fragrance

The Best Fragrances of 2017

Say what you will about 2017—it was a fantastic year for fragrance!

I can't remember a year in recent memory where the niche releases were so consistently strong and original. Some fragrances were included on this list because they push boundaries and explore uncharted terrain while others were included because they add something new and interesting to an established style. However, they all have one thing in common: they are unequivocally great fragrances that we haven't been able to get enough of.

Now, without further ado, our picks for the Best Fragrances of 2017.

Attar AT by Tauer

Andy Tauer's Attar is dark, rich and mysterious. Inspired by the centuries-old tradition of perfume making in the Middle East and Far East, Attar AT blends notes of leather, birch tar and cistus labdanum with sweet jasmine, animalic castoreum and rich sandalwood and vetiver. This fragrance is presented as a fragrance oil, with no alcohol or carrier oil added—one single drop is enough to last all through the day.

Dryad by Papillon

In 2015, Liz Moores released Salome to near-universal acclaim so expectations were understandably high for her next release. Thankfully, Dryad does not disappoint. This deep green chypre is built around a core of oakmoss and narcissus. Dryad epitomizes the rich, multi-layered style that Papillon has become famous for and proves that it is still possible to make sprawling classical compositions in this modern era.

Mx. by Eris Parfums

The latest fragrance to emerge from the artistic collaboration between perfumer Antoine Lie and blogger and author Barbara Herman, Mx. is a particularly timely release, inspired by gender fluidity and putting into words the shift that has been taking place over the past two decades as the masculine/feminine divide slowly disappears. In keeping with its theme, Mx. is a rich woody composition with notes of sandalwood, saffron, cedar, patchouli and benzoin—taking full advantage of the warm, woody aromas that don't scream masculine or feminine.

Nuit de Bakélite by Naomi Goodsir

Anticipation for this fragrance has been steadily growing since it was first announced several years ago. Nuit de Bakélite, composed by Isabelle Doyen is an absolute triumph—a tuberose unlike anything you have ever smelled. It is at once earthy, green, peppery, leathery and camphoraceous—more often than not, it tends more toward the inky green woods of Robert Piguet's Bandit than any tuberose fragrance in recent memory. Nuit de Bakélite is easily one of the best releases of the year and a must-try for any perfume lover.

O, Unknown! by Imaginary Authors

O, Unknown!, the newest addition to the Imaginary Authors line is an absolutely stunning, delicate composition built around black tea, Lapsang Souchong and orris. The fragrance shifts and oscillates as it moves through its various stages, from the dry parched aroma of an old library to smoky woods. A warm and comforting fragrance perfect for the holiday season.

Ummagumma by Bruno Fazzolari

Bruno Fazzolari keeps raising the bar with each release. This year's Ummagumma finds the San Francisco-based perfumer retreading some of the territory first explored with Cadavre Exquis; however, this time around he ditches the candy sweet accord for something darker and more satisfying—bitter chocolate. While there are gourmand notes present here, this is by no means a typical gourmand. The fragrance quickly shifts gears after a chocolatey opening and dives headlong into tobacco and burnished woods.

Perfume & Poetry

SMELL IS A POTENT WIZARD THAT TRANSPORTS YOU ACROSS A THOUSAND MILES AND ALL THE YEARS YOU HAVE LIVED.

– HELEN KELLER

 

IT IS THE GOLDEN MAXIM TO CULTIVATE THE GARDEN FOR THE NOSE, AND THE EYES WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.

– ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

My wife Wendy Bourgeois got me into perfume. She has built her obsession for years now, while I am a total novice. It wasn’t precisely that I wanted to catch up with her nose, but I have my own obsessive ways of apprehending a thing. I began to think about perfume as a problem to solve, and it was out of this need to solve a problem that I came upon the idea to this project.

Patrick S. Rogers

Patrick S. Rogers

Wendy Bourgeois

Wendy Bourgeois

Wendy Noonan

Wendy Noonan

Sara Kolp

Sara Kolp

I had just applied and been accepted to PSU for an MFA in poetry, but at the last minute I found I was two credits shy of completing my undergraduate degree. I had to scramble to find a suitable course of study I could complete by the end of summer. I had been tinkering around and talking with Wendy about the idea of putting together perfume related description writing workshop. She suggested I use that idea as my class. 

I’m pretty heady when it comes to my obsessions and as a result of that headiness I have the tendency to make things more difficult than sometimes necessary. While constructing the class, I thought one way to think about perfume would be to think of each one like a text, or like a novel. I thought what if each perfume acted as a novel for the nose. With this in mind I wanted to bring the perfume to the writers stripped of context. I was interested in how one perceives the very thingness of scent. As a reader of perfume and then to write about them, I didn’t want to be influenced by the maker’s name, or the name of the perfume; I only wanted to read the smell. 

It was then Wendy and I contacted Tracy and André at Fumerie Parfumerie. They were gracious enough to curate the experience. For five weeks straight, Wendy and I devised a different writing exercise each week and each week André put together a package of unmarked samples for us to smell. After the first week, this exchange became like a conversation. We, the readers groped around in the dark trying to find new ways to access meaning, while André and Tracy were our light bringers showing us the way. Each week we came back with more questions, and each week they responded with their own questions: “What about this?”,  “How about these three?” or “What if you thought about this variation on a theme?”.

The work we writers performed is varied and expansive: ruminations on specific memories, philosophical questions of just how memory works, magical realist travel to places in the imagination, animals, plants, sex, love, revulsion—everything from the sacred to the profane. 

Profumum Roma Trunk Show Photos

The evening of October 26 was a celebration of the elegant creations of Italian niche perfume house Profumum Roma featuring special guests Luciano Durante and Fabrizio Cipriani. Durante is one of the founders of the perfume house and Cipriani is a longtime friend of the Durante family and currently serves as the North American brand manager for Profumum Roma.

Over the course of the two-hour long event, Durante and Cipriani discussed the origins of the house, the inspiration behind many of Profumum Roma's creations and what drives the Durante family to create new fragrances. Durante and Cipriani then fielded questions from audience members with Cipriani listening intently and acting as Durante's interpreter.

Audience members were then invited to sample the collection of over two dozen fragrances, all of which were laid out on the counter. Check out some of the photos from the event below. We would like to thank everyone who attended the event and a offer a very special thanks to Luciano Durante for flying all the way from Italy and to Fabrizio Cipriani for participating in and helping to plan this wonderful night!

Apologies for the low quality of some of the images—circumstances forced us to use an iPhone camera to photograph the event so they aren't as sharp as usual.

July 2016 Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Mark E, the winner of our July 2016 Giveaway! You are the winner of a full bottle of Jovoy's Rouge Assassin; we will be contacting you shortly. As we mentioned at the beginning of the month, this was our final giveaway for the time being. We are so happy to have been able to extend our opening celebrations well into summer and to keep these giveaways going for so long. Thank you to everyone who participated—we are so grateful for your enthusiastic support. We look forward to seeing everyone at Fumerie in the near future!

Fragrance Swap Recap

Fumerie Parfumerie hosted its first Fragrance Swap on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. The turnout was amazing and we had over one hundred fragrances available for swap. Everyone had a great time and walked away with something new. Check out these photos of the event snapped by Kat Butler and feel free to comment below.

Burak & André

Briana & Nicole

Jon

Burak & Andrea (Front), Joseph (Back)

Tracy & André

Tracy & Nicole (Front), Briana, Burak, Brett, Nancy (Back)

Nancy & Sam (Front), Rachel (Back)

André & Tracy

The bar was filled to the brim

Ann & Andrea

Andrea & Nicole

E & Sam

Tracy & Nicole

Andrea, CC, Nancy & Briana (Front), André & Tracy (Back)

Briana, Joseph & Stephen

Rachel & Nacy (Front), Sam & Ann (Middle), Nicole, Briana, Stephen (Back)

Rachel, Nicole, Tracy & André (L-R)

Burak, Stephen & Jon

Exploring Iris Fragrances

The iris flower in all its purple and white glory.

Orris root drying in the hot Tuscan sun.
Image via alcademics.com

A handful of the fragrances mentioned in this post on the counter at our boutique on SE Division Street in Portland.

From time to time we are going to be exploring a different raw material and the fragrances that feature said material. This will hopefully be an ongoing series and, as we grow, we will delve ever-deeper into the void. We begin this series today with one of my personal favorite raw materials, iris. So as you know, the iris is a flower. The varieties used in fragrance are Iris germanica and Iris pallida. One of the things that makes iris such an interesting material is the fact that perfumers aren’t interested in the flower of the iris but the rhizome. The iris bulbs (known as orris root or simply orris) are harvested, cut, cleaned, dried and aged for a period of three to five years. Only after aging does the material reveal its beautiful aroma. Steam distillation of the dried rhizomes produces a thick, oily material known as orris butter.

The laborious nature of the harvest and production of orris butter helps to explain the material’s high price (orris butter from Florence goes for over $30,000 per kilogram) but its intoxicating aroma has made it a staple in fine fragrance for over a century. Due to its prohibitive cost, it was only used sparingly but recent developments have allowed fragrance chemists to artificially age orris root causing orris butter to drop in price and enabling perfumers to use the material in new and interesting ways. Moreover, the discovery and development of dozens of synthetics with iris-like qualities have dramatically expanded the perfumer’s palette leading to more iris fragrances than ever on the market.

Described variously as earthy, rooty, buttery, powdery and bread-like, the aroma of orris root is simultaneously unusual and beautiful. Below I have included a list of fragrances with dominant iris notes. Please comment below and let us know which iris fragrances you love and what you think of this material.

IRIS SILVER MIST. Serge Lutens.
IRIS CÉNDRE. Naomi Goodsir.
ÉQUISTRIUS. Parfum d’Empire.
CUIR OTTOMAN. Parfum d’Empire.
ARZ EL-RAB. Berdoues: Cologne Grands Cru.
ROUGE ASSASSIN. Jovoy.
CLAIR DE MUSC. Serge Lutens.
ESCENTRIC 01. Escentric Molecules.
ESCENTRIC 02. Escentric Molecules.
NUIT DE LONGCHAMP. Lubin.
L DE LUBIN. Lubin.
NORDIC NOIR. Agonist.
LONESOME RIDER. Tauer.
ANGÉLIQUE. Papillon.