SMELLYTHOUGHTS: Best Fragrances of 2013


2013 brought us Perfumistas some outstanding releases. I didn’t want to categorize any of these so I’m putting out this end of year post, as simply as possible: The Seven Best Releases of 2013…
A weird number, not particularly catchy, but these were the standouts. Of course, I haven’t tried everything that has been released, but I generally try what targets my taste. All these fragrances were released in 2013, and are not necessarily what I’ve worn the most for example, but if you wanted to some up the year in perfume, these would be the seven.
In no particular order… (Ok, maybe slightly in a particular order)…

Mito Extrait Vero

Mito Extrait de Parfum by Vero Profumo

So I cannot find a picture of the Extrait de Parfum bottle anywhere, so this Voile D’Extrait will have to suffice! Whilst the composition is the same in both bottles, the concentration of the parfum just wins me over with it’s dense, plush texture.
Vero Kern has created a perfume of immense beauty, and whilst it took me a while to fully “get” the Mito EDP which was released first, the Extrait simply blew me away.
It is a lush combination of bracing citrus accords and bitter greens, with a bunch of white florals laid over it. Lemongrass, cypress, galbanum all lead up top, giving in to a heart of magnolia, champaca and a bitter vegetal tuberose which ties the florals in to the bitter greenery both up top, and the mossy greenery in the base. There’s a hint of peach throughout, and a drop of civet in the base – a reinvented chypre that smells modern yet timeless, referencing great classics of the past with huge admiration. Green florals have been totally to my taste recently, and having tried so many, I can’t see anything surpassing this extraordinary fragrance.

Ingrid Tableau de Parfums

Ingrid by Tableau De Parfums

The final fragrance in the Tableau de Parfums trio was a truly gorgeous release. A frangipani oriental, using the leading floral as it’s never been smelt before… out of a tropical setting, and thrown into a spice basket of dried roses, cloves, cinnamon and woods. It’s an absolutely huge fragrance, overwhelming and extravagant… yet its final hours on the skin are languid and plush; it’s feminine without being sweet or candied. Ingrid is a bold, confident fragrance that is hugely original and truly one of a kind. A fantastic finale for the line by Tauer. His work for Tableau de Parfums has been his most mature and experimental yet.


Zelda by Envoyage Perfumes

Zelda is just an all-round beautiful fragrance. It’s a unique, complicated magnolia oriental – in a similar vein as Ingrid without the hefty dose of cloves. It’s an old-school glamorous floral oriental, concentrating on the more creamy, waxy aspects of magnolia, partnered with subtle greens, hints of booze and old wood, rich in civet soaked woods and tobacco. Zelda is an extremely modern take on a classic structure and whilst complicated, it’s executed perfectly. Shelley Waddington is an extremely talented artisinal perfumer and Zelda is proof of this… it’s truly gorgeous.

Eva Kant O'Driu

Eva Kant by O’Driu

Perfumer Angelo Pregoni has done something with Eva Kant that I just can’t work out – he’s created an extremely beautiful, slightly aquatic floral that has a texture and translucency I didn’t think possible with such a high dose of natural materials. Eva Kant is a slightly spicy floral of rose and ylang, that starts extremely bitter and herbal, with lavender, grapefruit and rosemary. It’s bold, without being overly dramatic, with a fascinating combination of textures and contrasting notes. It’s a hugely intelligent piece of work from the O’Driu brand and undoubtedly his best work to date. Whilst I struggle to wrap my head around it at times, Eva Kant is something I absolutely adore to wear and have certainly never tried anything like it.

Cuir de Gardenia

Cuir de Gardenia – Aftelier Perfumes

Cuir de Gardenia filled a space in perfume land that was desperate to be filled… there has always been a gap for a good gardenia fragrance. I’d say this space has previously been occupied by Jardenia by JAR, and nothing else. Whilst Jardenia is still an extraordinary gardenia, it always felt more a brilliant accord than a fragrance to me. Whilst Cuir de Gardenia is simplistic, it’s a complete fragrance… with an outstanding gardenia accord. In the opening there’s subtle honeyed fruits, pear, a gorgeous gardenia – however devoid of the mushroom earthiness that dominated Jardenia, and jasmine. The jasmine is equally as dominant on my skin, and it leads into a smoky castoreum base that on me, goes through stages of smelling like leather, then smoky bacon. It’s a wonderful, comforting fragrance by the mother of natural perfumery Mandy Aftel – a perfumer who knows her ingredients inside-out. A clever piece of work, executed breathtakingly.

Bogue Profumo Cologne Reloaded

Cologne Reloaded by Bogue Profumo

Excuse the terrible photo, again, I couldn’t find one of the bottle so just took a quick snap of mine :)
Cologne Reloaded was composed almost entirely of vintage materials the perfumer apparently found, or was gifted by someone. The result is exactly as expected, an ancient smelling cologne. Of course citrus oils would have long since gone bad, so there are practically no citrus notes here. Instead, it’s a lavender smoke-bomb of a fragrance. Tons of birch tar, aromatic herbs, astringent, medicinal, bracing, very smoky… It’s one hell of a creation, that dries down to a rather dandified baby powder finale. Hard to wear, but every time I do I love it so much. A brave, and a very interesting release from a very new niche house – this perfumer Antonio Gardoni is one to keep an eye out for. His fragrance Eau D’E for Bogue is also really beautiful!

Santal Exotique

Santal Exotique by The Exotic Island Perfumer

This fragrance is an absolute must try for any sandalwood lovers, any lovers of spicy, Christmas-y gourmands… cinnamon, hot milk, cocoa, sandalwood galore, wood galore in general… It’s a mature gourmand, not at all foody, even more opulent than any of Serge Lutens’ sandalwood interpretations! This puts so many poor sandalwood attempts to shame… and in fact, Juan Perez’s whole line The Exotic Island Perfumer is outstanding. Santal Exotique I didn’t expect to love as much as I did, yet I find myself wearing it most evenings… absolutely comforting, beautifully balanced, totally wearable, and very alluring. A warm, spicy comfort and a reference sandalwood fragrance.

There you go guys! Hope you enjoyed my favourites of 2013… I cannot recommend you sampling these enough!!!!

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16 thoughts on “SMELLYTHOUGHTS: Best Fragrances of 2013

  1. laniersmith says:

    Well there goes my Christmas. Money on your great.picks!

  2. I have only smelled ONE of these! Shame on me to call myself a perfume writer. Can you enlighten me when we meet up in March?

  3. Jordan River says:

    Her name was Zelda, she was a showgirl… Great list with many I have not tired and some I love and adore too like the tropical holiday that is Cuir de Gardenia. It has taken me several happy days to work through theses lists. All very interesting. A great year for ‘fumes I think. Looking forward to more Smelly Thoughts in 2014. What will that year bring to our various doorsteps?

  4. Great list, Freddie! You have made me desperate to try Zelda!

    Happy new year to you :-)

  5. Cindy Cain says:

    WOW-how come things you’ve been pining for magically appear when you’re doing something else? I won’t bore w/the details just please tell me how or where I can sample or purchase these gems? Happiest of New Years.

  6. Dearest Smelly
    A truly and exquisitely esoteric list… how wonderfully you!
    My ever wish for a fabulous 2014.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  7. flittersniffer says:

    I think we all have a different slant on 2013 depending on what we have all tried, but am with you on Zelda as you know, also Mito. Haven’t tried the extrait, though. And the opening is a wee bit fierce for me – love where it goes, mind, being a sucker for magnolia generally.

    Cuir de Gardenia seems to be getting a lot of love in the ‘Best of’ lists, though I have yet to catch up with it.

    • You’ll adore the extrait – the opening is still fierce, but not as herbal, or citrus-y, more floral and green it’s gorgeous.
      Cuir de Gardenia is not something I’d wear a lot (unless it was in a spray bottle…) – but it’s a standout composition and it was needed amongst the poor gardenias out there! :D x

  8. Cymbaline says:

    Hi Freddie!
    On the strength of your recommendation alone, I bought a travel size bottle of Santal Exotique from Juan Perez. Now, it wasn’t totally a blind-buy, as I’ve got small amounts of 3 other Perez perfumes, and think they’re great! Anyway, Santal Exotique is fantastic; it’s versatile and easy to wear and not like any other ‘sandalwood’ perfume I’ve tried.
    Thank you so much for turning me on to this lovely scent. :)

    • Awesome Cymbaline so glad you tried and really like Santal Exotique! You’re totally right, it’s so versatile and easy to wear, great in the winter, but also flourishes in the summer. It feels to me like the sandalwood Serge Lutens has been TRYING to make :P Don’t get me wrong I love his interpretations… this however, it’s like Juan just got it right first time :P
      Glad you’re enjoying it and thanks for letting me know! I love it when people get back in touch to let me know their thoughts on things they’ve tried.

      • Cymbaline says:

        Agree with your ‘Serge’ point, and I wish more perfume reviewers would talk about Juan’s creations; they’re all excellent. He is also so helpful and charming whenever we communicate!
        Wearing his beautiful Flor Azteca today.
        Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. :)

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