As I mentioned in yesterday's review of The People of the Labyrinths Amaze, way back in 2002, Style magazine printed a brief article on Five Great Cult Perfumes. Their choices were The People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo, Kai, Kiehl's Musk, Monyette Paris and Apothia if.
I've been hoping Style might print an updated selection eventually, but they've apparently got other fish to fry, so here are my votes for the best of the cult classics: fragrances with a limited distribution, a small but extremely devoted following, and that continue to excite interest long after their release.
1. The People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo: not very original, am I? But seriously, it still qualifies on every front — despite very limited distribution, it has a faithful group of fans, many of whom (myself included) would gnash their teeth and pull their hair out if it was discontinued.
2. Anné Pliska: I tried Anné Pliska once and didn't really love it, but its followers are rabid on the subject, and I am continually amazed that this perfume is able to maintain its fan base with so little effort — the packaging is not attractive, it is nearly impossible to find out anything about the line (who is Anné Pliska, anyway?), and it isn't even easy to find and purchase the actual scent. If you want some, check out the Anné Pliska blog maintained by Victoria of Victoria's Own.
3. Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle: probably a good half or more of the Serge Lutens line qualify as cult classics, but this gets my vote for the most “cultish” of them all. Whenever I'm feeling particularly jaded about the future of niche perfumery, I spray on a little Tubéreuse Criminelle.
4. The Comme des Garçons Incense series: ok, so I'm cheating since there are five scents in the series, but they hang together so well as a concept that I couldn't pick just one. To my mind, this series is the model of what niche perfumery is (or ought to be) all about, and happily for everyone, it is widely (but not too widely) loved and entirely safe from being discontinued. Ever. Right?
5. 10 Corso Como: this one doesn't have quite the avid fan base of Luctor et Emergo, but it continues to find new admirers years after its release (1999), and, I should note, it continues to be more interesting than about 90% of new niche fragrance launches.