Top 20 Best Perfumes of 2009

It is that time of year, when we all turn our noses to look at what has passed by them in 2009 and decide what we loved the most.  We all put our little heads together and tried to come to some agreement.  We didn’t all love them all. Some of them we hated,  some we loved, some of us equally hated and loved the same perfume at the same time, but these are the standouts of the year – Best Perfumes of 2009.

Perfumer of 2009 – Bertrand Duchafour.  His work, whether you like the perfumes personallyor not, for L’Artisan and Comme des Garcons in the past and his new entriees this year for them, as well as Penhaligon’s Amaranthine are great perfumes, diverse and interesting.

New House of the 2009 – Maison Francis Kurkdjian.  Excellent entries from top to bottom.  Interesting, well-made, but all having Kurkdjian’s stamp on them.

Then, without further comment since most of these have been reviewed on this blog, sometimes more than once, these are our Top 20 Best Perfumes of 2009:

  1. Amouage Tribute Attar
  2. Apothia Pearl
  3. By Kilian Pure Oud
  4. Carol’s Daughter’s Pearls
  5. Cartier – L’heure Mysteriuese, L’Heure Brilliante, and La Treizieme Heure
  6. Creed Windsor
  7. Kenzo UFO
  8. L’Artisan al Oudh
  9. L’Artisan Havana Vanille
  10. La Perla Life Threads
  11. Lolita Lempicka Si Lolita Lempicka
  12. Natori EDP
  13. Parfums DelRae Mythique
  14. Penhaligon’s Amaranthine
  15. Prada L’Eau Ambree
  16. Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream
  17. Soihvohle Oudh Lacquer
  18. Soihvohle Love Speaks Primeval
  19. Tom Ford Grey Vetiver
  20. Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidee Vanille, Bois d’Iris and Muguet Blanc

That’s our list of Best Perfumes of 2009. What’s on yours for 2009?  I’m sure we forgot something or several somethings.

  • mr.eims @ perfume says:

    Kenzo UFO is nice.. 🙂
    hurm..but its hard to find some of those brand names here. duh.

  • london says:

    I thought I was doing well keeping up with the new releases this year but I haven’t even tried 10 of the 20(ish) on your list! But I did buy FBs of 2 of the rest (L’Eau Ambree and UFO) so I guess that’s not bad. My favourite overall was Tiare which I know didn’t go down so well at the Posse so I will add a special mention to Le Rivage aux Syrtes for being a GIANT fruit that I can actually wear (unlike Pulp). But there a few late contenders that I just haven’t spent quite enough time with yet so I may change my mind.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Interesting list! Of the ones you list, I also have tried and love Al Oudh, Love Speaks Primeval, Amaranthine, Tribute and Pure Oud. I’ve definitely been enjoying getting my skank on this year. 🙂 I haven’t tried any of the others, so when I do, a few of them will likely get added to my list (esp. the MFK’s). Oudh Lacquer was surprisingly a flop on me, but I’m going to keep trying it until I get it, or at least have used up my precious $20 sample. 😉

  • Robin R. says:

    Phew. Thought we’d lost you there for a second. #:-s

  • Robin R. says:

    Hey, you guys, where the heck ARE you? It’s three days into the Tens, and you’re off the radar. I’m going through withdrawal here. :-ss

    • March says:

      Eh, we’ll be back tomorrow! I’ve been out of town and devoting my attention to the kiddos and new Christmas books and other things not on the computer. :d

  • maidenbliss says:

    Thanks for that insight….I agree about seeing the same ideas over and over again. I’ll get the book. I’ve been checking out the vintage and next is the queen of ouds for me.

  • maidenbliss says:

    This sent me into full tilt LOL. I’ve so many ‘blunders’ I’ve lost count. Been a scentaholic all my life, but when I seriously began to pursue, read and buy– it quickly escalated to full-blown ‘got to have’ and need I say more? My hands used to be something I used to type or wash dishes with-hug my children with, play guitar and piano. Now they find themselves gravitating towards my nose, not to mention constantly reading blogs until I’m bleary eyed. I’m in a serious duel at the moment and want to lay my head down, tie my wrists with something impossible to undo…

    • Winifreida says:

      It helps to do enough sampling to home in on houses that do it the way you like…’cause I’m seeing the same ideas over and over again, with slight variations, in the house style. Its really worth getting one of those Michael Edwards “Perfumes of the World” editions; lists everything according to his well-accepted classification system (but does not really explain things like ‘leather’ and ‘musk’)… I know the real perfumistas on here could explain it a lot better than what I’m trying to say. It sort of makes you take stock- hmmm- do I really need another tuberose white floral is one of my favorite ‘get real’ questions!It also shows you all the perfumes listed by all the houses. And then there is vintage. Getting classic vintage editions in my favorite categories really has satisfied those diffuse longings of ‘its nice, but doesn’t blow me away’. I’ve always known I was a Guerlain girl – it will be a great irony to find that 100 bottles later, I am still a Guerlain girl! But what a ride…

      • Musette says:

        I find it helps to think like an actuary. I rarely get the FB lust for anything except the vintages because it occurs to me (sadly, regularly) that I will never be able to ‘use’ all of these fragrances, should I elect to buy FB. Finding folks to split is a great way to keep the costs down. For most ‘fumes I’m about the juice, not the bottle so splits work for me, either as host or buy-in.

        But that’s just one >-) ‘s opinion. YMMV


  • maidenbliss says:

    A note to Jirish-I’m a lurker as well, but will now share. Une rose chypree is very beautiful, love the AT sample set. I was the lucky winner of L’Artisan HV-sensual vanilla-beautiful. Thank you to Perfume Posse! VCA Bois d’Iris – the bloggers were right- gorgeous. I’ve started my little vault and it’s filling up quickly. I’m a bit off track as far as 2009 goes, but being introduced to, among many, Serge Lutens, Amouge, POTL, Teo Cabanel, MPG, AG, FM, Bond, to mention a few, it’s hard not to share my wealth. Now, on with the ouds for this next year. Also, will try to be more scentsible (yes, it is spelled wrong) about my addiction. No more FB’s without sniffing first. Happy New Year to everyone and thank you for all of your comments which inspired me to spend more money.

    • Winifreida says:

      Yes Maidenbliss, it takes about a year for the frenzy to abate a little….but only a little, to the point of not just buying full bottles because “they sound so good”…and I have a list of about thirty I deem full-bottle-worthy at the moment, and just got another half-dozen hits from my last sample binge, so I’m positively DOOMED….to going without groceries or something in 2010!

  • mals86 says:

    2009 was my first full year of PerfumeHeadDom, and I only managed to sniff three of your Top 20 (actually 24 counted individually!), while making up for lost time by testing… let me check the Excel file… 271 fragrances this year, 13 of which were 2009 releases, but all of which were new to ME. :d

    I did absolutely adore Lumiere Noire pf.

  • aubrey says:

    Wow. Just tried Penhaligon’s Amaranthine as part of a late Xmas present of samples yesterday, and wow. Just wow. I’m not sure if I am impressed by it or I’m afraid of it. Cumin just doesn’t seem to work for me– I’m really afraid of that note, because it’s just so dirrrrty. But I must admit that it’s an original composition, well designed, and stays together well.

  • Laura M says:

    So interesting: I don’t particularly remember raves for most of these scents in reviews here and on the other blogs: e.g., the Eau Ambree, Natori, Fire and Cream, Grey Vetiver, Life Threads.

    Umm, the Life Threads is La Prairie, not La Perla, right? And, if so you snuck two extra scents into your top twenty! (I’m not even mentioning numbers 5 and 20. Why not add four more and make it the top 30?

    I’d like to see individual lists from you. Please?

    Thanks for providing a wonderful year of information, amusement, and good writing!

    Happy New Year!

  • E says:

    I sampled a lot in 2009, but didn’t buy much — and only a couple of FBs as opposed to decants. In addition, some of the things that I fell for weren’t 2009 releases (Hermes Ambre Narguile comes to mind).

    My favorite release in 2009 was Angel Liqueur (also one of the three or so that I bought FBs of — I can only think of that one, AN, and re-released Chaos). I’ve never worn Angel before, and it hasn’t been to my taste in the past, but I’m really smitten with the Liqueur.

    I haven’t tried most of the scents on your list — time to get cracking! :d

  • CynthiaW says:

    My favorite new releases of the year: Epic Woman, Vanille Galante, Back to Black, and Alien Liqueur.

    Which isn’t to say that they’re the only ones that I bought – I also love Natori, Cristalle Eau Verte, Une Rose Chyrpee, Jasmine White Moss, and Naked Honey. I’d like to be able to add Havana Vanille to my list, but I’m still waiting for it to arrive. 🙁 And I really have to try the Cartiers and give a more thorough testing to the VCAs – I really liked a few of them, but have to do a complete testing to decide if any of them qualify for an FB or split purchase.

  • Marsi says:

    I am the lone voice in the wilderness calling out the name Daphne!

    • carter says:

      Ha-ha! Good for you =d> I really have to try it @};-

    • Winifreida says:

      NO YOU’RE NOT MARSI!!! I have F/B on the way and just love its lush oriental/headshop thing…it even reminds me of the smells of natural turpentine, copal, and linseed in the art school painting studios…maybe Daphne was an art student in a former life! Even that feeling when everyone’s out at some big show and all the ladies’ ‘fumes are mixing together…anyway I’m a country gal, used to strong odours!!

      • Marsi says:

        My F/B is due on Tuesday, and I cannot WAIT. I’ve been making do with a tiny sample from LuckyScent for two weeks now. I too love the complex mix of notes. Off the top, I get the bitter orange, which is so scrumptious, followed quickly by the creaminess of the tuberose. Body chemistry is a curious thing. I thought it was going to be the big stink on me, and when I finally tried it I was in love.

  • Mwa says:

    I hope The Perfumed Court will offer a sampler of the Perfume Posse Best of 2009 Picks since I found so many beauties in the Posse Best of 2007 sampler.

  • carter says:

    Several of your choices overlap mine, and I would add Filles en Aiguilles. Of the FKs, Lumiere Noir Homme is my fave. But of all of them, Cartier VII and VIII are the two that stand out for me and if I could only have one new fragrance this year it would be VIII.

    Felicitations and may the heavens smile down on all of Posseville in the coming year.

    • carter says:

      OMG I just took leave of my senses! Habit Rouge Extrait is absolutely Number One in my book for 2009, and possibly well beyond <:-p

  • Aparatchick says:

    Mary, going on Perfume Safari! ^:)^ love it!

    The one that went directly from sniff to FB purchase for me this year was Sonoma Scent Studios’ Tabac Aurea. It’s in my personal top 10. I enjoyed John Varvatos’ Artisan and the new Lolita Lempicka, but neither were FB-worthy.

    I’ve been having fun lately with the Pacifica, Tokyo Milk and Crazy Libellule lines. Cheap and cheerful. And I’ve got samples of Wazamba and Havana Vanille on the way, so something to look forward to in the new year!

  • Wendi says:

    I’m still working my way through 201 ;), so like many others my big discoveries have been some classics. The big story of the year for me- I FINALLY “get” Mitsouko! ^:)^

    I have to say that I did manage to smell the VCA bunch, and Muguet Blanc remains on my shopping list.

    Happy New Year to you all! Thanks for helping along my perfume education!

  • Mary says:

    Ooh, I will print out that list and go back out on Safari. We visited Strange Invisible Perfumes in Venice CA yesterday, and smelled everything in the store. We came away with a bottle of Trapeze, which reminds me a little of the Chaos I had around 10 years ago– I was a little amazed at my DH, but I think it was a six month late 50th birthday gift. This has been such a wonderful hobby– lots to explore. Happy New Year, all!!

  • Fiordiligi says:

    I know I’m an old fuddy-duddy, loving all my vintages. Nothing new has grabbed me terribly this year, although it’s been fun testing and sampling!

    Happy New Year to all Posse scribes and readers, you lovely people. Not too long now until the next decade begins for those of us on this side of the Pond. Have a wonderful evening, whatever you decide to do.

    • carter says:

      That is generally the standard I use, too. The bar is set at “is this as good or better than Bandit, Scandal, Violette Precieuse, Apres l’Ondee, Jolie Madame, L’Heure Bleue, Shalimar…?” It makes life very, very simple and saves me a great deal of cash :d

      • Flora says:

        So true! Having just tried vintage Jolie Madame at last, the bar is set high! Not to mention My Sin, Crescendo, Vent Vert, Ecusson, Casaque, Essence Rare and other vintage greats. There MAY be a “modern” Chypre perfume somewhere that is as good as JM, Ma Griffe or Essence Rare, but I can’t see how any of them could possibly be any better. Only the really outstanding modern perfumes like Amouage, Tauer Perfumes etc. can take my breath away like that.

        • Masha says:

          I do the same thing (compare with fave vintages before buying), and it means I’ve only bought one new release in 2 years, Ma Dame, which was uproariously synthetic, modern, and a real hoot.

  • Arwen says:

    Happy New Year!
    I hope 2010 brings a lot of fragrant surprises.

  • Flora says:

    Une Rose Chypree, Amaranthine and Amouage Epic, of the ones I have tried, plus the VCA Collection. I may be the only one who liked the fleshiness of the “Lys” one as much as I did, but there you go, I am a lily pushover. 🙂

    Flora/Donna (not that Donna, the other Donna)

    • Musette says:

      Shelley and I both LOVED it on application – but somewhere in mid-drydown it did something weird (maybe that’s the ‘fleshiness’ you speak of?). it’s a lovely scent but I think that drydown would keep me from FBing it.

      xo >-)

  • Jirish says:

    Hi, long, long time lurker here, but I wanted to thank everyone, both the posters and the commenting community for making this one of my favorite perfume sites. You’ve given me lots of joy and giggles over the past year. My favorite new scent of 2009 is Un Rose Chypree. I’m beginning to think I’ll love anything Andy does. Happy New Years everyone!

  • Dusan says:

    As you may have noticed, I got rather slack and jaded perfume-wise in 2009. But I could never EVER go off you, my lovelies! Hey, I’ve made some super-duper friends on here :-*

    Wishing the Posse and the Posseites a phenomenal new year! Love you!

  • Masha says:

    Wow, but did you notice 17 of these are impossible to find if you live anywhere but NYC or Paris?? Now that’s just sad for the perfume industry. Shame on them. Shame on IFRA. If it weren’t for places like TPC, 99.99% of us would never have a shot at sniffing 17/20 of these!

    • Patty says:

      I know. And even some of the things that could have gone on there are in the same territory.

      I’m not sure why this is where the industry is, but it does seem to be where it is.

    • Musette says:

      I don’t know where you are but if you are withing shooting distance of Barneys you can sniff prolly 80%of these and the rest via TPC or the perfumers direct.

      I was surprised to find the Creed Windsor @ our NM here in Chicago (how I love saying ‘our’ and ‘here’ – at least for a few more days!)
      Same with the VCAs and the Cartiers – they are at the salons. But if you do not live in a major metro area with those salons and a Barneys it is a rough row to hoe, I agree.

      Most of it is just demographics – I won’t ever find Serge at the Wal Mart in Kewanee. :-j

      xo >-)

  • aubrey says:

    This was my 1st year in the hobby, so I discovered many oldies that were new to me.

    But, here’s my top niche frags of 2009:
    * Parfums de Nicolai Week-end a Deauville (HG)
    * MDCI Un Coeur en Mai (HG also)
    * VCA Vanille Orchidee or Bois d’Iris

    Best mainstream:
    * NR Intense

    I am sure that I am missing some really obvious items, or things that I think were from last year. I really, really liked Hermes Pamplemousse Rose.

    And I am happy (but conflicted) to note that I haven’t tried many of the items you list as tops. Conflicted because I now have sooo many perfumes and swore to myself that I would stop sampling new things for a while. I guess it’s good to know that there is still good stuff awaiting me. And is it bad that I am praying for the Van Cleefs to hit the discounters? That’s mean spirited, right? Oye, I’m addicted to frags. My poor wallet.

    • Patty says:

      that Pdn is gorgeous. Just wish it were available outside Europe!

      You know, I noted that too. I wish the mainstream stuff had been better, but there was some good things that got put out that’s readilly available, at least by mail order, but too much of the mainstream now is the same, which is adequate most of the time, but not terribly original.

      • aubrey says:

        I’m not saying it’s true, but BeautyHabit replied to my email ~1 month ago saying that they *might* be carrying Week-end a Deauville at a future time. I emailed them again to see if it’s true.

  • Melissa says:

    I completely forgot that Apothia Pearl was a 2009 release. So glad to see it here. It’s a wonderful and little-known summer scent. Nava, was that one from you? So, I’ll add it to my favorites. I also forgot about Vapor until now. Thanks Louise!

    Here are mine:
    Epic for Women
    Lumiere Noire pour Femme
    Pure Oud
    Al Oudh (Duchaufour is my hero this year)
    Apothia Pearl
    NM Vapor

    I’m sure that once I read all of the lists, I will be tempted to add to mine. I had trouble keeping my wallet shut this year.

  • Rappleyea says:

    I feel like I’ve been sampling my toochie (sp?) off, and yet I’ve only tried a bare minimum of your list. I really liked Cartier XIII but on me it was a dead ringer for Le Labo’s Patch 24 which I liked a little better. The 2009 keeper for me was Wazamba, and the blew me away discovery was Chanel’s classic Cuir de Russie. I bought myself a bottle of extrait for Christmas.

    Great list by the way, and a happy and healthy 2010 to all.

    • Patty says:

      That Wazamba just didn’t work for me. Neither did the Filles.

      Cuir de Russie is gorgeous,, though, and it never goes out of style.

      Bonne Annee to you, Donna!

  • Louise says:

    Happy New Year, Posse <:-p Patty, only a wee bit of overlap here...I do love the FKs, and especially Lumiere Noire for women (and the Soir). I haven't yet sniffed Al Oudh or Tribute, but have been told by Knowing Noses that I will like these. I resolve to try more Soihviles-though the oud didn't work for me. And sadly, the Cartiers and Van Cleef and Arpels were tragic on me. My favorites are: Filles en Aiguilles (complete soulmate) Foureau Noire (my best smokey vanilla) NM Vapor (favorite new aldehyde) Vanille Galante Amouage Epic Lumiere Noire ... and some fun things, especially Tokyo Milk Honey and the Moon, and a particularly nice incense oil from my apothecary. @};-@};-@};-

    • Musette says:


      The Cartiers were tragic on you? 😮 Looking at that plus your list (FeA went on camphory-smooth… then b-( and with the exceptional of Shalimar extrait/parfum I haven’t yet found a ‘nilla i can wear, dammit!) I’m beginning to thing we might be ESTs! But you’ve piqued my re-interest in Neil Morris (what a charming and delightful duo, he and his business partner, David) – I didn’t know he’d done a new aldehyde and as I am the Aldehyde Whore of the Universe…well…

      Happy New Year, darling! And ever so many, happier, more! < :-p xo >-)

    • Patty says:

      Happy New year back!

      Dang it, forgot about the Vanille Galante, it should have been on there. Fourreau Noire would have been on my personal list, but I hated the Filles. It was just awful.

    • maidenbliss says:

      This is for Louise-if possible, I would love to know the name of that particularly nice incense oil from the apothecary ? Thank you.

      • Louise says:

        It’s called “Ancient Essence” Frankincense & Myrrhe” (ph. 407948-9873)-the bottle I got this time is more rosey, a bit less smokey, but very nice 🙂

        • maidenbliss says:

          Thanks, Louise. I googled them as I can’t afford the phone call:) and it’s an interesting
          site. Going to check out the Frankincense & Myrrhe oil. Cheers!