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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Perfume: the best of 2013

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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

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Perfume: the best of 2012

Some years seem better for niche, others for mainstream. Writing this post and looking over the 2012 releases confirmed my suspicion that this was not a stellar year (in my humble opinion, obviously) on either side, despite the usual avalanche of product. Or maybe it is just getting harder and harder to pick out the gems? Another possibility is that I didn’t chose the right things to smell — as always, I didn’t manage to test everything.

My choices for the year are just below. Scroll down to see what Angela, Erin, Jessica and Kevin thought was noteworthy in 2012, or click over to Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Perfume Posse or Perfume Smellin’ Things. And of course, do add your own thoughts in the comments.

My favorite niche fragrances of 2012: L’Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l’Aube, with nods to Diptyque Volutes and Parfums de Nicolaï L’Eau à la Folie

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Perfume: best of 2011

I thought 2011 was a really great year for mainstream perfume, maybe not so hot on the niche side. Way too much new product has become the norm and hardly seems worth mentioning, but in 2011, just keeping track of all the new niche brands (is there a private citizen left in all of Italy without their own niche line?) was a struggle. As I said last year, I have given up on smelling everything that matters. I smell what I can and try not to worry about the rest. So once again, to all of my picks below, add “of what I managed to smell”.

My choices for the year are just below. Scroll down to see what Angela, Erin, Jessica and Kevin thought was noteworthy in 2011, or click over to Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Perfume Posse or Perfume Smellin’ Things. And of course, do add your own thoughts in the comments.

My favorite niche fragrance of 2011: Parfum d’Empire Azemour Les Orangers. Last year, there was an embarrassment of riches in this category and it was hard to narrow down to a favorite or two. This year, if I had not smelled Azemour in December, I really don’t know what I would have picked.

The best mainstream fragrances: On the other hand, it was a very good year for the mainstream prestige category. My favorites turn out to be two from the “upscale sweets” category, Prada Candy and Thierry Mugler Angel Goût du Parfum. Honorable mentions: Bottega Veneta and Cartier Baiser Volé

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Perfume: the best of 2010

I thought 2009 was a pretty good year, and 2010 was even better. There was, once again, way too much new product — it looks like there will always be too much new product, regardless of what the world economy is doing. Oh well. It does mean that I have pretty much given up on smelling everything that matters. I suppose it could be done if you had absolutely nothing else to do, but I do have other things to do. I smell what I can. So, to all of my picks below, add “of what I managed to smell”.

My choices for the year are just below. Scroll down to see what Angela, Erin, Jessica and Kevin thought was noteworthy in 2010, or click over to Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Perfume Posse or Perfume Smellin’ Things. And of course, do add your own thoughts in the comments.

My favorite niche fragrances for 2010: a tie between The Different Company De Bachmakov and L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore. I also particularly liked Annick Goutal Ninféo Mio and Parfums DelRae Panache

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