Colognoisseur Best of 2021 Part 3: The Top 35 New Perfumes of the Year


To begin with the context of the list, I tried 621 new perfumes since January 1, 2021. That is about a third of all new perfume released during the same time frame. The list below is the best 5.6% of those I got to try. As you see in the title it has expanded a bit from the usual Top 25. I found that when I looked back, I had a tight list of 35 I was pleased with. I decided to make them all worthy of the main list with no Honorable Mentions this time around.

The Top 10 (Perfume of the Year candidates)

10, Diptyque Kyoto– The best of the four perfumes in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the brand. The magic of beetroot, and perfumer Alexandra Carlin turns this into a stunning fragrance.

9. Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Synthetic Jungle– Perfumer Anne Flipo turned in a sappy green thicket of a perfume.

8. Zoologist Chipmunk– Creative Director Victor Wong and perfumer Pia Long create a modern interpretation of those classic woody masculine perfumes of decades ago.

7. Azman Two Minutes After the Kiss– You might think there is nothing new in an oud-rose perfume. Perfumer Cristiano Canali will make you think again.

6. Masque Milano Lost Alice– Creative Directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi team-up with perfumer Mackenzie Reilly for a gourmand inspired by Alice’s Tea Party.

5, Francesca Bianchi Luxe Calme VolupteFrancesca Bianchi lives on the edge in her perfume making. This time it is the edge of sensual passion in this year’s sexiest fragrance.

4, Puredistance No. 12– Creative director Jan Ewoud Vos told me to give perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer’s perfume time to mature. When it did a magnificent powdery chypre was there to enjoy.

3. Rubini NuvolariAndrea Rubini and his creative team including perfumer Cristiano Canali take you for a drive on an F1 track all the way through the checkered flag.

2. Amouage Material– Creative director Renaud Salmon and perfumer Cecile Zarokian turn in the most audacious gourmand of the year using the tritest of ingredients, vanilla. By turning it inside out and back again they define something entirely new.

1. Amouage Silver Oud– All the reasons are in yesterday’s Perfume of the Year post. The short version: M. Salmon and Mme Zarokian made me care about oud again.

The Rest of the Top 35 in Alphabetical Order

Aesop Eremia– The apocalypse has never seemed so appealing.

Aftelier Perfumes Joie de VertMandy Aftel uses a vintage anise hyssop in a hymn to green.

Anatole Lebreton Racine Carre– This perfume is the answer to, “What is the square root of licorice?”

April Aromatics Wild Summer Crush– The exuberance of the summer and the possibilities of love explode on my skin with joy.

Chanel Paris-EdimbourgOlivier Polge is creating his own niche at Chanel with the Les Eaux. This is the best of them, so far.

Chris Collins African Rooibos– The best tea-inspired perfume of 2021.

Comme des Garcons Ganja– Everything Comme des Garcons has done well for thirty years, and counting is right here.

Diptyque Venise– This reminds you that Venice is not just water and canals. It is also the gardens on the islands.

DS & Durga St. Vetyver– I hear Jimmy Buffet in my head every time I wear this.

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris– Sometimes things are simple. Geza Schoen adds iris to Iso E Super. It is as good as it gets.

Freddie Albrighton Mabel’s Tooth– The most fun I had with a perfume all year from a new independent perfumer.

Hedonik Divine PerversionFrancesca Bianchi’s leather line has a perfume to match.

La Curie GeistLesli Wood finds the wood smoke hanging in the pine trees.

Laboratorio Olfattivo Vanagloria– This is a version of a vanilla throw blanket from Dominique Ropion.

Maison Crivelli Lys SolabergNathalie Feisthauer takes you to summer in the Great White North as the lilies bloom.

Maison Crivelli Hibiscus Mahajad– Perfumer Quentin Bisch creates a red-colored gemstone floral.

Milano Fragranze Diurno– The best of the new line by creative director Alessandro Brun. Perfumer Julie Masse uses a brilliant Amaretto accord to call up the echoes of the Lost Generation.

Naomi Goodsir Corpus Equus– Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour forms a horsehair leather fragrance.

Parfum d’Empire Mal-AimeMarc-Antoine Corticchiato can make perfume from anything, including weeds.

Phoenecia Perfume Oud Elegance Rose and Oud Elegance Incense– Perfumer David Falsberg gave two visions of no BS oud. Both are enhanced by the ingenious use of a hyraceum tinctured alcohol.

Sarah Baker Loudo– This combination of a cherry cordial and oud was as compelling as it got.

Scents of Wood Plum in Cognac– This was the perfume which made Fabrice Croise’s concept come to gourmand life under perfumer Pascal Gaurin.

Shalini Fleur JaponaisShalini and perfumer Maurice Roucel make a delicate artistic perfume.

Tom Ford Private Blend Ebene Fume Rodrigo Flores-Roux wakes up the echoes of the early days of the brand.

Zoologist Snowy Owl– At the end of last year I eagerly awaited this collaboration between Victor Wong and perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Snowy Owl was even better than I could have imagined.

That’s a wrap for 2021. I’m looking forward to what 2022 has in store.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Brands Chris Collins African Rooibos- You’ve Reached Your Destination

The worst part of any long road trip is listening to the GPS tell you that you are almost there. You’ve done all the driving and you are close to being where you want to be. Then you hear that neutral voice tell you 45 minutes until your destination. New perfume brands also must travel a similar path. As a reviewer I have a good feeling about the early work of some new brands. I like what they seem to stand for while feeling they aren’t quite there. The owners don’t hear my voice but I’m thinking you’re one perfume away. Chris Collins African Rooibos has reached its destination.

Chris Collins

Chris Collins will be known to many of you as one of the models who became a face for Ralph Lauren fashion. Mr. Collins would pick up a knowledge of how to market luxury through his association. He also was interested in fragrance. One trip to Paris he decided to go visit Grasse and see what he could learn. The result of that was his first collection of three perfumes in 2018 dubbed the Harlem Renaissance Collection. All three were good. They also showed an aesthetic of opulent luxury. After trying that initial sample set, I thought this was a fragrance line to pay attention to. He would return a year later with a four-perfume collection called Dark Romance. These were all at extrait strength and that didn’t do them any favors. They didn’t shimmer on the skin they kind of diffused into a pleasant-smelling close wearing perfume. The dedication to high quality was still evident it just needed to be dialed back some. When I received my sample of African Rooibos, I knew form the first sniff this was the culmination of the last three years of learning.

Sidonie Lancesseur

Mr. Collins has worked with some of the best perfumers, for this he collaborates with Sidonie Lancesseur. Together they create a perfume which evokes the Fynbos region of South Africa where rooibos is grown for use in herbal teas. The name translates to “fine bush” and the plant from which the tea leaves are harvested is part of the broom family. What they create is a fragrance of the bush country of South Africa.

It begins with a cool citrusy breeze of cardamom winding its way through the landscape. It picks up the dry ground though the kick of black pepper. As the breeze curls around a rooibos bush it also finds some orris there. The rooibos has a slightly smoky toasty scent profile. The orris first adds a sprinkle of powder before the carrot-like quality finds a vegetal sweetness to the rooibos leaves. Immortelle comes next in all its rugged floral maple syrupy presence. It meshes with the heart accord beautifully creating something even more engaging. Tonka bean amplifies the smokiness in a gentle way through the coumarin inherent within. Clean slightly green cedar provides a frame for it all.

African Rooibos has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This was the perfume I expected Mr. Collins was eventually going to make. It pulls together all that he wants his eponymous brand to stand for. African Rooibos has completed that trip.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Bergdorf Goodman.

Mark Behnke