Welcome to the year in review, a look back at both the best new releases of 2017 and the noteworthy releases from prior years which I tried this year and enjoyed. Before I start, though, let me say first that I’m operating at a bit of a handicap because I took a long sabbatical for the first half of 2017. I spent the next six months after my return trying to catch up on, test, or review all the new fragrances that I had missed during my break as well as the ones released subsequently, but I’m sure I’ve missed a few great ones along the way. It’s not easy to put a dent in the tsunami of 2,300+ fragrances which are released each year even when one is reviewing nonstop, never mind when one takes a break from modern perfumery. Even so, I found a number of fragrances that either I loved immensely, that I thought were good representations of their genre, or that I thought were original and executed extremely well.
The alluring beauty of tobacco, leather, honey, suede, florals, spice, smoke, fruits, and cream are given captivating movement in Naja, the long-anticipated new release from Vero Kern of Vero Profumo. The notes move like circular eddies in rippling water or like a sinuous snake weaving its way across the desert sand, because this is superbly crafted scent. It is also one of my favourite things created by Ms. Kern.
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.
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.
I’ve been thinking lately of the fragrances I enjoy within specific floral categories. It started, in part, because a friend of mine is slowly expanding beyond his comfort zone, and tipping his toe into a whole genre of fragrances that he had previously avoided. In general, though, I’m frequently asked, “what’s your favorite _____?” amongst the vast selection of rose, gardenia, orange blossom, and other florals out there. So, I thought I’d do a list, based primarily on one criteria: what I personally adore and reach for, own as a full bottle, or want to buy for myself. In several instances, however, I’ve included what I think is a good example of a fragrance within that floral genre, even if it doesn’t work for me personally.
As always, I have to emphasize that perfume reviewing is subjective and personal by its very nature, so winnowing fragrances down to a personal favorites list like this is even more so. A few other things to note: I’m not going to cover every possible category of floral (or else, this list would be endless), and, to the extent possible, I’m going to stick to soliflores (or fragrances centered predominantly around one flower). As a result, many scents that I love are omitted solely by virtue of being very mixed in focus. (For example, my beloved Alahine from Teo Cabanel; Puredistance‘s delicate Opardu; Amouage‘s stunning chypre-oriental hybrid, Fate Woman, or its Ubar, a larger-than-life, yellow and gold, 3D floriental powerhouse.) Also, I should emphasize that perfume lovers can be very fickle creatures. What I’ve listed is what comes to mind today, and it might not be the same next week or even next month.
Finally, because this is all so personal and subjective, there will be omissions from the list that might surprise people. For example, I simply do not think much of Portrait of a Lady or Carnal Flower, period. It is heresy, I know, but neither one impresses me, so I’m not including them in their respective categories of rose or tuberose. After all, this really is about what I like or think is good, right? Finally, the fragrances within each category are not ranked by order (so it mean nothing if a scent is put at #1 or #4), and I’ve also tried to avoid the vintage category wherever possible.