Then 2012 was consumed by upheaval in my personal life and the house move - but though I was diverted from the business of chasing after novelty, my fragrant Wanderlust was already starting to wane, and I was bonding more with what I already owned. Much as Birgit has explained in her retrospective of 2013, though not quite so marked. Moreover, all the work I have had last year has been local - or on the telephone! - so my sniffing oppos have been much curtailed anyway.
Offsetting that, I seem to have received more promotional product lately, but these packages rarely contained any of the few lemmings I was harbouring (can you harbour a lemming? - you can now!) - more a case of random stuff that perfume houses saw fit to send me, often the smaller, newer brands looking for exposure in social media. And just occasionally new lemmings were ignited this way (can you set a lemming on fire?...of course you can!).
|Lemming on ice (best I could find - and topical at least!) Source: pogo.lakesideschool.org
So in view of the woefully limited and lopsided nature of my sniffing experience lately, this post will do no more than nod in the direction of actual releases from the past year, and focus on my perfume-themed highlights of 2013, however they came about...
And as I mentioned in my 3.6 year stock take, this hobby remains as much about the people I meet through it as perfume itself, hence why I would probably say my happiest moments of last year were the meet-ups with fellow perfumistas: the Smelly Cakey Drinky event in March, hooking up with Freddie Albrighton in April, Lucy Raubertas, Undina and Denyse Beaulieu in June, Natalie in August, and Lavanya and Tara in London just last week.
NB Apologies for the veritable thicket of hyperlinks in this post - they do get more sparse from this point on!
TOP SNIFFS (etc)
Best niche perfumes
En Voyage Perfumes Zelda - a sumptuous floral oriental with (to quote myself!) 'a sultry magnolia heart in a crisp galbanum shell'. Zelda is a Southern belle in a pencil skirt, Vivien Leigh in geek glasses, and other images of optimally constrained flounce and sensuality. (Thanks to Natalie of Another Perfume Blog for the sample!)
Puredistance BLACK - review here.
Neela Vermeire Créations Ashoka - If I didn't already own not one but TWO bottles of PG Bois Naufragé, I would have considered Ashoka to be FBW; and though I prefer it by quite some margin to the PG, it is too much in the same 'milky-woody-fig' vein to justify a further acquisition. ;-(
|Source: Neela Vermeire Créations
Best under-the-radar niche release
Téo Cabanel Barkhane - a hauntingly beautiful woody oriental with the understated snuffed out quality of Diptyque Volutes edt or Puredistance BLACK, rather than the chutzpah of Amouage Lyric Woman or Tauer L'Air du Désert Marocain - though all four scents have a similarly elusive air of mystery to them.
Chanel Les Exclusifs 1932 - Chanel No 5 meets Tom Ford Violet Blonde and makes out on a bed of silk.
Frédéric Malle Dries Van Noten / Denise Van Outen(!)- a wispy biscuity scent unlike the aggravated Danish pastry that is Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau and other patisserie perfumes of that kidney.
Favourite perfume discoveries in 2013 from earlier years
Diptyque Volutes edt - see also Barkhane above: a cosy, smoky, powdery caress of a scent (thanks to Tamsin Simmill for the sample of this one).
Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles - I didn't think I liked a pine note in perfume, but the needle has finally dropped!
|Yesterday's Christmas tree carnage
L'Erbolario Méharées - a poor man's Musc Ravageur with notes of myrrh and dates (thanks to Odiferess for samples of these last two).
Best oud perfume release (that's enough now, please)
(I have a special note category - for oud?? Yep, that is how 'off kilter'/odd my year has been...)
Exidolo Thirty-Three - wispy rose and oud composition using 33-year old Chinese oud oil, if vintage is your thing! Wild-harvested no less. It is paradoxically evanescent for a scent built around such a tenacious note, but that is okay by me.
Best cheapie oud scent discovery (for any 'dyed in the wood' oud lovers out there)
My friend Gillie tumbled to this, and it only costs about £2 for a purse-sized roll-on! Plus it has the seal of approval of a bunch of men on Basenotes, and goodness knows they don't take any prisoners...;)
|So cheap it's rude not to - whether you like oud or not!
Most oddball use of a note in a perfume
Mark Buxton Emotional Rescue (gooseberry!)
I don't think Emotional Rescue the perfume will replace chocolate or wine any time soon. And gooseberry's place is firmly in a fool.
Perfume I smelt briefly, have no sample of, and which is now haunting me
Ramon Monégal Ambra di Luna - the moment is captured here.
Perfumes I think I would have liked a lot that I haven't smelt
Dita Von Teese Erotique
Givenchy Dahlia Noir L'Eau
Most liked perfume that a SA insisted I try (enforced sampling normally being the kiss of death, as we know)
Louise Kennedy (the new scent by the Irish designer of that name)
Described as a 'romantic, floral bouquet with refreshing top notes of geranium bourbon, mimosa and Rose de Mai underscored with bergamot and lemon'. The lemon gives it a pleasant, almost granular tartness, while I also detected a galbanum or hyacinth prickle that stopped the whole composition from straying into girlish tweeness. Before, sadly, the Miss Dior Chérie-style bottle dragged it squarely back again.
|We are so over chunky tops bedecked in pink bows... Source: www.her.ie
Most eye-catching set of perfume samples
|Spirograph squiggles(!) and meticulous colour coordination
Most unexpected event of the entire year (in a good, horizon-broadening kind of a way)
The Neela Vermeire chicken liver incident.
Worst niche niff
Viktoria Minya Hedonist
Now I don't go a bundle on boozy notes or peach - or excessive honey twizzling - in a perfume, so this scent was always going to have its work cut out, but still. It was muddy, with a strange, slightly off note, as Freddie of Smellythoughts is my witness!
(Hedonist also takes the award for the perfume where I felt most out of step with the views of other bloggers. Last year that accolade would have gone to Puredistance Opardu if I had written a review of 2012 - it was pretty enough, no question, yet came off as a little too mainstream and laundry musky on my skin.)
Worst mainstream niff
Giorgio Armani Si
Who let that 'orrible blackcurrant note out! And the overpowering vanilla accord that mugs you on the drydown. And hey, I like vanilla. I can almost tolerate vanilla-scented tealights, but not quite. I disliked this scent so much I can't even be bothered to give it its rightful grave accent. It is gravely bad!
Marketing let down of the year
Ormonde Jayne has been one of my absolute favourite houses, but I feel compelled to let readers know that its Perfume Portrait service - glowing review here - now costs £20 if you book it in advance, but bizarrely remains free if you just walk in off the street. And contrary to the time I had it done for myself, there is now an expectation that you will make a purchase on the spot, which of course is alien to most perfumistas who prefer to procure a sample first and take their time deciding before springing for a full bottle. Assuming they even like anything that much from Ormonde Jayne's relatively compact range (though I personally have a very high strike rate with them). Now it may be that this is not in fact general policy, but it was clearly the deal when I went along with a couple of friends, one of whom had the portrait done. Also, the exploding flower tea ceremony appears to be a thing of the past, albeit we arrived a little late - we were only offered water. And neery a chocolate either.
UPDATE - re the Ormonde Jayne saga above, see Lavanya's comment below for the latest developments, in which she 'outs' herself and Tara as the other participants - it was Lavanya who had the portrait done. ;)