Perfume: the best of 2013

Best of 2013 logo

Every year I test a smaller percentage of new releases — and every year, I mind a little less. So, as always, add "of what I managed to smell" to all of my picks. Still, 2013 was a good year for perfume, and I had no trouble at all coming up with favorites in our usual categories. (And I'm including a few older releases that I didn't manage to smell until this year.)

My choices for the year are just below. Scroll down to see what Angela, Erin, Jessica and Kevin thought was noteworthy in 2013, or click over to Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Perfume Posse or The Non-Blonde for more opinions. And of course, do add your own thoughts in the comments.

My favorite niche fragrances of 2013: Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle, Le Labo Lys 41, Aedes Iris Nazarena, Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia, with a nod to Comme des Garçons + Monocle Scent Three: Sugi.

The best mainstream fragrances: Marni, Carven Le Parfum.

The best of the mall chain stores: the Lushfest fragrances from Lush, and runner up L'Occitane Vanille & Narcisse.

Did what they were supposed to do: Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin, Lanvin Me, Diptyque Eau Moheli, Lolita Lempicka Elle L'Aime.

Didn't: Issey Miyake Pleats Please, Guerlain L’Heure de Nuit, Tory Burch.

I've already forgotten what they smell like: See by Chloé (one of the top selling fragrances of 2013), Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto.

Best flankers: Marni Rose edged out the others at the last minute, but honorable mentions include Bottega Veneta Eau Legère, Balenciaga L'Eau Rose, Diesel Loverdose Tattoo.

Best celebrity fragrance: Rihanna Rogue, with my usual caveat that I didn't smell even close to all of them.

Best fragrance commercials: Wes Anderson for Prada Candy L'Eau, with kitsch+abs-fest Paco Rabanne Invictus a close second. Plus Marc Jacobs Honey for the cute factor, Chloé Roses de Chloé for the pretty factor, and Jean Paul Gaultier On The Docks (Classique & Le Mâle) for the intense Jean-Paul-Gaultier-ness factor.

A PR line I never thought I'd hear: "Pink Sugar meets Oud" — really, was that absolutely necessary? From Aquolina Black Sugar.

Best print ad: I really liked Perry Ellis Spirited.

Best packaging: A tie between Marni and Balenciaga Rosabotanica.

The We-Just-Can't-Stop-Ourselves Flanker Name of The Year: Lalique Encre Noire Sport. No, it isn't as long as Victoria's Secret Sexy Little Things Noir Tease Temptation, but hey, Encre Noire + Sport are two concepts that just don't belong together. Runner up is Beyoncé Heat The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour Limited Edition.

Cheap thrill of the year: Lush Furze.

Clive Christian award for aspirational pricing: Lalique for Bentley Crystal Edition, although at$4,650 it was still a bargain compared to the $35,000 asking price for Lancôme's La vie est belle L'édition Féérique.

You can't make this stuff up: Philip B Oud Royale hair products. Seriously, enough with the oud already.

Perfumer of the year: Mandy Aftel of Aftelier, who continues to surprise us with what can be done using only natural materials. (And by the way, if you're a perfumista who cooks and you haven't yet tried her Chef's Essences, you really should.)

Angela's Best of 2013

Looking at NST's list of new perfumes, it's shameful how few I've tried. So take my "best of" list with a grain of salt. I'm looking forward to seeing your favorites.

2013 releases I'd actually buy a bottle of: Le Labo Ylang 49 and Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia. Both of these fragrances are engaging, complex, and moody, and neither has an easy doppelgänger at the perfume boutique. Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud is an almost-buy for me.

Best perfume trends: The Coach Leatherware series gives me hope that mainstream perfume houses will venture away from screechy musks, loud fruit, and generic white flowers into slightly more challenging territory. I'm also thrilled that Jean Patou is reissuing some of its old fragrances. (Hurry up with Moment Suprême, please!)

Best rediscovery: Earlier this fall I spritzed on some Guerlain Shalimar Eau de Toilette, and it really came alive. In the past I've simply thought, "Shalimar, got it" and not really stopped to appreciate its fusty, sweet beauty. Now, smelling it is like looking at a Flemish master's painting with darkened varnish. So much detail, so much romance.

Erin's Best of 2013

This was the year I officially gave up on trying to get samples of everything through the mail. So, I've missed some newer releases — sorry Tauer Perfumes PHI Une Rose de Kandahar and Hermès Épice Marine! — and maybe that's why 2013 seemed a bit dull to me for fragrance, especially in comparison to last year. In January, I grabbed some small bottles of Lush Flower's Barrow and Sikkim Girls, which were released in the UK in late 2012. Since then, I haven't felt moved to buy anything new, even though I liked Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin, Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle, Kerosene Pretty Machine, Juniper Ridge Caruthers Canyon and Etat Libre d'Orange La Fin du Monde... I just didn't love any of them enough to buy a bottle. Amouage Fate Woman, the year's most blatant bid for greatness, might have tempted me, but not for $310 for 50 ml. Comme des Garçons Black is great fun, the best fragrance from the brand in a long time, and I might have purchased it, except I don't need 100 ml of almost anything anymore. My Hermès cologne needs are likely met by Concentré d'Orange Verte, so I skipped the very cheerful Eau de Mandarine Ambrée. And I can't decide whether I enjoy Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka or not.

A quiet perfume year for me, then, after my budget-busting 2012, and I'm not complaining. My favorite recent discoveries, and the scents most likely to haunt me in 2014 if a coupon code appears in my Inbox, are the extraits of Slumberhouse Pear + Olive and Sova, which were released, again, in 2012. Throughout this last year, though, I continued to revel in the comments and fellowship of the NST readers and authors. Thanks, as always, to Robin for this amazing community, and I wish you all happy, fragrant days to come.

Jessica's Best of 2013

Is the holiday season over yet? Almost! I'm unaccountably cranky this time around, so I'm glad that Robin has reminded us to spend some time pondering our favorite fragrances of the past year. As usual, there were quite a few disappointments, but enough bright spots to enjoy and share.

In some cases, my favorites come from fragrance houses that I've known and loved for ages: one is Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle, the most elegant comfort scent ever, and another is the thorny rose bouquet of Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin. There were also some newer niche offerings that suited my tastes perfectly, including Terry de Gunzberg Ombre Mercure and A Lab on Fire Rose Rebelle Respawn.

I didn't do much mainstream fragrance sampling or shopping this year, so I don't know whether I missed anything wonderful at the department stores. I did like Agent Provocateur Pétale Noir, and its bottle was one of my favorite packaging designs of the year.

I was really more comfortable, as usual, at the independent and hard-to-find end of the spectrum. I was very impressed by the exclusive collection Requiem for the Immortal by indie perfumer Alexis Karl of Scent by Alexis. And LUSH, which has managed to maintain an indie feeling despite its global reach, released a new Gorilla Perfume collection in very late 2012 — I didn't have a chance to try it until early 2013, and I've enjoyed nearly every scent in the line, especially Flower's Barrow, Sikkim Girls, and Furze.

LUSH also made me happy in the bath-and-body product category, by re-releasing its limited edition Rose Jam shower gel. I hope this won't be the last time we see it. L'Occitane's holiday collection of hand creams in pretty floral scents was another easy pick for me. I also luxuriated in richly fragranced oils from Aroma M (for the body) and Aftelier (for the face).

For home fragrance, I purchased a Diptyque holiday candle for the umpteenth year in a row — I always love the incense one, which was this year's Encens des Indes; and at a more affordable price point, I enjoyed Blackbird incense cones (especially their Sofia blend).

In NYC shopping news, I enjoyed making trips out to Brooklyn to visit the new Atelier Cologne location and Parfum1's spin-off niche boutique, Twisted Lily. For 2014, I'm looking forward to an Annick Goutal boutique opening in downtown Manhattan and to the Ormonde Jayne line arriving at SoHo's Osswald.

Wishing you all good things in 2014!

Kevin's Best of 2013

When Robin reminded me about this end-of-year post, my mind went blank. What fragrance announcements or products were truly memorable for me in 2013? Uhhh. (I will say 2013 kicked my a##; I had lots to ponder besides perfume.) Since I’m writing a “Best of Men’s Fragrance 2013” article soon, I’ll save my favorite perfume picks for later and concentrate on one thing I did notice in the fragrance sphere all through 2013: insane pricing. Many people must buy a product based solely on exorbitant cost…paying scant attention to its worth: “It’s EXPENSIVE…that means it must be GREAT!”

Though not really perfume related,Tom Ford for Men Skincare and Grooming got my attention for two reasons: its bearded model proudly showing us his furry arm pits and its pricing (read the ingredients of this line and convince me the pricing is reasonable). A half-ounce of eye cream? $75. A 0.35 oz. tube of “hydrating” lip balm (“hydrating?”…what other type of lip balm is there? “Drying”?): $25. Concealer stick? $40. A 50 ml moisturizer? $190. Intensive Infusion Concentrate Extreme: 30 ml for $250. Watch the Tom Ford for Men video and laugh (or feel slightly “unsettled”).

I was also appalled at pricing for the House of Sillage line with its ugly, “cupcake” bottles full of nondescript scents for…ta! da!...$600 (50 ml Eau de Parfum of the limited edition holiday scent) or $350 (for 75 ml “Parfum” of the regular line — items like Cherry Garden or Emerald Reign). Le Labo keeps pricing exorbitant for city exclusives like Limette 37 (in my opinion, not worth $440 for 100 ml of Eau de Parfum). Ramon Monegal? You’ve gotta be kidding me…these artificial-smelling Eaux de Parfum retail for $185/50 ml. And with an ego to match (or surpass?) Tom Ford’s (a trip for two to a rustic Buddhist temple or Indian meditation retreat might be helpful for them), there’s Roja Dove, self-proclaimed KING of PERFUME, with “Roja” (yes, named for himself) — 100 ml of gold-leaf-infused juice for 2,500 pounds sterling ($4,086! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

Other annoying pricing issues? Why does a bell jar of a Serge Lutens perfume cost $115 more in New York than it does in Paris? And what about the reissues in the Jean Patou Collection Héritage line? I was looking forward to owning Jean Patou Pour Homme again. Back when I loved it, it cost around $85 and came in an elegant bottle; the recent reissue comes in a generic bottle and costs…$245! And don’t even bring up Puredistance Black; am I the only one on earth who thinks it’s ludicrously priced at $590 for 100 ml of extrait? Insanity rules!

I’ll stop there (but many other pricing “scandals” exist). For those of you who purchased any of the above-mentioned/above-disparaged items, I expect your retort to me would be: “I LOVE XYZ and to me, it’s worth it!” Fair enough. And who am I to judge? Me…the one who buys expensive candles.

Happy 2014 to all!

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105 Comments

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  1. annemarie says:

    You make strong points about the pricing Kevin. I keep waiting for a correction but it never comes, so there must still be plenty of rich, gullible people out there.

    A related issue for me is that the prices of the decant services seem to be creeping up too, even for less expensive stuff. I rely on these folk a lot, or have in the past, because I have only limited access to niche and indie stuff. Now, with the increase in decant prices (and international shipping, but that’s not the decanters’ fault) I’m sampling hardly any niche stuff any more. Fortunately, many of the niche places offer reasonably priced sample sets via their own websites.

    So I’ve missed a lot of the most talked about releases for 2013. I did enjoy Lys 41 and Atelier’s Vetiver Fatal. Not FBW though.

    • Kevin says:

      Annemarie: so true…decants seem to cost more and more, as do partial bottles. I rarely find ‘bargains’ like I used to.

      • missyl says:

        I have to agree with you on how hard it is to find a bargain, even in decants anymore. After spending quite a bit on decants I’ve been limiting myself to testing at Sephora. Their generous sampling policy made it possible for me to try out their Heremes line repeatedly until I was sure which one was FBW. I was feeling quite ‘guilty’ for buying a bottle of the L’Ambre des Merveilles for myself…until I checked out some of the prices of other houses. The Hermes is beginning to seem like a bargain, especially with their quality. At least to myself…. Do you see a change in this coming anytime soon? Wanted to say thanks to you for the enjoyable and informative articles. I sure do appreciate what you all do to keep this blog going. It’s more than a bargain! : ) You all have been a great and economical way for me to relax this last 4-5 years. Thank you and Happy New Years to you all!

        • Robin says:

          I see no change coming…I think many brands are using price as much as anything else to differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

          Glad we are economical :-)

          • missyl says:

            Me too, Robin! :) And you’re right, that pricing makes some of them stand out…

          • annemarie says:

            Which works until *everyone* is doing it and then … ?

            So the smart people – all of us, naturally :) – use blogs like NST to get the REAL lowdown on what is worth bothering with, and how we can stretch our budgets furthest.

        • annemarie says:

          Hermes hardly seems to put a foot wrong. Anything from them is an investment, so well done on the L’Ambre! It’s lovely.

          • missyl says:

            Yes, thanks to blogs like NST for the honest reviews. It is such a help to have some direction in the minefield perfume searching is. And thank you annemarie. No regrets here. I am enjoying it even more than I thought I would. It dries down to the most gorgeous comfort scent. 3 days later and my coat scarf smells out of this world!

  2. Anna Stromberg says:

    Thank you all for an interesting read.
    My favorite release of the year is Byredo 1996. And I really must try Fille de Berlin.
    On another note, I like the Tom Ford add. I think it’s nice that ads (and movies and so on) feature a more natural human body. Yes, he’s ripped and not really average looking. But he’s not waxed all over and glistening with oil.

    • Robin says:

      And I really must try that Byredo!

      • Anna Stromberg says:

        Yep, everybody must try it :)
        About that, you have email.

        • Anna Stromberg says:

          (Have mail? Got mail? Not sure about the correct phrase here)

          • Robin says:

            You’ve got mail back!

  3. Cybele says:

    The more I tried it the less I liked Marni, it’s trying to do niche in a super refined way, which could be great but to me it’s pale and lacks character and I much prefer Tom Ford Sahara Noir!

    • Robin says:

      Sahara Noir was well done :-)

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Yeah, Marni to my nose is a nice enough, safe office scent–doesn’t move me beyond thinking I could keep one of those 10mL bottles in my desk and always feel ok spritzing a bit on. The creepy little doll, though, does NOT belong in my desk! Staring at me with those big, empty eyes. . . :D

      • Robin says:

        Hate that doll.

        What do you think was the best mainstream scent this year?

        • Marjorie Rose says:

          I fear I almost completely avoid mainstream scents, since I don’t have easy access to more than a smallish Nordstroms. (No Neiman Marcus, no Barney’s, and Macy’s SAs drive me nuts! . . .) It would be legitimate to argue that I don’t get a vote in this category!

          • Robin says:

            Fair enough!

    • james1051 says:

      Sahara Noir is also my fav of 2013–but I haven’t tried many mentioned above.

  4. lucasai says:

    Great lists Now Smell This team! Good job and thank you for another year of olfactory rollercoaster!
    I haven’t tried some of these perfumes (were too hard to get in Poland) and I agree with some of your choices. But Dries Van Noten was heck of a scrubber for me ;)

    Hugs!

    • Robin says:

      You were not the only one who hated that DvN, I was just reading about it on another best of list!

      • lucasai says:

        Robin, isn’t it fascinating that one and the same perfume can be either loved or hated!?

        • Robin says:

          I guess! But it’s true of everything, right? Books, movies, clothes, music…

          • lucasai says:

            You’re right. Opinions on everything are pretty varied.

  5. Abyss says:

    Marni gets my best 2013 release. That’s better than last year because as far as I remember, I didn’t love anything from 2012.

    The Le Labos and La Fille de Berlin were disappointing. Amouage didn’t really move me and I didn’t get a chance to try FM Dris Van Noten or the new Hermessence.

    • Robin says:

      I just looked, yep, you commented in 2012, and you didn’t!

      • Abyss says:

        Hah, thanks for checking! And before that I think it was Bottega Veneta. I can’t think of any very recent niche releases that really impressed me.

  6. thegoddessrena says:

    My favorite releases were Pretty Machine, Amouage Fate Woman, Opardu, and Shanghai Lily. My favorites of the new to me–Durango, Lorelei, Greenwitch, Moorland, Cozumel, Boudoir, Botrytis, Lilas et Narcissus (I am scared of how much I sampled this year–over 325 scents. Yikes!) My doom–vintage Bois des Iles extrait; I got myself a micromini and I can see myself haunting eBay for more…..

    • Robin says:

      Pretty Machine really was pretty. I’d like to have a bottle of that.

      I should keep track of sampling — would love to know how many I tried this year!

    • thegoddessrena says:

      Forgot Skin on Skin in New releases and Sana in new to me (not sure how I forgot Sana since I purchased a full bottle within a week of sampling it)

  7. Persolaise says:

    Many thanks for your lists… and for another year of keeping us all connected.

    Personally, I think the Invictus is one of the most depressing things I’ve seen for a long time, but there we go :-) I guess I missed the funny (?) side of it.

    More importantly, I’m pleased that Ashoka and Dries Van Noten seem to be attracting many votes of confidence from people.

    Happy 2014 to you all!

    • Robin says:

      Can totally see that viewpoint on the Invictus commercial. I think at this point, most of them are so bad that going over the top into absurdity pleases me…bear in mind that my favorite last year was Versace Eros :-)

      A happy New Year to you as well!

      • Persolaise says:

        Now, the Eros one was genuinely fun, because it was gloriously, unashamedly over the top. I found the Invictus one extremely smug.

        By the way, I’m trying to unsubscribe from receiving comment updates to this post in my email. Somehow, I subscribed to them… and now I can’t undo it :-D

        • Robin says:

          I have unsubscribed you…but do you mean you clicked the unsubscribe link in the email and it did not work?

          (would love to know since this function is still pretty new to us & have had very little feedback!)

          • Holly says:

            Well, now that you mention it I’ve had some difficulty with that function. Then again, avast and windows updates seem to be in cahoots with Homeland Security and are doing an excellent job of monitoring my computer. Or it’s me. Rather than drone on, if you have the opportunity, will you explain how it’s supposed to work?

          • Robin says:

            Holly, do you mean how to unsubscribe from comment notifications for particular articles? There should be a link in the bottom of each email. I did test it, and it worked for me. But you have to do it separately for each article you subscribe to.

          • Holly says:

            Thanks, Robin. My computer keeps reverting to don’t subscribe, so I think it’s more a matter of a personal technological issue than anything else.

          • Robin says:

            So you are talking about how to subscribe in the first place? “Don’t subscribe” is the default, you have to select another option if you want it. (But not sure we are talking about the same thing)

          • Persolaise says:

            Robin, since you’ve asked…

            When I wrote my original comment, I thought I selected the option to subscribe only to replies to my own comment. However, what seemed to happen was that I received all of your replies to everybody.

            When I clicked on the Unsubscribe link in the email, I was taken to a NST page headed ‘Subscriptions to comments’ with no obvious options to click on.

            Hope this helps… and thanks for rescuing my Inbox :-)

          • Robin says:

            Persolaise, thanks so much. That should have unsubscribed you so I’m confused about why it didn’t, but I’d utterly forgotten to change the title of that page & will do that now, & will obviously need to do more unsubscribe testing in general.

        • Robin says:

          Oh, and I know what you mean about Invictus. Hard to tell if they’re being tongue-in-cheek or not. I would say ditto about Eros. But also, I sort of don’t care, as the viewer…I appreciate the absurdity whether they mean me to or not!

  8. morgana says:

    I liked best (judging also from what I bought) Aedes Iris Nazarena and Les Nez Turtle Vetiver Back.

    p.s. The new banner is nice!

    • Robin says:

      So glad you like it!

      That Lez Nez was lovely…wish I had all the Turtle Vetivers.

  9. Lucy says:

    I didn’t realize that Manifesto was such a recent release. With a second flanker on the way I just figured it had been around awhile. Did it sell so well that they wanted to take advantage of the momentum…or sell so poorly that they are spitting out variations to cover a costly mistake?

    • Robin says:

      It came out in 2012, but was not introduced in the US til 2013, and so I did not smell it until then.

      But it is no longer unusual for flankers to come out the same year as the original. And they’re usually planned early too, so I think we sometimes end up seeing them no matter how well or poorly the original did.

      But also would not be surprised if Manifesto sold well!

  10. Emily says:

    I spent most of this year falling down the vintage-perfume rabbit hole, so I’ve more or less ignored the 2013 releases. I did put some Xmas money toward a bottle of Le Labo Ylang 49, though. Agree with Angie that there isn’t really anything else like it out there right now.

    I also tried Marni (nice but not all that compelling), Lys 44 (got a 5 ml decant, but not FBW at that price), and Noontide Petals (great, but seemed quite similar to Un Lys du Desert, of which I already had a FB). And a teeny-tiny sample of PHI Une Rose de Kandahar, which I haven’t yet made up my mind about.

    As always, thanks to Robin & co. for the fantastic perfume writing, and happy new year to everyone!

    • Robin says:

      Almost nothing is FBW to me anymore, admittedly, unless it’s dirt cheap. I do love Lys 44 but wouldn’t buy 50 mls of anything if I could help it, even if it was way cheaper than Lys 44.

      And a happy 2014 to you :-)

  11. Marjorie Rose says:

    As ever, I did a poor job sampling new releases, and only one pushed onto my “buy” list–although I admit, I’m totally biased where Andy Tauer is concerned. . .
    Marni–seemed fine but safe.

    Dries Van Noten–a lovely comfort scent, but not worth the FM pricing. If I could get it at the mall, I probably would.

    Amouage Fate Woman–swooned for a day or two and then I realized that there were plenty other lovely and similar incenses that cost 1/3 as much, so then I decided I was done with it! (I know–love ‘em and leave ‘em!)

    Tauer PHI: Une Rose de Khandahar–no big surprise, this is the one I love and am hoping to own. I suspect if it were made by another house, I may not be so prone to lemming it, as I have an unquestionable soft spot for Andy’s style.

    • Robin says:

      Frederic Malle has really gone up in price. I’m glad I got the ones I loved when I did. Ditto on Serge Lutens. They used to seem like relative bargains, but no more.

      It’s good to have at least one brand you have a soft spot for.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Yeah–which brand(s) do *you* have a soft spot for? :)

        • Robin says:

          Hermes is surely my worst, or best, depending on how you look at it. A couple years ago, would have also said Diptyque, Serge Lutens, L’Artisan, Comme des Garcons, but I like much less of their recent output.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Does that mean you own more Hermes scents? I know that you have a pretty good brake on purchases–you comment often about not “needing” any more perfume! (Like needs have anything to do with it! ;) )

            L’Artisan and Serge Lutens have such large selections–I find both houses a bit overwhelming to dip into fully. I *do* appreciate SL’s unique style, though, even if I don’t always *get* his scents.

          • Robin says:

            When I reviewed Jour d’Hermes in late 2012, I went back & calculated my spending for the previous 5 years -> 28% of it had gone to Hermes. And since then, I’ve bought one more small bottle.

            Since the damage poll is coming up on Thursday, I’ve already figured my total 2013 expenditure: $137. Not too bad.

            I was lucky I started when I did…there were so many fewer niche brands. It was not as hard to smell everything from the best houses.

          • PekeFan says:

            I have a real “soft spot” for Hermes too. It is my number one, followed by the Chanel L’Exclusifs. I’m not much of a niche gal.

  12. mals86 says:

    Looks like I smelled very little “new” again this year – there is a TON of stuff I missed, including the Serges, the new Tom Fords, the new By Kilians… you name it, I pretty much missed it. I did like Lys41 very much, but not enough to drop Le Labo-style bucks on it. Micallef Mon Parfum Cristal is nice but not my style.

    I did love the updated Jacomo Silences eau de parfum — I think this was announced in 2012 but did not hit the US market until 2013 — which seemed to me much more like what SHOULD have been the flanker to Chanel No. 19. It’s wonderful. (And I owe some splits to some people still. I suck. Home circumstances are a little weird right now.)

    Jour de Hermes was pretty, except for some weird metallic thing in the middle that made me think of Sharon Stone’s icy/sexy blonde murderess in Basic Instinct. But I rather liked EL Modern Muse. OH! and Chanel 1932 is gorgeous too, even if far softer than it should be. THought I’d loooove Noontide Petals. Didn’t.

    • Robin says:

      There’s a ton of new stuff I missed too. Going to smell Tobacco Oud after reading Angie’s review, though.

      Very good to know, have not seen or smelled the Silences — did you order it online, or actually see it in a store?

      • mals86 says:

        Ordered it, unsniffed, from New London Pharmacy. Never saw it in a store, but then that’s nothing new… most of what’s on the “mainstream” list isn’t available to me where I live in the boonies. :) Marni? never laid eyes on it either. OR Elie Saab, or Aquolina or Carven or… etc.

        • Robin says:

          Right. Glad you loved it since you took the chance!

  13. Kelly Red says:

    Loved reading everyone’s list and feel that Kevin is my scent twin. I went back and read his post on candles. LOVED IT. I am also a candle slut and am not ashamed to admit it. I burn something almost every night as I read and love several he suggested. A less expensive line I like is Illume. I have had really good luck with scenting a room: favorites include Fireside and Roasting Chestnuts for winter and Fresh Grass and Ocean for summer. I also like Voluspa and heavily rely on Baltic Amber as my comfort scent. Thanks to ALL of you and your loyal readers for educating me and upping my game when it comes to perfumes. I have learned so much from all of you and have spent so much money! Thank you and have a wonderful new year.

    • Robin says:

      And I am unaccountably chintzy about spending on candles, probably because I’ve done so poorly. I always end up with candles I don’t really like. Glad to hear you like Illume, I am tempted by the Fireside one and at least it is affordable.

  14. C.H. says:

    Ha, this is great fun, I am surprised my own preferences looking at this year’s launches! Mostly contrary to what I would have named as notes I like, it turns out almost everything I enjoyed was either leather (Bottega Veneta Eau Legère and Pour Homme, Coach Leatherware No. 1–now really regretting I didn’t get to Cuir Gardenia, seeing all this love for it), mild amber (Aerin Amber Musk, Prada Candy L’Eau, Hermes Mandarine Ambrée) or–and I guess this really was the year for it!–rose (Aerin Evening Rose, Lush Rose Jam shower gel, Marni and Marni Rose).

    I also enjoyed sniffing several of the L’Occitane Grasse collection scents, although I may have been swayed by L’Occitane’s display in the form of nickel-sized ceramic tablets, soaked in each scent–kind of lost interest when I found out they wouldn’t sell me the tablets to put in my purse!

    So I guess for me, mainstream did pretty well! Although that’s really a list of what I enjoyed wearing for a day or a couple days. What seemed worth the pricetag is another question–have to admit Marni’s the only one of this year’s offerings I spent money on.

    • Robin says:

      Hey Cuir Gardenia is expensive! Maybe best not to know ;-)

      I really want to smell the L’Occitane Osmanthus one, but that doesn’t seem to be in the US yet either. Hope it will get here.

  15. C.H. says:

    Meanwhile, this reminds me to ask–Robin, have you seen Diesel Loverdose Tattoo in any stores? Or has anyone for that matter? Ever since the review, I’ve been keeping an eye out for it, but even the Diesel stores I’ve stopped into haven’t had it, nor Sephora/department stores. Mysterious!

    • Robin says:

      Nope. And don’t see it online except in the UK, either. It is on the Diesel website, though.

  16. PekeFan says:

    Kevin, I fully agree about pricing. It has really put me off trying new fragrances because I would NEVER spend the kind of money you mention on f-ing perfume. Those prices make the Chanel L’Exclusif collection seem like such a bargain, and I have mostly been wearing my No. 22 as a comfort scent through what is likely to be a long and bleak winter. Oh well… Happy Year of the Horse everyone!!

    • Robin says:

      You know, it is really interesting to look at prices and figure out what expensive brands are comparative bargains. Serge was, for a long time, one of the most reasonably priced of the niche houses, but not so much now.

      • PekeFan says:

        Really! Buying Chanel and Hermes, and even L’Artisan, makes me feel frugal when I compare their prices with the ever increasing mark-up from the niche lines. As an example, Hilde Soliani is now astronomical. It wasn’t too long ago that a 100 ml bottle of her Il Tuo Tulipano was $75.00 from Luckyscent. It now costs $200.00 and the bottle is not as pretty as it used to be. I was surprised by the Patou re-releases too – thought they would be more in line with their other fragrances.

        • Robin says:

          The Patou prices are just plain strange. If they were going to go so high, they should have stuck with much older fragrances, so nobody would remember how much they used to cost.

  17. Safran says:

    Thank you, Kevin for mentioning ridiculous prices for sometimes ridiculous scents! I am so annoyed by this, also about recent price raises. Some companies think, let’s try, how much the customer is willing to pay! 40% price raise for the latest Byredo scent is one example.

    • Robin says:

      Wow, I have to look up the Byredo. I do remember hearing their prices went up though.

  18. Bee says:

    I’ve had a very intense year, workwise, and needed a confort scent – so Dries van Noten it was (my only FB buy). I haven’t yet bumped into Marni & flanker (where are they distributed??) and it seems I have some general catching up to do, so your lists are going to be helpful. Happy new year to all of you!

    • Robin says:

      Marni is not widely distributed — Saks & Nordstrom. Can’t remember if NM has them.

  19. Holly says:

    Thanks Robin, Angela, Kevin, Jessica, and Erin. I really appreciate the time and thought you have put into NST. Also thanks to all who contribute.

    I continue to add to my list of what I would like to sniff, and to admire the art of those who have created perfume for all of us to enjoy. Whether I like it or not, or can afford it or not, I’m glad it’s there. I’m glad you are as well.

    Happy New Year to all!

    • PekeFan says:

      Ditto! I love this blog. Thank you Everyone!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you both! And we appreciate having the nicest readers anywhere on the internets :-)

  20. chandler_b says:

    I didn’t buy any new releases, mainly bought classic scents or either bargains, mainly due to the sticker shock of most of the new fragrances I found interesting or “me”. The Tom Ford’s released this year were unusually good but exorbitantly priced as usual. Jay-Z Gold was my favorite “mainstream” fragrance this year. Happy New Year!

    • Robin says:

      I need to spend more time with Jay Z Gold, but will probably review it next week. It was better than I expected, that’s for sure.

      • chandler_b says:

        It was very surprising and I need another go with it too, but it was a more masculine Prada Amber Pour Homme/expensive soap scent to me.

  21. Oakland Fresca says:

    I may be mis-remembering, but I recall a line from the A-Z Perfume Guide where Turin says something about all fragrances being basically pretty.. or that in the end we are measuring and taking stock of what are all generally nice smelling scents… anyway I take the sentiment to heart as I note the number of wonderful fragrances I totally missed sampling, or sampled and loved but am horrified by the cost–relative to say buying groceries for a family of four for a week…. I really try to separate the joy of exploring fragrances and hearing what others think about them from the economics of it all… but Kevin’s indignation seems entirely sane to me. To strike my own balance (and what else can anyone do?) I am wearing vintage L’aimant today, and reading Burr’s The Perfect Scent, and maybe thinking that in a few weeks I might hunt around for a split of Mona di Orio’s Violette Fumee, but then again something else fabulous might come along.

    Very best wishes to everyone at NST–formal bloggers and everyone who writes in. I have learned so much from you all, and really appreciate your humor, integrity, and kindness!

    • Robin says:

      Oh, that’s so true.

      I sometimes forget to think about price since most of the time, I’m not going to shell out for more than a sample anyway. I am still more horrified by the crazy number of releases than the crazy prices, but either is worth ranting about.

      And thank you!

    • mals86 says:

      And vintage L’Aimant is really lovely.

      • Oakland Fresca says:

        Ha! That is so funny that you commented on my L’Aimant. When I read your comment earlier today it inspired me to pull out a sample of Chanel 1932 to try later. I put some on this evening just before I settled in to follow-up on some emails and to sneak a peak at NST!

        Hope things at home are okay and that all that you could wish for comes to you in the new year!

  22. Omega says:

    +1 on the cupcake bottles of juice, Kevin!

    I really liked Violette Fumee by Mona this year, was impressed by it.

    • Robin says:

      I did not even smell that one yet. Oh well!

  23. I know that Roja Dove is ridiculously priced, but I had the honor of getting drenched with 10 spritz’s of Roja by Roja himself. I don’t think I’ll ever wash that shirt again, LOL! Happy New Year Everyone.

    • Robin says:

      That’s so funny! And a happy New Year to you :-)

  24. Omega says:

    Also, a fun discovery was PK Perfumes this year. His Dirty Rose is the darkest rose I have sniffed, without sweetness to it. Do check it out. His Velvet Curaçao has the most realistic, white floral opening, it was impressive. His line is unique and unlike any scents I’ve sniffed. Even if they do not end up being your taste, they are still a treat to any sniffer, imo.

    • Robin says:

      I don’t even know the brand. Will never catch up.

  25. scentfromabove says:

    Hello all! Happy 2014!
    I am usually loyal to certain fragrances and brand houses, but tried very hard to venture out this past year. I guess pricing was the main reason that stopped me. The ones that I actually purchased and liked that came out this year were Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede and Estee Lauder’s Modern Muse.
    The ones that were released this year that I wanted to get but didn’t were the new Maison Francis’ fragrances, Elie Saab’s Intense, Mademoiselle Piguet by Robert Piguet, and some of the Tom Ford fragrances.
    I want to get into the Lush products, so that will be on my to – do list for 2014.
    I have learned so much from all of you on NST. You have introduced me to a whole new world that I didn’t know existed. Thank you for educating me on so many things. Coming to this site makes me feel like a kid in a candy store! There are so many fragrances I want to try or find out more about. Thanks for all you do. – ScentFromAbove

    • chandler_b says:

      I second that thanks to NST for the inspiring reviews and information provided, I also have learned so much due to this amazing site!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you both!

  26. nozknoz says:

    I like the new banner. More white space and less busy is better. Did you try it with the smoke pattern (instead of the flower pattern)?

    My fav video was La Legende de Shalimar, which I look up every now and then. Amazing, beautiful and affecting.

    Robin, often our tastes differ, but I totally agree with you on Aftelier. I bought a mini of Cuir de Gardenia and several others for Christmas.

    I’m always behind and tend to prioritize vintage, so I bought very few new releases. In addition to Cuir de Gardenia, I acquired the travel size of Hermes Epice Marine, Lush Rose Jam (what a bargain!) and Les Nez Turtle Vetiver Back. I think I love L’AP Skin on Skin but can’t face the crazy big expensive bottle. I am weighing Iris Nazarena, but I still need to try some of the other 2013s

    The real reason 2013 was a hit for me was the great prices for Amouage some online discount sites. I finally bought Gold, Dia and Beloved – I can die happy! And be embalmed beautifully. :-)

    • Robin says:

      White space is good. And I did! It was too hard to make out what it was. This one maybe isn’t recognizable as a flower, but at least is recognizable as some sort of pattern. Anyway, tired of messing w/ the banner for now so we’ll live with this one for awhile. Hopefully, not for as many years as last time though.

      Embalmed in Amouage — that cracked me up.

      • nozknoz says:

        I like the flower pattern. It gives the letters an energetic texture. I like your gravatar with the texture, too. Great work!

        • Robin says:

          Again, thanks. I am obviously not much at graphic design, but these are hopefully an improvement.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Yes, it has been a good year for Amouage purchases! Just ordered a no-box bottle of Lyric for $170–I feel like I almost stole it. :)

  27. perthgirl says:

    Thanks for your contributions nst, it makes me realize how far behind I am, and how much it will cost me to even try them all ;-)
    I did get bottles of Ambre Merveilles, La Fille de Berlin, and a few Lush frags though, and really liked Armani/Prive Myrrhe Imperiale, and wouldn’t mind a bottle- but it’s too much especially as there are a few I wouldn’t mind :) Ditto Tendre est la Nuit by Majda Bekkali.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, you got some nice things though. I am still tempted by the Ambre Merveilles, and several of the Lush scents.

  28. jonr951 says:

    A little late for the party, but oh well. Happy New Year everyone! : )

    I really enjoyed Marni this year, but Cartier’s Baiser Vole Essence de Parfum made my year. Definitely my favorite release, flanker or otherwise. I absolutely love the stuff! SO happy I got a beautiful bottle for Xmas. : D

    I can’t wait to try the Rosabotanica, Marni Rose, the Lolita, Loverdose Tattoo, and the Carven. I feel like I missed SO much in 2013. : /

    Pleats Please was a disaster. Sorry. And can we add The One Desire to the “Didn’t” list? There needs to be a “Just Plain Bad” list. Haha! ; )

    I totally agree about the Rihanna, even if it isn’t my absolute favorite. She really has released a nice collection of fragrances. Bravo RiRi.

    And can someone please explain Manifesto to me? Because I STILL don’t get it. The combo of green and sweet hurts my nose every time I try to figure it out. Is it bad that I DO want to try the 2 flankers? Haha! ; )

    And as TWO embarrassing guilty pleasures from 2013, I REALLY like Viva La Juicy Noir and Calvin Klein’s Downtown. I know, destroy me now. Ha! ^_^

    • Robin says:

      The Cartier was lovely…they did such a nice job.

      The “Just Plain Bad” list would be too long, LOL…

      • jonr951 says:

        And I’m sure a ton of my favorites would make your list! Lol! ^_^

        • Robin says:

          Oh, I do doubt that. We have different taste, but offhand can’t think of anything I thought was just terrible & you loved.

          • jonr951 says:

            Well thanks! Haha. You’re too kind Robin. ^_^

  29. I am deeply honored by the Perfumer of the Year recognition Robin! I also appreciate so much the recognition from you & Angela for Cuir de Gardenia, and from Jessica for Ylang Face Elixir. I always admire the way you keep Now Smell This so professional, even-handed, smart, elegant and honest. It is rare to find such a vibrant community focused on quality. Heartfelt thanks for all your support, and Happy New Year!
    Mandy

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