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