam because is it not a divaesque Fracas white bomb that assaults you. (I adore vintage Fracas, but it definitely is a Maria Callas fragrance!) Instead, Moon Beam is a romantic beauty that is incredibly smooth, well-calibrated, refined, and polished. One thing that is astonishing is the fact that it is an all-natural fragrance; it doesn’t feel like it with its depth, body, and longevity. As a whole, I cannot rave about Moon Beam enough. Truly lovely, and another one that I bought for myself.

  8. Source: 360doc.com

    Source: 360doc.com

    XERJOFF RICHWOOD. There are a lot of fragrances with “sandalwood,” but very (very) few of them have the Mysore wood which I think is the only kind that deserves to bear the name. Richwood is an exception, and most definitely contains the real thing, though I do not think it’s in the unalleviated, pure, solo quantity that Xerjoff claims. Still, even with an aromachemical touch to support it (one that felt a bit scratchy at times), Richwood is a glorious fragrance. Imagine a tree in India made from smoky sandalwood whose branches bear bright, yellow citruses, whose leaves are made from spiced, boozy patchouli, and whose gnarled roots are made from rosewood. From the body of its trunk seeps out plummy, wine-like liqueur. People come from far and wide to pay tribute with incense, and its smoke weaves up to curl around the boozy notes. Over time, the sun-sweetened citruses die away; a mix of cognac booziness and plummy wine liqueur takes over, flecked by a whisper of something floral; and a flood of creaminess seeps up from the base that is astonishingly buttery, plush, and smooth. In short, Richwood is not only a Mysore sandalwood fragrance, but so much more. It’s painfully expensive though, and totally outside my own price range, but I completely understand why some people who find it over-priced end up succumbing nonetheless, or why the scent is often sold out. Richwood was definitely a stand-out in the woody genre for me this year.

  9. Source: thisoldhouse.com

    Source: thisoldhouse.com

    FREDERIC MALLE MUSC RAVAGEUR. Gingerbread, cookies, and a sweet, furry kitten. That is essence of Malle’s famous musk creation on my skin, especially these days after reformulation. There is no “ravaging,” feral, turbulent sensuality, but a lovely, very cozy gourmand made from cloves, ginger, vanillic benzoin, and creamy tonka sweetness, all wrapped up in a soft ambered glow and with only light streaks of civet and ambrette in the base. I don’t even notice the latter unless I sniff up close or apply a lot of the scent. When I do, the fuzzy, ginger kitten shows her claws a tiny bit, but they’re tiny. Perhaps once, Musc Ravageur was something raunchy but I’m not the only one to think this fragrance is about as animalic as Winnie the Pooh (to paraphrase someone on Fragrantica). That said, personal skin chemistry and individual definitions of what constitutes feline skankiness are going to make a big difference in how one interprets the scent. For me, it’s another simple, uncomplicated comfort scent.

  10. Source: Miriadna.com desktop wallpapers.

    Source: Miriadna.com desktop wallpapers.

    PARFUMS MDCI CHYPRE PALATIN. Chypre Palatin is an opulent, regal chypre with an astonishing amount of oakmoss, thanks to Bertrand Duchaufour‘s use of a technique that removes the EU/IFRA restricted atranol molecule. Yet, there is far more to the scent than mere oakmoss. Chypre Palatin opens with sun-sweetened tangerines, zesty lemon, spicy brown patchouli, and tons of smoky sweetness from styrax resin. In the base, there is a subtle animalic tinge through the use of castoreum with a touch of costus root (a big part of Kouros‘ legend). The multi-faceted mix is finished off with creamy vanilla, a light touch of delicate florals, a hint of booziness, and a definite underpinning of leathered darkness. Chypre Palatin is a stunner, and I bought a bottle for myself.


  1. Source: drawingforkids.org

    Source: drawingforkids.org

    MASQUE MONTECRISTO. A brilliant, animalic fragrance that is positively feral at times, Montecristo evokes a dry jungle where a leather and fur-clad warrior travels through fields of tobacco, spices, dusty woods, and lemony florals, all drenched with honey, booziness, and golden, musky warmth. Cumin, a powerful urinous note, and raunchiness make Montecristo a scent that is not for everyone, but it’s rather magnificent, in my opinion, especially because of the multi-faceted river of leather that runs through it. The golden drydown evoking the feel of heated, warmed skin is particularly splendid, far outweighing anything in the significantly tamer MKK from Serge Lutens. Montecristo is enormously bold, quite fascinating, very powerful, and masterfully done, in my opinion.

  2. Photo: Mary Foster Creative, Etsy Store. (Link embedded within photo.)

    Photo: Mary Foster Creative, Etsy Store. (Link embedded within photo.)

    SHL 777 KHOL DE BAHREIN. I’m generally not one for iris scents, but Khol de Bahrein is special. A study of light and dark, of coolness and warmth, Khol de Bahrein takes the stony aspects of iris and marries it to the warmth and richness of amber, then dusts them off with heaping mounds of sweetened heliotrope and vanillic tonka powder. There is supposedly a violet element, too, though not on my skin. I’m a sucker for heliotrope, so I fell for the perfume’s coziness and quasi-gourmand flourish, but Khol de Bahrein is first and foremost a study of cool elegance and sophistication. Its rich notes are blended seamlessly, balanced perfectly, and held in check by a discreet softness that feels very refined. Khol de Bahrein is the very first (and only) iris fragrance that I’ve ever fallen for, but hardcore iris lovers rave about it even more. I would recommend it for fans of heliotrope as much as those who love iris.

  3. Source: wallpaperup.com

    Source: wallpaperup.com

    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.

  4. Source: iwallpapersfive.com

    Source: iwallpapersfive.com

    SANTA MARIA NOVELLA PATCHOULI. It’s not my Holy Grail patchouli, but this simple, uncomplicated soliflore is close. It is also one of the best in its genre that I’ve tried thus far. It starts out fiercely, but soon transforms to something smoother and easier, with waves of patchouli whose undercurrents are spicy, musky, leathery, woody, and camphorous. They envelop you deeply, with endless body, glorious spiciness, and with a resinous feel that sensuously caresses your skin as tendrils of smoke curl around you. It’s never musty, dusty, or boozy, and there are no tobacco or chocolate underpinnings, but the patchouli is very multi-faceted nonetheless. Later, the fragrance turns more golden, as if a touch of benzoin had been used, and takes on a degree of velvety plushness that is rather astonishing for a mere cologne. A lot of people consider SMN’s Patchouli to be the best in its class, above all others, and I can see why. I think it is a far better scent than Tom Ford’s new Patchouli Absolu which didn’t impress me one whit, and which I wouldn’t wear even if it were given to me for free. SMN’s perfume is on my list of things to buy for myself.

  5. Source: wallpaperscraft.ru

    Source: wallpaperscraft.ru

    PARFUMERIE GENERALE COZE. Imagine yourself lying in a field on a hot summer’s day, surrounded by tall blades of fresh, green grass. Your head rests on large bales of hemp, large pods of cocoa sprout up around your body next to black stalks of Madagascar vanilla, and the patchouli earth is a mix of sweetness and dryness. The sun shines on your face, but brown-red clouds shower cloves and nutmeg down on you, while a dry wind blows a soft smokiness from the ebony trees circling the field. Dotting the landscape all around are picnic tables covered by tobacco leaves that have been lightly drizzled by honey. As you doze in the warmth and golden sweetness, the scenery changes and you’re carried off in a cloud of cloves, nutmeg and chocolate, threaded through with patchouli and dry woods, and a dash of vanilla. Welcome to the special world of Coze, a patch head’s dream, but also much more. It’s a rich, resinous oriental with beautiful warmth that straddles the line between an oriental and a gourmand in a perfectly calibrated mix of spices, warmth, dryness, and sweetness. Coze has apparently been reformulated and weakened, but I loved it enough to I succumb to a bottle for myself.

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

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

    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. There are elements 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, but 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.

  7. Source: Wallpaperscraft.com

    Source: Wallpaperscraft.com

    O’DRIU PEETY. Peety is a wonderfully bold, animalic oriental centered on multi-faceted tobacco nestled under a thick, heavy layer of sweet honey. There is sweet cinnamon; an endless amount of golden, ambered warmth; small streaks of dry vanilla; and a touch of Seville bitter oranges. If you focus hard, you can detect wisps of green mossiness, syrupy jasmine, and a fruited rose as well. Yet, the main bouquet on my skin, especially from afar, is of honeyed tobacco with a dash of tonka vanilla and strong musky animalics. Later, the subtext changes and Peety takes on nuances of sweet hay, cinnamon, vanilla, spiced gingerbread, dry woodiness, musky leather, a wisp of abstract floralcy, and rich, golden warmth. It is a scent with impressive richness, body, projection, and longevity, though its monolithic intensity does get a little exhausting at times. Still, it is a scent that I strongly recommend to anyone who loves both tobacco and honey, and doesn’t mind a touch of animalics.

  8. Source: lewallpaper.com

    Source: lewallpaper.com

    LOREE RODKIN GOTHIC I. Gothic I (as in the roman numeral) is a beautiful, deep vanilla fragrance infused with the warmth of spicy patchouli. I’m not a true gourmand in my perfume tastes, but the vanilla here is particularly well done because its dark and relatively dry. Its richness vaguely resembles that in Profumum Roma’s much beloved Dulcis in Fundo, but there is no excessive sweetness, butteriness, or waffle cone tonalities. I think it’s thanks to the addition of spicy patchouli, though Gothic I skews heavily in the direction of vanilla more than patchouli on my skin. I find it to be a perfect cozy scent for winter, bought a bottle for myself, and like to layer it with amber fragrances or leathers. It is a scent I recommend to those who like deep, smooth vanillas cut through with other notes, some spice, dryness, and darkness, but without cloying sugar. As a side note, Gothic II is somewhat similar, but Gothic I is the one that I’d recommend.

  9. Source: wallko.com

    Source: wallko.com

    INDULT TIHOTA. Pure vanilla, unadulterated by almost anything but a light touch of soft musks, Tihota is seen by many to be the leader in its genre. I’m not a gourmand lover and I initially doubted Tihota could ever live up to its legend, but I was surprised by how much I loved this scent. The key for me is that Tihota is not a creme brulée vanilla encrusted with a heavy amount of caramelized sugar or icing. There is no buttery thickness, either. This is cake batter vanilla with an undercurrent of flour and rich eggs, mixed in with the scent of vanilla cakes taken fresh from the oven, and a touch of snickerdoodle, sugar cookies. Tihota is actually a little too sweet at first for my personal tastes, but that changes after a while. All of it is very light, sheer, and soft, enveloping you in the sweet warmth that I found utterly addictive. I would absolutely buy a bottle for myself if the price were more reasonable for such a simple scent. Then again, I’m not a real gourmand lover, and you do get what you pay for. Since I wrote my review, I’ve tried a few more affordable vanillas, and none of them have Tihota’s quality, smoothness, or lack of synthetics. As pure, soft vanillas go, Tihota really stands out for me.

  10. Daria Werbowy by photographers Mert & Marcus for French Vogue, September 2012. Source: tee-vanity.com

    Daria Werbowy by photographers Mert & Marcus for French Vogue, September 2012. Source: tee-vanity.com

    TOM FORD BLACK ORCHID. The core essence of Black Orchid on my skin can be boiled down to: an earthy, musky floral infused with patchouli, black cocoa, a bit of black truffle funk, and multi-faceted elements of darkness, all atop a light layer of vanilla cream. The velvety florals are dusted with dark chocolate, while the patchouli is beautifully refined and spicy. Later, tendrils of incense rise up to curl around the bouquet like a ribbon; woodiness stirs in the base alongside small streaks of something resinously balsamic’ and a cloud of patchouli-vanilla hovers over everything. All in all, I think it’s a complex, interesting scent with great sensuality, a gourmand touch, and more unisex appeal than the marketing would suggest. Like all Tom Ford fragrances, it can be rather polarizing, but I think Black Orchid is a substantially better scent than many of his more expensive Private Blend creations, especially lately. I bought a bottle for myself, though I admit that I don’t wear it frequently since it sometimes feels a little foodie and gourmand for my tastes.


  1. Photo: Andrew Yee for How To Spend It Magazine via FashionGoneRogue.com

    Photo: Andrew Yee for How To Spend It Magazine via FashionGoneRogue.com

    GROSSMITH SHEM-EL-NESSIM. Originally issued in 1906, Shem-el-Nessim was heavily influenced and inspired by Guerlain’s legendary L’Heure Bleue, which came out a few years before. There are definite differences, however, as Shem-el-Nessim is more overtly floral, slightly sweeter, not peppery, woody, or melancholic in any way. Rich neroli orange blossoms swirl together with geranium, roses, deep bergamot, orris, and plush patchouli greenness to create an opulent, luxurious floriental worthy of a queen in a bygone era. I find it truly beautiful, carrying the full weight of its 108 year old history in its powdered floral start, but ending with a very timeless, perhaps even modern, finish of creamy neroli-vanilla mousse. Shem-el-Nessim is not for everyone, but for women who bemoan the loss of the vintage greats, it is a fragrance that they must try. Luca Turin loves it too, and awarded it Four Stars this year.

  2. Photo: Wanna Be A Country Cleaver, Megan Cleaver, via Tastykitchen.com

    Photo: Wanna Be A Country Cleaver, Megan Cleaver, via Tastykitchen.com

    PARFUMS DE NICOLAI AMBER OUD.  This simple, uncomplicated, misleadingly named lavender-vanilla-patchouli perfume became a small obsession of mine for a while. At its heart, it’s really just lavender ice-cream, despite the claims in its name. (No, there is not an ounce of actual agarwood in this scent. Not one.) I am a bit of a lavender-phobe, but what gets me in the case of Amber Oud is the vanilla, tonka sweetness, and light touches of spicy, brown patchouli. A minuscule sprinkling of golden amber is the final touch to this scent that envelops you in coziness and sweetness. It is like the best parts of Jicky‘s lavender-tonka heart, only without its animalic civet, but with the benefit of deep, warm, lightly spiced, golden patchouli. It is also like a much sweeter, more vanillic, less ambered Fourreau Noir (Serge Lutens), but without the latter’s incense smokiness. It is another fragrance that I bought for myself, and continues to be my favorite from the Nicolai line.

  3. Source: the Serge Lutens Facebook page.

    Source: the Serge Lutens Facebook page.

    SERGE LUTENS L’INCENDIAIRE. Serge Lutens’ first foray into both pure parfums and the ultra-luxury market is, in essence, a walk through an olfactory hall of mirrors, echoing the scents of his greatest hits from amongst his darkest orientals. Fille en Aiguilles leads the charge, followed by the notorious Serge Noire, while Feminité du Bois brings up the rear. There is a touch of his Boxeuses, too, but none of the oud that some others have encountered in the scent. As time passes, the Lutens classics change their order in the troop formation, but the bottom line remains the same: L’Incendiaire feels like a mixed tape compilation of scents I’ve encountered before, only refined to a polished core and with the trickier elements buffed out. It’s thoroughly enjoyable, particularly as L’Incendiaire covers a good number of my favorite Lutens scents, but I feel rather conflicted because this is a hugely expensive fragrance to be going over old ground. Would I wear it? Absolutely. Would I buy it? No. Am I even tempted? No. But I did thoroughly enjoy it, so I’ve put it on my list. After all, price is a personal, individual consideration.

  4. Norman Rockwell's "Mother Tucking Children Into Bed," 1921. Source: pinterest.

    Norman Rockwell’s “Mother Tucking Children Into Bed,” 1921. Source: pinterest.

    ORIZA L. LEGRAND HELIOTROPE BLANC. Childhood pleasures and sweet innocence, captured in a bottle. Heliotrope Blanc surprised me, beguiled me, and charmed me against all odds. So many of its elements are things that I struggle with in perfumery, quite deeply at times, like iris and the avalanche of powder that I would normally run from like the plague. Yet, Heliotrope Blanc turned out to be a cozy snuggle scent that made me think of Mary Poppins, almond milk and marshmallow cream, babies in soft blankets, a mother’s loving embrace as she puts her child to sleep, and childhood treats. The namesake flower smells like just like marshmallows with a touch of fluffy meringues, is infused with almond milk and rice pudding, dusted with mimosas, and then placed upon a base lightly flecked with a touch of resinous smokiness. Later, Heliotrope Blanc turns into marshmallow cream, then into a silky, milky floral musk flecked with vanilla. It’s really lovely, but you have to be a hardcore heliotrope fan to appreciate this scent. I am. If you are, too, you should definitely try it.

  5. Source: wallpapers55.com

    Source: wallpapers55.com

    CARNER BARCELONA TARDES. Speaking of heliotrope… Tardes is a gorgeous scent but an extremely different one from the Oriza. For one thing, it never feels like a heliotrope soliflore. For another, it’s quite sweet, boozy, and more complex. On my skin, Tardes starts off with as a liqueured cocktail involving rubied roses steeped in Calvados brandy in a wooden cedar vat, infused with almonds, plum, heliotrope, tonka, a hint of pear, and a dash of clean musk, all within a very Frapin 1270-like golden cocoon. Then, Tardes suddenly shifts gears and takes you on a stroll through a geranium patch in the woods, before it ends up as a fluffy, floral cloud of fragrant heliotrope mixed with sweet tonka vanilla. I loved Tardes, and I keep thinking about buying a bottle, but I always hesitate because it does skew a little too sweet for my personal tastes. Still, if you love heliotrope, gourmands, or boozy fragrances, I strongly encourage you to try it for yourself.

  6. Mata Hari, 1905, via Pinterest.

    Mata Hari, 1905, via Pinterest.

    LA VIA DEL PROFUMO (AbdesSalaam Attar) TAWAF. Perhaps the best jasmine soliflore that I’ve tried, Tawaf has a truly spectacular, heady, and narcotic opening of floral richness and sweetness, all infused with a touch of skanky, indolic, blackened naughtiness. The overall effect feels like something wickedly voluptuous. If ever a jasmine were so fleshy that it amounted to a courtesan’s pillowy breasts heaving above the top of a tight corset, it would be Tawaf. There is a decadent excessiveness, overt carnality, and lush ripeness that positively oozes fleshiness. It feels like the perfect scent for one of the greatest seductresses of all time, Mata Hari. Tawaf is a beauty that rather took my breath away, but the problem is that all that headiness fades on my skin after 90 minutes or so, though the drydown is pretty with its soft floralcy, creamy myrrh and beeswax. If the gorgeous opening lasted and if Tawaf didn’t have generally weak sillage, it would be far, far, far higher on this list.

  7. Source: reshade.com

    Source: reshade.com

    VERO PROFUMO ROZY EDP. Imagine a land where the buildings are hewn from roses, peach, and passion fruit, and musky lovers frolic in gardens where purple hyacinths bloom near green, mossy lawns drizzled with honey. Sweet juices from fleshy peaches mix with tart tanginess from passion fruit, 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. 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 have 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.

  8. "Venus Verticordia" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, circa 1864. Source: rossettiarchive.org

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

    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 peach-covered lovers cavorting in glens made of oakmoss and jasmine, but also, like a modern fragrance centered on Goth black leather in a boudoir made of roses. I had an inexplicable bout with something that smelled like phenolic leather-castoreum in the opening phase of some of my tests, even though there’s no castoreum in the scent at all, but both versions were ultimately very well done. Eventually, they both 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. In the end, it turns into iris suede shot through with spicy-sweet patchouli, along with a quiet muskiness and the faintest hint of a rose-chypre greenness. Shangri La has an extrait-like richness that feels very luxurious, though the perfume 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.

  9. Billy Idol. Photo: Kirk West/Getty images, via ivillage.com

    Billy Idol. Photo: Kirk West/Getty images, via ivillage.com

    FARMACIA SS. ANNUNZIATA AMBRA NERA. Ambra Nera is far more than the “black amber” that its name implies. Rich woods, spicy patchouli, smoky incense, darkened balsamic resins, animalic warmth, and earthiness are all cocooned in musky ambergris in a way that feels like amber with an edge. While its essence can be over-simplified down to patchouli-amber-woods, Ambra Nera leaves analogous amber or patchouli fragrances in the dust of their golden palaces, where aristocrats lounge near fireplaces sipping cognac. Ambra Nera chooses instead to get on its Harley-Davidson, snarling in black leather like Billy Idol or the Ramones. I see it as a punk rock amber, and it is one of the fragrances on my list of things to buy for myself.

  10. Source: Normann Copenhagen. (Link to blog site with recipe for mousse embedded within photo.)

    Source: Normann Copenhagen. (Link to blog site with recipe for mousse embedded within photo.)

    PROFUMUM ROMA ANTICO CARUSO. Antico Caruso is a stand-out in a line that specializes in rich fragrances. It opens with a retro, barber-shop bouquet centered on powerful, aromatic fougère notes with bright citruses, aromatic herbs, and lavender. The whole thing is dusted off with soapy lather, and is too clean for my personal tastes, but it takes a mere 75 minutes for the opening to fade to a deluge of creaminess that is truly special. Almond custard, equally creamy, soft woods, and airy vanilla mousse lie at the heart of Antico Caruso, pulsating out with silky smoothness for hours to come in a way that is really delicious. What a drydown! I can’t rave enough about that almond-vanilla duet. I thought it was compulsively sniffable.


  • NEELA VERMEIRE MOHUR EXTRAIT. Mohur Extrait was actually very high on my 2013 list of favorites, because that is when I actually tried and reviewed the fragrance, but it was technically and officially released this year, so I’m mentioning it again. Mohur Extrait is a gorgeous, va-va-voom queen in the rose genre, and I say that as someone who normally isn’t particularly keen on rose fragrances. The sweet flowers are infused with delicate violets, iris, rich amounts of real Mysore sandalwood, oud, patchouli, cardamom and other spices, almond milk, a hint of carroty sweetness, elemi woods, amber, and soft vanilla. All of it feels romantic, lush, complex, and luxurious. It’s really special.
  • ORIZA L. LEGRAND MUGUET FLEURI. Muguet Fleuri is a softer, floral, dewy, lily-of-the-valley cousin to Chypre Mousse with strong similarities to vintage Diorissimo (which it actually predates). 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 and dewy liquidity. Its clean, fresh greenness is also imbued with wild violets and a light touch of powder. All of it is really well-done, and Muguet Fleuri stands out amidst the many green scents that I’ve tried this year.
  • SHL 777 SOLEIL DU JEDDAH. Soleil de Jeddah is a supernova of ultra-bright, glowing citruses, tangy fruits, green touches, and richness, all flecked with iris, more iris, chamomile, and a touch of woodiness before being placed on a base of darkened, smoky leatheriness. I’m not generally one for citric or fruity fragrances, but it’s hard for one’s jaw not to drop at the concentrated richness, sunniness, and brightness of this perfume’s opening.
  • GUERLAIN CUIR BELUGACuir Beluga is a cashmere cloud of cream and pink, with the soothing comfort of Mary Poppins telling you take a spoonful of sugar at bedtime. It’s an absolutely addictive mix of marzipan treats, powdered heliotrope meringues, and vanilla milk, but it fades away to a lingering whisper all too quickly on my skin. Were it not for Cuir Beluga’s weak sillage and iffy longevity, it would be much higher on this list, as I think it’s lovely. Fellow fans of heliotrope really should try this one. Just don’t expect an actual leather scent, because this is most definitely not one, in my opinion.
  • ROJA DOVE ENIGMA POUR HOMME OR CREATION-E. Enigma is a boozy, brandy-infused, spiced plum pudding that is dusted with spicy, crystallized ginger, then flecked with amber, vanilla, cardamom, more ginger, and soft cocoa. It’s a very rich fragrance with distant kinship to Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille, Kilian‘s Apple Brandy, and Serge LutensFille en Aiguilles, all rolled into one. I should have adored Enigma, but there was a streak of aroma-chemicals (probably from the tobacco) that appeared in the base when I applied a smaller quantity of the scent. Even without that though, Enigma doesn’t move me personally for some strange reason, perhaps because it is a little too much like boozy Christmas plum pudding and Tobacco Vanille at times. Still, it’s a very opulent, regal fragrance, there is no denying its quality, and there are parts of it that I found to be really appealing, so it’s a scent worth mentioning.
  • FARMACIA SS. ANNUNZIATA VANIGLIA DEL MADAGASCAR. The core of Vaniglia del Madagascar is creamy, sweet vanilla with smoke, multi-faceted inflections, and a hushed breath. It is a slow-burn scent that requires patience, but one which eventually blooms into something that is very pretty. I’m not crazy about its overly sweet opening which is caramelized, candied vanilla infused with brisk, fresh lemons, but things improve after 3 or 4 hours when the fragrance turns into vanilla silk with a wisp of amber and touch of dark, dry smokiness. This isn’t my perfect vanilla by any means, but Vaniglia did make me sit up and take notice, and I even contemplating a large decant at one point, so I’m putting it on my list.
  • SHL 777 ROSE DE PETRA. A spiced, rich, smoky, dusty rose fragrance that begins with similarities to Malle’s Portrait of a Lady (but far better) before transitioning to an Amouage-like LyricEpic combination. I’m not one for rose-centric fragrances, but Rose de Petra caught my attention with its many nuances and elegant nature.

There are a few other fragrances that I contemplated listing in the Honourable Mentions because they all had some element that appealed to me. For example, the drydown in Serge LutensL’Orpheline with its surprising sandalwood-like bouquet; the smoky woods in SHL 777‘s Oumma; the patchouli parts of Roja Dove‘s Danger; the spicier aspects of DSH Perfumes‘ soft, more innocent version of Opium called Euphorisme d’Opium; and all of Santa Maria Novella‘s Nostalgia which is a scent I like as a whole but whose diesel opening is surprisingly appealing. There are others, too, like the lovely opening of LM Parfums‘ new Epine Mortelle that I talked about in my 2014 best new releases list. However, this list has become ridiculously long, even for someone with my OCD love of details, so I’ll end it here.

Happy new year, and I hope to see you in 2015!

58 thoughts on “2014 In Review: 30 Personal Favorites

  1. Oh goody! I get to be the first person to comment! That’s because I just SKIMMED your wonderful post!!! I WILL read the whole thing, but I simply cannot do it all at once. I will fall over in a Victorian faint as the entire thing is droolworthy in the extreme. I have always thought our tastes were quite different. Nah. I adore roses. You don’t. Otherwise? Nope.

    The only scent on this entire list that I don’t love already, lust after, or know I’d at least like in theory is Or du Serail, which I thought I would love and I could not tolerate (to the point of not being able to wear it long enough to explain it to anyone). Never mind that. Bravo on the wonderful list! Now I will read commence to really read it.

    Happy New Year, my dear Kafka! 🙂

    • Aww, you’re so sweet. Thank you. I had to laugh at the skimming because, yes, this was bloody long! As for our tastes not being so different, I don’t know. I don’t see you as a patch-head or tuberose lover, and I know you don’t like jasmine! I go for the white flowers, you go for the red and violet ones! LOL. 😉 But if we put the floral and patchouli differences aside, I do think we’re close in taste and definitely more so now than last year, for example. 🙂

      Happy New Year, my dear Julie. I hope 2015 is the best year ever for you. xoxo

      • Of course, you are correct! FYI: I have developed a real appreciation for patchouli. I finally got rid of all the bad associations. Wow did I enjoy sampling the six different patchoulis in my recent EO and absolute haul!

        Happy New Year again to you, dearest Kafka. Let’s hope 2015 is a great year for us all!! <3

    • You’re very, very welcome, sweetie, and a very happy new year to you, too. May 2015 be the best one ever. (And may you find even more fragrant loves in it!)

  2. Being second isn’t bad 🙂 As I was reading, I kept thinking “I want, I want, I want” ….is this why people sell organs? Xerjoff’s Richwood is one I’m not familiar with. Roja Dove keeps popping up. Hmmm. Kafka, thanks for the exhausting work. You need a break now. Happy New Year!! Cheers….

    • I’m totally taking a break now. For a while. My brain is utterly fried. LOL. My one request to you in terms of fragrance is to try my beloved Alahine. I think you’d love it very much, especially as you do love roses. Anyway, I’m so glad you found the blog late this year, and getting to know you has been a treat. I look forward to doing so even more in 2015! Hugs, my dear Don.

      • Alahine has been stuck in my spongey brain since I’ve seen you
        mention it as your beloved perfume and I’m planning on ordering a batch of samples -muahaha-this week. I will absolutely smell it. And since our tastes are so very similar, I’m sure I will love it. 😀 I’m so happy I joined the blog and look forward to everything you write. The way you describe each fragrance, each note, the way it makes you feel ; translates so well that I almost imagine I’m wearing it….and you’re wonderful personality with it. Hugs back to you my friend. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Best New Releases of 2014 - Kafkaesque

  4. I skimmed it too. No wonder your brain is fried. Enjoy the next few days as downtime. You’ve totally earned it. Happy New Year!

  5. I really enjoyed this post. It reminded me of several perfumes I very much want to try. I hope the New Year is a wondrous one for you.

  6. i came today to say thank you for your blog in 2014. It was always interesting, inspiring – and I really appreciate your love for detail.
    Wishing you a fragrant and very happy 2015, dear Franz !

  7. What a wonderfull and interesting list, Kafka ! Thank you so much. I thought I read you were planning on writing shorter reviews 😉 I really enjoyed Reading your reviews this year, especially the ones about cooking. Regarding your top 30 list, I have not tried the Xerjoff and I love sandelwood. So I Will put it on my to try list. Shem el Nessim is on my best of list as Well, have you tried the extrait as Well ? To sell your other kidney for. Do you like PG Cadjmere ? It is one of my comfort fragrances. And as you like Tardes I am wondering if you like it. But I was a bit surprised you did not find Tihota too sweet and Tardes too sweet. Interesting, how personal taste differs. I wish you a healthy, fun, inspiring new year !

    • Shorter reviews for a single fragrance, not for 30+. 🙂 Shem el Nessim in the extrait…. oh gosh, I imagine it must be AMAZING!! I haven’t tried it, but I can well imagine how good it is! I also haven’t tried PG’s Cadjmere, but I shall put it on my list of things to get a sample of this year. As for Tardes vs. Tihota, Tardes is actually sweeter on my skin in the first hour than the Tihota. It’s that liqueured accord which is extremely sugary. Tihota, in contrast, comes several times to pushing into the overly sweet territory but constantly draws back at the tipping point, perhaps thanks to the creamy undertones and that flour-like nuance. Regardless, I suspect I’ll eventually succumb to a full bottle of Tardes at some point. 🙂

      Happy 2015, dear Esperanza! I hope it’s a wonderful year for you.

  8. Dear Kafka thank you for another year full of great and interesting reviews. I’m glad you decided to stay in the game and I’m glad you keep introducing us to new perfumes! Happy new year and may it be full of joy!

    • Thank you, my dear Alex. I hope 2015 is a super year for you as well. I’m so glad I had the chance to get to know you at the end of this year, and I look forward to more shared fragrance adventures in 2015.

  9. Thankyou so so much Kafka for this wonderful comprehensive beautifully written article on your favourites. Yes in the end its all down to personal taste….perfume is like sex – not everyone is turned on by the same person (thank goodness!) and a person smells and tastes so very different when we love them rather than when we don’t. But love or rather a chemical attraction comes first – so we have to try before we buy!!
    I love Anubis and Moon Bloom and yet to try Shangrila – we have a great place here in the UK for sending samples – its Les Senteurs in London and they stock a lot of the ones you recommend.
    Just a quickie…and I’m sure you MUST be exhausted…..have you tried any from the perfume house DIVINE – based in France. Definately worth a look or a sniff. My favourite is called Divine and its old school a bit like Ysatis which turns into soft lipstick/sweet leather handbag. Also L’Etre Aime is lovely…a floral which turns into sticky wood and L’Ame Soeur…..is to die for – opens like the old Ritz..Charles of the Ritz and morphs into a Chanel-like aldehyde with all the nice bits – I mean old school Chanel not the stuff they churn out these days. 10 samples all beautifully packaged in a beauitful box. Oh the French know how to do style!!!

    • I’ve heard of Divine, although I haven’t tried anything from them, alas. I don’t think they’re that widely available here, but I will see what I can do, Katie, as you make them sound wonderful!

      Happy 2015, my dear!

  10. Yay for the second round & thank you for putting so much work in both lists!!! I have the feeling that I’ve learned a lot from reading your in-depth reviews.

    You will need a lot from the cozy and comforting category the next couple of days, I guess…Ambre Precieux, Musk Ravageur, Cuir Beluga and Vaniglia del Madagascar are favorites of mine, too!

    I wish you a happy New Year’s Eve and a recreative 2015!

  11. What a wonderful read! So many old and new favorites here, many of which I learned of on your blog: Moon Bloom, Maai, Black Gemstone, Euphorisme d’Opium, Or de Serail, Khol de Bahrain, Peety, Tihota, Mohur Extrait, Coze, Gothic I…as well as a few like Anubis and Nuwa that intrigued me but ultimately didn’t work in the wearing, and then there are the intriguing ones that I haven’t tried yet, like Richwood. I’m afraid that my first thought as I scanned the list was “No wonder I’m always broke.”
    But really, it’s wonderful that so much creativity has managed to triumph over the tastes of the mass market and the dark power of regulation. In 2015 I hope to do more to support our homegrown indie perfumers who, for the time being at least, are much less limited in their ability to use the classic materials of perfumery. But my opposing temptation is to use my perfume budget to buy up my French favorites that will be gutted to comply with the newest and most awful regulations that we have seen so far. I can only hope that creative spirits will continue to pick their way through this morass and create things of beauty.

    • “No wonder I’m always broke.” HAHAHA!!! Same here, my sweets, same here. LOL!

  12. This makes me seriously CRAVE so many perfumes. It definitely says something about Ambre Precieux, that you, someone with an endless array of choices, has drained a bottle! I really need to try O Hira, but I’m not really sure I need to dangle that carrot in front of myself when the price is so, so high since I can see my weak-willed self somehow talking myself into a purchase via a series of illogical “justifications.” I know this write up took you forever, but I do truly love when you share what *you* like, especially since we have a lot of overlaps in what we like, perfume-wise, so I think I would probably like 25+ of what you listed here. Happy new year, my friend. I hope 2015 brings you all the joy and happiness you so richly deserve!

    • Thank you, dearest Kevin. I hope you get to try a few things on the list and that you find some new perfume loves. Happy 2015 to you, too!

  13. Ok, so I ordered as many I was able to find at Luckyscent! I am so excited! Will keep you posted about them. I love this list! I see a lot of booze and honey but also some innocence and whiteness. I cannot wait to get my order and sample away.
    Regarding Palimpsest, which you asked me about in your previous post, it smelled too sunny, orangey (in color) on my skin. It was just not my kind of scent. The honey didn’t work on my skin either. It didn’t smell urinous but like the butt of a sheep. I have never been able to connect with Mandy’s perfumes, really. I have her face oils, body oils, teas, etc and I love them all. I have tried 4 of her perfumes and I have given them all away. It happened to me with Cuir de Gardenia which I just ordered unsniffed. On me it smells like dirty feet.
    Happy happy happy New Year to you my sweet one. Thanks for your constant honesty and commitment. I enjoy your blog, writing, and wits so much!

    • Palimpsest is definitely a very, very sunny perfume, and I can understand why someone who prefers very dark, blackened, or shadow-filled fragrances would find it far too sunny for their tastes. As for Cuir de Gardenia, I had to laugh at your description of it. ROFL. That’s exactly how Vero Profumo’s Rubj EDP was on me, so I can understand your reaction.

      Happy 2015, my dear. I hope it’s a fantastic year for you.

  14. Thank you so much for writing your wonderful blogs, Kafka. I’ve never commented before, but I’ve been getting your blog for about a year now and always look forward to new installments. These end of year things I think are the best.

    You and I have very different tastes in perfume, and yet I’ve found my beloved Jovoy Lys Epona and very interesting Papillon Tobacco Rose through you. I love ferreting out interesting and unique niche fragrances, so you’re just the person to help me with that.

    Have a wonderful New Year, and keep on with the blog. It’s terrific.

    • First, welcome to the blog, Celtice99, at least in terms of commenting. 🙂 I’m glad I could help you find a few fragrances that you loved a lot. Lys Epona is wonderful! Your collection will be quite a stand-out with its inclusion, given what a rare, limited fragrance that is. I hope I get to know you and your perfume tastes better in the upcoming new year, so I hope you’ll feel free to comment more often if you’re ever so inclined. 🙂

  15. Thank you for another year of superb writing about perfumes, and the introduction to delicious new temptations.

    and… I’ve just ordered samples of Shem-el-Nessim, Coze, Rozy edp, and the three Papillion scents. So here’s to another year of smelling wonderful and making my bank manager cry.

    • Oh, Shem-el-Nessim is fantastic and I suspect you’ll like that one quite a bit. I hope the others win your heart as well. Happy 2015, Katie!

      • You were *so* right in thinking I’d like Shem-el-Nessim. I tried it last night–double spritz on my hand–and wore it lightly today. It’s glorious.

        I very much preferred the more concentrated dose: lush like falling through layers of feather mattresses while surrounded by all the flowers. But that sounds too lazy and cozy. It’s the sort of scent would go well with descending an impressive staircase with your chin high, rather than wafting about barefoot in gardens. It’s not a pretty girl perfume like this (and thank god for that).

        The lighter wearing had a lot more powder for me (not that I dislike powder) but it felt slightly shy, as though it didn’t want to sing at full volume, only hum quietly though tunefully under its breath (while crunching the occasional violet pastille.)

        Was going to try another this evening, but I’m still getting tiny wisps of vanilla and rose that i don’t want to lose yet…and that can’t still be a faint ghost of heliotrope lingering after 14 hours, can it?

        • I’m so happy to hear that it worked out for you, Katie! I’m not surprised, though, that you detected a difference in the scent at different dosages. It’s something I encounter frequently myself. In fact, I always think it is better to test a fragrance with a larger quantity than you’d normally use in order to see all its various nuances and facets unfurl. Shem-el-Nessim definitely sounds better on you at the higher dose than the lower one, but both version seem really lovely as a whole.

          • And two for two on those samples from your recmmendations so far. Anubis? Oh my!

            Am now retreating into some old favourites for a few days as my smelling-brain is in overload from new things.

            (Annoyingly, i got pipped at the post at the last minute on someone selling a bottle of SeN yesterday on ebay, for half the retail price. Augh!)

  16. Happiest of New Years to you, Kafkaesque! I enjoyed both lists–they are well-studied lists, yet they read in that dreamy way you have of making perfumes sound almost edible, as if each one was a fine confection from an assorted box of candies made by an artisanal chocolatier. This list of your personal favorites is my favorite, though, because I like to know what you really enjoy wearing in your precious downtime, and also because I’m familiar with a few perfumes on this list. So glad to hear that you bought a bottle of Chypre Palatin! And love your inclusions of Musc Ravageur, Moon Bloom, Black Orchid and Tawaf. I tried Tom Ford Black Orchid last spring when I was in San Francisco with Undina, and though I didn’t do it, I was considering buying a bottle.

    • Awww, I’m so touched, Suzanne. Your chocolate box comparison is a huge, huge compliment, and tickles me pink. Really, what a lovely comparison. Thank you!! On a separate note, happy 2015. I hope this year brings you endless joy and all the best in life.

  17. Happy New Year! Reading this list was amazing – if anything because there were so many scents I haven’t heard of at all (not surprising since I only got seriously interested in perfumes in mid-October). Your descriptions are lovely, and there’s so many that I’m inspired to try now. Thanks so much for your time – this immense and informative list looks like quite the labor of love. 🙂

    • You’re very welcome, Sun Mi. I hope you find a few new perfume loves from the list! 🙂

  18. Curseword.

    After all my whining about the original Oriza L LeGrand sample set, most of which did not work for me at all and a few of which took me aback with horror, now I really need to get a sniff of Heliotrope Blanc. (AND write those reviews. Because ewww.)

    And I’ve still got Moon Bloom and Shangri-La on my sample wishlist, as well as Rozy.

    • Hehe – I had that experience with the sampler set I got from Histoires de Parfums (you should see my review of Vert Pivoine, haha). It’s funny how sometimes an entire house can work (or NOT) for you.

      I am interested in trying several of the Oriza L LeGrands – though your negative experiences are worrisome. 🙂

      • I love the variety of opinions that come up over nearly every perfume that you can name, and entire houses for that matter. For years I made crude remarks about the Guerlain base and how irredeemably awful it was on me, and just this year I acquired two very expensive Guerlain lemmings (Kafkaesque, Cuir Beluga is one of them.) So beware, your horror houses can creep up on you!

    • Well, we have extremely different perfume tastes, so I shouldn’t expect anything I love to work for you. It works both ways, though, because many of the soapy, aldehydic, green or powdery scents that you love would trigger a similar reaction in me, though I doubt I would tell you “ewwww.” People have different tastes, and that’s fine. The world would be a boring place if we were all alike. 🙂

      • I don’t like the scents that *I* would call soapy. However, aldehydes don’t seem soapy to me and I think that may be the difference. (Orange blossom = Total Dove Soap Lather, IMO.)

        The thing about so many of those Orizas were not that they weren’t to my taste, but that they smelled wrong. I mean, “nobody would deliberately put that on her skin” wrong, which is probably a skin issue.

  19. What a lovely blog…First time here and signing up so that I don’t miss a thing…
    Thank you Kafka for enriching my world with knowledge, love of fumes and life in general. You rock!

    Best wishes from a sunny African landscape. N

    • Welcome to the blog, African Perfumista, and thank you for your very kind words. I hope you bring some of that African sunshine with you, because I could do with some warmth right about now. lol. I’m glad you’re here, and I look forward to getting to know you and your perfume tastes better. 🙂

  20. I’m so late to reading your end of year reviews but such a great read. I’m sick at home so playing catch up. I’m dying to try that Bogue perfume – it seems to be a big love for many people. I loved Anubis and Rozy this year and got bottles of both – they were my favs. And I also really liked Terracotta Le Parfum. Hope your New Year is going well and thanks for the inspiration.

  21. We feel happy to own Anubis and also Angelique in the last year. As you know I like very much Anubis. We received MAAI and Moon Bloom samples. MAAI is fantastic and strong, for me with a vintage touch. Our best wishes for this year 2015. Jana, Sofia and Walter.

  22. Longtime lurker, de-lurking to say thank you for these best of lists! I love checking your blog for updates but you’re so prolific I feel like I quickly forget about promising-sounding scents as they get buried by your pace 😉

    I’ve picked up a few samples based on this list alone. Or Du Serail and Richwood blew me away and now I’m trying to figure out how to afford them – and TF Tobacco Vanille, which I know you were not super impressed by, but I love it and it has distinction for me as being the first fragrance that made me realize there was a perfume world (that someone like me could actually appreciate and enjoy) beyond the mainstream department store rehashes.

    I enjoyed but did not quite fall head over heels for Moon Bloom and Chypre Palatin. Apparently I tend more towards warm, spicy scents… who would have guessed, certainly not me!

    I have Musc Ravageur and Peety still to try and am so looking forward to them. The only sample to bomb so far for me was Une Rose de Kandahar. As far as florals go, rose and lavender are right at the top of the list of my most despised, but I think I’m realizing that there must be a -certain- kind of rose I dislike, because in your review you mentioned a rose in Richwood, and I can find almost no fault with that scent (certainly nothing that triggers my rose phobia). However, whatever rose is in Tauer’s blend had me instantly hating it.

    Anyway, thank you again. I love your reviews and losing myself in them, and I’ve discovered so many new favorites already because of you! <3

    • Hi, Redshift87, welcome to the blog. 🙂 Glad to see you de-lurk but even gladder that I could help point you to a few things that you enjoyed. I smiled that you have issues with roses and lavender, too, but I’m sorry that PHI Une Rose de Kandahar did not work for you. There may be something else going on with the Tauer, though, as he includes a lot of aromachemicals in his scent (particularly in the Tauerade base) that some people always struggle with, regardless of the type of scent. Or, it may simply be that the rose truly wasn’t good enough to rise above your rose issues. I can certainly understand that, as a fellow rose-struggling person.

      It does seem as though you tend towards the spicy, woody, oriental and possibly boozy, dark scents — just as I do — so I can hopefully point you towards some other scents that might work for you. If you love tobacco or amber a lot, you may want to get samples of Slumberhouse’s Kiste and Rania J. Ambre Loup, as those were two scents I really liked in the last few months.

      Anyway, I hope you feel comfortable to come out of lurkerdom again, so I have a chance to better know your tastes. 🙂

  23. I gave in recently and bought a 50ml bottle of Maai. I will be on fragrance anonymous for a while. My friend from London got it for me, and the conversion made it SO MUCH CHEAPER than buying it here, I believe after the conversion I paid $180 for that 50ml bottle, which is what Luckyscent sells 30ml for here. It will last me forever though.

    • Heh, nothing like getting a good deal, especially on a fragrance one loves!! You got it for a great price, Cbbb! What did you mean about “Fragrance Anonymous”? Did you mean because of the skankiness and power of Maai, or because you think you need a Fragrance AA group for addiction? If it’s the latter, you’re in good company. 😉

      • Fragrance AA was what I meant. I think Maai is definitely big and bold, on my skin I got a lot of herbal camphor and jasmine and ylang ylang on top of oakmoss, at one point it reminded me of vintage rugs and fabrics smell at the flea market (vaguely, I wouldn’t say that’s the exact match). The base reminds me a bit of Kiehl’s Musk (I only tried Musk once so I can’t remember correctly). It seems to shift everytime I put it on though.
        Overall it’s not as animalic on me as Montecristo, I think I like it that way :).

        I got samples of 3 new Beaufort scents that they threw in for this purchase. You should definitely check them out as much as you love aromachemicals :)…wild and bumpy rides.

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