EauMG’s 2016 List: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Perfumes

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:

best perfumes of 2016

Best Indie/Niche:

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.

Zoologist Civet

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 perfumes 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.

2016 best perfumes

Best Designer/Mainstream

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.

SJP Stash

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.

Atelier de Geste Stones

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 perfume brands

Best New House

Eris Parfums

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.

Edward Bess

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.

MAC Shadescents

Best Collection

MAC Shadescents

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.

worst perfume collection 2016

Most Disappointing Collection

Christian Louboutin

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.

2016 disappointments

Biggest Disappointments

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.

Mugler Amen Pure Tonka

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.

Cadavre Exquis Perfume

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.

best perfumes 2016

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.

Malle Monsieur. 

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.

best perfumes 2016

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.

Chanel Boy

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.

worst perfume bottles of 2016

The Worst Bottle

Project Renegades

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.

Azzaro Wanted

I don’t support things that glamorize gun violence. This is tacky.

best perfume bottles of 2016

The Best Bottle

Kenzo World

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.

emoji poo perfume

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.

best perfume names

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.

Roja Dove Oligarch

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.

limited edition serge lutens

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.

2016 perfume trends


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!

*Images are from Fragrantica, the brands and

34 thoughts on “EauMG’s 2016 List: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Perfumes

  1. I am so excited to see this list up! Now I really want to try Angel Muse, especially since I edited my perfume collection before moving last summer and am now lacking in gourmands. Lately I’m also trying to lean towards scents that feel optimistic, so I’ll check out that Hermes rhubarb scent.

    I definitely bought rollerballs of Nirvana Rose and Stash, and nearly impulse bought a full bottle of No. 5 L’Eau, so I guess I am similarly feeling the mainstream launches of 2016!

    I agree that 10 Crosby Derek Lam is the worst. THE WORST. Really forgettable scents, bottles that weren’t even hideous (because that would be cool in its own way), but just cheap white plastic. I don’t get the trend of launching a ton of fragrances at once. Doesn’t that suggest a lack of attention to detail? Anyway, yes, a true disappointment.

    I give the lilac trend two thumbs up, and have gotten several good laughs out of seeing the oud trend interpreted by mass market fragrances.

    I’m glad to hear your 2017 is off to a better start. Thank you for an awesome post. I’m gonna go revisit the 2015 one, now!

    1. I don’t have many gourmands either but I think if I had Angel Muse, I wouldn’t need anymore. The Hermes Rhubarbe is such an optimistic, sunny scent. I noticed last night they have bath/body products in that scent and I’m so tempted. I want to bathe in sunshine.

      Another “trend” that I love, these smaller sizes/rollerballs. Aren’t those great? I don’t need much more than that.

      I don’t like when brands suddenly show up with a dozen perfumes. It’s too overwhelming. It’s like start with 3, launch 3 more…why all at once? I tried them in store and have gotten samples with various orders. I seriously can’t tell you what any of them smell like because they are so forgettable. OK, I remember the black one; it’s vetiver. I feel like there are better things available at Sephora and that these take up too much space.

      I’m here for lilac and hope to see more! Ambercrombie and Fitch Oud, can’t say we didn’t see it coming!

      Cheers to 2017!

  2. Great, great summary! I’m inspired to try a couple right away (fingers crossed a sample of Civet is available). And I’m ready for some beautiful lilacs, although En Passant is a beauty but maybe lilac is the new rose, and at last count I have, errrr never mind, a “few” Rose perfumes. Thanks for keeping up, cause I sure can’t!

    1. I can’t believe I’m gaga over something called “Civet”! They ship from Canada but they do have samples and a sample set.

      I hope this lilac trend continues. There’s so much room for “spring floral” market. En Passant is one of the few moderns. Other lilacs are like pre-1980. I also hope we see more lily-of-the-valley or hyacinth 🙂

      Speaking of roses, I thought 2016 was a great year for roses. I have had to exercise great restraint and not buy them all.

      1. Ordered Civet and Hummingbird samples, am excited to give them a try. I included a comment saying you had posted Civet on your Best of list. And the rhubarb scent is one I want to try, I’ve got an old cookbook devoted to rhubarb! (along with rose and lavender cookbooks, but the rhubarb one seems more strange).

        And Orchid Soleil is a love for me. Wearing some while the snow is falling.

        1. I hope you enjoy them…or at least sampling them. I think both are really interesting. Actually, all the “new” ones that I’ve tried have really taken me on “scent trips” which I’ve enjoyed!

          I’m surprised rhubarb is not used in perfumery more often. It’s so bright/energetic, it just seems so obvious, but I guess it’s hard to “recreate”? I don’t know, but there aren’t enough rhubarbs.

          I think I may buy OS this month as my low-buy. I want it. I want that rose gold bottle too!

          1. My samples arrived, holy moly Gorgeous with a Capital G! I love both of them (they generously included another that didn’t wear as well on me). Plus, could still detect both this morning. I love it when a fragrance can still be smelled in the morning. And yeah, I want to be that woman, too. Sometimes you just have to start from the outside! (I commented on my order that you listed them in your Best Of review!)

          2. Yessss! I don’t know how I’m going to become this woman, but like you said, we can start from the outside! Fake it until you make it 🙂

  3. I mean, I guess you have to give Roja Dove props for honesty. It basically says “this is what you have to be to afford this bottle”.

  4. I agree about mainstream this year. Niche is nice, but the mainstream offerings are pleasing and have enough oddness or quirk to be interesting to me. I also bought the perfumes that I missed out on in the 90’s and early 00’s. It was an ok year for new fragrances. I think this was the year that more women took on a man’s cologne or something they’d never worn before. Everyone I knew was doing a 180 with their perfume.

    1. There were some great niche offerings but it also felt sort of redundant. Like everyone launches a rose, an incense, a white floral…a lot of the same stuff. It was like mainstream stuff started to take more risks and seemed more “edgy” than some of that luxury/niche stuff.

      I think we’re all ready for something different. That’s how I felt. I wanted some of my old favorites but I was open to try a lot of things I wouldn’t have considered a few years ago.

  5. I imagine you’ve spent enough time composing this list to start discussing its content in details in comments :), but I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading it and agree with you on more points than not (at least for those perfumes that I tried, or where perfume itself wasn’t involved 🙂 ). Thank you (though I could have done without wanting now to try Amouage Lilac Love 😉 ).

    I wish your 2017 to be again “stable, boring and responsible” (well, maybe with a little bit less responsibilities, especially related to the health – your and loved ones).
    Undina recently posted..Best of 2016 and Welcome 2017!

  6. I think you and I may be the only two people except maybe someone from the Perfumeposse who adored Amouage Lilac Love. I have gotten so many compliments. I’ve resisted trying the Amouage because I can’t afford it, but Osswald shipped me a sample with my order and now I’m screwed. I need it. I did buy OS by Tom Ford and love it especially now when is 19 degrees Fahrenheit and I’m working long shifts. One spritz on the back of my meaty farmer calf and I’m in heaven. I just purchased the travel size of POAL by F. Malle. I finally caved. I couldn’t help it.

    1. I’m made that I tried Lilac Love because I don’t want to long for things that I know I can’t really afford. Writing a blog, I can’t really avoid things like this. I tried it because I thought I’d dislike it. Well, that didn’t work! I think it’s so pretty, playful without being daft and actually, it’s interesting.

      I thought I’d get OS for the holidays. I didn’t. Now it’s going to have to be on a list of “to-buys”. I imagine that one is perfect on these unbearable, cold days.

      I’m all about those Malle travel sizes. Something like POAl will last a long time since it’s so potent.

  7. PS “Hermès Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate (rhubarb because you need some happiness)”. Is wonderful and happy. I bought it for my son with three others with the Sephora discount around Thanksgiving and he had been wearing the heck out of it until he realized that his girlfriend wears it also. I might be getting that bottle. Fingers crossed.

    1. Maybe you’ll get a full-size soon 🙂 I was going to add it but this list was looking a little like “Hermès Love Letter”, so I refrained. Anyway, it does smell like happiness and I need more of that sort of “aromatherapy” in my life. PLUS, I love the red bottle.

    1. I didn’t expect to like it because it seems like it’s been done before, right?

      Anyway, it’s been such a joy to wear. I could see you liking it 🙂

  8. What are some of your favorite websites for acquiring samples of some of the more niche scents? Your lists are amazing and I would love to track some of them down. Living in a mid-sized metro in the Midwest has significant drawbacks sometimes…
    Laura recently posted..Use It: December 2016 Empties

    1. With a lot of brands, the niche/indie brand’s sites offer samples or discovery sets (like Zoologist, Providence Perfume Co., INeKe)

      I also buy individual samples from perfume stores: LuckyScent (in CA), Twisted Lily (Brooklyn), Aedes (NYC), Indigo Perfumery (Ohio).

      Beautyhabit has a sample program where you pick out a few for $15, I think.

      These days, Sephora is expanding their niche perfumes and have a lot of discovery seats from like ELdO, Juliette Has a Gun. Eight & Bob…I think this are available online and in most stores too.

      The good thing about this industry is that they know they have limited distribution so they try to make it easy for people to buy samples online to experience them 🙂

        1. Sweet! My in-laws live in OH and I’m like my motivation for visiting is to visit Indigo. Ann, the owner, has always been so wonderful with our online communications (she knows her stuff). I’d love to see the store and meet her in person. They even have a custom scent bar. I’d love to know what all that’s about. Have fun!

      1. Seconding Victoria’s comment! My samples arrived yesterday (thanks for the extra!) and both are just beautiful/wonderful/what I want in a perfume!

  9. I got the 10 pack sampler of the 10 Crosby Derek Lam fragrances as a VIB gift from Sephora for spending $35 and once I opened it and smelled everything, I was like “Can I have a mulligan on my VIB gift, plz?” THEY ARE THE WORSTTTTTTT

    Also, I don’t know why but I JUST started reading your blog and as someone who is obsessed (and who’s husband is following suit) with fragrance, I AM SO GLAD I FOUND YOU.

    1. Oh, no! However, I feel really validated since I’m not the only person that dislikes them (These seem to get good reviews. HOW?!) Maybe you can regift the set or find someone that will trade you something good for them.

      Yay! Glad you found me! It makes me so happy to hear that you and your husband are both into fragrance. HASHTAG GOALS.

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