2015 in Review: Best New Releases & Personal Favourites

Source: World in a Bottle Facebook page. Photographer unknown.

Source: World in a Bottle Facebook page. Photographer unknown.

As another year draws to a close, it’s time to look back at the best of 2015. For me, this was an iffy year for brand new releases because there weren’t a huge number of fragrances that stood out from start to finish. The exceptions to the rule were impressive or lovely but, when I went back over all the fragrances that I covered, I found the vast majority fell woefully short.

One reason stems from the hot new trends of the year. Leather was a major compositional note in 2015 or, to be more precise, the tarry, woody, forest-fire smokiness that purports to recreate the sense of “leather.” Another hot trend seemed to be a deluge of black pepper. Neither one is appealing to me, particularly since their chemical nature was usually so intrusive as to be front-and-center. Yet, that sort of excessive darkness was, in and of itself, the most common stylistic approach, one that was frequently juxtaposed next to shapeless white florals, amorphous spiciness, or some sort of limp “freshness.” The end result was that a lot of new releases smelt far too similar for me to find them distinctive, interesting, or compelling. In addition, many of them lacked the quality to warrant the higher prices that we’ve been seeing across the board.

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Neela Vermeire Creations Pichola

"Cleopatra," by  John William Waterhouse via Wikipedia.

“Cleopatra,” by John William Waterhouse via Wikipedia.

One fateful morning, Cleopatra sailed up the Nile to meet Antony on a barge whose billowing sails were made from gossamer-light orange blossom petals. Her white silk robe bore a long train made from even more orange blossoms, carried by her handmaidens, Neroli and Mandarin, who wear garlands of jasmine in their hair. The trio danced joyously and exuberantly, sending out a bouquet far and wide like a royal proclamation, one whose sweet floralcy was redolent with tart tanginess from green fruits and the zesty oils of the rind. The fruits’ sun-ripened juices poured off their bodies to drip below decks on sailors hewing oars of buttercream sandalwood and green vetiver. It was as though the Queen had captured every part of an orange tree —  from the bright floralcy of the fresh flowers to the multi-faceted fragrance of its fruit, the green leaves which surround them, and the wood which bears them on the tree — and made them all genuflect in worship before enveloping her like a protective shield.

Artist unknown. Source: ldmark.com

Artist unknown. Source: ldmark.com

As the barge moved up the Nile, the scenery changed and the mood softened. The white-blossomed sails now merely fluttered in a soft breeze; the pulvarizingly energetic, zesty, brightness of the wild Bollywood music became a slow dance; and the Queen of the Orange Blossoms lay languidly in sensuous repose on a pile of greenness as a golden haze of velvety ylang-ylang and sweet jasmine hung heavy in the air. The barge itself almost seems to melt into creaminess, and the water glistened with a shimmering of benzoin powder. They occasionally passed bits of driftwood, overly desiccated and oddly out-of-place, but they were small pieces that soon passed out of sight. When they arrived at the meeting place, the barge docked and you could see its name: Pichola.

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Upcoming New Releases: Neela Vermeire Pichola

Neela Vermeire will be adding a new fragrance to her line this Spring, an eau de parfum called Pichola (pronounced “Pitchola”). It was inspired by Lake Pichola in Udaipur, Rajasthan, scene of the stunning Lake Palace and location for the James Bond film, “Octopussy.”

The Lake Palace in Lake Pichola, Udaipur. Source: topindiatravel.com

The Lake Palace in Lake Pichola, Udaipur. Source: topindiatravel.com

Pichola is a floriental (or floral-oriental) created in conjunction with Neela Vermeire’s usual “nose,”  Bertrand Duchaufour. The press release provides the following information and perfume notes:

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2014 In Review: 30 Personal Favorites

Source: designzzz.com

Source: designzzz.com

My list of favorite fragrances that I’ve tried this year is quite different from yesterday’s list of the best new releases of 2014. The latter centered largely on scents that I thought were good, very elegant or interesting representations of their genre, regardless of whether they were my personal cup of tea, and they were only things that debuted in 2014. Today’s list is purely about what I really enjoyed and does not consider the date in release at all. So, this time around, there are very few qualifications and caveats, and the vast majority of these fragrances are things that I bought for myself, am thinking about buying, or would love to buy were their price not a consideration.

You will notice that a good number of the fragrances are not complex masterpieces at all, but quite simple in nature. One reason for that is that I love cozy, comfort scents, and they are generally not very nuanced or multifaceted to begin with. Plus, mindlessly simple but really well-done fragrances that combine richness with soothing warmth are, in all honesty, a huge relief to me after a long day where I do nothing but analyse every nuance and change in a scent for hours (upon hours) on end.

Ferdinand Leeke,  "The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde," (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

Ferdinand Leeke, “The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde,” (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

A few other points. As always, I have to repeat my mantra regarding the subjective, personal nature of reviewing in general, and how a list like this is even doubly so. With regard to the rankings, it’s always an utter nightmare, but the Top Ten chosen here are generally quite firm in order. There is a bit more leeway with the next 10 names, as a tiny handful could go up or down one to two places of where they are at the present time. I’m most undecided about the placement of the last 10 which are the most subject to fluctuations in order. One reason why is because perfumistas are a fickle bunch who can change their mind from one month to the next, and I’m no exception. The other reason is that I’ve gone back and forth on a few scents, switching their places repeatedly until I just gave up in the end. So, for now, this is where things are, for the most part. Finally, you will notice that some of my summary descriptions are verbatim from my list of best, new releases of 2014 or from my mid-2014 best or favorites list. My apologies in advance. Covering almost 60 fragrances in two days is rather an exhausting process, so I hope you will forgive me.

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