Well, 2010 has certainly been a year to remember. Not always for the right reasons mind you, but then again all years have their ups and downs. For me and my wife, it has been a tough year financially, like it has for a lot of people in recession-hit Britain. Of course, the whole world has been affected to some degree. Financially, my wish is to get out of debt, but generally, I hope everyone who has suffered on this front gets back on their feet in 2011 and puts their financial worries behind them. What I haven't enjoyed over the last couple of years is paying taxes to see the money going back to banks to pay bonuses to the fat-cat financiers who partly put us in the shit in the first place....
Of course, money isn't everything, as I've always known, and money certainly can't buy the two gorgeous, precious children my wife and I are so lucky to 'own'! Without trying to come across too corny, seeing their smiles, unadulterated by the worries of the world, is a joy to behold and I hope I see loads more of this in 2011.
On the perfume front, I started my blog in March, and nine months later I can sincerely state that I have loved every minute of it. I know mine is just one of hundreds in a saturated blogosphere, but I enjoy doing it and will hopefully continue to do so, as I always intended to do it mainly for self-gratification. On the way I've met some lovely like-minded bloggers and I love reading your blogs, posting comments on your sites and of course, reading your comments on mine in turn. I've learned a lot about perfume on the way too. Although I am a little less anal now about documenting my perfumes as I wear them, I find it is a very good exercise in fine-tuning one's nose and appreciation of notes, as one is forced to think a little more about it. However, I do find that this approach can be a little stifling at times and although I do intend to continue in this vein, I am more relaxed now, and I do find that I pick up notes a lot quicker, although I am by no means an expert and still do not recognise notes consistently. Not that this is essential to my perfume appreciation.
I said a couple of days ago that I wouldn't do a best and worst type of post and based on the suggestions of others, I am instead listing some general perfume highlights:
- top of the list is starting my perfume blog - I am so glad I took the plunge
- visiting the Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie on the top floor of Harrods department store - this is an amazing place and well worth a visit for any perfumista
- continuing to acquire samples from a number of worthy online (and in some cases bricks 'n mortar stores) niche perfume stores, including Les Senteurs, Luckyscent and First-in-fragrance.
- I've developed a great friendship with a lady called Melanie, from Hoopers Department Store in Tunbridge Wells. She's a great girl and has supplied me with so many samples. I was happy that in the last couple of months I've managed to return the favour and make a couple of full bottle purchases from her. I know the cynical among us would say a sales assistant is a sales assistant, but she and a number of others I know are very nice people and not always purely after the sale. You've just got to strike up the right friendships and try and share knowledge!
As for some perfume discoveries I've made and loved:
- By Kilian Back to Black and Pure Oud
- Le Labo Patchouli 24 and to a lesser extent Oud 27
- Mazzolari Lui - a beast of a patchouli fragrance but amazing
- Amouage Tribute Attar - smoky, pungent, rosy, woody, mysterious
- The Different Company Sel de Vetiver - words can't describe it, but I love it
- Andy Tauer Orange Star - uplifting, joyous, warm incensey orange. Whole is greater than sum of its parts
- Parfumerie Generale L'eau Guerriere
What about my stalwarts?
- Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens - my favourite from Uncle Serge, bar none
- Borneo 1834 - another Serge favourite
- Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire and Une Rose
- Chanel Antaeus
- Christian Dior Homme
- Guerlain L'instant
Biggest disappointments of the year:
- Niche - Guerlain L'art et la Matiere and Chanel Les Exclusives. Ok, to be honest I didn't mind the Chanels, but they didn't blow me away. I preferred them to the Guerlains. Another big disappointment (my ears are burning, I know!) was Spiriteuse Double Vanille. It just dies on my skin - must be a chemistry thing no?
- Mainstream - pretty much everything I'm afraid. Particularly disappointing was Creed's Aventus. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I find them a very over-rated house, particularly the Millesime line.
- Like others have mentioned, Ambroxan is getting on my nerves a little bit
Biggest surprise of the year:
- like a few others have mentioned, Thierry Mugler's Womanity is a massive kick-up-the-arse to the rest of the mainstream perfume industry. It is very different and while not personally something I would wear very often, it is very refreshing to encounter this in a jaded industry
What I want more of in 2011:
- I really want to discover more about the "Indie perfumers" that are exciting me. I won't name them here, but most of you know who they are. Particularly exciting is their willingness to show the bird to the bureaucrats at IFRA and other organisations that are slowly sapping the vitality out of the industry. A question to those of you who live in north America - why are so many artisan perfumers thriving on your side of the pond? I love it, but I can't help but wonder why it isn't happening as much in Europe and Britain. I mean, it may be, but I haven't seen much evidence of it, save for someone like Andy Tauer.
- I am curious to start playing around with perfume making myself. I know it's an expensive and time-consuming pastime, and I'm not sure I will do it, but the interest is there.
And so folks, finally, all I want to say is happy new year to all of you who might be reading this. My most sincere wish for all of us, naive as it may be, is to discover true joy and peace in 2011, whatever that might mean for each of us. I look forward to taking the next step on the perfume journey with all of you over the next few months!