I tried very hard to create a list of the top 10 fragrances released this year, but my brain, unfortunately, just doesn't work that way. No sooner did I add one perfume to the list, then I started to think of others that might, perhaps, be just as good. I finally gave up. Here is a more idiosyncratic list of some of the good & bad in perfume from 2005:
Best celebrity fragrance: Everyone and their brother jumped on the celebrity fragrance bandwagon this year, but Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely wins this category hands down. It is, first of all, the only celebrity fragrance that doesn't smell like a celebrity fragrance, and while Sarah Jessica Parker didn't exactly go out on a limb with the composition, at least it isn't another sweet fruity floral or gourmand. According to this amusing article in the Washington Post, though, it is not universally loved.
Fragrances that lived up to the advance hype: First, Jardin Sur Le Nil from Hermès. It was featured prominently in the New Yorker and was awaited anxiously by fans of perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, and it did not disappoint. I am still wearing it frequently. And Carnal Flower is every bit as lovely, and unusual, as you would expect from Frederic Malle and Dominique Ropion. Look for a review next week.
Fragrances that did not: This category is a bit overcrowded, but I would have to single out Thierry Mugler Alien and Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb. The fragrances themselves aren't bad, but neither of them managed to live up to their massive advance press. On the niche side, the Comme des Garcons Sweet Series was easily the least adventurous set from a house known for taking fragrance to unexpected places.
Best concept and packaging: I did not love many of the individual fragrances in the NellyRodi Scent Factory set, but I still love the idea of highlighting the work of some lesser known perfumers, and the price was comparatively reasonable. Hope we will see more of these sets in the future.
Most annoying concept: I realize that I am probably alone here, but the relatively new idea of perfumes based on specific floral harvests is absolutely bottoms on my list. The L'Artisan Fleur d'Oranger is stunning, really, but do I want to pay $250 to know that the orange blossom came from the 2004 harvest in Nabeul, Tunisia and that once my bottle is gone, it cannot be replaced? I do not. Bah, humbug.
Prettiest perfume bottle: Another easy decision, Bond no. 9's Chinatown.
Best perfume news of the year: The refurbishment of the Guerlain flagship boutique, a handful of new fragrances and the reissue of forgotten classics from this historic perfume house wins my vote. All is not, perhaps, perfect, but it is gratifying to see Guerlain modernize while still paying tribute to their long and illustrious history.
Worst perfume news of the year: the gradual disappearance of the Gobin Daudé line. The high price of the perfumes may have prevented this line from finding a wide audience, but they were lovely, unusual scents, and this green-fragrance lover is still weeping over the loss of Sous Le Buis and Sève Exquise.
These are a few of my favorite things: Not a "best of" list by any means, and not all are 2005 releases, but some random fragrances that I found bottle-worthy this year: Caron Alpona, Curated by Colette AsFour, Diptyque Do Son, Divine L'Homme Sage, Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire, Hermès Osmanthe Yunnan, Kenzo Flower Oriental, Parfums di Nicolai Eau Exotique. If money were no object, I'd include JAR Bolt of Lightning, but money is most certainly an object so I won't.
Want to see more of the Best of 2005? Check out these blogs:
- Beauty Addict
- Blogdorf Goodman
- Bois de Jasmin
- Brain Trapped in Girl's Body
- c'est chic
- Crazy Jay Blue
- The Great She Elephant
- Koneko's *Mostly* Beauty Diary
- Make a Mental Note
- Monkey Posh
- Mother Hen's Place
- my life my words my mind
- no one knows why the wolf laughs
- Peppermint Patty
- Perfume-Smellin' Things
- She'll be feverish after so much thinking
- Slap of the Day
- Victoria's Own
Tomorrow: a wish list for 2006