The list of The Plum GIrl Mirabelle Plum Award winners of 2021 concludes with my choice of the best new perfumes launched in 2021! This is always so difficult, and in the end – so joyous. I hope you’ll enjoy my list and congratulations to ALL!
I tried to limit myself to TOP10, but that didn’t work out, I’m just not into that. So here is my list of 20 – the best new perfumes in 2021!
It seems that I always revolve around the same number of perfumes smelled, and I tried this year even harder. It was harder because I had limited access to UK and USA brands, due to high shipping costs and postal issues.
Now that I look back, half of the parcels sent to me from the UK were either stolen or went missing, sent but never reaching me or returning to senders. Argh.
I am deeply grateful for every perfume sample I received, exchanged with fellow perfume-lovers, or had sent to me by dear friends: this MATTERS. Thank you.
Attending Pitti Fragranze in Florence helped a lot, I managed to cover many brands exhibiting. That also means a great number of fragrances in just a couple of days, and being nose-dead on day 2. Again, samples matter, and I am extremely thankful.
All this being said, this list is my selection of fragrances I have smelled, extensively tested, worn, reviewed, or plan to review soon. Here are The Plum Girl Mirabelle Plum Awards for the best new perfumes in 2021! (in random order)
Abstract ouds were trending this year, and this trend-spotting was confirmed during Pitti Fragrance: yes, these are the new ouds you should be sampling and wearing, even if you are not that much into oud. I couldn’t choose just one so I decided to list all THREE of the best new perfumes/oud-themed: Loudo (Chris Maurice) / Sarah Baker Perfumes, Ud Ikat (Pierre-Constantin Gueros) /UerMi, and Summer Oud (Miguel Matos)/Miguel Matos Perfumes.
LOUDO (you can find my full review here) is such a happy fragrance! It’s a delicious oud, never overwhelming. I like how it performs in cold weather, oud-y-woody smooth, with just a touch of smoke, and a sprinkle of berries, so flowing and playful. Congratulations, Sarah and Chris!
UD IKAT comes with a nicely done gourmand touch. Its darker side is well hidden under the flow of balsamic and nutty notes, slightly roasted. The best part is that, although sweeter tones protrude and dance around its center -it is not overwhelming at all, it moves and shifts like semi-transparent veils until the dry down. Here, oud reveals itself in leathery undertones, firmly embraced by woods. Very wearable, or should I say uerable, and different uermi.
SUMMER OUD is a part of Miguel Matos’ Joyful Collection – the funny part is that this collection was conceived and created under heavy lockdowns during a very difficult situation in Portugal, due to Covid. One would think that he’d come out with animalic, fierce, and heavy creations (nothing strange to Miguel, The Master of Beasts), but no! The whole collection is joyous, uplifting, and very bright in terms of expression.
Summer Oud features fruity oud, with banana (of course), coconut, and raspberry. It feels fun to wear all year round! If you feel bored by oud-themed fragrances, do sample it.
Moving on to the next two fragrances, the best new perfumes in 2021, connected by – incense.
You know that Filippo Sorcinelli makes some of the best incense-themed perfumes, full stop. And I have followed him for years, and each time he manages to surprise me.
Well, if Lavs is the scent of Pope’s white robe, Opus 144 the scent of the Basilique Saint-Denis, or Notre Dame 15.4.2019 the scent of hope above remains of the cathedral, RELIQVIA is the horizontal beam of a cross symbolizing distribution of faith among people: I thought that nothing could surpass Lavs, but Reliqvia – did. Glorious! Baroque! Blessed be, he did it – again. And how!
A new brand came to town in 2020, Milano. Milano Fragranze, with the artistic direction of Alessandro Brun. 9 new fragrances were launched in 2021, and I first had the chance to smell them during Pitti Fragranze (Esxence Milan, the home of the brand, was postponed to 2022…and I can’t wait!). And among other fragrant visions of locations in Milan, there is BASILICA (created by Violaine Collas of MANE).
Very soft, nicely balanced, and with a touch of lactonic notes, Basilica is the horizontal part of the cross, dedicated to people, not sacral. An incense-themed perfume fresh enough to be worn in summer, herbal in a tasty way, and milky enough to flow densely. Interesting.
Perfume as a means of escapism? Oh, yes, there were many moments when I reached out for perfume to float away from what was surrounding me this year. And yes, perfumers are people too, so while battling their problems, their creations might have mirrored this need to escape the reality or aimed to provide a better or just a safer, imaginary, and fragrant place for all.
The best new perfumes in 2021 that take you to wonderful, finely scented places in your soul, anytime are:
LUXE CALME VOLUPTE, by Francesca Bianchi – touche, that hit the spot. Oh, did I need all of it, luxe, and calme, and volupte of life in 2021! Oh, how impatiently have I waited for that release!
Francesca managed to connect angelic innocence with budding lust, eros that has just barely touched maturity – unaware of its grandeur, daydreaming about running away with the love of its life, away from people, away from this world, and into the bliss of moments when two souls touch each other.
Gosh, I wish I had that perfume in my tender adolescent years, while I was having a crush on Baudelaire!
A bright wake-up call in the opening turns into an elegant and radiant presence above sensual amber, and just a touch of tropics, moving onward to a luxurious, resinous drydown. Easy to wear (I would say the most approachable Francesca Bianchi perfume even for niche-perfume newbies), easy to love, genderless, and oh! so comforting.
BY SERPENTINE (Eglija Vaitkevice)/ Exaltatum Parfum is the bohemian sister of her second and parallel release in 2021, Riverwalk – both inspired by specific locations in London, both soothing and soul-uplifting. It is full of life, little moments that might pass unnoticed unless you immerse yourself in here-and-now, ripe and youthful at the same time.
There’s some transparent tobacco smoke rising above grass that’s softly green, an abundance of berries and dried fruits scattered around the ground where people dropped them.
The night is young, filled with promises that promise well-being…and Nature heals: anytime, and everywhere. Beautiful!
One of the perfumes that made me utterly happy in 2021 is Parfums Dusita CAVATINA, and you can find my full review here. Eternal joy, I wrote: the joy of living. And the first LOTV-themed perfume in a long, long time that I fell head over heels in love with. Lovely!
Moving on to the best of 2021, entering the gourmands’ section! If you know me, you also know that this is not my favorite family and that I’m extremely picky about them, so this family is represented by only one perfume:
LOST ALICE (Mackenzie Reilly) MASQUE MILANO: I’ve already mentioned that Masque started a new trend in my Best of 2021 Resume, and how much we have all enjoyed Zoom launches of their new perfumes, Lost Alice was shipped before our meeting as the final formula, together with individual accords. Immediately after the presentation, my thoughts were that all those accords were fine on their own, but that the final formula was…too much to handle.
With time, and more testing and smelling, I’ve accepted how the fragrance shifts and moves in different directions, its elusive character, and all contrasts that pop up unexpectedly. I would say that it is essentially a floral gourmand with a lovely tea-party accord and a well-expressed broom note.
And now, I’m about to break my one-perfume-per-brand rule, to include one sunny day in a tropical paradise:
ANAMCARA (Pissara Umavijani+Eau My Soul FB group) PARFUMS DUSITA: I was participating in the process taking place in Eau My Soul since the beginning, even in suggesting some notes that perfume that should embody friendship should have IMHO. The final result is – so Dusita-characteristic! Even more than Cavatina! It is so bloody dense, opulent, joyful, satisfying, and intense!
Orange blossoms drenched in peach and apricot juice, rolled in tuberose petals, and then soaked in tea. Polen, honey, and nectar flow freely and in abundance, hiding an animalic breath lurking in shadows. So radiant, so impressive, so Dusita.
Original, mind-provoking, and different – the best new perfumes in 2021 – Pekji Perfumes and Colognes!
It was really hard to choose just one from the Reset Collection! I finally made up my mind and chose:
PURPL: what does purple smell like to you? Omer asked me this question while I was sampling this line for the first time. I guess Purpl was the hardest one for me to define in words, and this is exactly why I chose it. Purpl is fun, silly, careless, Purpl is a glass filled with crushed strawberries, grape juice smeared all over your fingers, and the musky smell of your skin after a whole day spent prancing around and laughing so hard that your stomach hurts. Purpl is a feeling, an idea, a memory, and a temptation. So original, so truly niche.
Feminine (if I must say so, perfume has no gender), elegant, and timeless: here come two fragrances that I just can’t get enough of:
NANSHE (Cecile Zarokian)/ Nishane – from the moment I took the first sniff, I was smitten by Nanshe. Yet, I found it complex and hard to describe. Nanshe is soft and powdery, but also dense and deep, Gentle, but with amazing performance. There’s a hidden rose, sprinkled with transparent powder, but there’s also spice beneath it (intense carrot seeds), I don’t recall smelling anything like it, and this fragrance is certainly something completely different in the Nishane collection, although Cecile has already created for Nishane. I’m addicted. To love.
No.12 (Nathalie Feisthauer) Puredistance Masterperfumes – you can find my full review here. She walks in beauty…I wrote. And that beauty is careless, natural, and timeless. Beauty in blue. Simply wonderful.
From beauties to beasts, or better said – leathers:
CORPUS EQUUS (Bertrand Duchefour) Naomi Goodsir – rough leather with strong musky layers underneath it, smoke all around it, and some sweetness lurking behind, strangely and softly present. It punches you straight in the nose at first, then it lets you feel its smoothness and the leather becomes well-polished and elegant and you start to appreciate it fully. Then, again, it changes further, becoming suede-soft, and the rose glows brighter just before it bites the dust and dries down to an earthy-feeling base. I wish that dry-down was a bit different, maybe more tamed – but that’s just me.
FALCON LEATHER (Aurelien Guichard) Matiere Premiere – another kind of a beast, birch tar Finland pushed to maximum, then turned inside out to show the soft, grainy side, and then dipped into a sweet ambery tincture to wash out any dirt left. Well done leather, quite genderless (I love wearing it!), and sexy. An ambery-leather that is just that, no unnecessary frills added. It makes me feel strong and invincible.
Moving into the woody-aromatic area, here is the best new perfume in 2021, coming from Der Duft:
ACT (Prin Lomros) Der Duft – you can find my full review here! I’ve been around Der Duft since its very beginning, and Act is one of the best fragrances in their line for me. Very original and strangely addictive, Act is controversial, intriguing, and different. Congratulations!
If you know me well, you also know that this list can’t be without an aquatic/marine fragrance! I narrowed down my choice to two, but this time I have to stick to my own rule. An honorable mention thus goes to EGE by Nishane! Ah, this list of the best new perfumes of 2021 could be even longer! Here’s the one:
ALBATROS (Anne-Sophie Behaghel) Mendittorosa – it seems that Baudelaire is the poet of the year as well! Oh, Albatros is something I identified myself with! But this fragrance is gentle, unlike people that mocked the large bird when it was grounded. It opens with bursts of ozonic and slightly salty notes, forms drops of transparent liquid falling upon roses, and then this silvery liquid touches the raw heart of pineapple, not smelling ripe at all. This bird was meant to fly, and it does fly on my skin. WIth ease, like sails that have caught just the right direction of the wind, like words of a poem spoken silently. Lovely.
Moving on to “naturals”, and the latest release:
WILD SUMMER CRUSH (Tanja Bochnig) April Aromatics – And in the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer – love. Just a memory of it can make you feel all romantic and happy! Summertime, easy-going days, juicy lips, tanned skin, and sweet summer nights. Let’s not forget that Tanja makes all-natural fragrances, and these need your skin desperately.
Wild Summer Crush is lovable, brightened by finely executed citruses, warmed up by a heart of rose, and ushered into a soft hug of coconut and silky woods. Youthfull, bright, and – flirty.
New, and promising: I chose two perfumes from these brand new brands you should keep your eyes and noses on, they are so authentic:
USHIRA (Shrivathsa) Parfums Karmic Hues – (you can also find a complete review of Mahodara, written by The Plum Girl guest writer Rajiv Burad here.) I chose Ushira for its freshness, lovely citruses and the main player: Ushira means Vetiver, and you can feel very refined vetiver all through the development of this fragrance. This will make a great summer scent! Very interesting and different, as are the other perfumes in the collection. IF you want me to review the whole line, drop a comment, please.
Perfume and science? Yes, this is the story behind AROMATOM – a brand created by Marina Barcenilla – an awarded perfumer BUT also working on her Space Science Ph.D. Well immersed in her academic work, Marina decided to create a brand that will combine her passion for fragrance and science, thus making AROMATOM a project that has reached many schools, museums, and discovery centers. So, what does space smell like?
MOON WALK (Marina Barcenilla) AROMATOM – did you just start singing “Walking on the Moon”? Marina’s vision of the Moon is quite austere and serene…Moon Walk opens with cold spices and dusty minerals, silently shifts towards dry orris, and later allows musky and dreamy – metallic feeling amber to shine on your skin.
Quite different, unique, and experimental! Choose your planet, or return to Earth: the choice is yours.
Here’s the list of all the best new fragrances in 2021 mentioned:
- LOUDO (Chris Maurice) / Sarah Baker Perfumes
- UD IKAT (Pierre-Constantin Gueros) /UerMi
- SUMMER OUD (Miguel Matos)/Miguel Matos Perfumes
- RELIQVIA / Filippo Sorcinelli
- BASILICA (Violaine Collas)/Milano Fragranze
- LUXE CALME VOLUPTE/Francesca Bianchi Perfumes
- BY SERPENTINE (Eglija Vaitkevice)/ Exaltatum Parfum
- CAVATINA (Pissara Umavijani)/Parfums Dusita
- LOST ALICE (Mackenzie Reilly) Masque, Milano
- ANAMCARA (Pissara Umavijani+Eau My Soul FB group)/Parfums Dusita
- PURPL (Omer Ipekci) Pekji Perfumes and Colognes
- NANSHE (Cecile Zarokian)/ Nishane
- No.12 (Nathalie Feisthauer) Puredistance Masterperfumes
- CORPUS EQUUS (Bertrand Duchefour) Naomi Goodsir
- FALCON LEATHER (Aurelien Guichard) Matiere Premiere
- ACT (Prin Lomros) Der Duft
- ALBATROS (Anne-Sophie Behaghel) Mendittorosa
- WILD SUMMER CRUSH (Tanja Bochnig) April Aromatics
- USHIRA (Shrivathsa) Parfums Karmic Hues
- MOON WALK (Marina Barcenilla) AROMATOM
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the perfumes I chose: thank you for your time, patience, and support.
I wish you a happy and fragrant new year!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Dreamstime, perfume bottle photos credits – brands mentioned.
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