2017 In Review: Best New Releases & Personal Favourites

Photo: Tim Gainey. Source: Fine Art America. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Welcome to the year in review, a look back at both the best new releases of 2017 and the noteworthy releases from prior years which I tried this year and enjoyed. Before I start, though, let me say first that I’m operating at a bit of a handicap because I took a long sabbatical for the first half of 2017. I spent the next six months after my return trying to catch up on, test, or review all the new fragrances that I had missed during my break as well as the ones released subsequently, but I’m sure I’ve missed a few great ones along the way. It’s not easy to put a dent in the tsunami of 2,300+ fragrances which are released each year even when one is reviewing nonstop, never mind when one takes a break from modern perfumery. Even so, I found a number of fragrances that either I loved immensely, that I thought were good representations of their genre, or that I thought were original and executed extremely well.

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Ensar Oud Aroha Kyaku Oud & Sultan Leather Attar

Today, I wanted to take a look at two fragrance oils from Ensar Oud: Aroha Kyaku, an appealing, deep, dark, and velvety oil that smells primarily of vetiver, tobacco, leather, and smoked oud chips; and Sultan Leather, an utterly gorgeous and sumptuous attar that pairs the best Cuir de Russie leather that I’ve ever encountered with a plethora of chypre and oriental notes, including beautifully lush roses.

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A Guide To Vintage Parfum d’Hermès — Part II: EDTs, Parfum & Dating Bottles

Today, we’ll continue to explore vintage Parfum d’Hermes, looking at its scent over the 1980s and 1990s. I managed to make the comparative analysis much shorter than I had anticipated, so I’ve included the technical bottle, packaging, and dating analysis here, thereby avoiding the need for an additional Part III. Let’s get straight to it.

Vintage Parfum d’Hermes, 1980s and 1990s EDTs. Note how the scarf has a small Parfum d’Hermes bottle on the upper right side, in-between two of my bottles. Photo: my own.

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A Guide To Vintage Parfum d’Hermès — Part I: An Enduring Love

Photo: the fantastic fashion photographer, Kristian Schuller. (Direct link to his full website is embedded within.)

A shape-shifting chameleon, a night rider traversing through a verdant chypre valley to lay claim to a rubied rose atop a pile of oriental treasure, and an unabashedly 1980s-style “take no prisoners” floriental-chypre hybrid, Parfum d’Hermes is many things but always, in my opinion, an under-appreciated classic masterpiece in its earliest formulations.

Age is key. Depending on the year of the bottle you try, it might exude such a naturalistic, heady, and complex 3D rose that it feels as though bucketfuls of beefy Ta’if flowers had been drenched with rich Nombre Noir-style damascones — a rose so grandiose, riveting, and naturalistic that it brings a rose hater like myself to my knees with awe. Then again, with another bottle, it might simply be a green-red damascena rose wafting a crisp, cool hauteur. In both versions, though, it gradually turns gothic and dusky, withered with frankincense and myrrh before being sheathed in a masculine gauntlet of smoke and leathered resins. Well, that is unless you have a bottle from the end of the 1990s, in which case things go in yet another direction still….

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