The best plans and all that. After a long week of training on top of Thanksgiving travel have found me sitting at my computer, contemplating what to review or even type abut and coming up empty of ideas and energy.

March’s comments about Penhaligon’s Amaranthine sent me to Luckyscent begging for a sample.  How odd. In that way that Worth Courtesan is odd.  Green tea, white freesia, banana tree leaf, coriander, cardamom, rose, carnation, clove, orange blossom, ylang ylang oil, Egyptian jasmin, musk, vanilla, sandalwood, condensed milk, tonka bean.  This is some weird note mash-up that Tim Burton could have dreamed up.  Perky leaves, languid florals, powdered over with spice notes.  And there at the bottom is a little sweat note to make sure you’re paying attention.  Duchafour was on some weird trip  down the rabbit hole when he did this, but I think I want to come along with him.    It make me think of Alice in Wonderland – beautiful, overblown, kinda sweet if you cross your eyes with the smell of desperation setting in.

Huh, I guess I did have something to say.  I really wanted to ask you all, now that we are winding down the year, what perfume individually or line/presentation/collection do you feel made the best contribution to perfumery in 2009?  I’m leaning towards Cartier and Byredo.  Byredo because I wore Bal d’Afrique today and felt a tremendous amount of self-love/lust every time my scarf moved and wafted it upwards.  Cartier because I admire that they came up with an idea that represents a integral part of their brand, the watch, and gave it vision and depth.

Okay, your turn!

  • AnnieA says:

    Will also have to go with new-to-me for 2009: bought three Etat Libre d’Orange bottles in Montreal this spring (Vierges et Toreros, Rien, and Rossi de Palma Eau de Protection), and never expected to like anything so different. If only their label art and copy weren’t being created by teenage boys…

    • Joe says:

      Annie: I can’t say enough about Vierges et Toreros these days. It’s an incredibly unusual, naughty, naughty animalic wonder! I only have a decant now, but I see a full bottle sometime in my future.

  • Joe says:

    I’m glad to hear Amaranthine is getting some love — it’s exactly up my alley: that kind of Tim Burton Cabinet of Curiosities effect it has. To me that sweaty/carnal base smell a bit scandalous, not in the usual manner, but via some alchemy I haven’t really experienced before. I’m patiently waiting for someone to back me up on this opinion, and it hasn’t happened; I seriously wonder if the reptile brains of men and women smell this differently.

    As for your question about “biggest contribution to perfumery”, I have no idea how to answer that and haven’t smelled any of the Cartiers myself. There’s a lot I haven’t smelled, but I’m definitely on the Mythique and Epic Woman love trains.

    Overall, I’m amazed at how much serious, serious buzz Havana Vanille has generated (and Al-Oudh to a lesser degree), so maybe that’s my pick for the perfume that’s made the biggest impact this year — even though I haven’t smelled it yet. Or maybe I’m overestimating how much advanced-order buzz there is about this?

  • mals86 says:

    Haven’t been at this long enough (14 months?) to make any statement whatsoever about this year’s releases, or even any particular house. I’m still sniffing classics, as well as a few selected newer things.

    Newer releases I loved this year: MFK Lumiere Noire is gorgeous. And I really like Amaranthine – it reminds me a bit of Citizen Queen, which I adore – different florals, similar naughty bits. SSS Tabac Aurea sent me reeling with joy. Teo Cabanel Alahine is new to me, if not new in ’09, and it’s the happiest oriental I’ve ever met.

    It’s been a good year.

  • Disteza says:

    For me the best contribution was, hands down, By Killian’s Pure Oudh. In a year filled with oudh-based releases, this one stood head and shoulders above the rest, and did something that surprised me: it took oudh in a new direction. It was one of the few things I’ve ever smelled that didn’t immediately remind me of something else. And oh, in what a heavenly way it accomplishes that!

    • Melissa says:

      I really liked this one too. Thanks for reminding me. Not too barnyard 3:-o not too medicinal. Really nice. I just haven’t pulled the cash together to buy it!

    • carter says:

      I still need to sniff it, as well as Back to Black. I am pretty sure that one of them, if not both, will have my name on it, which is probably why I am resisting.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    The Amaranthine I found to be awfully weird and unpleasant so I think I’m part of the non-Duchaufour Fan Club too.

    I have a selection of the Cartiers to try, thanks to lovely and generous perfumista friends. I have only tried le XIIIe Heure so far and really disliked it – ugh, nothing but Lapsang Souchong all day long on me. I am hoping I will like some of the others better.

    Not new, in fact very old, but 2009 was the year I finally got to try Guerlain’s Candide Effluve and I am hopelessly in love with it, to add to my other impossible dreams of Djedi and Atuana.

    I also fell for Etro and Santa Maria Novella fragrances in a big way, and for the reissued gorgeousness of the three Grossmith beauties.

    And as IFRA have apparently backed down on the vanillin restrictions, I’m hoping 2010 may produce some lovelies too!

    • Musette says:

      that Candide is weird (on me). At first it was dee-vine, then it got really strange. I suppose I should be grateful – it costs the earth!


  • Tommasina says:

    Umm… the TDC came out in 2006, I think. You’re not cheating, are you, A?


    • Musette says:


      no, I’m just sloooow. I’m also clueless – I never know when stuff is released. Honestly, you’d think I lived in a cave instead of right down the street from Barneys

      xo >-)

      • Tommasina says:

        Hope I didn’t sound like a know-it-all


        I had to look it up, but was pretty sure I’d had a sample in a swap package a couple of years ago. My memory ain’t all it used to be (or what I *think* it used to be~)

  • Musette says:

    My biggest surprise was the Cartiers:o . I was unsurprised to like The Sparkling (Brilliant) Hour, as I am an aldehydewhore but the Mysterious Hour (is that XII?) is incredibly interesting. XIII did an odd little jib and skittered off my skin in a slightly unpleasant way, which surprised me but there’s no accounting for what a skittish perfume will do.

    Celine Ellena hit it out of the park for me with TDC Charmes et Feuilles. I know, I know – it’s not complex and the lasting power is suspect…but it’s such a charming, cool, cheerful fragrance.

    VC&A are all very nice, though I wouldn’t put them in the same category as the Cartiers.

    I am going to make a determined effort, as 2009 winds down, to revisit the Delraes. Try as I might I just don’t get them – but I confess to not having tried very hard.

    xo >-)

  • Rockrose says:

    Vc&A Bois D’Iris is my favorite new one, I used almost half the bottle already! I am very disappointed in the new Cartiers, although I love the bottles. Also love DelRae Mythique.

  • Zazie says:

    Amaranthine surprised me with an holographic banana: I get the whole fruit, not just the leaves!
    I don’t know if and how much I liked it 😕
    Maybe a lot, maybe not at all…
    I haven’t smelled the Cartiers, but the 2009 launches that impressed me most were: un rose chyprée, Havana Vanille (I usually hate vanilla), Bois d’iris (VC&A – and yes, I also usually do not appreciate iris focused perfumes…).
    So it was nice to get acquainted with these old powerful enemies and discover they can be friendly delicious little things :d

  • Melissa says:

    I need to spend some time with the Cartiers before I can intelligently comment. As for Amaranthine, the second I tested it from a small decant, I ran for the computer and ordered it. Brilliant and very intriguing.

    I would also give a great big nod to Kurkdjian. Lumiere Noire pour Femme is on my list of must-buys and Cologne Pour Le Soir caught my attention as well. Plus, the scented bracelets and other products sound fun.

    But really, 2009 was great. Amouage Epic Woman, Delrae Mythique etc. I can appreciate some of the releases that aren’t my style too, such as Natori and the Life Threads line.

  • Silviafunkly says:

    Those Cartiers are AMAZING, esp. XII and XIII. As today I am wearing and loving Van Cleef & Arpels Bois d’Iris, I would nominate that line too, not as groudbreaking as Cartier but extremely well done. And Maison Kurkdjian. In fact 2009 has been very bountyful:)>-

  • sariah says:

    DelRae Mythique was the best thing I smelled this year. Can’t comment on what the best line is as I’ve been very sporadic with the sniffage lately and have been wearing my collectiong / not sampling so much – however the one Cartier I smelled was too similar to Annick Goutal’s Myrrhe Ardente to knock my socks off. I must say, I’ve spent more time reading and enjoying your blog this year than seaking out new things to smell. Thanks Posse!

  • Louise says:

    I’ve only smelled Amaranthine on a dear friends skin, and it was a marvel. I was covered in other perfumes, so will need to give a fair shake on its own.

    My true perfume found loves this year have all been vintage-no new scent has completely grabbed me, though the two new SLs both work beautifully for me.

    So, I’m cheating, and this won’t help many-but my new/old Lanvin Scandal has rocked my world this year :d/

  • veuve amiot says:

    I’ll be the spoil-sport in nominating Duchafour as the best thing since sliced bread. I’ve yet to find a fragrance of his signature that sits right with me. Every single one of his creations that are praised to high heaven smell odd and unbalanced on my skin – perhaps I react badly to some of his favourite aromachemicals? That or I’m a Philistine. Which is entirely possible.

    The single fragrance for 2009 would be Jabu, for me. It proves that YES, you can have cake and eat it too: a fundraiser fragrance that’s more than just a hastily put-together cardboard façade. It holds its own as an excellent entry in the MdO line and has a great background story.

    For the industry as a whole, I would say increased mainstream media coverage of the success of niche and the failure of mainstream fragrances is the big thing.

  • I find Amaranthine extremely and unconventionally sensuous — in fact, I’d be seconding Flora in saying that not only Bertrand Duchaufour has been turning around L’Artisan (and contributing to dusting off Penhaligon’s), but that he has also entered a new phase in his own work.

    I’d be hard pressed to pick between him and Mathilde Laurent, whose Les Heures de Parfum were a revelation because they unveil the unique style she developed while she was doing bespoke perfumes at Cartier.

    These are actually the two perfumers whose work most struck me this year, but let’s say that as a line, Les Heures de Parfum were almost certainly the strongest contribution.

    Byredo, not so much: too many duds/derivatives.

  • Flora says:

    I have only tried one of the Cartiers but if it’s any indication of the quality of the group, I would give it to them.

    However, I would also nominate Bertrand Duchafour himself – not only for the Penhaligons he has done but the L’Artisans as well – Havana Vanille and the new Al Oudh have turned the house on its ear – and everyone seems to want them. No one will think of the line the same way again.

  • carter says:

    Cartier all the way, baby. Because they have advanced the art of perfumery, are superbly crafted and beautifully presented, and because they kick ass.(*)

  • tmp00 says:

    I can’t comment on vision or depth (as I type I’m watching E’s best plastic surgery victims) but the thing that I am thrilled about is the appearance at Barneys of MKK.

    Hey I’m easy..:d