What a year, what a year! 2016 was a crazy one. It was one filled with great ups and downs. 2016 started with unexpected illness which led me to care for my mother. Then I dealt with illness of my own. Everyone we knew was dealing with some sort of health scare. It was one of those years. On top of this, it was difficult to not think the world was imploding around you. Anyway, everything seems really chill right now and I won’t take that for granted.
Despite the downs, there were some ups. I drank champagne in a hot tub in the mountains, siestas in Mexico, danced to Chicago House while in Chicago and was spoiled by so many shows and art. I also started grad school. 2016 was a difficult year but I feel like I’m now on the “right” path. I feel like it’s a new chapter. Bring it, 2017.
Otherwise, we finally feel like we’ve settled into life in the East Coast. We haven’t moved. There hasn’t been a huge job change. For us, this is oddly stable, boring and responsible. Currently, I’m enjoying this because this has me focusing on my “new chapter”. Plus, 2016 was D-R-A-M-A and this chillness is welcome.
I haven’t kept up with perfume launches. I did this in 2015 too. But, there’s something about realizing humankind’s mortality that makes you want to focus on what you want to do. For me, this means wearing perfumes that I already love, learning new skills and gaining more experiences. Frankly, sniffing new perfumes wasn’t on the top of my list of things to do. There are thousands launched so I don’t expect for anyone to actually keep up with this madness. Perfume industry, you’re drunk. Go home!
Anyway, when I put together this list, I can only go by what I know. Maybe I’ll get around to trying 2016 releases later. In the future, I may fall in love with something that I haven’t tried yet. But, here’s what I’ve tried this year that was new that left an impression on me. This is all I can go by.
Here’s my thoughts on perfumes launched in 2016:
Charenton Macerations Eye, Hatshepsut
This one is really different than Christopher Street or Asphalt Rose. It takes us out of the city and to a different place and time. To me, it reminds me of raw wool or how your fingers smell if you spin wool/yarn. It’s rustic, earthy and musky.
I was a little scared since the name is “Civet” but omfg this is a perfect fragrance. Yeah, I said it…PERFECT. It’s a vintage, French-feeling amber with indolic florals, dark woods and this absolutely genius coffee accord. If I were to choose a perfume of the woman I wish to become, it’d be Civet.
And honestly, Zoologist Nightingale, a powdery frou-frou floral, is a close runner-up. Zoologist was on a roll in 2016!
Best Luxury/Niche Designer/Whatever the Heck We Call This:
CdG Grace Coddington
You guys know that I love roses. This is one of those pretty, pretty pink roses that I’m going to wear the heck out of. However, I think I’m the only person that really isn’t into the bottle. It’s really 50’s kitsch and seems more Paul & Joe than CdG.
Hermès Hermèssence Muguet Porcelaine
This stuff is so weird and I don’t know if it is supposed to be or not. It’s honeydew boba tea, dewy lily-of-the-valley and illusive deer musk. So, weird.
Listen, this was the year for mainstream. It’s like mainstream is the new niche and niche is the new mainstream. I was ALL ABOUT mainstream in 2016. I was all up in my feelings until mainstream perfumes delivered me to salvation in 2016.
Mugler Angel Muse
I was really skeptical when I heard about this launch. But, after trying it, I love it. This is an Angel that I can wear without wanting to puke. It’s hazelnut/daquoise accord and pavlolva-ish berries in my Angel.
Hermès Eau de Néroli Doré
I was surprised by how much I like this. It’s a really great neroli cologne but the magic is in the base, a leather-y saffron.
Chanel No. 5 L’Eau
Here’s another one that I was skeptical about because I really never ever trust flankers. But, it’s a really good simplified, modern No. 5. It’s luminescent and elegant. The opening of citrus is glorious. Is it really necessary? I don’t know since it reminds me of a more citrus-y No. 5 Eau Première, but I like it.
Elizabeth & James Nirvana Rose
Nirvana Bourbon will be the brand’s best-seller but I really like this tobacco/rose. It’s my blog so I can say this is the best.
This smells really niche-y or at least niche 7 years ago. But, still, it’s cheap and at Ulta. It’s like evergreens, incense and a really thick musk. It’s not the sort of thing that I wear too often these days (I like adlehydes, roses and greens) but I do like it. It reminds me of Donna Karan Black Cashmere, a perfume that used to be my jam.
Best Natural (Or at least to my knowledge. I’m not the Naturals Police).
DSH Perfumes La Belle Saison
DSH doesn’t always do natural perfumes but this one is. It’s a beautiful spring floral with cucumber-like mimosa and the entire lilac bush. It’s a gorgeous spring floral. I have no idea how it’s so structured since it’s a natural, but this is like a natural perfume wearing a corset. It has shape.
Atelier de Geste Stones
This one is deep, dark and GREEN. It’s a salty vetiver. For me, this one brought to mind beach pebbles and seaweed. It’s limited edition so try it while you can.
Best New House
I’ve been anticipating this launch of modern vintage perfumes. These did not disappoint. I love how they are vintage-y without being period pieces. They’re refreshingly modern.
I’ve been a fan of the makeup for years and was curious about the launch of three perfumes. I usually have low expectations for cosmetic brands that launch perfumes, but this is Edward Bess we’re talking about. All three are superb. I’m a fan of the perfect sandalwood, Spanish Veil.
In the past MAC has made some great perfumes for the money (I still mourn Naked Honey). This is a collection of perfumes inspired by best-selling lipstick shades. It’s a combo of things I love, so of course, I’m going to love this collection.
Most Disappointing Collection
This trio is completely unmemorable and the price is outrageous. If these were cheaper (like Jimmy Choo price), I’d be nicer. But, at this price point, you better deliver, Christian.
Also, this sounds shady because I am, but don’t these just seem like something created for the duty-free store market?
10 Crosby Derek Lam (OK, technically launched in 2015 but my pettiness has no bounds)
What even is the point of this brand? Oh, it’s Sephora jumping in on the high-end “designer niche” by launching perfumes that I feel like were made by an algorithm (AKA no human contact). They are boring and you can find better at Sephora for cheaper. The bottles are OK if you are one of those folks that like to collect fancy water bottles.
Serge Lutens L’eau de Paille
Here’s the deal, I usually like the Serge Lutens “eaux” so I was looking forward to this one. This was such a disappointment. It’s too light to really smell and when I do smell it, it’s a basic, generic, run-of-the-mill vetiver.
Tom Ford Soleil Blanc
My relationship with Tom Ford Private Blends is really complicated. In all honesty, I didn’t expect to like this and I didn’t. It’s creamy suntan lotion that lasts like 30 minutes on my skin. But, everyone was talking about how great it was and I’m impressionable. I expected more.
Best Limited Edition
Mugler A*Men Pure Tonka
I’m not the market for this because I’m not a dude that goes to clubs before there’s a cover charge BUT I do appreciate the audacity of this one. It’s sweet and actually, I think it smells better then the original A*Men. There’s one thing consistent in this world: Mugler knows how to deliver a really great limited edition fragrance.
The Most Awesome Concept
Bruno Fazzolari & Antonio Gardoni Cadavre Exquis
It’s dadaist perfume by Bruno Fazzolari and Antonio Gardoni (Bogue Profumo). This olfactory game smells like animalic chocolate…as it should. It’s dadaist.
Surprise! EauMG Liked It:
Amouage Lilac Love
I’m not the biggest Amouage fan because they usually don’t work on me. But, this chocolate lilac smells like magic pixie dust on my skin.
Tom Ford Orchid Soleil
I’m so in love with this hot mess that reminds me of Jamaican cornmeal pudding, funeral lilies and chorizo. It’s a wreck in the best way possible. I can’t tell if it is subversive so I’ll say it is. This is one I’m buying up now because there is no way that this one will survive. It’s too much and too awful for the general public.
I wanted to hate this because I wanted to be petty. But, I’m a patch-head and this is patchouli af.
A special runner up is Serge Lutens Baptême de Feu, which I found so fresh and wearable. I thought it would be lame, but I totally see myself buying a bottle.
Surprise EauMG Didn’t Like It:
Truthfully, I do like both of these both of these. I expected to love them and immediately buy full-sizes. Instead, I tried them and was like “Yeah, I can live without these”.
Hermès Galop d’Hermès
I’m an Hermès fangirl. I absolutely love the base of this one but the opening is annoying. It’s like apples and packaging tape for 3 hours and life is too short to put up with this.
I’m an a-hole and call this Chanel Boy-ring. I love Chanel Les Exclusifs but this one doesn’t speak to me. This is good because those EDPs are too dang expensive.
The Worst Bottle
I swear, looking at these bottles give me terrible flashbacks of growing up in the South. Sometimes you you had to get out of your safer metro bubble. These bottles, I can’t speak for the fragrances, but these bottles, omfg they give me all sorts of bad memories. They’re straight up naked lady trucker mudflaps and the sort of belt buckles that people that listen to Hank Williams Jr. would buy (OK, that’s mean to Hank Williams Jr. Let’s say Ted Nugent). It’s south Georgia swap meets surrounded by fire ant hills and sand that you’ll never get out of your shoes. It’s that piece of shit that drives around in a pickup truck with a huge Confederate flag blowing in the wind. These bottles are garbage.
I need a Xanax now. Also, sorry if I offended any fire ants during this rant.
I don’t support things that glamorize gun violence. This is tacky.
The Best Bottle
It’s a big eye. That’s cool.
Memo Paris Marfa
This also has eyes. That’s cool. BTW – I do like how this one smells. I haven’t tried Kenzo World yet. It probably sucks because everything else is so “right” about it.
The Best Worst Bottle: 2016 Summarized in a Perfume Bottle
Air Val International Emoji: Pile of Poo
And then there was this because of course, there would be this.
The Best Name
Carner Barcelona Rose & Dragon
This name has two cool things: roses and dragons.
LM Parfums Scandinavian Crime
I choose to believe that this is inspired by Nordic Noir, right? Either way it’s a funny thing to say to people when they ask what you’re wearing.
The Worst Name
Roja Dove Oligarch (POUR HOMME)
A name this vile really makes the usual corny suspects like Montale Oudmazing or Elizabeth Arden Always Red Femme, appear to be tasteful. In today’s modern climate, this is absolutely unacceptable.
The Tackiest of the Tacky or The “Why Did It Have to Go There?” Category
See above: “Roja Dove Oligarch“. Add the limited edition Serge Lutens bottle for L’eau Froide. The Serge Lutens is open to interpretation, well both of these perfumes are, but it’s like I’m just not in the mood for this shit right now.
Lilac and “Spring Florals”: Amouage Lilac Love, Phoenix Botanicals Purple Rain, DSH Perfumes Le Belle Saison, Providence Perfumes Love-in-a-Mist, Hermès Hermèssence Muguet Porcelaine, Parfums Quartana Lily of the Valley, Penhaligon’s The Revenge of Lady Blanche, Roja Dove Pierre de Velay Les Clochettes du Bonheur, Tom Ford Vert de Fleur, Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Pure
2016 sucked but it was a good year for lilacs, especially in the world of indie and niche. I feel like after years and years of seeing “noir” perfumes, we’re finally embracing the pretty. We’re channeling the retro themes other than the vamp. This is exciting for a floral lover like myself. I’m so ready to see new interpretations of lilac, lily-of-the-valley and hyacinths. The world is ugly. I want to smell pretty.
Clean/Fresh: Chanel Boy, Le Galion Cologne, Hiram Green Dilettante, Carner Barcelona Costarela, Diptyque Eau des Sens, MDCI Le Barbier de Tangier, Art de Parfum Sea Foam, Calvin Klein CK2
2015 was a big year for colognes (especially in the niche world). This did not slow down in 2016. Orange blossoms, citrus and neroli continued to be popular themes. In addition, niche brought more of the unisex clean/fresh perfumes and many embraced the aquatics genre. It’s a modern take on the 90’s trends. What I’m seeing is that designer is getting “darker” and niche is getting “lighter”. This is how the pendulum swings.
Mass Niche or “Exclusive Designer Lines”: Bvlgari La Gemme Collection, Louis Vuitton, Lancôme Maison Lancôme, Ralph Lauren Colletion, Dali Haute Parfumerie, Rag & Bone, Elie Saab La Collection des Cuirs, Bottega Veneta Parco Palladiano Collection
This is an ongoing trend. In 2016, we saw the brands that haven’t done this yet, do it. These collections usually contain a dozen perfumes and cost a lot of money and really don’t offer much to the world of perfume. These are here because a $240 bottle of perfume is a hell of a lot cheaper than a LV handbag.
In addition, the big companies are buying out lots of “niche” perfume brands. In 2016, By Kilian was bought by Estee Lauder; Atelier Cologne was bought by L’Oreal. These companies are increasing focus on their fragrance divisions. I think we should bet on who’s next in 2017.
OUD: Ambercrombie & Fitch Private Selection OUD Collection, Gucci Intense Oud, Art of Shaving Oud Suede, Avon Luxe Oud pour Homme, Vince Camuto Oud
So, I hate picking on oud because it’s a note like anything else. There were a lot of rose perfumes (I mean, A LOT), a lot of ambers, a lot of leathers too. But, this year we saw oud show up in the lowest of the low…Ambercrombie and Fitch. In 2016, “oud” is officially a household word that has infiltrated every suburb and rural area in the US. And I don’t care because I do want Downy to make me some oud fabric softener.
I noticed another little thing but I don’t know if it is a trend per se: Moons. It’s like “moon” is the new “noir”. It conveys sexiness, romance and all of that grownfolk stuff. Examples: Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune, Pehaligon’s Luna, Engelsrufer Luna, Nina Ricci Luna, By Kilian Moonlight in Heaven, Maison Martin Margiela Replica Dancing on the Moon, Van Cleef & Arpels Moonlight Patchouli.
Victoria’s Must Tries of 2016
With so many launches, it’s impossible to keep up. I’ve tried to narrow it down to the perfumes that one should at least try from 2016. I think these are the perfumes that stood out or represent the trends of perfumes launched in 2016. If you don’t know where to start, this may help.
1. Mugler Angel Muse (new take on an old gourmand – lots of flankers of “classics” in ’16)
2. Zoologist Civet (the coffee you better serve your femme fatale in the morning before she poisons you)
3. Slumberhouse New Sibet (orris and leather)
4. Hermès Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate (rhubarb because you need some happiness)
5. Charenton Macerations Eye, Hatshepsut (because it’s like lanolin and earth)
It’s really difficult to narrow a lot of launches into a list of five. It’s even more difficult when you haven’t tried all the launches. Oh, well.
If you are curious to read my snark from 2015, here it is. This is the yearly feature where I air my grievances, so enjoy it while it’s here!
Thank you for reading EauMG and putting up with me for all these years. Did you know EauMG turns 9 in 2017? Well, it does. I don’t know if I should be happy about that or totally ashamed. Anyway, thank you so much for reading and cheers to 2017!