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My Top Ten Perfume List

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This post is in response to the following Top Tens post at Persolaise:

The last time I attempted a Top Ten list for perfume was when a Facebook app called something like Fave Five was popular. But then I cheated and created all these different Top 5 lists to cover my grounds: Best Irises, Best Leathers, Best Musks, Best Figs, Best Citruses, etc. Now I decided to tackle it without cheating--no Top 12 or 24 or whatever--just the hard-established randomness of 10 (can you tell I was bored out of my mind?). But of course I have to make a couple of caveats:
This is my personal Top Ten list, not what I objectively think are the 10 best fragrances out there (as if anyone can decide that!). And as such it is heavily influenced by my personal history with these perfumes, their associations for me, how I came by them, etc.
A Top Ten list is a changing breathing thing, and so this list is only snapshot of what I’d tag as my Top Ten right now. A year ago the list might have looked different. Heck, a season ago it would have been; there probably be a lot more “heavy” stuff there (more leathers and orientals) and fewer irises… Blame it on the weather!
Because of the first caveat, I left out perfumes from my list that I acknowledge are great, but that somehow leave me cold, i.e. I have a better emotional connection with other ones. One good example is the perfume I picked for “Best Perfume of All Time”: Guerlain’s Après L'ondée. I love that perfume, and I think it’s got proven longevity regardless of what I think of it. But perhaps because it is such an acknowledged masterpiece that I do not feel that it’s “mine”. There are other irises, both brighter and darker, that I identify with more. And because part of why we wear perfume is to assert our individuality, other acknowledged greats, such as Bulgari Black and Dior Homme, fell off my list for the mere superficial reason that many of my friends have worn them, and as such they’ve lost their personal significance for me. On the other hand, I also left out extremely rare perfumes that I may greatly identify with (such as Parfumerie Generale’s Cuir Santalion) but that others, few of whom have smelled them, would be familiar with. A Top Ten list is nothing, after all, if not an exercise in communication.

I approached this list 2 ways: (1) The “deserted island” question, or it’s next best equivalent: what I often take with me on vacation; (2) the “special occasion” question, or what I’ve worn for special occasions in my life. The first question gave me those perfumes I wear often, and are easy to live with; the second one gave me those that I may not reach for that often, but are important for me to have around. Naturally, the first category included lighter, more citrusy fragrances, ones that I love but for some reason were lower on my list. I guess the bias against lighter fare is everywhere: in the movies it’s comedies (when was the last time a comedy when the Oscar for Best Picture?), in perfume it’s colognes!

In the end, I got so frustrated, I’m glad I don’t have to pick only 10 perfumes to live with… So, without further ado, here’s my Top Ten list:
  1. L'Heure Promise I – Cartier
  2. L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme – Guerlain
  3. Ormonde Man – Ormonde Jayne
  4. Rose 31 – Le Labo
  5. Bois d'Iris – Different Company
  6. L'Homme de Coeur – Divine
  7. Cruel Intentions - By Kilian
  8. Anvers 2 – Ulrich Lang
  9. Hyperessence Matale 12 – Parfumerie Generale
  10. Mugler Cologne – Thierry Mugler

And in case you’re curious, here’s what else I was considering, in alphabetical order:
  • 01 Nomad – Odin New York
  • Aldehyde 44 – Le Labo
  • AnOther 13 – Le Labo
  • Après L'ondée – Guerlain
  • Bulgari Black – Bulgari
  • Courvoisier L'Edition Impériale – Courvoisier
  • Cuir Santalion – Parfumerie Generale
  • Dior Homme – Christian Dior
  • Dzing! – L'Artisan Parfumeur
  • Dzongkha – L'Artisan Parfumeur
  • Escentric 01 – Escentric Molecules
  • Iris – Odori
  • L'Air du Desert Marocain – Tauer
  • L'Échange – L'Artisan Parfumeur
  • Lumière Noire pour Homme – Maison Francis Kurkdjian
  • Midnight in Paris – Van Cleef & Arpels
  • Muscs Koublaï Khän – Serge Lutens
  • Prelude to love - By Kilian
  • S-ex – S-Perfume
  • Tilda Swinton Like This – Etat Libre d'Orange

(Originally posted at: )


  1. trex57's Avatar
    Thank you for your posting. I do appreciate the thought (were you really bored?) that went in to your description of that type of list. The list is living and constantly changing. Its also subjective.

    I see a faves of mine in your listings. I have enjoyed Ormande Man for a while now. The Le Labo Rose 31 is a wonderful scent, but I am starting to get bored with it now. I'm not sure why this has happened but it is beautiful.

    It was nice to see that you included L'Homme de coeur from Divine. That frag. and L'Homme Sage are my faves from the house.

    I am a fan of Anvers 2 (great rhubarb accord) and Odin but No.4 Petrana. IMHO the best use of cassis.

    I guess this is indicitive of all Top Ten lists though. Each person has their own but there are going to be similarities among them. Thank you for not including the "shrine perfumes"

    Nice entry, look forward to more of your musings.

  2. archmemory's Avatar
    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Rex! I do like Odin No.4 as well; actually, a small decant of it sleeps next to me on the bedside table
  3. Foustie's Avatar
    What a stylish and eclectic list!! I love it. From Iris to incense to cologne and beyond. You are clearly man who knows his own mind, and his own nose!!
  4. archmemory's Avatar
    Well, thank you!
  5. Saintpaulia's Avatar
    Hello AM. Nice to learn a bit more about you since we did that little bit of business re: Apres L'Ondee (for which I am still most appreciative). It was also interesting what you had to say about it. I still consider it my favorite though only in certain seasons. I think it is probably too "cold" a scent for fall/winter when my vanillas come out to play!
  6. archmemory's Avatar
    My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed it. I wrote this a while ago; it's interesting how, were it to write it now, it would be considerably reshuffled!
  7. Birdboy48's Avatar
    This post reminds me of something I read in a book about mushroom hunting by the famous David Aurora.

    In writing about a certain mushroom, he said something along the lines of :

    "This mushroom takes it's place among my 25 "Top Ten Favorite Mushrooms"


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