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 Review Maison Crivelli Lys Solaberg- Late Night Lily in the Arctic

Good creative directors are rare. Great creative directors are even more precious. I think they are a critical piece of perfume making. Which is why I tend to get excited when I see a new great one emerging. Thibaud Crivelli is one I am beginning to believe in. His latest, Maison Crivelli Lys Solaberg brings things full circle for me.

Thibaud Crivelli

I tried the brand for the first time in 2019 but it had been around for a year before it got to me. When I was waiting for the sample set to arrive, I read about M. Crivelli’s desire to create texture and keynote. Almost every time this is a lot of PR double speak. Doesn’t mean the perfume will not be good but textural aesthetics are not easy. Coming from someone who was a neophyte at this I was not ready for what I would experience. The first five perfumes I received were exactly what he claimed them to be. My favorite was Absinthe Boreale for its absinthe on crystalline snow under the Aurora Borealis. The perfumer on that was Nathalie Feisthauer. Lys Solaberg takes the brand, and Mme Feisthauer back to the Arctic but this time in the summer. In the days of 20-hour sunlight nature runs riot over this time. For this perfume, a lily grows in the Arctic.

Nathalie Feisthauer

It begins with the crisp fruitiness of quince. This is a multi-faceted note which seemingly transforms minute-to-minute. From citrusy, to like a pear, to a crisp apple; back and forth. To try and fix it in place Mme Feisthauer drops it in a cognac accord. As the sharp boozy quality interacts it kind of holds the quince in place somewhere between apple and pear. It is as if the minute hand is held in place while the hour hand continues to move.

The lily appears next. It arrives as a flower found in a wetland. Calamus provides that sense of wet earth underneath the freshness of the lily. This is like squelching through the damp ground in a field of them. To continue the theme a carroty orris adds a bit of vegetal sweetness while the rhizome adds even more earth to it.

The smell of woodsmoke on the air swirls across the flower. The smoke comes from charred oak shaving absolute, mate, and tobacco. This is that textural piece M. Crivelli has become so adept at realizing. This acts as tendrils of smoke swirling in and around the lily. It adds a Great White North ruggedness to the usually polite floral. A bit of velvety oakmoss softens it just a bit. This all ends on an Ambroxan base accord. Mme Feisthauer keeps it from going monolithic while allowing the dry woodiness a place in the composition.

Lys Solaberg has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

My first experience with M. Crivelli’s vision was an Arctic nighttime. Lys Solaberg flips that. It is no less compelling to be spending summer among the lilies in the Arctic.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke