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.
Sometimes, when I wear La Douceur de Siam, I’m reminded of the famous Forrest Gump line about life being like a box of chocolates, “you never know what you’re going to receive.” In the case of the Dusita fragrance, it’s not chocolates with different fillings but, rather, a tropical fruit salad. Like Gump’s box of chocolates, it sometimes opens up to reveal unexpected surprises, though, at its core, its fundamental essence is always the same: fruity, tangy, tart, and zingy sweetness with a profoundly exotic character. Pissara Umavijani takes this fruity core, layers it with frothy, luminous, tropical florals and creamy vanilla mousse, anchors the bouquet on a base of Mysore sandalwood, then envelops everything in airy clouds of soft benzoin amber and spices for a scent that is always fun, bright, and exuberantly happy. The end result often reminds me of another fragrance, Neela Vermeire‘s Bombay Bling which several bloggers used to characterize as “Prozac in a fragrance bottle.” I think La Douceur de Siam has a similar tropicality, character, and effect.
There’s an impressive new talent on the perfume scene, Pissara Umavijani, the woman behind Parfums Dusita and three new fragrances whose superb openings left me smiling and, in one case, practically dumbstruck at its heart-stopping beauty, my breath caught in my throat as I felt simple happiness sweep over me.
Ms. Umavijani (who sometimes goes by “Ploi Uma” on Facebook or social media) is a self-taught perfumer and, judging by her maiden efforts, is remarkably gifted, sure-footed, and creative. Far more so than many a professionally trained “nose,” if you ask me. In her hands, the tired floral-oud combination becomes something special and distinctive, while her deconstruction of the fougère genre brings a new breath of life to the genre. As for her treatment of florals, it is something to behold, whether it’s my beloved white florals or the roses that normally leave me cold. I don’t know if it’s her finesse, the clearly exceptional quality of so many of her raw materials, or both, but this rose-hater was left wishing for a perfume with only her roses in it. Bottom line, she’s someone to watch if you are really serious about good perfumes, I’m impressed by her talent, and you should really try her stuff.Continue reading