This year I tried 701 new perfumes. To keep that in perspective, it is about 30% of all new perfume released in 2018. The Top 25 below represents the best 3.6% of what I encountered this year
The Top 5 (Perfume of the Year Candidates)
5. Cartier Carat– The best mainstream release of 2018 it is a celebration of the skill of Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent. It is simply described as a transparent formula. What Mme Laurent put in the bottle was a faceted floral jewel which changed as you looked at each facet. A kaleidoscopic perfume that helped me embrace the potential of the transparent trend which is here to stay in perfume.
4. Providence Perfume Co. Vientiane– Independent perfumer Charna Ethier fused a jasmine rice tincture to a tower of sandalwood. It resulted in a perfume which gave me new insight into one of the most venerable notes in perfumery. It also is a testament to Ms. Ethier’s skill to shine a light into those spaces.
3. April Aromatics Irisistible– This is the culmination of all of the efforts perfumer Tanja Bochnig has produced over the years for her April Aromatics brand. Each release over the last couple of years has been better than the last. Irisistible will be a perfume Fr. Bochnig will find difficult to top. A floral rainbow with a rooty iris as the most brilliant band of color.
2. Neela Vermeire Creations Niral– Neela Vermeire has successfully found the perfume place where her Indian and French sensibilities overlap. It has produced one of the best independent perfume collections on the market. Mme Vermeire has worked exclusively with perfumer Bertrnad Duchaufour. For Niral they undertook the concept of capturing Tussar silk as a perfume. It is something I think could only have been made by a creative director and perfumer who have been working together for years. Niral flows in shimmering silken waves of iris that slither through the air opulently.
1. Arquiste Esencia de El Palacio Guayabos– There is a much longer explanation in Part 2 of the Best of 2018 posts. For this list I’ll keep it short; the best Arquiste along with the best perfume by Rodrigo Flores-Roux.
The Rest of the Top 25 in Alphabetical Order
4160 Tuesdays Freeway– Sarah McCartney had an incredibly creative 2018. Her evocation of LA was the best one.
A Lab on Fire And The World Is Yours– This combination of neroli and cumin captures the morning after when the rising sun signals the end of the party.
Aftelier Alchemy– Mandy Aftel looked back to her beginning which allowed Alchemy to confirm her vision has never strayed.
aromaM Geisha Botan– Maria McElroy composed a spring floral featuring peony; I wish more did it like this.
Avon Velvet– Best Bang for the Buck perfume on the list. Perfumer Gabriela Chelariu proves it’s the perfumer and not the ingredients in a lush fig-rose-patchouli perfume that smells like it belongs on the top shelf.
Blackbird Y06-S– Nicole Miller produced an envelope-pushing skanky jasmine and banana fragrance which I can’t forget.
Commodity Nectar– This brand has become the most reliable economical brand by allowing perfumers the freedom to create as they wish. Mathieu Nardin used that to create a summery neroli
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for American Perfumer Colorado– Dave Kern commissioned two limited editions for his new American Perfumer store. This one by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz captures the slope of the Rockies right outside Ms. Hurwitz’s door.
DSH Perfumes Summer Cologne– Ms. Hurwitz was also equally creative for her own line as this tomato leaf twist on the classic eau de cologne was the best version of this form in 2018.
Frassai A Fuego Lento– This brand creatively directed by Natalia Outeda debuted in 2018. A Fuego Lento by Rodrigo Flores-Roux is a jasmine-leather stunner.
Hermes Hermessence Cardamusc– In-house perfumer Christine Nagel makes the Hermessence collection her own with an oil formulation of cardamom, in overdose, and musks.
Hiram Green Hyde– Hiram Green puts together a birch tar all-natural leather perfume that grabs you and does not let go.
Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac & Marigold– Creative director Celine Roux has overseen a creative rebirth at Jo Malone. Jasmine Sambac & Marigold, by perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui, is the best example of that in 2018.
Jovoy Remember Me– If you need evidence that gourmand perfumes can be amazing this is it. Perfumer Cecile Zarokian melds delicate florals over strong black tea.
L’Iris de Fath– Creative director Rania Naim believed she could re-formulate Iris Gris. The proof of that belief is in the bottle.
Maison Rebatchi Joyeux Osmanthe– Mohamed Rebatchi is the creative director of a new brand making a splash. Working with perfumer Maurice Roucel osmanthus stands up to tuberose; gorgeously.
Maria McElroy for American Perfumer Desert Flower– The second limited edition from Dave Kern and the American Perfumer store. Maria McElroy weaves a story of youth and adulthood on the edge of the desert. All using rare Arabian oils.
Pekji Zeybek– The best new brand of 2018 goes to Pekji from Omer Ipecki. A strong debut collection of five perfumes is headed by this abstract perfume vision of the horse barn.
strangeloveNYC lostinflowers– Creative director Elizabeth Gaynes came home from a trip to India with a champaca extract called “joy oil”. When she asked perfumer Christophe Laudamiel to use it in a perfume it gave me a lot of joy.
Zoologist Tyrannosaurus Rex– There is a part of me that thinks creative director Victor Wong and perfumer Antonio Gardoni came up with the idea of a prehistoric jungle on fire as a joke. The perfume is no joke. It is a completely original perfume.
An extra 3.5%; or the 23 perfumes which just missed being on the list above
A Lab on Fire Hallucinogenic Pearl– the De Laire bases return in a violet and iris perfume.
Acqua di Parma Chinotto di Liguria– Another classic Mediterranean style cologne
Aether Arts Perfume The AI Series– A set of fiercely intelligent perfumes which invaded my thoughts
Blocki Sanrovia– Sandalwood from a heritage brand with an eye on the future.
Britney Spears Prerogative– Best celebrity perfume of 2018
Bruno Fazzolari Fontevraud– A deconstructed chypre that actually was
Chanel 1957– A gleaming glass and metal tower of white musks
Diptyque Tempo– Thoroughly modern patchouli
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Music For A While– Who knew I wanted lavender to go with pineapple.
Fath’s Essentials Red Shoes– One of perfumer Cecile Zarokian’s best.
Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori– Best flanker of 2018
Heeley Blanc Poudre– The smell of laundered warm cotton
Imaginary Authors Whispered Myths– Josh Meyer tries something different.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Mont de Narcisse– A leather, narcissus, and immortelle beauty.
Louis Vuitton Nouveau Monde– The leather I wanted from LV.
Masque Milano (homage to) Hemingway– A full-spectrum vetiver
McQueen Collection Sacred Osmanthus– Transparent osmanthus soliflore
Terre d’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver– Christine Nagel brings the vetiver forward
Molton Brown Muddled Plum– Boozy fruity gourmand
Nest Cocoa Woods– A perfume that lives up to both nouns in its name.
Providence Perfume Co. Lemon Liada– A citrus perfume where lemon is front and center with no lemon being used.
Tom Ford Private Blend Lost Cherry– First Private Blend which felt like the early days of the brand.
Zoologist Hyrax– Funkiest, in a good way, perfume of 2018.
That’s it for 2018.
Part 2 Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year