Monday 18 December 2023

My Favourite Five From 2023

The main image for Stephan Matthews' Favourite Five From 2023 article
I always wonder how the fragrance industry can possibly improve on its previous twelve months of releases, but 2023 has once again been an incredible year for perfume. It felt like a big melting pot of styles this year, with no particular “trend” overtaking any other, but the independent companies really did take the big corporations on at their own game. Whether you are a niche lover or a high street stalwart, there was something for everyone. So, as we approach the end of 2023, it’s time to look back at twelve months of articles on and, while once again channelling my inner Blyton, pick My Favourite Five.

Anniversaries can be a tricky time for perfume companies, because they have to decide how to mark the occasion. This year was the tenth birthday of Nishane, and it saw the release of the X Collection. Five of their bestselling fragrances were re-presented in a slightly richer, and subtly reorchestrated form, and Wūlóng Chá X was one of them. The new version contained magnolia and rose, alongside the original tea accord, but was dovetailed by a citrus effervescence that was off the scale and a leather-tinged fig and cedarwood. In a word, glorious. Read the original article by clicking here.

A picture of Geranium No.1 Bath Salts from C.Atherley
2023 was the year that saw the reappearance of forgotten classics and the launch of new favourites, and one of the latter was C.Atherley. This was the new venture from Cath Kidston-Padgham and centred around her love of geraniums. She worked with a natural perfumer to recreate the scent of the Radens Pelargonium, called it Geranium No.1, and launched it in my favourite bath and body range of the year. By pairing green notes with citruses, powdery chamomile with campherous lavender, and touches of cedarwood and frankincense, Cath created the ultimate Bath Salts. Read the original article by clicking here.

Summer is traditionally the season when we reach for citrus fragrances that uplift and invigorate, but these perfumes are also the ones that I love during winter. So to discover Villa Sorrento from La Perla was an absolute joy. Created by Givaudan’s Roxanne Kirkpatrick, it promised a “summer on the sun-kissed shores of the Amalfi coast”, and it definitely delivered. From the opening citrus medley of green mandarin, grapefruit and lemon, through to vibrant neroli and watery tonka bean, this perfume is an absolute joy to wear, at any time of the year. Read the original article by clicking here.

A picture of the perfume Hera by Papillon Perfumery
There’s always one fragrance that literally grabs you by the feet, turns you upside down, and rocks your world. The 2023 culprit is Hera from Papillon Perfumery. Liz Moores originally created this as her daughter’s wedding fragrance, but it refused to stay private. Its release caused the same internet meltdown as every other one of Liz’s creations, and the responses to this vibrant floral amber fragrance were universally triumphant. At the time I wrote, “Smelling Hera felt like you had reached inside me and found a self-assured and honest feeling of peaceful confidence,” and that still holds true. Read the original article by clicking here.

My final choice from the past twelve months is one of the interviews that I did as part of the regular “Stephan’s Six” series. This year saw the subjects include potters, authors, actors and, in this case, a composer. Alexandra Harwood is the award-winning composer behind hits like “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” and “New Labour”, but she’s also responsible for the much-loved “All Creatures Great And Small”. She’d never spoken about her interest in fragrance before but, with mentions of Molyneux, Penhaligons and even Gitanes cigarettes, it became the most read article of 2023. Read the original article by clicking here.

So, that brings us to the end of My Favourite Five for 2023. I’m going to be taking a two week break now but I’ll be back on 8th January for more fragrant fun. Have a wonderful Christmas, a safe New Year, and thank you for all of your support over the past twelve months. [Original samples were provided by the companies]

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