Friday, December 30, 2011

My Favourites of 2011

Another year, and dozen bottles

Well, another year is almost past and my perfume cabinet is getting pretty full. One of my New Year's resolutions will be to go through it and take out bottles I never wear. They can be boxed up and moved to a dresser drawer or perhaps traded. Dan, who organizes the wonderful meet-up events at Noor, tells me he's planning a bottle/decant swap event for 2012. Perfect timing, because if I can't make more room in my closet, how will I buy the new perfumes on my wish list?

I sniffed a lot of perfume in 2011, most of it OK, some of it astoundingly beautiful.  In December, as I contemplated my Christmas list, I began to feel that there was nothing left for me to buy or ask for. I have so many great perfumes. As you can see from the photo above, I could wear what I have for the rest of my life and probably never run out.

So, here are my top 10 favourite perfumes of 2011.

1. Parfumerie Generale Papyrus de Ciane

Number 1 on my list and my biggest surprise of 2011 is Papyrus de Ciane. Dry, dark, mossy and green, this tribute to the famous Mousse de Saxe base is perfect. I was passionately obsessed with PdC for most of the fall; it was all I wanted to wear. It seriously interfered with me testing anything else, which was a surprise to me because I had originally tested the sample in 2010 and found it too bitter. How much difference a year can make! In 2011, I had to have a full bottle. My nose is definitely still changing.

2. Jean Patou Vacances

The early part of 2011 was all about vintage perfume for me. The wonderful Mr. Fritch at Fritch's Pharmacy in Kitchener introduced me to many old beauties and I was flattered to be interviewed for an article about vintage perfume in Maclean's magazine. My best purchase from Fritch's was Jean Patou Vacances. Not only is the bottle with it's green glass stopper beautiful, the perfume is a gorgeous green lilac that lifts my mood every time I wear it. It's a heart breaker too, because it's been discontinued and is notoriously hard to find. This is the only bottle I will probably ever have, so I treasure it.

3. Serge Lutens Five O'Clock au Gingembre

Fresh ginger and early grey tea. Spicy, warm, dry and yummy - Five O'clock au Gingembre was the perfume I wore while baking Christmas cookies this year with a good friend. I expect to continue to wear it often this winter.

4. L'Artisan Parfumeur Fleur de Narcisse (Exceptional Harvests Collection 2006)

At a perfume meetup at Noor this year, I met Bryna, who may be my perfume evil twin. What I mean is, she doesn't love what I love and lucky for me, she likes to trade! For a few samples from my collection she gave me a generous decant of Fleur de Narcisse. I had been coveting this limited release for a while. The daffodil smells like the volcanic soil it was grown in, as well as hay and leather. It's a day in the country in a bottle.

5. Chanel Bois des Iles

Chanel finally released its Exclusifs line in smaller bottles! I snapped up Bois des Iles which I had been dreaming of since 2008 but just couldn't justify the huge 200ml bottle. The new, smaller 75ml size is perfect. Now I can wrap myself in its creamy sandalwood and gingerbread cashmere scent anytime I need some comfort.

6. Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo

My Dear Husband took me to Rome in the spring of 2011, and it inspired me to buy him a bottle of Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo. I don't think this niche Italian perfumer gets enough love in the perfume blogs; he is very talented. Sandalo is a smooth and spicy sandalwood of high quality which is getting harder to find these days. I can hardly keep my hands off my DH when he wears it.

7. Frederic Malle En Passant

2011 was the year I met the charming Frederic Malle! He gave a fascinating lecture on perfume and the industry at Holt Renfrew. His niche line of perfumes really started the trend of celebrating perfumers, the artists who create the scents, instead of hiding their names like most mass market perfumes do. I purchased a bottle of En Passant by one of my favourite perfumers Olivia Giacobetti. En passant is a story told with transparent drops of water on lilacs and a soft dusting of flour.

8. L'Artisan Parfumeur Ananas Fizz

My first successful eBay purchase was a box of samples of Ananas Fizz. I think this perfume was discontinued because it's a love it or hate it scent. I didn't expect to love it, but the first sniff of fizzy pineapple from a sample received in a trade made me grin. It was one of my favourite hot weather perfumes in the summer of 2011. I had to have more, but when I went to buy it I realized it had long been discontinued. Luckily, I found the box of samples on eBay and with the help on a funnel and an empty decant bottle, I now have one of the few remaining bottles of Ananas Fizz in existence.

9. Parfums de Nicolai Vie de Château Intense

If you haven't tried any of Patricia Nicolai's perfumes yet, make it a New Year's resolution. She is a genius. Vie de Chateau is la dolce vita in a bottle. Sugared grapefruit, fresh-mown hay and soft suede gloves.

10. Jean Patou Joy

Let's end the list with Joy. Joy was a lucky find at Winners, where you can sometimes stumble on excellent older names in perfume that may have fallen out of fashion but are still of great quality and beauty. Besides Joy, I've bought Rochas Femme, Bvlgari Black and Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia at my favourite Winners. Joy is a classic and beautiful sparkling jasmine bouquet with a smoldering sexy base.

Coming in 2012

Just as I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Samples showed up in the mail and in my stocking that surprised me with their beauty and I am once again covetous. Huzzah sayeth the retailers. Right now I am wearing the heck out of these samples and will be reviewing them soon:
  • Mary Greenwell Plum - Maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever smelled.
  • Hermes Eau des Merveilles - Sexy perfect unisex skin scent
  • By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses - Green plum, cassis, rose, cinnamon and musk. Yum.
  • Parfums d'Empire Azemour  les Orangers - If you love old-fashioned oakmoss heavy chypres, run, buy this now.
Happy New Year!


  1. Wow, you had an amazing year! Fantastic list - a great mix of current and vintage perfumes.

    I have heard wonderful things about MG Plum. I shall hunt down a sample. I believe Luckyscent carries it now, along with another scent I am dying to sniff - Huitième Art's Myrrhiad.
    Azemour les Orangers sounds great too. I look forward to your reviews.

    Happy New Year, K! I wish you and your DH all the best in 2012.

  2. Hi joanelaine! You will love Plum. Everyone will love plum. If my credit cards weren't so abused right now a full bottle would be on its way to me. When you get your sample let me know what you think.

  3. I've been dying to try Plum after reading mals review and now here! I must hurry up and order a sample from luckyscent.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Enjoyed seeing your perfume cabinet - quite a collection! The olfactory highlight of my year was attending Sniffapalooza, purchasing a bottle of Coromondel at Bergdorf Goodman and visiting the wonderful MIN NY. On a hot summer's day in July my blogging friend Tracey and I drove down to Kitchener to visit Fritsch Perfumes. We had a wonderful time visiting with Mr. Fritsch and listening to his interesting perfume stories. He gifted me with a small bottle of Joy made to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Looking forward to a scent-filled 2012!

  5. Anna, it sounds like you had a great perfumed year too. Thanks for the story about Mr. Fritsch! I hope that Joy brings you joy in the new year.

  6. I can't wait to see your review for Liaisons Dangereuse...very feminine and fruity! Excellent perfume!
    To me, Sandalo is the best from the list :)
    All the best in the New year! ;)


  7. Oh, good, you loved Plum! I cannot say enough wonderful things about it. I have heard complaints that it is a) too "perfumey" and b) not really a chypre (the latter said with a sneer), but I do not care. It is a gorgeous, pink-tinged white floral with a bit of moss and a bit of fruit, and it was hands-down the scent in my wardrobe that got the most wear this past year.

    And I admit to being teeth-grindingly jealous of your Vacances. I have a tiny sample, and it is so... tender. Brings tears to the eyes.

    I STILL cannot figure out why I didn't love Fleur de Narcisse. I should have. It was just sort of flat on me, no charm at all. I think it's my skin.

  8. Hi Juraj, DL is a beautiful fruity floral. I am surprised at how much I like fruity florals now. I guess I just had to smell the right ones.

  9. Hi Muse,

    Plum! You got the colour right, pink-tinged, like the dawn. So pretty. I'm glad to hear you like it too.

  10. Really nice, varied list. Very pleased you included "new to you" scents too.

    Bois des Iles is a long time favourite of mine too. I really like Five O'Clock au Gingembre - probably my fave of the exports - and will hopefully get a decant one day. Cannot believe I've never tried En Passant, it sounds gorgeous. Very much looking forward to trying Azemour, hopefully this weekend.


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