2011 was a damn good year for the perfume industry. We saw an unprecedented number of great mainstream perfumes (Prada Candy, Cartier Baiser Vole, Bottega Veneta, Kate Walsh Boyfriend, and the Thierry Mugler Taste of Fragrance set) and some niche personal favorites (Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee, Neela Vermeire Trayee). 2012 was a less spectacular year for both the perfume industry and myself. There were fewer bright points than low points, and, okay, the perfume industry might have failed statistics, but the perfume industry is STILL GOING TO GRADUATE ON TIME MOM.
The usual disclaimer: this is not a particularly good list because I am hilariously behind on new perfume releases and do not try enough indie/natural perfumes. Perfumes that probably would have been on here if I had tried them more than once (or at all) include Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme, Diptyque Volutes, any of this year’s CB I Hate Perfumes, Serge Lutens Majascule, and Hermes Jour d’Hermes.
Best Oriental Perfume
Amouage Interlude Man. Opens like a forest of burning pine trees; dries down to a plush base of amber and incenses. Almost unbearably hot, in every sense of the word.
Best Gourmand Perfume
A Lab on Fire What We Do in Paris is Secret. My only full-bottle purchase of the year. This tender, cuddly blend of honey and heliotrope is the stuff of dreams for those of us with a perfume sweet tooth. Everyone who currently wears Pink Sugar needs to switch to this right now.
Runner-up: Luckyscent Decennial Bois Bourbon. If bourbon actually smelled this good, I wouldn’t be a gin drinker.
Best Fruity Perfume
Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have not owned a fruity perfume since Escada Rockin’ Rio in 2004. Blackberry & Bay might just change that. The tart grapefruit and savory bay leaf top notes are instantly likable, and the blackberry note is worlds away from the overly sweet berries that have become so tragically trendy over the past decade. Sophisticated and surprisingly complex.
Best Floral Perfume
Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun. Okay, I’m reaching here, but immortelle is technically a flower. Immortelle generally smells like burnt maple syrup, but Afternoon of a Faun is transparent and unsweetened. The leather base is ingenious. I would consider this to be perfumer Ralf Schweiger’s least accessible work, and very much worth the time spent trying to puzzle it out.
Best Citrus Perfume
Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu. Etat Libre d’Orange is kind of on a roll this year. Fils de Dieu, which smells like a bowl of rice drenched in lime juice, is both delicious and highly original.
Best Celebrity Perfume
L’Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l’Aube. WHATEVER, it totally counts. Seville a l’Aube, inspired by perfume blogger Denyse Beaulieu, is a truly unique orange blossom fragrance. Although the combination of orange blossom and lavender that dominates the latter part of the fragrance is too sweet for me, the vivid green top note is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever smelled.
Runner-up: Madonna Truth or Dare. This lightweight, creamy tuberose fragrance is outrageously sophisticated compared to most other celebrity scents. Many people have called this Fracas Lite, but I fail to see how a more casual and wearable version of Fracas could be a bad thing.
Best Masculine Perfume
Amouage Interlude Man.
Runner-up: Tie between Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb and Tom Ford Noir. Both fragrances are remarkably daring for mainstream masculines: Spicebomb for its prominent tobacco note, Noir for its sweet orange blossom.
What do you consider to be the best perfumes of 2012? Please feel free to make and share your own list with us!