It’s time to celebrate successes, so here’s my Best of 2021 short resume, introducing a novelty: The Plum Girl Mirabelle Plum Awards!
After all, it’s been a good year: we had time to adapt, recalibrate, and get used to making the most out of objectively possible during breakouts of various Covid types. Bonus: we’ve been reminded of, or learned the ancient Greek alphabet all over again.
Let’s take a look at numbers first: revenue in the Fragrances segment amounts to US$17.388,8 m in 2021 – less than in 2020, as expected. The market is expected to grow annually by 3,58% (Statista.com), and guess who the propeller of growth remains to be: niche perfume brands, of course.
The global fragrance launches dropped by 35% in the first quarter of 2021, yet the total number of new launches in 2021 might sum up to cca 1.400 new perfume launches in the niche perfumes segment (1.740 in 2019, and 1.217 in 2020 / Fragrances of the World) – we shall see/know more when exact figures shall be published, but all available information suggests that 2021 was certainly a bit better than 2020. Well, that also sounds like “best of in 2021”.
Despite all postal services delays, problems, missing packages, broken perfume samples vials, VAT charges now applying to all parcels arriving outside the EU, I managed to smell more than 650+ new perfumes. I must admit that following the new perfume launches in the USA was extremely difficult this year for me, but all in all – the best of 2021 for me is that I did manage to cover quite a lot on my own, and worldwide.
Note to myself: do keep track of all new arrivals in an Excell table in 2022, pretty please – it makes things easier than to dive into your samples vault and manually count all samples received in 2021.
A new trend emerged: online/Zoom live perfume launches, with packages containing perfume samples, and raw materials/accords used. This was simply wonderful, we had a chance to smell new releases, talk live with brand managers, creative directors, perfumers, and fellow perfume lovers!
My Best of 2021 – Mirabelle Plum Award, therefore, goes to Masque Milano, for the best direct communication and New Perfume Launch Concept in 2021, although it all started with the Ray-Flection launch online in 2020.
Other brands embraced this trend, and we’ve witnessed quite a few Zoom Perfume Premieres/New Perfume Smelling Sessions, and I hope this trend continues in 2022.
The trend of innovations in perfume raw materials production continued to advance in 2021 too, from great new techniques – as seen during Pitti Fragranze in Florence, where MANE held the RAW Conference presenting E Pure Jungle Essence – The Rebirth of Enfleurage, to sandalwood – reimagined, thanks to Quintis Australia.
Naturals were trending too, with budding all-natural perfume brands and wonderful creations. On the other hand, we have also witnessed a rise in not-so-nice marketing mumbo jumbo regarding “clean” or “all-natural, no harmful synths”, non-toxic fragrances. Well, I hope that in 2022 we shall witness that brands doing this correct themselves, if not for their customer’s sake, then because of (for example) pretty strict EU rules regarding misleading advertising or false product claims.
Best of in 2021 was also returning to brick-and-mortar perfume shops! After all and in between lockdowns, we could finally experience in-store shopping again, under new rules and conditions, but still! Oh, and Aedes Perfumery and perfumes are back, with new bottles and presentation!
One truly impressed me: if I should ever open a perfume store when I grow up, I want it to be like 7scents in Budapest. This small shop offering a fine selection of niche fragrances in Budapest is owned by perfume lovers! And that matters.
7scents started up amidst lockdowns in 2020, the store opened in 2021, and despite everything they’ve managed to organize live events, meet&greet dates with perfumers and brand owners – including Miguel Matos, Filippo Sorcinelli, and Andrea Bissoli Rubini!
They’ve even rented an old, blue racing car when Andrea came to town to present Nuvolari (the owner told me that Andrea was touched to tears when he sat down to drive the car).
My Best of 2021 – Mirabelle Plum Award goes to 7scents Budapest: congratulations, hope to see you again soon!
Let’s talk a bit about social media platforms where perfume lovers of all kinds have gathered in 2021: although FB seems to have lost many members in general, perfume groups are still growing steadily. No, FB is not dead, and neither is writing about perfume. Perfume blogs may have ceased to bloom in big numbers, still, a couple of new and good ones have appeared. No, blogging is not dead!
A new collaboration between 6 perfume bloggers started in 2021: Scent Semantics, gathering each month to blog about one word and one matching perfume. You can check out our work here.
If you know me, you also know that I’m not into YT perfume reviews at all, but what we have all witnessed in 2021 is the rise of TikTok. Like it or not, this is the fastest-growing platform in 2021, and there is some fine perfume reviewing and perfume brand accounts already there.
Francesca Bianchi talked me into opening The Plum Girl account there earlier this year, and I still don’t have a clear idea how to create content, but TikTok is something you definitely shouldn’t ignore in 2022.
TikTok – unlike Instagram – doesn’t allow the purchase of fake followers, likes, or comments, so basically the growth is organic, reviewers can get quite critical, and comments are very sincere.
As for Instagram perfume-related profiles, I believe you’ll agree with my Best of 2021 – Mirabelle Plum Award going to @travelscentsibilities Sonya has managed to track and post a large number of new niche perfume releases in 2021 – singlehandedly. Brava!
Moving on to more best of 2021!
The Plum Girl Best of 2021 Mirabelle Plum Award – Personality of the Year goes to Pissara Umavijani of Dusita! So much about building a great customer relationship can be learned from Pissara, including customer care.
Pissara, besides being a great perfumer, is very approachable, kind, gentle, communicative, and she always finds time for hosting lives, answering questions, or simply sending nice and personal messages.
Creative Director of the Year, Best of 2021 Mirabelle Plum Award goes to Andrea Bissoli Rubini / Rubini AND Victor Wong / Zoologist! Andrea puts his heart in everything regarding his perfume brand, each new release Rubini – an independent and artistic brand releases is a well-thought about creation, including the new Nuovolari (by fantastic Cristiano Canalli).
Victor, known as a very hard-working person by almost everyone in the global perfume community, besides moving his production from his home to a brand new workshop, managed to handle (despite all problems with bottles, stickers, sprayers, etc. – he very openly talks about many issues a small and independent perfume brand faces) release of Macaque Yuzu/Fuji Apple, Dragonfly, Chipmunk and Seahorse in 2021.
Plans for next year include perfumes designed by Nathalie Feisthauer, Sultan Pasha, and Luca Maffei.
Many more interesting things happened in 2021: Francis Kurkdjian made the news when he took over from Francois Demachy at Dior, a first live-live event since 2019 took place – Pitti Fragranze in Florence, and the word Oriental was replaced in almost all relevant publications by Ambery, with families now being Floral Amber, Woody Amber, Soft Amber, etc. – as stated by Fragrances of the World.
Back to more Best of in 2021:
The Plum Girl Mirabelle Plum Award for Perfumer of the Year goes to Nathalie Feisthauer!
Nathalie / Master Perfumer at LAB Scent – her own and independent company/ was quite busy this year, working for A-chromiq, Astrophil&Stella, Burdin, Indult, Joseph Duclos, Maison Crivelli, Maison Rebatchi, Perfumeurs de Monde, and Puredistance. Congratulations, Nathalie, hope to see you soon in Paris!
Niche Perfume Brand of the Year – The Plum Girl Mirabelle Plum Award goes to Puredistance Masterperfumes!
Puredistance have patiently and quietly worked on their 12th perfume, together with Nathalie Feisthauer, and upon its release in 2021 they declared that they shall keep the number of perfumes in their portfolio to 12 – even with new releases, but every time a new perfume is released, one will be “vaulted” and available only upon request.
Puredistance is a small, family-owned fine perfumes brand, present in the niche perfume world since 2006 – always independent, always exclusive, with perfumes made by well-known and respected perfumers: their motto is Timeless Beauty. Respect and congratulations!
The Plum Girl Mirabelle Plum Award for Trendsetter of the Year (and decade) goes to Christophe Laudamiel!
Trendsetter? Not only. This man is Leonardo da Vinci of 21century perfumery, and I often wonder if he sleeps at all! Besides being one of the best perfumers in the world, Christophe is constantly moving, inventing, taking action, and sharing!
Only in 2021 – besides creating for his own brand Zoo NYC and his clients, Christophe started to share his knowledge on Patreon, including raw materials and perfume formulation, he is the generator behind the Perfumery Code of Ethics (a new wave of signees is coming up!), Laudamiel opened his shop in NYC, took part in the exhibition at Olfactory Art Keller (Porcelain Scent Paraboles), and is tirelessly RHINOFEROCIOUS.
Wow. Christophe Laudamiel is doing some pioneering work (and I love him so much). Please, do get some beauty sleep – the world of perfumes needs you!
Hall of Fame Mirabelle Plum Award – Best in 2021 goes to Ralf Schwieger!
I managed to pull away Ralf Schwieger from all his fans during the Pitti Fragranze exhibition: Retrospective (1999-2021, curated by Chandler Burrr), and interview him. You can read more here: The Sculptor of Scents.
” A chemist, an artist, a Master Perfumer, Ralf Schwieger. Blending finely contrasts of precise and measurable and messy and unpredictable, expressing himself in a unique, his way.”
Perfume Book of the Year – Best of 2021, The Plum Girl Mirabelle Plum Award goes to Gabe Oppenheim’s The Ghost Perfumer -Creed, Lies & the Scent of the Century.
I binge-read it in one night. No spoiler – will review the book soon, and you can download your copy here.
What Gabe wrote about his book: “After two years of researching during the most bizarre of times, my (first) book on the wild world of perfumery is finally live on Amazon. “The Ghost Perfumer” is the story of a clothing empire heir who seduced perhaps the world’s best perfumer into becoming his secret scent-creator for decades, nicking his buy line for nothing but a few custom suits and turning that fragrant output into a company sold in 2020 for $1billion – all of it amounting to maybe the greatest con in luxury retail history.”
Finally, here are The Plum Girl’s top 5 most-read reviews in 2021: Meo FussciuniVaranesi Review, Cavatina / Parfums Dusita Review, Vanille Reve Shalini Perfumes Review, Mendittorosa Talento Review. Thank you!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Best of 2021 Resume, now we can move on to my TOP10 perfumes in 2021: soon!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Dreamstime, Christophe Laudamiel, Victor Wong, Gabe Oppenheim.
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