Top 10 Perfumes of 2011

Most Likely To Succeed: Prada Candy

Candy manages to be both a delicious caramel fragrance that appeals to the masses and a sophisticated benzoin scent that captures the interest of more hardcore perfume lovers. Even Robin of Now Smell This, who generally shows little interest in such sweet gourmand fare, has stated that she “might end up buying” some Candy. Despite its stupid propeller bottle, I predict that Prada Candy will be the biggest financial and creative success of 2011.

Most Improved: Thierry Mugler Womanity The Taste of Fragrance

The original Thierry Mugler Womanity was more of a concept than a perfume. An interesting concept- an aquatic fig fragrance- but still not quite ready for prime time. Womanity The Taste of Fragrance dials back the aquatic note, resulting in a richer, figgier fragrance. This new version of Womanity is far more wearable and womanly than the original.

Most Likely To Convert Floral-Phobics: Three-way tie between Ineke Floral Curiosities Angel’s Trumpet, Cartier Baiser Vole, and Tom Ford Violet Blonde.

Angel’s Trumpet is a cheerful, light-hearted orange blossom fragrance. Orange blossom notes often feel syrupy to me, so I appreciate perfumer Ineke Rühland’s clever use of aquatic notes to lighten the fragrance. I can’t think of a perfume better suited to springtime.

When I first reviewed Baiser Vole, I wrote: “Baiser Vole starts out as a gorgeously ethereal lily scent, so photorealistic that you can almost feel the orange fur of the stamens. Unfortunately, after half an hour or so, Baiser Vole takes on a more artificial, scented-feminine-products vibe… Despite this eventual descent into Tampax territory, Baiser Vole is one of the nicer mainstream lily fragrances.” I stand by these words. But damned if that first half-hour with Baiser Vole is not the loveliest lily scent that I’ve ever encountered.

In Violet Blonde, Tom Ford tames the often-overwhelming jasmine note and makes it smooth and seductive. Violet Blonde is a beautiful, sophisticated scent and was a serious contender for the “Most Likely To Succeed” category.

No Mean Feat: Lolita Lempicka Si Lolita

I did not care for Si Lolita when it was first released, finding it too spicy. However, a semester of having a Bath and Body Works Sweet Pea-wearing seat mate in Organic Chemistry has taught me that creating a sophisticated sweet pea fragrance is no mean feat. The sweet pea note in Si Lolita provides no sweetness, only a warming effect. Si Lolita is still a little spicy for my tastes, but I now consider it to be an energetic and vibrant fragrance.

Best Celebrity Fragrance: Kate Walsh Boyfriend

This one was a no-brainer. Boyfriend, an instantly appealing combination of vanilla and benzoin, far surpassed the other celebrity fragrances of 2011. Bravo to its creator, Kate Walsh, who appears to have been far more involved in the development of her celebrity fragrance than most other celebrities.

Most Likely To Convince Me To Overcome My Totally Irrational Phobia Of Buying Things Online: Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée

Most incense fragrances range from very sweet to chokingly so. Vanille Insensée is a rare curiosity: a refreshing incense fragrance. Its bracing lime note takes Vanille Insensée miles away from any associations with headshop incense. Since the Atelier Cologne line is not available in the Baltimore area (surprise, surprise!), I might just risk an online purchase for this one.

Best Men’s Fragrance: Bond No. 9 I Love New York For All

Okay, I totally cheated. Bond No. 9 I Love NY For All is a unisex fragrance. However, I have personally seen at least three women in the Nordstrom’s fragrance department declare it “too manly”. Bond No. 9 I Love NY For All is a tasty gourmand that smells like Apple Jacks with milk. The black bottle means that it will be more acceptable to the kind of men who are worried about that sort of thing.

Most Original: Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau

Jeux de Peau is an ultra-sweet gourmand done in the characteristic Uncle Serge style. It smells of burnt toast and apricot jam. Jeux de Peau smells delicious, intelligent, and best of all, fun. It is everything that a perfume can and should be.

Let the debates begin! Which perfumes did I wrongfully omit, and which did I wrongfully include? Please share your own top 1o lists with us! By the way, the appearance of this list does NOT mean that I am finished posting for the year. Except for New Year’s Day, it will be business as usual here at Scents of Self!

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37 thoughts on “Top 10 Perfumes of 2011

        1. I agree that “Most Likely To Succeed” (– but in what?) category goes for Prada Candy for many people. I do not dislike Prada Candy, I’m quite neutral. For that kind of dessert I prefer Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille by far… Didn’t you like Prada Candy? so try SL’s UBV for better, no matter in which category, it was done first and it’ll be better than Candy whatever happens….

          ♥ Anyway, my favorite Dessert of the Year (if it’s going to suceed or not) –> *Praliné de Santal* by Parfumerie General

          I also quite agree that most Improved category goes for Thierry Mugler Taste of Fragrance collection, it’s a marketing strategy that I think it’s never done before (really? it’s not that good!) but I hate Thierry Mugler with all my heart, and the -original- Womanity was an aberration of good taste so I prefer not to imagine an improvement…!

          ♥ Anyway, my favorite Improvement of the Year –> *Burberry Body*, just for being the most appealing, huge and LARGEST BOTTLE (Lol!)

          I support 2 of the 3 fragrances you mention in the following category “Most Likely To Convert Floral-Phobics”. I simply don’t know Ineke Floral Curiosities Angel’s Trumpet but it simply sounds terrific. The other are quite a lot interesting.

          ♥ Anyway, my favorite Flower Bouquet of the Year (and à la vintage!) –> *Esprit d’Oscar* by Oscar de la Renta (not sure if it’s a 2011 release, though)

          ♥ Supposedly Best “Lady” of the Year –> *Bottega Veneta* Eau de Parfum (a strange cross between Daim Blond, Città di Kyoto and Gucci Rush! and I have crossed feelings with this fragrance, too)

          ♥ Best “Sultry Pin-up” of the Year –> *Violet Blonde*, by Tom Ford

          ♥ Best “I’m an asshole, I’m Just shaved coming of the barber but I’m macho man and I still look like wild animal” of the Year –> *Si Lolita*, by Lempicka

          ♥ Best “Metrosexual” of the Year –> *Santal Massoia* by Hermès

          ♥ Best “Prince Charming” of the Year (whatever be gay or straight) –> *Cuir Fétiche* by Maitre Parfumeur and Gantier

          ♥ Most underrated scent of the Year –> *Diane*, by Diane Von Furstenberg

          ♥ Most original scent of the Year: I still haven’t tried yet, but has to be *De Profundis* by Serge Lutens!!!. A proper goodbye, well-rounded, the best Closing for a handful of perfume Masterpieces —> A DEATH SCENT! Can we expect anything more original? what an extravaganza!

        2. A great list! I do love and own SL UBV. I also have a sample of Parfumerie Generale Praline de Santal that I have not tried yet, and will absolutely have to now that you have recommended it! I agree that the new DVF is underrated, and will probably stay underrated. It does not cater to current mainstream tastes. I predict it will be discontinued in a year or so 😦

  1. I was going to offer to pick you up the Atelier and ship it to you, but then you’d have to pay me online, so that’s the same thing! You can send me a check in the mail ; )
    Is there no Nieman Marcus near you? Maybe you’ll have to take a trip to Tysons to get this and sniff the Exclusifs as well!

    Living in CA, there is Angel’s Trumpet everywhere, and I was surprised that the Ineke does actually smell like it. Not something I necessarily want, but like its uniqueness.

    And I think Bottega Veneta will give the Prada a run for its money, although the Prada name is much more well known and is probably in more stores than BV.

    1. Thank you for the kind offer! I do not mind at all buying fragrances from individuals, but buying from websites makes me nervous. It’s all ridiculous, of course. I am near a Neiman Marcus, but I haven’t seen the Atelier line there recently.
      Oh, I didn’t realize that Angel’s Trumpet was a real flower! If it smells like the fragrance, then I’m sure it smells lovely.
      No doubt this is perfume blogger blasphemy, but I am pretty neutral on the Bottega Veneta. I think that it is a very nice leather fragrance, but it is too sweet for me. In the end, though, I think that it will be Prada’s bigger name (like you pointed out) and more elaborate bottle that will put it over the edge.

      1. Hmm, I just checked the Atelier website and they don’t list my NM where I saw it as a retailer – I wonder if it’s not there anymore? Last time I was there was several months ago. And there are no retailers listed in MD : ( But they are at the NM in Tysons, and in other NM here in CA as well. Anyway, I’ll check after the holidays and let you know – not going anywhere near a mall for the next 2 weeks! I also need to go to the mall to beg for a sample of Santal Massoia.

      2. Ari, I am pretty neutral on BV too. I think it’s very nice, but I don’t even experience it as a leather. I get bergamot-apricot-jasmine-patchouli-benzoin. It’s almost a patchouli gourmand — I think I’ve been smelling it in the wild and from a distance it could be mistaken for any number of recent scents.

        1. The last thing the world needs is another patchouli gourmand! I do perceive BV as a leather, but it is still too sweet for me. I guess I prefer my leathers more uncivilized.

  2. Great list Ari — love your categories.

    I too really like Atelier’s Vanille Insensee, but as a non-sweet vanilla fragrance. Pretty sure it’s not intended as an incense fragrance and Atelier certainly doesn’t list any incense notes. I think the impression comes because at first glance the name looks like Incensee, but they are instead referring to an “insensee” or “insane” vanilla — which I guess this is because it’s so delightfully (to me) unsweet. I’ve seen it described as “diet gourmand” which suits me just fine.

  3. Interesting list, I like the breakdown! I couldn’t agree more about the Prada bottle, I loathe it! I tried it again yesterday and again found it quite generic and uninteresting, but that’s me. I thoroughly enjoy so many of their other frags.

    You have reminded me that I must try the new gourmand take of Womanity and Boyfriend and Baiser Vole! I almost liked the original Womanity but found it a bit too much, maybe the new twist will be just right. I have been meaning to sniff the other two but haven’t run across them. It will be one of my missions while I am in the city for Christmas!

    1. Meg, in that case I think that you might really love the new Womanity. It is less original, but it smells better! It sounds like you have a fun schedule of perfume sniffing ahead of you this Christmas!

  4. Well Ari… I still think it’s not a good year for perfume, it was difficult to list… I would like more material to work with, I’m sure it’s your case too. Ok there are very good frags but not enough for me to ADORE them… so: it’s a Middle-Ranking list. I miss so much the Great Perfumes of the past… more and more everyday! 😦 (I think I’m getting really older!)

    Praliné de Santal it’s a true awesome gourmand…It’s a very much a skin scent after a while but I’m not sure if I’d be able to wear it, I just enjoyed like it was a foody Dessert. I know you are a fan of gourmandises… but who knows, let me know when you try.

    *and as you see, I finally tried Esprit d’Oscar last weekend!! 😉 They’re not hiding it anymore, at least in my country. It’s really pretty and very ladyish. Anyway I have to try at least more than twice.

    1. … too bad about DVF… the AD of the perfume Diane —> “How to Be a Fast Amouage’s / Chanel’s Drydown or a FM’s Lipstick Rose and no one cares because I have no Target! Won’t you try me???!” (and everybody’s paying indecents amounts of money, instead) … LOLfunnyLOL Crazy World!

      oh and about the last four scents on yout list, I really can’t make an opinion because I haven’t tried them and unless the Serge Lutens one (which I don’t remember if I smelled it or not), they’re not handy brands to me.

      1. Gemma, I would be happy to send you samples of all four after the New Year! You definitely need to try Boyfriend, it’s so good for the low price.

        1. ooh you’re the kindest girl ever…!!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 100000000000 of thanxs… Of course I hope to pay it back in very short! 😀
          I was not sure if you received my email with contact address…? I’m curious about Boyfriend! Last weekend I tried Osez-Moi by Chantal Thomas, it’s another affordable vanilla! Perfect gift for a young girl! And hey! 😀 Atelier it’s definititely handy to me, I’ve just found a shop that carries the line in Barcelona called JC Apothecari that they have very good cosmetic brands!
          Let me see if Boyfriend it’s available here or not.
          Anyway, Bond n9 is never available… so I’ll be immensely grateful to try anything, whatever be from them.

          I’m still thinking in a good AD for Diane…
          “[……… ] Fast Amouage without having to wait 536 hours of perfume development!!!” haha!

        2. Clearly DVF should have hired you to do her publicity!!!
          It is my pleasure! I do have your address, and have already put your Kanye giveaway sample in the mail! I will also try to collect samples of some of the better Bond fragrances for you.

  5. I really liked reading your list, and I like that you’ve created your own fun categories. Sadly, every one of these except the SL is very unexceptional on/to me.

    1. What a shame, Natalie! I agree with GeM- it hasn’t been the most spectacular year for perfumery. Are you planning to do a “best of 2011” post? If so, I can’t wait to read it!

  6. I haven’t tried Angel’s Trumpet, Boyfriend, Vanille Insensee, or the Bond No 9, but I am a big fan of Candy, Violet Blonde and Baiser Vole. Joining the other commenters in also citing Santal Massoia, Bottega Veneta and Esprit d’Oscar, also Carner D600, if that was a 2011 release. Womanity is much improved, I agree, but I liked the Alien with salty popcorn best! : – ) I probably won’t get round to doing a list till the New Year, but you have started the cogs whirring with your enjoyable round up!

    1. I can’t wait to read your list! I should really give Alien a shot, but the original was too much jasmine for me… does the new version hold back on the jasmine or is it much the same?

    2. Vanessa, It really is a shame that I’m just now realizing that D600 probably was released this year! Being just such a little representation in Permumery, there are fantastic releases from this house. well, just three but they are all deserving attention! 🙂 I know D600 and Tardes, they’re both fantastic. Come on Barcelona let’s go perfume the world!

      PS: Thanks Ari, so looking forward to receive it! So exciting! ♥

      1. GeM, I adored D600, and liked the dry down of Tardes, though the almond note was a bit too much for me initially. I gave my sample away to Birgit at the weekend, as I knew she loved it too.

  7. I still can notice the smell of Tardes on the paper strip I got. You are right, I also thought that its best wearability is after a while when I tried on the skin. Even in the top I still found it much more balanced than, for example, Flor de Almendra by Campos de Ibiza which has a very strong marzipan bitter almond accord, or the well known cherryalmond bomb in Louve. Anyway, I liked it very much, and D600 too (a more complex and less evident/linear composition).
    If I had tried enough and had known that they’re are from 2011, probably I would have mentioned them both in my own list. So I’m going to try them more times – thanks for the tip.

  8. Ariiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! I’m coming back to this post just to tell you that I’m smelling Esprit d’Oscar again and it has a tremendous resemblance to:

    1- Eau première by Chanel,
    2- the Diane Von Furstenberg
    and
    3- Lipstick Rose (maybe less, but yes!)

    same ‘vintage POWDER’ in ALL!

  9. Fun List, Ari! I really need to try Womanity 2.0. I haven’t tried the original either, though Victoria from BdJ had nice things to say about that one which made me curious but not curious enough to run out and sample it..:D. I like the sound of the figgier Womanity 2.0)

    1. btw- saw your tweet about your trip to South Coast and Scent Bar. What fun!! (I live not too far from South Coast Plaza). Was Rachel there are the Scent Bar?- she is an absolute doll!

      1. Oh no, I wish I had known!! I could have met you at SCP! You’re so lucky to live near such a humongous mall. There was no Rachel at Scent Bar, just a male employee with a very impressive mustache!

        1. I know! When I saw your SCP tweet I thought maybe there was a South Coast on the east coast (which now I think of it doesn’t make any sense..lol). Then, when I saw your Scent Bar tweet, I realized you were at the Costa Mesa South Coast..lol.
          Next time, hopefully..:)

          Happy New Year!

  10. Ari, I’m so grateful to you for all the things you sent me, I was touched by each mail… yesterday I received the 3 sampling one, I didn’t expected anything from you! It was such a comforting surprise…. You made my day! 😀

    I’ve had flu since last Friday. It seems I’m getting over it …
    so I’m sampling the three scents (step by step)…
    by the way… my impression is that they’re all a.w.e.s.o.m.e.!

    I love the I Love New York gentle sweet take on lavender, wow, smells great… as referencial, it brings me a little to mind the classic Paco Rabanne pour Homme, and even the Caron’s Pour un Homme, which I consider another perfect wereable Lavender-Vanilla to everybody, whether a man or a woman. I’m still not sure if I’m with you on the a bit more ‘manly’ aspect of I♥ NYC For All, though. It has that soapy-powdery quality… that sometimes you don’t know exactly where to put: barbeshop or beauty salon?
    IN A WORD, it smells FABULOUS, and on me has a huge long lasting.

    Kate Walsh’s Boyfriend is a 1ST CLASS PERFUME (one of the most luxurious thing I’ve smelled at an unbelievable price, it makes me think about whole thing, brands, perfumers, fragrance industry… they’re just teasing us seriously!)…and in addition, for what I can see about the projection for now… I guess it lasts forever… I’m sure a little goes a long way! Concerning the juice: It has an undeniable “Angel-y” side -or maybe… I believe you’d know VISA by Piguet?-
    Well, I’m not sure if I would like to wear it very often… I think simply is one those I’m eventually tired of: like those Angels, Visas, Portraits of a Lady, etc that I find them all in the same vein, but I can’t help to appreciate how much of a quality stuff they are…!!! Really, I’m totally openmouthed… I’m getting whiffs of this all the time, and I’m a bit shocked that I’m not tired already! so that’s an unexpected and very good sign! ;)…

    and then: Jeaux de Peau… wew. Ok, at first, it is the closest thing to Praliné de Santal (by Parfumerie General) I’ve smelled. but aaaah…how I love uncle serge’s signature…. he’s always so heartbreaking. So …….. E.M.O.T.I.O.N.A.L!
    aaah, the MILK opening!!!
    I can’t help finding its resemblance to Un Bois Vanille, though… but this has a more abstract concept, an extrabonus “ambery” & fruity and smokey side … I really get the amber, didn’t you?!, and peach /or/ apricot, mmmmmh… Delicious.
    Although on my skin it becomes very light in short, leaving me desperate for more
    (or maybe just too weak in comparison to the Boyfriend monster’s sillage!)

    My dear, I couldn’t decide between this three. At least for now, I really don’t have a clue about which one is better. Really.
    Thank you with all my ♥.

    well, and now let’s do a quick mini-update to go over the things I’ve missed. 😦

    1. Gemma!!! I have been wondering where you were hiding, and am so sorry to hear you have not been feeling well! I’m so glad that you are feeling better, and so happy to hear that you liked the samples 🙂
      The one thing about Boyfriend is that it is in a body oil and an EDP (your sample was the EDP), and the EDP has a fruity aspect that is not in the body oil. So the EDP is definitely closer to the fruity-gourmands like Angel and Visa (which I have tried, and like!)
      I got the similarity between Jeux de Peau and UBV too! So much so that I decided because I already own UBV, I did not need Jeux de Peau. But I’m not sure I will be able to hold to that decision 😉
      You have missed two scent diaries, a post on Maurice Roucel, and a couple reviews! I can’t wait to see your comments on them! Get well soon!!!!!!

      1. you’re the kindest..thanks again!! the whole last week I had some exams and due to I’m eating SO unhealthy because of the anxiety itself, then my natural immune defenses are down and that’s why I feel sick after my exams very often… So terrible!
        Now I’m finally free and feelingg much better… I’m still reading and enjoying your writings now, but I still feel like I’m floating and I’m a bit slow!…

        I’m glad to see we have got similar feelings and associations! … Ari, I would like to send you some vials but I don’t know what you don’t know haha! have you ever tried any of Lorenzo Villoresi, or from Parfums de Nicolai? I’d be happy to make some samples for you!

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