2014: The year of Floral Orientals and Aldehydes

A chorus girl from  The Bluebell

A chorus girl from The Bluebell

Everyone of consequence in the perfume blogging sphere comes up with lists of the best and worst at the end of the year.  I am not of consequence and anyhow a bit out of step.  Not impressed with Narciso and not a fan of the rapidly metastasizing Francis Kurkdijian display at Neiman  Marcus.   I like the sparkly light frags he specializes in, but not endlessly. A gal’s got to wear something other than the perfume equivalent of sequined pasties and ostrich feather thongs you know-even if she currently lives in Jersey!  Though it is only fair to say that the husband thought he could see an upside to the style.

This was the year in which I really went and explored the offerings of US perfumers and I have to return to that exploration at the end of the year and say again how impressed I was. Most impressed by how well two genres of fragrance had been mastered by these perfumers: the floral oriental and the floral aldehyde. 

water lilies the first scent of intimate liliy from Colorado lilies

water lilies the first scent of intimate liliy
from Colorado lilies

Neil Morris is fast becoming my go to for modern floral aldehydes.  Thank goodness, because I was beginning to think that no modern perfumers were pushing that envelope. He is though and the results are impressively wearable.  Try Intimate Lily, a fragrance that combines aldehydes with water lily while the heart is lilies of the valley and Casablanca oriental lilies. The base is musk sandalwood and vanilla.  It’s so lovely and so easy to wear.  He also does Le Parfum C’est Ma Vie with raspberry, aldehydes and warm narcissus and peony bouquet over the woody dry down he favors. His prices, by the way, are very fair though his website can be difficult.

I am lastingly impressed with Shelley Waddington. She is a real talent to watch.  It’s not just Zelda, her original magnolia oriental, but also her Go Ask Alice patchouli mix, and her chocolate perfumes, combining floral notes with edible ones in  truly innovative melanges like Indigo Vanilla. This woman is a sorceress with oriental notes whether floral or spicy.  She’s reasonable as well, and I worry that one day her prices will shoot up.

Aftelier's Wild Roses

Aftelier’s Wild Roses

Then too I fell in love with Aftelier in 2014.  I suppose everyone does sooner or later but this is a house that is practically unavoidable to anyone who loves fragrances and flavors.  Mandy’s perfume work is so rich and resonant now that I can hardly see the point of non naturals.  Her flavored oils as well are something not to miss if you cook, nicely profiled by Kafkakaesque.

Also there’s Providence Perfumes whose Osmanthus Oolong became a rainy day staple for me, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz whose perfumes always have been in my wardrobe, and my newer discoveries of Soivohle Perfumes.  I love Liz’s Rasbberry and Black pepper fragrance and her Rosa Sur Reuse. (Notice though once again the floral oriental prevalence?). Jeffrey Dame’s Black Flower Mexican Vanilla struck me as being one of the best of his new company, and also impressed vanilla lovers like Vanessa at Bonkers About Perfume and my daughter the vanilla addict.

Absolutely Vital from The Diana Vreeland Collection

Absolutely Vital from The Diana Vreeland Collection

Belatedly I will say that I also liked one of the Diana Vreeland releases. The Yves Cassar composition Absolutely Vital is yet another oriental floral with vanilla and sandalwood mixing in with the expensive jasmine and rose of its core, but this perfume is made of unusually good materials for a mainstream release, and will probably not remain unaltered.

Not as long lasting as its fellows because the scent contains more naturals, this is expensive but not unfairly so  for the quality. Try this.  All the rest of the line is good but  is much more derivative. Only this perfume struck out on its own.  Give AV a sniff.

Bottom Line, not everything worthwhile is sold at exclusive new York or LA boutiques.  You can find top notch perfumes at US perfumers’ sites and you owe it to yourself to look.  You will love what you get, you will not smell like chemicals, and you will save money.  What’s not to like here?


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8 thoughts on “2014: The year of Floral Orientals and Aldehydes

  1. I am in complete agreement with this post. I have been buying and wearing vintages for the most part, but I like to check out current perfumes, too. I’ve sampled a few of the recent widely praised, extravagantly priced European niches, such as Vero’s Onda and Mito, Bogue’s Maai, Legrand’s Chypre Mousse, but I wasn’t exactly bowled over. I have been much more impressed with the work of independent American perfumers such as Laurie Erickson’s Incense Pure and Rose Volupte (Sonoma Scent Studios) and Shelley Waddington’s perfumes. Zelda was lovely, and her Fiore di Bellagio was really unbelievable–an intense opulent floral that smelled so very alive and fresh. I need to try some Aftelier, Providence Perfumes, and DSH scents next.

    1. You’re more up to date on the very latest releases from Europe than I am- haven;t tried Maai or Legrand’s Chypre Mousse. Glad to hear though that they’re not too earth shattering. Most new perfumes aren’t.

      Laurie Erickson got left out of my US series last year mostly for the ridiculous reason that I ran out of time. She does some wonderful things though and I too like her Incense Pure which is the closest scent left to Creed’s Angelique Encens. I like her Champagne de Bois too.
      I bet you’ll love some Afteliers if you like Shelley. You’re in for a treat there, she has some wonderful orientals and florals. I loved Secret Garden, Honey Blossom and Sepia!

  2. US indie perfumers are doing us proud.

    Either I’m trying the wrong Neil Morris scents, or they just don’t work for me, because they tend to smell both chemical and, er, wrong. Dunno. He’s well-regarded among people whose opinion I respect, so I suspect that it’s my skin skewing things.

    Rosa sur Reuse was one of my favorite Soivohle scents, but I fell so hard for Centennial that I was happy to get a backup bottle of it when Liz started selling her old stock. (I’m not exactly happy about her new business plan, not that she need consult me… It’s interesting and undoubtedly very satisfying to concentrate on making limited editions only, moving on to create something new over and over, but I probably won’t try any more of her things lest I fall in love with one and never ever be able to obtain it again. But then I’m not much of a “better to have loved and lost” kind of person.)

    I notice that the few orientals I do love have a strong floral presence in them. Even Shalimar Light and Emeraude are noticeably floral, and of course Alahine is. I liked that Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, but didn’t feel that there was enough “flower” in it for me.

  3. Neil Morris often seems to fall afoul of a lot of people and I know what you mean about his chemical tone at times. What i think is at work is 1) his like of aroma-chemicals which i do and don’t share. I like aldehydes which are clearly synthetics, but some things like Calone!! ” Run for the hills!” is my response when I see it listed, so it’s very mixed. and 2) sometimes he doesn’t go in for the best quality of oils. In Dawn for instance you generally smell her trying for good materials, I’m not sure he worries about that so much. However when Neil is on, boy is he on. I’m thinking of Rose of Kali, or Afire. I’m going to try his Neil Morris for Takashimaya because he worked hardest on that. What would I really like to smell? Neil Morris with NO BUDGET. Oh yeah.

    Sorry that Ms. Zorn’s only doing LE’s. Hard to keep up with and as to floral orientals- we all love them. Half of my favorites are floral orientals these days, and I used to love chypres!

  4. Reading your summary of your 2014 perfume leanings I was saying to myself: ‘Yes, that sounds about right’, ie I had noticed your gravitation towards the ‘indie scene’ and have been impressed myself by Shelley Waddington in particular, as well as finding the odd Aftelier to love. I don’t get on with many natural and indie scents though – they seem either too strong or too ‘singular’, to generalise wildly. Though I have just dipped my toe in, really, as I do in so many categories, including vintage and overpriced European niche! I do (belatedly) like some Tauers and Vero Kerns and really want to try that MAAI one everyone is raving about!

    Oh, and I shan’t be doing a ‘best of’ post this year, though I have done them in the past (without being of consequence either 😉 ). I shall do some kind of NY musing, but I just sniff too little nowadays for it to have any value at all.

  5. Well i wish you would do a mini round up of some of the Brit perfumes- even though you don’t smell that much. Speaking for self, it takes a long time for me to find English scents like Papillon because they aren’t to be found unless luckyscent picks them up. Our counters are dominated by a few distributors and most don’t carry Brit perfumers. Besides I think you would have a nice take on it.

    Indie, well, I do like them and think some houses get overhyped while too many are ignored. I mean we can do our own sniffing and then decide what’s worthwhile. Take Oriza le Grand, a lot of fuss, but how good is it? I am going to try and smell a sample.

    On the other hand i really think Shelley is the goods as is Neil Morris (I know he’s sometimes difficult but when you hit your Morris you know it) and Aftelier is wonderful. Sometimes their things are odd, Neil Morris’s Burnt Amber anyone? But it smells like Lapsang Souchong to me 🙂

  6. I really need to try Shelley Waddington, Aftelier, Providence Perfumes… basically all of these. I do really like Black Flower Mexican Vanilla – but that’s the only that I’ve tried!

  7. A lot of people liked that Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, it was one of Jeffrey’s best, and Shelley Waddington is definitely worth a try as well.

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