I occasionally feel that there is a script to which perfume lovers are expected to stick. Obviously this pressure is entirely self-imposed, but it can be easy to find yourself caught up in the majority opinion about a scent. This script include such sentiments as “If it’s not vintage, it might as well be worthless”, or “Niche fragrances tend to be better than mainstream ones.” This latter belief is a particular issue for me, because I live in an area with no access to niche perfumes and I have an irrational fear of buying things online. That’s why I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see how thoroughly this year’s mainstream fragrance releases have trounced their niche counterparts.
Of course, there were no fewer mediocre mainstream fragrances in 2011 than there have been in past years. On the contrary, we are now privy to new scents by such illustrious perfumers as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Snooki. But 2011 has also brought a surprisingly large amount of remarkable mainstream fragrances. Some of these fragrances include Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum, Maison Martin Margiela Untitled, Elie Saab Le Parfum (I didn’t care for this one, but many people did), Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial (same disclaimer), Prada Candy, Tom Ford Violet Blonde, and the entire Thierry Mugler ‘Taste of Fragrance’ line.
While the mainstream market flourished, the niche market appeared to run short on ideas. Serge Luten’s promised “angry carnation”, Vitriol d’Oeillet, was widely reported to be a fairly standard carnation fragrance. Tom Ford’s recent additions to his Private Blend line were much less impressive than his new mainstream fragrance, Violet Blonde. The most hyped new niche line this year was Blood Concepts, which creates perfumes based on the four blood types. Most perfume bloggers who have tried these fragrances are reporting that they are about as pleasant as they sound.
Do you agree that 2011 was a better-than-average year for mainstream perfumes? Do you expect that this trend of impressive mainstream fragrances is likely to continue, or do you suspect that we just got lucky this year?