Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 1: London

London is one of my top three favorite cities in the World, so I dreamed of going back there since my last visit 7 years ago. And since from this city my travel down the niche perfume rabbit hole has started, perfumes played a big part in this vacation.

Tara (A Bottled Rose) with whom I finally met and Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) who managed to get to London to spend time with us described our excursions in great details (see here, here and here), so I won’t repeat their wonderful reports but add to them some of my perfumed stories.

Accommodations

After the last visit’s fiasco with a “studio apartment” that turned out to be a tiny hot mansard shoe-box, I paid an extra attention to choosing a place to stay. We got a very nice and quiet flat, 2-minutes’ walk from the underground station and 4-minutes’ walk to the Hyde Park. On arrival we’d got a little scare from the nearby church clock’s Westminster Quarters chiming. But, as we discovered to my vSO’s relief, they would go silent during night. So we got as much sleep as jet lag would allow.

Flat in London

Perfumes I took with me

How does one choose, which perfumes to bring on a vacation? Any criteria are good – as long as they make sense to the wearer. This time I had an idea that I should bring only perfumes from the brands local for the countries on my itinerary. Also, since I ran out of decanting supplies, my choice was limited by perfumes, for which I had decants, travel bottles or at least samples. For the U.K., I brought English Pear & Freesia and White Lilac & Rhubarb from Jo Malone and Ta’if, Ormonde Woman, Vanille d’Iris and Sampaquita from Ormonde Jayne. I enjoyed wearing the first three (especially Ta’if, my love to which was born 7 years ago in London); Ormonde Woman unexpectedly didn’t work for me (though it might have been a side-effect of the sudden allergy attack I suffered that day); Vanille d’Iris was very pleasant but not enough to warrant a bottle purchase (determining that was the reason for bringing the sample with me); and Sampaquita was a straight-forward scrubber (initially I thought that the sample was off but on return I checked my notes and discovered that I had the same thoughts when I tested it on the previous occasion – and that time it was a different sample vial).

Perfumes I tested

Having visited Liberty, Harrods (including Salon de Parfums), Selfridges, Les Senteurs and Ormonde Jayne, I smelled at least a couple of hundred frarances. Of course, for most of them it was a quick “sprayer sniff”: I know that it is far from ideal but while on a testing spree, you need some approach to discriminating between perfumes that warrant a paper test or even your valuable skin “real estate” and those that should stay safely in their original vessels. So I want to mention just several perfumes that attracted my attention enough to get at least on signed blotters.

Salon de Parfums in Harrods

Out of all Ormonde Jayne perfumes I tested this time, I thought I liked Ambre Royal and Jardin d’Ombre but both happened to be more interesting and lasing on paper than on my skin. Tauer’s Amber Flash, which is times less expensive (and less exclusive!) than Ambre Royal, was so much more pleasant and unique that I almost feel obligated to buy a bottle of it. White Gold caught my attention, mostly, because it was Selfridges’ exclusive. But I wasn’t even tempted to try it on skin.

As I discovered when I returned home, I have previously tried Caron Parfum Sacré and didn’t like it then. But when I tested it this time, prompted by Vanessa who loves it, I liked it. I should probably dig out my sample and try it again.

I also tried a couple of Parfums de Marly fragrances, the names of which I kept reading in male-dominant perfume swap group on FB – Layton and Pegasus. I liked them very much, and I see this brand in my vSO’s future.

Perfumes tested in London

Perfumes I didn’t buy

Strictly speaking, I haven’t bought all those 200+ perfumes that I tested. What I mean is that since I had a plan to bring back with me perfume from each of my trip’s destinations, while sniffing and testing, I narrowed down the list of the favorites that I considered as candidates to accompany me back to the U.S. In the end I decided not to buy them – for different reasons.

By Killian’s Black Phantom – Memento Mori caught me by surprise: I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Lucas in his review of this perfume mentioned that he disliked “the presentation with a skull on a lacquered case.” That made me thinking about why it didn’t affect me the same way; and if I were to venture a guess, the answer lies in where I encountered Black Phantom for the first time: it looked quite àpropos amid exaggerated luxury of the Harrod’s Salod de Parfum. And it was presented by Kilian’s replica (if you haven’t yet, take a look at the picture in Tara’s post linked above). Though I liked Black Phantom, I decided to test it more first since it is kind of available where I live. Besides, By Kilian isn’t the U.K. brand.

By Kilian Black Phantom

Partially for the same reason (not a local brand) I decided not to buy Isabey Fleur Nocturne. But I liked that floral chypre (with the stress on “floral”), and I plan to spend more time testing it since I got a sample from Les Senteurs.

By Kilian’s Midnight in London, which I liked a lot from the first sniff on paper and through its development on my wrist, could have probably fit the bill despite the brand’s origin: it is a limited edition perfume, specific to the place. But Midnight in London takes the notion of “limited” to the extreme: according to Kilian’s double, there is just a single set of that perfume created (see the picture below), and once it is sold, there will be no more produced. In the conversation I heard the price as £50,000. Later Tara assuaged me that the price was mere £15,000 – had I but known!

By Kilian Midnight In London

Compared to that, Roja Dove’s semi-bespoke chypre No 5, which I unexpectedly liked after dismissing most of the brand’s creations as “not me,” seems almost a bargain. And it is a real British brand. But even if I had rumored £1,000 to spend on perfume, that commitment would have required more than just a cursory sniff. Since I didn’t plan on spending that much, I didn’t even go for a skin test for this No 5 (about which I slightly regret now).

Ormonde Jayne Rose Gold would have been a perfect choice: perfume from the brand that played such an important role in my perfume life! I think I tried to persuade myself that I liked Rose Gold. But the truth was: while I liked it probably the most of all the new perfumes from the line that I’ve tried, after wearing it a couple of times, I realized that it wasn’t perfume I needed. It’s with sadness that I have to conclude that Ormonde Jayne’s  new “luxury” undertakings leave me cold.

Ormonde Jayne Rose Gold

Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights stayed on my list for the longest time. I knew nothing about the brand until Vanessa and I discovered it at Les Senteurs with the perfume in question, as Vanessa had noticed and commented, placed appropriately on the top shelf in the store. I liked it, tested several times and seriously considered finding space for it in my suitcase: I have a soft spot for floral perfumes, if you haven’t noticed it; Tom Daxton is a brand from the U.K; and to get it I wouldn’t have to part with any of my extremities. Magnolia Heights seemed to tick all the boxes but in the end I decided not to buy it. Why? It might sound strange but that was what happened: at some point I thought that it smelled similar to my other favorite – Guerlain Cruel Gardenia, so I went to the store to do the comparison. While I proved to myself that I was wrong: Magnolia Heights gave me a similar vibe but it smelled different, at the same time I realized that I liked Cruel Gardenia so much more that it didn’t make any sense to buy Magnolia Heights when I could just wear Cruel Gardenia more often.

Tom Daxon Magnolia Heights

It was a great trip, and I enjoyed it immensely. Tara and Vanessa made it even more special than it was shaping out on its own. My vSO and I love London even more now, and we’ll be back there, hopefully soon. Oh, and if you were wondering, I did buy perfume in London. But it won’t be fair to it to introduce it in the end of the long post – so I’ll do it in a separate post after I finish with the other two stops on my trip.

 

Images: my own

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Know-How: Brands with Perfumista Size Bottles

For years I keep repeating that more brands should release their perfumes in perfumista size bottles – 10-15 ml. Of course, for somebody who has a signature scent or alternates 2-3 perfumes in their day-to-day life, 50 ml, 100 ml or even 200 ml bottles might make more sense both economically and logically. But for anybody who has been “into perfume” for at least several years, not too many perfumes warrant the vats, in which most perfumes nowadays are sold.

Sure, big bottles are great for splits; and decants are nice for getting to wear something without committing your heart or money to a full bottle. But even the best decant – with well-made labels and a good sprayer – is still not as good as a real bottle. And I suspect that, as a rule, it has a shorter shelf life, even if you use parafilm or electrical tape to prevent evaporation: the act of spraying perfume from the original bottle into a smaller receptacle introduces additional oxidation to the juice, which cannot be healthy (should we add a blueberry or two?).

For all these reasons for anything more than 3-5 ml I would rather pay extra price per ml but get a travel bottle from the brand – if the brand has that option.

Surprisingly, when it comes to niche brands, those that offer smaller sizes are still rather an exception than a rule. So I decided to put together a list of the brands that offer smaller (perfumista size) bottles of their perfumes. I won’t include links since those change but it’s easy to find them through a search engine.

Perfumista Size Bottles

The following brands have single bottles for all or most of their perfumes (bottle size is given in parentheses):

  • April Aromatics (15 ml)
  • Frederic Malle (10 ml)
  • Hiram Green (10 ml)
  • Histoires de Parfums (15 ml)
  • Le Labo (15 ml)
  • Sonoma Scent Studio (4 ml & 17 ml)
  • Jul et Mad (5 ml & 20 ml)
  • Cognoscenti (5 ml)
  • Dame Perfumery (5 ml)
  • DSH Perfumes (multiple sizes)
  • EnVoyage Perfumes (15 ml)
  • 4160 Tuesdays (9 ml)
  • Roja Dove (7.5 ml)
  • The Different Company (10 ml)
  • Puredistance (17.5ml)

Several brands have smaller sizes just for some of their perfumes:

  • Atelier Cologne (12 different perfumes in 7.5 ml at Sephora)
  • Juliette Has A Gun (4 different perfumes in 7.5 ml at Sephora)
  • Ineke (15 ml, Floral Curiosities line only)

More brands recently have introduced the “travel” option – probably as a response to the air travel regulations. Unfortunately, those come in sets either of single perfume or of pre-selected (or all) perfumes from the brand. Single perfume sets are easier for friendly splits. Mixed sets defeat the purpose: how often does someone like all the perfumes in the set? I also found two brands that offer customizable mixed travel sets.

Perfumista Size Bottles

Single perfume sets:

  • Neela Vermeire Creations (2 x 15 ml)
  • Ormonde Jayne (4 x 10 ml)
  • Amouage (3 x 10 ml)
  • By Kilian (4 x 7.5 ml)
  • Byredo (3 x 12 ml)
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian (3 x 10 ml)
  • Aedes de Venustas (3 x 7.5 ml)

Perfumista Size Bottles

Customizable mixed sets:

  • Hermès (4 x 15 ml sets for both their regular line and Hermessence)
  • Tauer Perfumes (3 x 15 ml)

Perfumista Size Bottles

Pre-set mixed perfumes sets:

  • Viktoria Minya (5 x 15 ml)
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian (8 x 10 ml)
  • Miller Harris (3 x 14 ml and 2 x 7.5 ml)
  • Aedes de Venustas (3 x 7.5 ml)

If you know any other brands that offer small bottles in one of these categories, please share in comments. And if you agree that more brands should have perfumista size bottles, keep repeating that whenever you publish a review on your blog or comment on perfume reviews and discussions on blogs, forums, FB or Twitter. Somebody might be reading…

Rusty and NVC Pichola

Updates from comments:

  • Maria Candida Gentile (7 ml and 15 ml single bottles)
  • Zoologist (11 ml single bottles)
  • Parfums MDCI (5 x 10 ml customizable set)
  • Memo (3 x 10 ml same perfume set)
  • Imaginary Authors (14 ml single bottles)
  • Maison Anonyme (10 ml single bottles)
  • Olympic Orchids (5 ml and 15 ml single bottles)
  • Soivohle (10 ml single bottles)
  • Ormonde Jayne (10 ml single bottles if you call)
  • Profvmvm Roma (18 ml single bottles for some of their scents)

Images: my own

A Month of Roses: Week 2

The second week of the Month of Roses went very fast because it included a 3-day weekend (I took an extra day off to celebrate my birthday) and Valentine’s Day. Rose perfumes felt extremely appropriate.

White Rose

February 8: Floris Snow Rose

Since Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) mentioned in her comment on my A Month of Roses post that her bottle of this perfume, from which my sample came, went off, I felt uneasy as the date scheduled for wearing Snow Rose was approaching: I had just a little of perfume left in the sample after the previous testing, so I didn’t want to try it before the time to wear it came, so I decided to risk having to look for the last moment replacement. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to! I don’t know how it could have happened but a small part somehow had a better fate than a “whole” (whatever was left in Vanessa’s bottle).

I feel bad telling you what an interesting perfume Snow Rose is since it was a limited edition in 2009, and it doesn’t look like they are going to re-issue it. But I want to mention something that attracted my attention: it started out cold and very fitting to the name, but then it melted into very warm and cozy scent.

February 9: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose Praline (Francois Robert)

I had a couple of meetings in a small conference room so I was very discreet with the application. It’s not a bad perfume, and I might even finish my small decant but with many other great perfumes I have Rose Pralines seems a little too ordinary. I would still recommend trying this perfume if you’re looking for rose perfume with just a pinch of gourmand flavor.

Mrs Robert Shewell

February 10: Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady (Dominique Ropion)

Portrait of a Lady is one of my favorite perfumes. Normally I wouldn’t wear it to the office but since Lucas chose a work day for hajusuuri to wear this perfume, I was going to keep her company. But then I couldn’t help the urge to wear my favorite Lieber Gustav for the NTS’s community project (lavender perfumes): not only I love it but it’s much more office-friendly.

I still wore Portrait of a Lady that evening when I came home. It is such strong and elegant perfume! I think it calls for evening attire and pearls, though it might be an interesting contrast to jeans with a turtleneck – just not in the office.

February 11: Juliette Has A Gun Miss Charming (Francis Kurkdjian)

It was a perfect charming perfume for a pre-birthday trip on a beautiful sunny day to a couple of wineries, a brewery and a coffee shop in Santa Cruz. As I previously wrote, Miss Charming is my absolutely favorite strawberry perfume. I enjoy wearing it on any occasion but that Saturday it was just perfect, and it accompanied well roses that were on my mind, cider with a distinct rose flavor that I tried during lunch and my favorite rose truffles that I had with coffee from my favorite coffee shop.

Rose Truffle

February 12: Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (Geza Schoen)

Ta’if is perfume, to which I attribute to my nosedive into the proverbial rabbit hole of niche perfumery. I love this perfume and think of it as my number two all-time favorite. It is so special for me that I wear it only for special occasion – such as my birthday this year. I started my morning with Ta’if oil, then later during the day switched to Ta’if EdP, and for the evening I went with Ta’if parfum. It is such a beautiful rose! I need to come up with more special occasions to wear it.

February 13: Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud (Fabrice Pellegrin)

Judging by the fact that I like this perfume, no real trees had to suffer to produce this agarwood. Velvet Rose & Oud is pleasant and plays nicely on my skin. And Jo Malone just started selling their Cologne Intense collection in slightly more reasonable 50 ml bottles. If they ever go for 30 ml, I’ll probably get it. Until then my small decant should do.

February 14: Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour

I chose this perfume because I like it very much, and because I thought it would be hard to find a more suitable name for Valentine’s Day perfume. This is one of a few aldehydes perfumes that work for me. It’s a bright beautiful rose, for which I can see myself buying the next bottle when my current one is empty – it’s not something that I can definitively say about too many perfumes in my collection.

Rusty and Roses Bouquet

With the extra day off and then Valentine’s Day, half of the third week just ran away from me, but I don’t want to crumble extra three days into this post – so February 15-17 will appear on the Week 3 post.

How was your week? Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Or Singles Awareness Day? Did you wear any rose perfumes recently since you commented on one of the previous posts in this Month of Roses series? Did you eat any good chocolate?

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2016 Year Round-up

As I was reading farewell posts for 2016 (or celebratory ones for 2017), I’ve noticed that many people were very unhappy with the year and were anxious to see it off. While I acknowledge all the madness and unpleasantness that the year had brought us, on the personal level I don’t have much to complain. All-in-all, it was a good year for me, and I’m grateful for that.

But let me show you my 2016 in numbers.

98% – 100%

Northern California finally got some relief from the drought we are having. It’s still not over, and a part of the state is still in miserable condition, but the area where I live got rainfall between 98 and 100 percent of historic average, which makes me happy (I’m not sure about Rusty, though: since the picture below had been taken, he’s developed an inexplicable phobia of umbrellas – so that he refuses to be in the same room with it. Now I have to dry umbrellas in the garage not to traumatize him any further).

Rusty and Umbrella

164 Perfumes Worn

I wear perfumes on most of the days that I work from the office and on weekends. When I work from home, I tend to use those days to test perfumes instead of wearing my favorites. Since at the new job I get less WFH days, 2016 numbers for perfume wearing went up compared to 2015 (the difference is given in parentheses): I wore 164 perfumes (+8) from 61 brands (+5) on 333 occasions (+29). And before you ask: no, I do not own 164 bottles of perfumes; some of these are travel bottles, minis or decants.

Jo Malone with a Vengeance

For many years I have been a Jo Malone’s fan. It started long before my trip down the rabbit hole but during the first several years of my descent I was so mesmerized by all the marvels of the niche perfumery world that I wore much less of my favorite perfumes from this brand even though I own more full bottles from Jo Malone than from any other brand.

Since I wasn’t doing my monthly statistics posts this last year, I haven’t noticed the tendency, so it got me by surprise when my year numbers showed that Jo Malone was the brand I wore the most often, and it was the highest number for one brand in the last three years: I wore Jo Malone’s perfumes on 29 occasions.

My Stats Year 2016 Brands

Lucky Number 13

This is how many times I wore Lancôme Climat – my all-time favorite perfume in 2016. You might think it’s not a high number for perfume that I love my whole life: just 13 days out of 365… no, actually 366. But look at it from another perspective: this is the highest number for any single perfume I wore during any of the past six years.

Testing… Testing… 275, 100, 361…

Despite being very busy and wearing perfumes more often, in 2016 I did a lot more testing (compared to 2015): I tested 275 perfumes (+ 97) from 100 brands (+15) on 361 occasions (+134). Not all the testing I’ve done was for new perfumes, I do a lot of comparison testing (e.g., a new to me perfume with the one I own or two new perfumes against each other) or just re-testing something I’ve tested before. But I did test 118 new for me perfumes (+26), 31 of which were released in 2016 (+3), and I listed 10 of the new releases that I liked in the last post of the year.

Care to guess, which line I tested the most? Told you – “with a vengeance.” I was surprised myself, and I blame it on their Garden Collection: probably I just couldn’t believe I couldn’t find a single perfume to like in those cute green bottles, so I kept trying them.

A Year of Zen [Gardens]

A year ago I changed jobs and I got myself a desk Zen Garden, about which I dreamed for years. Looking back, I can tell that it was a good decision. On both accounts – the job and the garden. It was a challenging busy year but I enjoy what I do, I like my job, and I still had time for changing my Zen Garden at least seven times (I can’t find a picture of the very first one I made but it was more traditional than the next six).

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As you can see, I used all my favorite things – cats, perfumes, chocolates and holiday decorations. Yesterday I took off Christmas ornaments, and I’m ready for the next chapter in my Zen-gardening. Any ideas for what I should do next?

Zen Garden 8

Images: my own

Dreaded D-word and Back-up Bottles

Discontinuation is a horrifying word for many of us. More than once I caught myself feeling sad when I heard the news about perfumes being disconnected – sometimes even if those weren’t perfumes I loved or wore.

A while ago in the post on this topic Blacknall wrote:

Anyone who loves perfume tends to complain about the arbitrary way in which one scent after another can bite the dust, but we have to remember after all these are businesses, not revolving exhibitions. Either perfumers manage to stay current with public tastes and fashions or they don’t, and when they don’t, sales decline.

Even though I agreed with her in principle, something bothered me – so I kept thinking.

While discontinuation might be a necessary evil, a conspiracy theorist in me has a lot of doubts. Are those perfumes that get discontinued really worst sellers? Or, with everything else being equal, do companies put on the chopping block something that is more expensive to produce – be that due to costs of raw materials, bottle production, packaging or any other components that affect the bottom line? And isn’t it a negative reinforcement: companies train customers to like simpler perfumes that are cheap(er) to produce, put much more into promoting those – and as a result get lower sales for better perfumes and then discontinue them?

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I’m not even sure that reasons are the same for different companies in the same market. But I’m wondering if it is really in companies’ best interest to silently kill off the scent that didn’t meet whatever criteria are required for staying on the show for the next season. Is there really any downside to letting loyal fans know that the discontinuation is coming, which would allow them to stock up on their favorites? (And if we’re talking about the U.S., those would be acquired at full price since perfumes never go on sale in big department stores here.)

Whatever the truth is, I don’t expect to learn it from any of LVMH or Estee Lauder‘s companies. And since the reasons would be different for those brands, for which economies of scale do not apply, there’s not much sense in asking them either. So I’ll have to keep wondering until somebody publishes an all-revealing memoir.

When I recently heard of three of the perfumes I like being discontinued – Diptyque Volutes, Bvlgari Black and Tom Ford Fleur de Chine, – I realized that I wasn’t ready to buy a second bottle of any of them. Eau de Tommy Sooni II has disappeared with the brand, but even if I could find a bottle now, I’m not sure I would buy it. I might regret it one day but for now it feels like I have enough of them, taking into the account SABLE (Stash Above & Beyond Life Expectancy – Vanessa ©) state of my collection. I thought about it more and realized that Ormonde Jayne Ta’if is the only one, about which with a 100% certainty I can say that I’d buy a back-up bottle (or two) in a heartbeat at the first mentioning of the D-word.

Ormonde Jayne Ta'if

Look at your collection. Disregard decants, samples and “to buy” lists and concentrate only on full bottle of perfumes that are still in production. Now imagine that you learn that those all are being discontinued (not all at once: that would be too cruel even for a hypothetical question). Are there any perfumes for which you would buy a back-up bottle?

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: January 2014

 

I know how it sounds to the most of my readers but I have to say it: we had an unpleasantly warm January. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the light jacket weather as much as the next freezing east coaster would but we really need at least some rain. And +22˚C (71˚F) isn’t a normal temperature for this month even in our region. So now I can’t even pretend that it’s winter and time to wear my winter perfumes.

For this month’s statistics post I asked you to name five niche brands that, in their opinion, are in the “need to know” category for anybody who’s interested in perfumes. I asked the same question in one of the perfume groups on Facebook.

29 people participated on FB and 19 in the blog. 49 brands were named, 26 of them more than once.

Since I know that some people participated both here and there I thought of splitting results by the source but it didn’t change the outcome: both groups, as well as the total, returned the same set of 5 brands, just in slightly different order (numbers in parenthesis – places FB/Blog):

Serge Lutens (1/1)

L’Artisan Parfumeur (4/2)

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (2/3)

Amouage (3/4)

Parfumerie Générale (5/5)

Stats January 2014

The chart above shows actual number of votes for the top 10 recommended brands. From my original list only Ormonde Jayne didn’t make the cut and moved to the sixth place. I need to get more samples from Parfumerie Générale line and see why it made it to the fifth place.

Out of 52 perfumes I wore or tested in January 17 perfumes were from 5 out of these 10 brands. What was unusual: this month I tried only five perfumes for the first time. Did you come across anything interesting this year?

Rusty had nothing to do with any of the numbers but he has to requite all the compliments he got in the previous post – even without appearing in it! These are pictures of him with perfumes from the “need to know” list.

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Images: my own

N Niche Perfume Brands You Need to Know Right Now

 

Don’t ask me how but a couple of months ago I came across the article 20 Niche Perfume Brands You Need to Know Right Now. As it usually happens, while reading somebody else’s list of anything on a subject you’re interested in, I agreed with some of the choices, disagreed with others and thought of additional nominees. And then I started working on my list and realized that 20 were too many. Not because I can’t easily come up with at least three times as many brands but because even at 20 one starts including brands that are just personal favorites, do not exactly fit the definition or those that are so tiny that position on the list is too big for them.

So I decided to come up with my personal list of five brands. In my selection process I used the following considerations:

  1. The brand should be a true stand-alone brand, not a private/limited/boutique line of a big brand (so not Guerlain, Chanel, Dior or Hermes) or a spin-off under a bigger parent’s umbrella (Tom Ford and Jo Malone are out too).
  2. The brand should have enough perfumes in their range to potentially work for different people (so as much as I love Neela Vermeire Creations or respect vero profumo and Puredistance, these lines are too young to get a spot in the short “must” list).
  3. Brands should be available for testing (directly or through online services) both in the U.S. and Europe (so no tiny artisan brands for this list).

Five Brands

My list of Five Niche Brands You Need to Know (with a brief description of why – not for my regular readers but for future visitors who find my blog through some unexpected searches, e.g. “lily of the valley+cat”):

Serge Lutens (http://www.sergelutens.com/) is probably the ultimate niche perfume brand. It’s bold, unconventional but at the same time still perfumes that you want to wear and not just test, analyze and review. Kafka (Kafkaesque) covered the topic of Serge Lutens – both a persona and a brand – extensively and I urge you to read Part I and Part II of her story.

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Amouage (http://www.amouage.com/) is an epitome of opulence, luxury and quality. These rich and mostly classic perfumes won’t suit everybody in the modern sheer-smelling world but the brand is worth knowing even just for educational purposes to see how perfumes can be anti-minimalistic and not transparent. Watch four short videos on now smell this in which Christopher Chong, creative director of Amouage, talks about perfume and the brand.

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Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (http://www.fredericmalle.com/) is the first brand ever to put a perfumer’s name on a bottle. In the world in which a scent IP doesn’t exist it was a huge step towards promoting a creator, an artist and not a money purse. Read Natalie’s (Another Perfume Blog) interview with Frédéric Malle. (UPD: APB is closed now)

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L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s (http://www.artisanparfumeur.com) perfumes might be not the most innovative (though over years they’ve created some very unusual perfumes) but very wearable, so it is a perfect starter house for anybody who wants to venture from the mainstream perfume market into the niche one. Read Luca Turin’s L’Artisan Parfumeur 30 years later for the tidbits of the house’s history.

*

Ormonde Jayne (http://www.ormondejayne.com/) has a whole line-up of very likable and distinct perfumes at reasonable (for modern niche market) prices. Ormonde Jayne’s perfumes smell modern and classic at the same time. Read a very warm and personable interview with Linda Pilkington by Sigrun (Riktig Parfym) and a recent Andrew Buck’s (Scentrist) chat with her for more information about the brand.

 

So these are my choices of the “need to know” niche perfume brands. Give me your five choices. Do not try to purposefully complement my list: if you agree with all or some of my choices – say so; but feel free to change any or even all brands if you have a different answer to my the question. I’ll try to do something with all the answers for my January statistics post.

 

Image: my own