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The Best Perfumes Of 2016

Award-winning perfume critic Persolaise gives us his rundown of the finest olfactory creations of the last year

  1. El & Ella from Arquiste (Rodrigo Flores-Roux)
    Wearing its wide, 1970s lapels with pride, El channels the likes of Paco Rabanne Pour Homme and Kouros to bring us a time-capsule of a perfume, complete with civet, castoreum and dry herbs. It’s impossible to separate El from its female counterpart, Ella. Tracing a path around Cristalle and Aromatics Elixir, she is both a retro diva and a convincing modern chypre.

  2. Mentha Religiosa from Dear Rose (Fabrice Pellegrin)
    Tackling mint is always a brave move for a perfumer: more often than not, the material is redolent of a trip to the budget toothpaste aisle of your local supermarket. But in Mentha Religiosa, Pellegrin renders the note’s familiar freshness more unusual by darkening it with liquorice and herbs.

  3. Blackpepper from Comme Des Garçons (Antoine Maisondieu)
    With support from patchouli, cedar and clever musks, Maisondieu showcases the eponymous note with all its nose-tickling, skin-warming, head-turning power. What’s more, he makes it last much longer than most pepper scents manage.

  4. Peau De Bete from Liquides Imaginaires (Karine Bouin)
    ‘Skin of the beast’ is absolutely right. Beneath a layer of cumin, cloves and leather, Bouin places a sensuous, almost tactile texture, not unlike suede or angora. Wear it and feel a feline sinuousness coil its way into your gait.
  5. Apsu from Ulrich Lang
    In a strong year for green scents, Apsu brought a new shade of the colour into the genre, somewhere between the vivid hue of grass and the softer tonality of lake water. One of the year’s most immediately compelling – and soothing – pieces of work.
  6. Oud Sublime from Nicolaï (Patricia De Nicolaï)
    In Oud Sublime, the light De Nicolai shines on the unrelenting darkness of agarwood is unexpectedly green, thanks to the ingenious use of a razor-edged artemisia note. Add some rose and amber and you have a soiree somewhere along the Cote D’Azur.

  7. Cuir Impertinent from Thierry Mugler (Jean-Christophe Herault)
    Impertinent takes the classic leather composition of the likes of Knize Ten and gives it a sci-fi zap through the use of a minty star anise note. Exceptional.

  8. Galop D’Hermès from Hermès (Christine Nagel)
    Even during the transition to a new in-house perfumer – Christine Nagel – the translucent, chic ‘Frenchness’ of Hermes remained intact. For evidence look no further than Galop, a legible, far-reaching, deceptively simple of juxtaposition of rose and leather.

  9. Orchid Soleil from Tom Ford
    Gardenia, tuberose, fenugreek and a very naughty saline note make this the best of the Ford orchids. Perfect for sweltering summer heat.

  10. Modern Muse Nuit from Estée Lauder
    Streets ahead of the original Modern Muse, this seductive flanker manages to keep two distinctive accords running alongside each other throughout its development: swooning florals on the one hand and translucent, weightless woods on the other.

  11. Bracken Man from Amouage (Olivier Cresp & Fabrice Pellegrin)
    Another unashamedly retro creation, Bracken Man pinches some dry, herbal, woody materials from classic 1970s masculine scents, gives them a see-through sheen of modernity and serves them with nary a tongue in a cheek. Did someone say ‘groovy’?