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Best Men’s Fragrances of 2011-2012-2013 (Better Late Than Never)

Self Portrait, Dick Ket

Did I really skip 2011 and 2012 when it came to writing my annual best-of-men’s-perfumes post? (Wow…and the world kept turning — imagine that!) I’m two years behind so today I’ll catch up by picking my favorite men’s fragrances from 2011, 2012 and 2013 (you can see my picks for 2009 and 2010 here). Some of these perfumes are unisex, but with a masculine edge (to my nose anyway). Though I missed my fair share of fragrance releases, I’ve still smelled tons of perfume product in the last three years. I don’t feel that a masterpiece escaped my attention.

Every year, I tend to write about men’s fragrances that I either “love” or “hate” (using those verbs with feather-weight intent since I don’t cry over favorite perfumes gone missing or reformulated, and I don’t gnaw on my fingers when I encounter awful perfumes). I’m still, I believe, a Perfumista, but I’ve put perfume in its proper place…

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Arquiste Fleur de Louis ~ fragrance review

Louis X1V

Fleur de Louis was released by Arquiste in 2011; it is a woody floral with notes of orange blossom, orris and white cedarwood, developed for Arquiste by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, who has created several scents for this house.

Like all Arquiste fragrances, Fleur de Louis takes its inspiration from a historical moment. Its name refers to Louis XIV, the “Sun King” who ruled France from 1643 to 1715. Its story is the first meeting between Louis and his intended wife, Maria Theresa of Spain. In June 1660 the young king and his bride were brought face-to-face “under a newly assembled pavilion of pine and cedarwood on the French-Spanish border,” as Arquiste describes the setting. Fleur de Louis’s composition is designed to evoke that meeting place on the Isle of Pheasants, as well as the iris-scented creams and floral waters that were favored by Louis and his courtiers…

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Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7 ~ fragrance review

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

I grew up in Virginia, and all the summers of my childhood, I smelled the intoxicating scent of gardenias wafting through our home. My grandmother planted gardenia bushes close to the house: north, south, east and west. At night, when the windows were open, I could smell the heavy aroma of gardenias in almost every room, upstairs and down. Even the “industrial-strength” metal fan I always had blowing at full speed in my direction (an excellent mosquito deterrent) could not disperse the smell of gardenia. Since leaving home, I’ve always had gardenia plants wherever I’ve lived: in balmy L.A. and here in the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle, I have my gardenias in pots I can move — in summer I can bring them under my bedroom window, in winter they can be rushed into the garage when a cold spell hits town. Let’s call me a Gardenian.

I was excited to try Arquiste Boutonnière no. 7…

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