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 Parfum d’Empire Mal-Aime- Beauty in the Rough

Weeds get a bad rap. As I watch one commercial after another offer me ways to kill them. I know they can be seen as an eyesore on the perfectly manicured greensward. Here at Colognoisseur HQ we have a more unruly version. One where the weeds pick their spots. Don’t tell Mrs. C but I kind of enjoy the isolated patches of discord. It is also one of those spring scents which herald the change from winter. The early days of the season are incessantly green. At this point in the year the natural scent is a sharp vegetal green out there in the world. I have enjoyed the occasional perfume which also attempts to capture this. Parfum d’Empire Mal-Aime might be the best version yet.

Perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato has a reputation for translating his Corsican home into perfume. He has never shied away from using the rougher edged elements of his island. For Mal-Aime he obtained an extraction of the weedy yellow flowers of inula from the family Acquarone. M. Corticchiato had been a lifelong friend to the recently deceased father. The sons took up the challenge of delivering an inula essential oil to him.

Marc-Antoine Corticchiato

When I looked up inula I found that it is used in aromatherapy. I found a fascinating recipe where it is part of an anti-anxiolytic cocktail of inula, frankincense, vetiver, chamomille, and ylang-ylang. It is also used to clear the sinuses and lungs. If I’ve understood Mal-Aime inula has a severe green quality. It is a contrast to the fresh-cut grass of oximes. This ingredient is laden with terpenes which give it a more bitter profile. It is the co-star of Mal-Aime along with one of the most precious materials in perfumery, orris.

Mal-Aime is like the person from the wrong side of the tracks attracted to the prettiest person at the party. In the early moments M. Corticchiato rides in on a wave of elbows courtesy of inula, nettle, thistle, and bramble. This is as prickly an accord as you might imagine. What is amazing about it is that he manages to turn it into a pleasant scratchiness instead of an unyielding sandpaper. This crackles across my skin. It is also why I am careful in attributing everything to the inula because these other ingredients also have their quirks. Then rising out of this thicket comes the beauty of orris. It is like a floral sunrise as it adds a delicate powderiness with a sturdier slightly sweet rootiness. I write a lot about the versatility of orris. This is one of those occasions where every bit of it comes into play. It creates a contrast at the core around which the weeds can orbit.

Mal-Aime has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is an amazing perfume. It feels like the evolution from an earlier fragrance, Corsica Furiosa. This time every rough edge is allowed to shine in the glow of floral beauty. I don’t expect to smell anything like it the rest of the year.

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

Mark Behnke