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Monday, September 6, 2010

Smells Like a Monday - 20 Best Ever Perfumes

As I caught up on my blog reading today, I saw a feature over at Perfume Shrine talking about an article in the Daily Mail which purports to list the 20 best perfumes of all time. I realize that scent preferences are a very individual thing, but I just don't agree with the list. The scents listed in the article are:

1. Chanel No. 5
2. Shalimar
3. L'Air du Temps
4. Joy
5. Poison
6. Eau Dynamisante
7. J'Adore
8. Blue Grass
9. Je Reviens
10. Jean Paul Gautier Classique
11. Opium
12. Angel
13. CKOne
14. Anais Anais
15. Jo Malone Lime, Basil and Mandarin
16. Rive Gauche
17. DKNY
18. Coco Mademoiselle
19. Beautiful
20. Youth Dew

Most of these are scents that have sold millions of bottles, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them on a bestsellers of all time list. However, I don't think that these are the best 20 scents that perfumery has ever had to offer. My own personal 20 best list would be:

1. Laura Ashley No. 1 - now discontinued, but one of the most delicate, polished florals I've ever worn. Of scents available today, Santa Maria Novella Angels of Florence probably comes closest.

2. Coty Chypre -Nearly 100 years ago, this perfume launched an entire category of perfumery called chypres. It too is discontinued, but I've smelled vintage bottles of this scent and it was amazing.

3.Guerlain Mitsouko - One of the most sophisticated and beautifully crafted chypre scents out there

4. Guerlain Shalimar - It's not really "me", but this oriental scent truly is a classic and if you like orientals, it's one of the great ones.

5. 4711 cologne - This scent has been around since the 18th century, and remains probably THE classic citrus cologne. I love Eau Imperiale dearly, but I do have to give this one the edge.

6. Je Reviens - I'll agree with the Daily Mail on this one. It's soft, feminine and beautifully crafted.

7. Quelques Fleurs - One of the oldest multifloral perfumes (i.e. doesn't simply focus on the scent of a single flower); It was launched in 1912 and women still wear it today.

8. Dioressence - I know that Opium gets all the attention, but frankly I think this oriental which came out around the same time is much better made. It's been reformulated since then (sadly), but still deserves a mention.

9. Chanel No. 5 - Yes, this one is a classic and deservedly so. It's probably the most famous aldehydic floral of all time and has been loved(and imitated) for many years.

10. Joy - Another one that belongs on the Daily Mail list. Again, it's not really "me", but this rose-jasmine powerhouse has definitely been famous for a reason for all these decades.

11. Ivoire de Balmain - I've come across many aldehydic green florals that came out in the 1960s - early 1980s Some are better crafted than others, but this green floral which starts off sharply green before drying down into a heart of roses and white flowers is probably my favorite.

12. Crown Rose - Sadly discontinued but this is an amazing rose scent. It starts off very rosey and then dries down into a resinous sandalwood base

13. Estee Lauder Pleasures - Trendy fresh florals are sometimes maligned, but I think this one is wonderfully blended.

14. Creed Fleurissimo - This was created for Grace Kelly and she wore it on her wedding day. One of the most polished sweet white floral scents I've ever tried!

15. Estee Lauder White Linen - This is another amazing aldehydic floral. It's fresh, polished and really well done. Whenever I smell Charlie, I keep thinking that it WISHES it could be this perfume.

16. Chanel No. 19 - No. 5 gets the lion's share of attention, but this green perfume is amazing, too. It manages to be both feminine and yet give off a very no-nonsense, powerful vibe.

17. Annick Goutal L'Eau d'Hadrien - I'm usually not into the unisex scents, but this cologne has an understated polish that definitely makes it classic in my book.

18. Caron Nuit de Noel - Another classic wonder - this one from the 1920s. This scent is very polished, but with an undercurrent of darkness and mystery to it. I love to wear it to midnight service on Christmas Eve as it fits to unfathomable wonder of the occasion very well.

19. Robert Piguet Fracas - This 1944 creation is a bigtime attention getter. There are several big tuberose scents out there, but this one is the best, I think. It has just enough green to tone down the big florals so as not to overwhelm everyone around the wearer. A great party scent!

20. Guerlain L'Heure Bleue - This floral with the powdery drydown came out in 1912 and is deservedly still in circulation. It does have a faintly old-fashioned vibe to it, and I love the powdery drydown. There's a melancholy, bittersweet air to this one that just gets me. And as with most of the older Guerlain classics, the craftsmanship is impeccable.


  1. I agree with you on Dioressence, the most delicious chypre, oakmoss makes all the difference in perfumes such as this. Fracas is a gorgeous diva that I oddly don't feel like I'm playing dress-up when I wear her,she is the ultimate summer night. And L'Heure Bleue,I wear to bed in the winter and wake up to a veil of powdery vanilla and clove. All are excellent and are better vintage to which I'm now addicted to. Evilbay is bad for me.

    Nice blog, I am looking forward to reading more.

    Truly, Tamara

  2. I have that Laura Ashley No. 1 in that exact bottle, in its exact box that I bought over in Scotland like 15 years ago.. I so loved it, it was so pretty... Thanks for bringing back the lovely memory for me!

    I am your newest follower!


  3. I agree with you about White Linen. (And my grandfather always gave my mother 4711 because he liked it, although she'd never wear it.) I adore Burberry and Ralph Lauren Safari (which was unfortunately discontinued).

  4. Ah, that's much more my speed re: top-x lists! :-) Excellent criteria all around, allowing personal preferences surfacing.

    Thanks for the linkage and your ideas. I do dearly loved Dioressence in its vintage glory, isn't it infinitely sad it got "butchered"?