Top Picks for Best Perfumes – 2011 in Review

Whew!  2011 is nearly over and I still don’t have my Escape limo and I have NO idea where Woody Harrelson is right now.   Better hustle!!!  But – we still have a few days so let’s take a look back at our top pickes for best perfumes/worst/most intriguing of 2011.  Most of this will be perfume, as it is The Perfume Posse, not Anita’s Playpen…but save room for a couple of weird inclusions, just because I Am In That Kinda Mood.  We are also not limiting this list (or your comments) to stuff brought forth in 2011 – rather, we’re interested in what piqued your interest this past year – some may have transported you with delight, some might’ve brought up your lunch!  Ya nebber know.

So, without further ado, here’s what grabbed us for best perfumes  in 2011.

Anita’s picks:

Cartier les Heurres Fougueuse.  I fell in love with this the moment I sniffed it.  Then, inexplicably, I fell OUT of love with it – I think I got scared.  Then I just…gave in.  And swooned as over the course of the year it wrapped its honeyed, monied silken tendrils of sun-kissed hay around my soul….sigh.  Oh, Mathilde…..every time I wear this my step lightens just a little.. Liz Zorn Centennial.  This is an offshoot of her Historical Chypre, which I fell in love with (and bought nearly every drop she had) during the Chicocoa Scentsation.  The perfect peachy chypre, it is the essence of everything I love about Liz’s work;  I’m praying she brings it back soon. Chanel Coco (the original).  Blame March.  I wondered what y’all were yarking on about.  Now I know.  Amouage Epic Bath Gel and Body Creme. (not too far behind on this one, right?   I know it’s a 2009 but I wasn’t able to make it to the Dubai launch -previous plans, don’tcha know…)…anyhoo, 2011 made it New To Musette.   I just might make it through the winter (and the coming Apocalypse) with this.  I’m going to have to send my water bills to Christopher Chong, though.  Or His Majesty.  Whichever one is most likely to pay.

Teo Cabanel Alahine.  Epic FAIL.  Can you believe it?  Neither can I.  I waited 2 years to sniff that and when I did……..nothing.  I mean, it’s nice.  But what in the hell are you people smelling that transports you so?  March can’t even SPELL it, she is so in love.  She’s all ‘Alahiiiiiiiine’.  Wish I could have what she’s having.  sigh.

BestChowDiscoveries: Trader Joe’s Chicken Shu Mai.  For all I know these are made with chicken feet and beaks.  But isn’t that the best part? Sonoma Farm (from Chicago, go figure) Hot Pickled Garlic (that’s not what it’s called but that’s what it is ).   The website is seemingly gone and their stuff is hard to find (and when you do, at Food Fairs, etc, well, let’s just say they are not Good With the Publick.  But!  these (and the Brussels Sprouts) are worth the slog. Perfect in everything and yummy alone.  But I suggest you actually BE alone when you eat this stuff.  You will be comin’ in HOT for awhile…

Movies:  I hate going to the movies so I’m usually months behind everybody else.  And I admit to being Cranky Old Bat about the sheer volume of crap that gets released every month – there must be a whole lotta money needs launderin’, is allz I got to say (don’t believe me?  take a look at this 2011 list  (and I’m not even that fussy – I love blow’emups and Tony Scott!).  I did brave the plex for Contagion.   3 of us in the theatre.  Hey, I could get used to that!  El O hated the movie.  I thought it was quietly horrifying.  I also finally got around to The King’s Speech – hey I said I was behind! Why didn’t the gen pop like this film?  I think Geoffrey Rush could read the phone book and I would be entranced.   The funny, touching scene with him and Colin Firth when Lionel parks himself in St. Edward’s Chair…  Pitch-perfect.

March says: I went back and looked at the release dates of new-ish best perfumes I enjoyed, and … they all came out in 2010.  So this year has been kind of a dud for me, in terms of new releases.  The one exception is Bottega Veneta, a less-powdery alternative to the new iteration of Cuir de Lancome, if you like the smell of expensive handbags.  Mostly I’ve been enjoying old favorite best perfumes gathering dust in my collection, including Teo Cabanel Alahine, Amouage Jubilation 25, Chanel Coco, Tauer Orris, and Serge Lutens’ Fleurs de Oranger.  I can think of worse things.  Anita sez:  that’s Alahiiiine! to you, li’l Missy.

Patty chimes in: This has been a weirdly great year for me in finding new best perfumes to love.  From Prada Candy to the new JAR Bed of Roses, to Flowerbomb Extrait to a never-smelled bottle of the now-discontinued Lorenzo Villoresi Ylang-Ylang I found in my closet (yes, everyone should have closets like mine where you find a box full of perfume you forgot you had) that has sent me to the moon (um, see yesterday’s post for histrionics over this), it’s been a mixed bag of great smells.

I still love Bertrand Duchafour because he’s prolific and great, and I know for a fact there is more great stuff coming in 2012, so he gets my vote for Perfumer of the Year? Decade?  Oh, wait, we are two years in a new decade, it’s too early.

Ann’s Picks:

MDCI’s La Belle Helene: Up until this baby, no way,  no how was I ever going into pear territory again. Annick Goutal’s Petite Cherie went sour on me in record time and too many cheap pear body products left me shuddering. Until a sweet Posse swapper sent me a sample of La Belle, and one day, feeling brave, I said, “Oh, what the heck!” and put it on. Wowza! Now this is a pear I can wear. On me, it starts out a little bright, but true to the fruit,  and later, deepens, getting burnished down to a slightly gourmand (is that chocolate I smell?) soft oriental. It has a touchable, almost suedelike vibe to it, not unlike SL’s Daim Blond. It’s almost as if her gloves got left behind in the pear orchard, instead of atop a bushel basket of apricots.

Maison Martin Margiela Untitled: The fashion minimalist in me (I’ve always loved designers such as Zoran and Ronaldus Shamask) coveted this cool, paint-dipped bottle long before I had a chance to sniff the juice. And what lovely green juice it is: A hit of bitter green galbanum a la Cristalle segues beautifully into some musky, almost smoky incense, and thankfully, not an ashtray in sight.

Parfumerie Generale’s Indochine: This has turned out to be one of my favorite comfort “blankies” this winter. It reminds me a bit of Kenzo’s Amour (perhaps the thanaka wood that both share) but to my nose, the PG is richer, more creamy, dreamy and woody. This in a body cream would be nothing short of heaven in a jar. Its stablemate, Cadjmere, is another fave, although it gets a little cheeky with me if I do more than dab it.

Bottega Veneta: This lovely is helping to make a leather lover  out of me, despite my earlier misgivings about the note. BV’s easy elegance just coos quiet sophistication and makes me feel like a million bucks. And it doesn’t hurt that the bottle’s a thing of beauty. Now, if we can just get our hands on some MPG’s Cuir Fetiche to try …

And here’s a wonderful scentiment 😀  from Tom, which we all share!!!

I’m doing my “best of” scent-wise on PST, so I’ll content myself with with celebrating a different best here: YOU GUYS!  That’s right!  I want to toast all of you out there, fellow bloggers, commenters and readers.  In the last several years of blogging, reading, learning and meeting people I can honestly state that I have never met a more warm, funny, intelligent and giving group of people.  YOU are the best of 2011 or any other year and I wish you all the best in the future.

For more looks back at best perfumes for 2011 please visit  Perfume-Smellin’ Things, Bois de Jasmin, Now Smell This and Grain de Musc.


  • Nan says:

    I can tell you where Woody Harrelson was when you wrote this. He was on Maui. I know because my son played soccer with him at a couple of pick up games in Paia and has a photo to prove it. Alas, I can’t help you with the escape limo.

  • lemonprint says:

    Thank you so much, both for the knowledge that there’s one other perfume nerd out there who isn’t in love with Alahine, and that I really, really, really need to get a sample of Miriam.

    Thanks so much for a great year in perfume and blogging!

  • Lisa D says:

    Happy January 1st! I hope this year is filled with fragrant wonders for all of us.

  • Angelina says:

    Happy New Year 2012

  • hongkongmom says:

    Not sure where time is going…but it is so fast..Happy Near Year to all. Hope you have had a really relaxing and special New Year. I have enjoyed BV and Violet Blonde but find them both fleeting. I have fallen hard for fracas, sigh, which I has been a nonono for me along with Angel for all these years..I am also going back to try Le Gout for the 3rd time. Who would have ever thought!

  • Lisa D says:

    I thought Bottega Veneta was quite nice, really liked Jacomo Art Collection No. 08, and fell in love with a sample of Vero Profumo Rubj.

  • Madea says:

    My major find was Nanette Lepore Nanette. It’s pretty obscure, I think, but it starts with super tart fruit skin (think green, under ripe mango) and progresses to amber and flowers. It’s awesome.

    Aromatics Elixar. A friend gave me a mini of it and it’s half gone, which is rare for me. I’ve never smelled anything that compelling brutal. It’s like Sandor Clegane* in perfume form. Don’t call it ‘Ser’.

    Violet Blonde. I’ve never owned something so sophisicated and pretty. It makes me feel like Narcissa Malfoy, for some reason. That’s a good thing, especially if it comes with a side of Jason Issacs (I can hope…).

    Wasn’t impressed by Eli Saab Le Perfume. It smells pretty much indentical to the NL. On the plus side, in a few years I can get a bottle at the discounter. The NL seems to have vanished off the face of the darned Earth.

    *A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones

  • LindaB says:

    Happy New Year kids!! I didn’t venture into trying too many new things this past year. Instead, I revisited my classics and enjoyed smelling them from a more mature (ahem) perspective. I did play around with some Pacifica’s which are practically free. The Nerola Orange Blossom is truly genius. I broke down and bought a bottle of Coco in the Fall and have been wearing it throughout the holiday season. It’s perfect.

    • Musette says:

      I think it’s hysterical that we all consider Pacifica practically free – I know I do!! ;)) – their stuff is lovely, imo! My next splurge is the Tibetan Temple (?) creme. Looks like they’re having a sale on certain things, too! 😡

      xo >-)

      • Joanna says:

        I think my favorite new scents this year were 1000 Flower’s Réglisse Noire and Miriam from Tableau de Parfums. Oh and I so enjoyed Creed’s Royal Oud. I am wearing Miriam today and it really bloomed on my skin much better than it did when I won samples this past summer.
        I was excited by smaller niche perfumers and just sort of “Meh…” about big houses who failed to produce big scents.

        And getting back to Musette’s comment of Pacifica above, I love love love their Avalon Juniper and the Sandalwood.

        • Ann says:

          Hi, Joanna. Thanks for mentioning Creed’s Royal Oud — I’d forgotten about it but I really liked it too. Very smooth, but way too spendy, so when my sample vials are gone, guess I’m done.

          • Ann says:

            Note to self: must try the Pacifica line, especially the Avalon Juniper and that Tibetan one. Does Sephora still carry it, does anyone know?

          • Musette says:

            Whole Foods does – I haven’t seen them at Sephora – but I wasn’t looking! Now I will look.

            xo >-)

          • Julie says:

            My Sephora has them, but only about 6 or so of the fragrances. Whole Foods seems to carry more of the line.

          • Ann says:

            Thanks, ladies! I will be on the lookout for them at both spots.

          • Joanna says:

            It’s way to expensive for my blood too. I’ve ordered samples several times though.
            The Spanish Amber from Pacifica is nice too. I like to use the Sandalwood and the Amber to layer with other scents.

  • Kate S. says:

    Andy Tauer’s Zeta! How could I forget? I won an entire bottle! Love, love, love it. Its sort of like a fragrance Festivus for the rest of us as this is the perfect Tauer fragrance for moi.

    • Musette says:

      Festivus! For the Rest of Us! ^:)^

      Congratulations on the Zeta! Isn’t it great when you love something? Especially when you get it in a ‘win’!!!

      xo >-)

  • Kate S. says:

    Ack! You remind me that I have yet to track down some La Belle Helene after a mere spritz from a perfumist who had a Secret Advance vial of it. We stood in Harrod’s Roja Dove boutique together in London and he spritzed it on me and I went a little woozy (osmanthus, right?). This was the highlight of my visit to the RD boutique.

    I too quite like Bottega Veneta. It is a good office scent and I wore it to a training and I doubt I offended anyone. Its Daim Blond “Lite” to me. In a good way.

    Picked up some Maison Martin Margiela Untitled too. Mr. S said he “loved” the galbanum opening and thats a winner for me.

    Eau Eternelle by Sabine Poncet was a big hit for me too. She’s quite creative and the scent is rather unique. I think the rosemary/moss add a lovely dimension I’ve not encountered elsewhere. I think that is all for me in 2011.

  • Elizabeth W says:

    Anita, I didn’t get much from Alahine either…just sayin’. Nice enough but didn’t knock my socks off. Maison Margiela Untitled was like the dirtiest ashtray–a true scrubber for me. Disappointing because the opening was interesting. And 15 minutes later, a no go.

    Among the ones I did find and love this year: L’Artisan Traversee au Bosphore, Ormond Jayne Woman. I’m still saving up for full bottles of Tauer’s Miriam and DSH Pandora and Vert pour Madame. If I had a sudden windfall, I think I’d get Mona di Orio Vanille.
    Happy New Year, y’all!

    • Musette says:

      😮 on the MMM! I like it a lot – very crisp and green – and it smells incredibly beautiful on Missy March.

      Thanks for the solidarity on Alahine. I was starting to doubt my sanity!

      xo >-)

  • Victoria says:

    I also would have included L’Heure Fougueuse, but for some reason I thought that it was launched last year. At any rate, it is such a beautiful, distinctive fragrance.

    Happy New Year, everyone! May all of your wishes come true!

    • Musette says:

      Doesn’t matter when it was launched. We’re looking for What Smote You. And if you chose Fougueuse you are Aces with me! ^:)^

      xo >-)

  • Finding lots of my loves here! I definitely could have added La Belle Hélène and Indochine, and I’ve been trying forever to catch up with the ever-increasing Amouage line… As for Lorenzo Villoresi, I didn’t have enough time in Florence to go to his boutique, which apparently is quite magical (I had an afternoon between the train and being picked up by friends, and focused on the art). But I’ll definitely check out the Ylang Ylang next time.
    Love and hugs to all you wonderful people, and a very happy New Year!

  • mals86 says:

    Gosh, Centennial! thanks so much for that, Miss A. I should hate it along with all the other fruity chypre things that Try To Rip Out My Flippin’ Guts (Mitsy, So Pretty, PdTherese, you know) – but I don’t. It’s… cozy.

    I liked Prada Candy and Jeux de Peau but I don’t feel the need to buy them. I did like Esprit d’Oscar, too. Is it wrong of me to feel that it was a version of New Look 1947 that didn’t escape my grasp? The Dior was so, I dunno, slippery. I couldn’t get a handle on it.

    Tableau de Parfums Miriam was without doubt my Best Beloved of the Year.

    And I fell really hard for DSH Chypre. Discontinued now, of course (sad face).

    • mals86 says:

      (Alahiiiiiiine is the ONLY way to type it. Just sayin’.)

      • Musette says:

        apparently it’s also the only way to say it. I’ve never heard anybody just say ‘Alahine’. It’s 😕 – I would love to know what’s floatin’ y’alls boats with that…

        You and I are Venn EST/ST. Just when I think we’re in 8-x I find us in total sync. Such is the glory, I guess!

        Miriam! Also just flat-out lovely! It didn’t snag me like it did so many others but there’s no denying its beauty!

        xo >-)

  • Robin says:

    I go (way) out of my way to source all of our meats at local farms and farmer’s markets, and then yes, we eat Trader Joe’s pork shu mai but the bucketload — it’s my son’s favorite after school snack. I’m just waiting for the first recall, ack.

    Happy 2012 to all of you!

    • Robin says:

      (oops, meant “by the bucketload”.

      • Musette says:

        I KNOW! =)) It’s just weird, innit? We just bought a half-:@) and a half 3:-o from our neighbor – and I’ve looked both those dogies in the eye many times – I know they are antibiotic-free, humanely-kept, grass-fed (the cow) ….and so on…….

        …and then I suck down the TJs like there’s no tomorrow!


  • Sherri M. says:

    I’m right on the same page with Ann with the Belle Helene. I also loved New Look 1947 (or did that come out in 2010?), Lubin Black Jade and Prada Candy.

    Blessings to all and I hope you each have your best year so far!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Sherri! So glad to hear you liked New Look, too — I’m a big fan of it as well. I liked Prada Candy but have yet to try the Black Jade. Blessings and a happy New Year to you and yours!

  • Marsi says:

    This has been a year of no great new discoveries for me. I do like Bottega Veneta quite a bit, but its stay on my skin is so fleeting that I haven’t purchased it. Instead, I’ve been like March, tapping into old favorites. Coco (my signature since it came out)and Shalimar, primarily, with the occasional No. 19, Samsara, Youth Dew oil, Chamade, and Opium thrown in to mix things up.

    You know, they just don’t make scents like that anymore. I don’t understand why a woman would rather smell like a bag of candy than a grown-up.

    • Musette says:

      ;)) on the bag of candy. I hope we’re coming to the end of youth-obsession soon. But I doubt it. I like the idea of grownups!

      xo >-)

  • bookhouseshell says:

    2011 is is my premiere as a budding perfumista. A year ago I quit smoking (for the 8th and FINAL time) and as a reward splurged on that gateway drug “Beginner Classic & Niche Sampler Pack (Perfume Posse Blog Picks”. Well, what can I say? One think led to another, and this year I’ve tried well over 500 fragrances, spent WAYY too much time and money at the bay, the 1 and BE, became acquainted with skulking about dept. stores & the MOA, shmoozing with SAs, swapped, split and swooned. It’s just too much experience for words.

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the folks at PP, and the community at large. A toast to you all! Here’s to a wonderfully fragrant 2012!