Another year passed one month ago already. Period full of changes, with perfumes often treated as the best remedy. It was great time for Persefume though – we tripled our audience, published several exclusive news and some of our popular “He says, she says” reviews, participated both in Esxence and Pitti Fragranze fairs and finally, also worked as evaluators of some upcoming fragrant releases. Many new launches, many new friendships and discoveries. So let’s come back to 2016 once again, with our annual review (to see our 2015 report, click here).

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2016. It was another year of several new brands (which leads us to the question: when enough is enough for perfume industry? is it always a space to suprise and innovate, or as opposite – to revert to traditions of haute perfumery?). More not so new ideas. More niche key-players acquired by big companies (e.g. Atelier Cologne and L’Oreal case , or Estee Lauder Companies partnering with By Kilian). Houses as Guerlain going into more and more mainstream and lacklustre mode. Luckily, we had chance to be totally vowed by some 2016 novelties – still lot of reviews are going to show up on Persefume in upcoming weeks including some brands not covered by us previously e.g. Dawn Spencer Huritz Perfumes, or Ego In Vitro straight from Brazil among others. And actually, this was not that dramatic year for designer fragrances – more about the category in the next parts of our post.

So – without the further comments, we are presenting our Persefume Top list of the best niche 2016 releases.
Last year we have had 21 best scents and 21 runners-up, this year both categories have been merged into the joint, total list of 33 not-to-miss niche fragrances of 2016. Let us begin!

(in the alphabetical order by brand)
J. – comments by Jakub, A.- Aleksandra

1. AEDES DE VENUSTAS – Cierge de Lune
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J.: Gorgeous and intoxicating, bit abstract vanilla matched with sweet tobacco, peppers and woods. It was great year for Aedes de Venustas as another new entry, Alberto Morillas Grenadille d’Afrique did not dissapoint either with its intense, smoky and resinous aroma.

2. AMOUAGE BRACKEN MAN
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J: In 2016 Amouage launches did not vowed us, but luckily last year this house came back to the game with Myths duo, Lilac Love and most of all, Bracken Man – both classic and classy fougere. Ladies version will be introduced shortly.

3. ANDY TAUER - AU COEUR DU DESERT
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J.: Remastered Extrait version of cult L`Air du Desert Marocain. More rich, decadent with sublime woody and ambery undertones. Another winter holygrail which we will cover more deeply very soon, Also not to miss: Andy Tauer’s small novelty: luxurious, yet very fairly-priced Amber Flush Body Oil. I am addicted!

4. ANTONIO ALESSANDRIA PARFUMSEPERDUMENT
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J.: Solar scent of white flowers and neroli. Light and hope in the bottle – as elegant as its creator.

5. ARQUISTE – EL/ELLA

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J.: Carlos Huber, great Creative Director of Arquiste teamed-up again with marvellous Rodrigo Flores-Roux to create duo which should not be really judged separately. Impressive tribute to glorious 70s, Acapulco parties with so butch masculine version and intense, vampy Ella. Quality speaks itself.

6. ATELIER DES ORS – IRIS FAUVE
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J.: Another amazing result of Jean-Philippe Clermont‘s collaboration with his perfumer Marie Salamange. And again, another example of elegance and class.
A.: A very sweet variety of iris, probably not-existent in the universe. Smells wet only for a few seconds, than quickly turns into a very warm and nice scent infused with vanilla and cinnamon.

7. BARUTI – DAMA KOUPA
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J.: Very bold, intense scent with amazing, not too earthy iris perfectly combined with sweet osmanthus and non-banal gourmand/boozy accords. Hint of smokiness adds so needed balance and prevents it from being too sticky. Impressive!

A.: Wonderful, sweet iris mixed with carrot is a heady beginning of this surprising perfume, and then it gets even more interesting, with iris turning metallic, buttery and simultaneously blunt, as if a handful of sand was thrown in there. Beeswax makes this concoction fascinatingly eerie, fir ads a cool whiff which makes this perfume oscillate between hot and cold. And still it is easy to wear, what a treasure!

8. BLOOD CONCEPT – XY (NUDE WOOD)
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J.: Blood Concept‘s new image is perhaps a little bit less exciting that previous one, but XX and XY duo turned out to be truly solid offerings. Like especially XY with its unusual combination of classic cedar and vetiver notes with coconut flowers and spices.

9. BORIS BIDJAN SABERI – 11

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J.: The last-minute addition to our list: Geza Schoen replicated smell of vegetal leather in Boris Bidjan Saberi‘s atelier. Paradoxally both dark and fresh effect.

10. CARNER BARCELONA – BLACK CALAMUS
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J.: Part of darker Carner’s trio by Rodrigo Flores-Roux. All three are amazing, yet Black Calamus echoes lost magic of his DK Black Cashmere, with dash of Labdanum. We will cover this Black Collection very soon.

11. COMME DES GARCONS – BLACKPEPPER

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J.: Good, old CdG style is back – hopefully for longer. I forgive the awful DOT – more releases like this one, please!

12. DUSITAMELODIE D’AMOUR and OUDH INFINI
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J.: Pissara’s Parfums Dusita creations totally amazed us – my favourite was Oudh Infini, one of best ouds around, incredibily opulent, dangerously animalic. It blends beasty and cheesy aspects of oud with roses, vanilla and woods.

A.: I vote for Melodie d’Amour – I perceive this soliflore perfume as huge sheets of white sweetness and thickness and creaminess. Rich and gorgeous.

13. DS & DURGA – RADIO BOMBAY

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J.: This US brand does not stop to suprise us. Woody-oriental Radio Bombay was just one of their great 2016 releases – more to come soon in the separate post.

14. EVODY PARFUMS - ONDE 7

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Ad campaign by Roberto Greco

J.: The latest Evody’s Collection d`Ailleurs composed by Amélie Bourgeois of Flair Paris. Inspired by Egyptian Kyphi, with blend of honey, narcissus and animalic notes. The result is complex and really brave comparing to little safe French chic of previous creations.

15. JUL ET MAD – SECRETS DU PARADIS ROUGE
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J.: Magic of neroli, subtle rose, oriental touch of almond and deliciously gourmand accords. Another success story by Luca Maffei after his brillant Nea and Garuda.
A.: It goes off with a beautiful and ripe notes of fruits heavy with juice. It’s green, sweet and wet at the same time, which makes it quite heavy. Pair it with persistent citrus notes, and you have a picture of this somewhat great perfume. Then add the scent of a traditional hairdresser’s room when they make perm: wet, hairy, hot and sensual. And somehow floating in two different dimensions! There’s something otherworldly in this perfume.

16. LABORATORIO OLFATIVO – NEROTIC
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J.: Roberto Drago‘s Laboratorio Olffativo has really good year with two great creations by Luca MaffeiNun and MyLO, yet Nerotic by Cecile Zarokian deserves special attention. This hypnotic, woody and smoky scent marks very promising start of “Laboratorio in Nero” collection.

17. LE GALION – SANG BLEU
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Ad campaign by Roberto Greco

J.: Le Galion’s Nicolas Chabot used the orginal Paul Vacher’s formula to create powerful tribute to 80s. Essence of masculinity. More to come soon on Persefume.

18. LIQUIDES IMAGINAIRES - ILE POURPRE
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J.: Black fig in clouds of shisha and incense. Less nocturnal, yet amazing vision of Philippe Di Méo.

19. LM PARFUMS – KINGDOM OF DREAMS
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J.: Another great entry by Laurent Mazzone: this time more spicy and dark, with perfectly balanced incense. Well done!

20. LUBIN – KISMET

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J.: Gilles Thevenin and perfumer Thomas Fontaine brought back legend of Kismet to life – in its current incarnation it is gorgeous Oriental with vanillic and animalic undertones. Lovers of Shalimar: here comes the real beauty!

21. MAISON INCENS – LES INCENSEES (Coeur de Oud, Coeur de Rose, Coeur de Musc)
COEUR DE ROSE EXTRAIT DE PARFUM 50ML WEB
J.: New striking Philippe Constantin‘s Maison Incens Extraits give truly animalic, yet sensual kick with Oud and Musc being my favourites. For now available in limited distribution, but expect them to conquer your nose in 2017.

22. MARIA CANDIDA GENTILE – LANKARAN FOREST
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J.: General release of previously hidden gem – so positive, so natural, so magical. Addictive!

A.: A real beauty of salicylates one can find in oranges. They never felt so natural! This fresh accord is interestingly underscored by herbal, meadowy stream of vibrant molecules. The solid base of iron tree scent makes it all even more otherwordly. Such perfumes always make me think that human imagination is beyond Known, if let free. Lankaran Forest grows, sings and flies.

23. MASQUE MILANO – L’ATTESA

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J.: Masque founders chose nose Luca Maffei to create L’Attesa: striking tribute for iris and champagne. The combination of orris roots, musks and wood stay on skin from dusk till dawn. The essence of elegance – instant classic.

24.NASOMATTO BARAONDA
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J.: Alessandro Gualtieri‘s suprise return to the Nasomatto line. But very positive one, with incredibly boozy, almost drinkable perfume.

25. NEELA VERMEIRE CREATIONS – RAHELE
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J.: Neela Vermeire and Bertrand Duchaufour - match made in heaven. Soft and glowing with delicate osmanthus, very comforting spices and delicate touch of woods.

A.:– Radiant softness. In my mind, Duchaufour’s creations are associated with a rather bold, articulate spirit. This one is timid in comparison with previous Neela perfumes. Flowers of osmanthus are the soul of this scent, but there’s also a silver dust of spices and leather covering them, which makes the concoction a bit quirky, lunar-like. Intimate as a whisper, it still projects well, embracing me in its warm, sensual hands. Highly corresponds with the gold autumn outside.

26. NISHANE – FAN YOUR FLAMES

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J.: One of two Nishane’s Extraits debuting in 2016 as results of ungoing collaboration between Nishane’s founders Mert Güzel and Murat Katran with perfumer Jorge Lee. Boozy rhum, coconut, shisha fumes… great quality juice.

27. OLIBERE PARIS- L’ETOILE NOIRE
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J.: Elegant, rather classic collection by Marjorie Olibere gained new member: Amelie Borgeois’ L’Etoile Noire is more brave entry and scent of paradoxes with its aquatic and ambery undertones, hay and tobacco. Feels special.

28. OLIVER & CO. – AMBERGREEN AND VANINGER
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J.: Ambergreen, together with Vaninger – two great entries by Oliver & Co., brand which will be covered by us shortly. Green, spicy freshness ideally matching its name.

29. OLFACTIVE STUDIO- CLOSE-UP
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J.: After great Still Life in Rio, here comes the next Celine Verleure‘s hit. Heavy, bit wintery gourmand by Annick Menardo. New bottle marks another era for this great brand.

30. RANIA J. – CUIR ANDALOU
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J.: Rania Jouaneh‘s creations have power. Masterfully blended, fairly priced – and this so animalic Cuir Andalou is not an exception.

31. SIMONE ANDREOLI DIARIO OLFATTIVO – ETERNO
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J.: I still remember first meeting with Simone Andreoli, this is another example of his talent. Warm and ambery Extract, very mature creation of this young perfumer.

32. TALISMANS- NETTUNO
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J.: Gorgeous gourmand iris with clouds of comforting musks, complex rose accord, warm touch of rhum and leather contrasted with blue ginger. Nettuno belongs to Talismans collection, born from Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima spirit, now existing as standalone concept. Scented mirror created with help of by Amélie Bourgeois from Flair Paris, with amazing campaign starring Tresor Prijs.

33.THE DIFFERENT COMPANY – ADJATAY
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J.: Cuir narcotique – it perfectly sums up this unexpected launch. Mix of tuberose and leather works out really well. Sensual and addicitve.

Special Award no. 1- ZOOLOGIST PERFUMES by Victor Wong

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We must admit that previous Zoologist releases gave us mixed feelings, but bravo to Creative Director Victor Wong for his determination, hard efforts and impressive 2016 achievements! During one year he managed to improve existing formula of Chris Bartlett‘s Beaver and collaborated with great perfumers resulting with Macaque by Sarah McCartney and my favourite, perfectly vintage Nightingale composed by Japanese perfumer and writer Tomoo_Inaba. Shelley Waddington‘s Civet sounds like another winner – yet we still need a chance to try it.

Special Award no. 2 – MONA DI ORIO BOHEA BOHEME

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Jeroen Oude Sogtoen has selected Swedish perfumer Fredrik Dalman as official nose of Maison Mona di Orio. Their first scent, Bohea Boheme is a tribute to Mona’s heritage. Smoky, artistic, unforgettable.

Additional category – three best limited editions of 2016
– so limited, or almost gone, but never forgotten!!

Vetiver bomb Aeon Perfume Aeon 001 composed by Antonio Gardoni
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…wicked gourmand Cadavre Exquis – Giardoni’s collaboration with Bruno Fazzolari.
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and last and not least – wonderful attar perfume in truly artistic packaging, symbol of real perfumed art:
SANTI BURGAS EAU DADETTE
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After this long list, let’s focus on the Best Debuts of 2016 starting from
the Best Return category: LE JARDIN RETROUVE

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First niche brand ever founded in 1975 by perfumer Yuri Gutsatz. Now reinvented by his son and his family. Seven traditional perfumes, with French class and elegance presented in clever Le Nécessaire concept. More about the brand very soon on Persefume.

… and 12 Best Newcomers of 2016:

1. PARFUMS DUSITA

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Dusita had to appear on the top of the list! Charming Pissara Umavijani took the niche market by storm not only thanks to her intense social media presence, but impressive creations. Her five, high-quality scents – three initial Extraits and two latest EdPs gained love from perfumistas around the globe. Yes, they are pricey, but very well-composed. Dusita brings us back to the era of haute perfumererie.

2. AETHER
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Aether Ad campaign by Roberto Greco

Aether Parfums – new project by Nicolas Chabot of Le Galion. Innovative scents: Ether Oxyde, Citrus Ester, Muskethanol, Carboneum an Rose Alcane – all fully based on synthetic molecules. Concept already well known in niche perfumery, yet the result is really refined and quite futuristic, bit out of our world. Two noses of Flair Paris: Amelie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel really succeeded!

3. ART DE PARFUM
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Art de Parfum – British house founded by Ruta Degutyte has been inspired by French culture and sophistication. Five Extraits de Parfum with real presence with Signature Wild, Gin & Tonic Cologne and Excentrique-Moi as standouts from the line. More about this chic and ethical line free from any harmful chemicals soon on Persefume.

4.BJORK & BERRIES
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Swedish Eco-Luxury brand with three scents by Jerome Epinette: Dark Rain, No Spring and White Forest. Pleasant, affordable and quite addictive!

5. FRANCESCA BIANCHI PERFUMES
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Three debut Extraits by Italian self-taught perfumer, Francesca Bianchi. Impressive, rich and decadent – with Dark Side being out favourite.

6. GRI GRI
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GRI GRI- the new brand by Anaïs Biguine, her third project after Jardins D’Écrivains and Les Cocottes de Paris. After the first trio, both sweet and animalic Sideshow turned out to be truly great!

7. GUSTAVE EIFFEL PARFUMS
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Noses Sidonie Lancesseur and Dorothee Piot of Robertet contributed to the project related to work of the iconic architect Gustave Eiffel and jointly brought to life by his descendant Philippe Couperie Eiffel and Fragrance Collection – company who gave us Franck Boclet perfumes. Chic, modern classics.

8. HOMOELEGANS
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HOMOELEGANS – brave concept by Francesco Gini and Maurizio Piazzi who worked with nose Michele Marin on just two scents inspired by literature and beauty of male body.

9. PARFUMS QUARTANA
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Joseph Quartana, creator of Six Scents unveiled his second, intriguing project. Parfums Quartana’s Les Potions Fatales are build around poisonous flowers – and results are truly impressive.

10. SAUF
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New line by Filippo Sorcinelli of UNUM, Those three Extraits reinvent incense theme. Scented melodies and mysterious tales waiting to be discovered.

11. SP PARFUMS
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German project of self-taught perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit. High quality, natural scents – soon to be popularized with new 2017 collection created with our dear Friend – Fragrantica’s Miguel Matos.

12. SYLVAINE DELCOURTE PARFUMS
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Solo-project of Guerlain’s Sylvaine Delcourte – first collection build upon musk is charming, wearable and truly elegant.

Best designer 2016 launches – feminine

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Mugler Angel Muse ad campaign
This year we do not need to be that harsh. It was pretty good year for mainstream releases. On ladies’ shelves – Chanel No.5 L’Eau succeeded with mission of refreshing No.5 franchise (apparently No.5 Eau Premiere was not youthful enough). Christine Nagel made quite impressive debut with her first works for Hermes (floating Eau du Rhubarbe Ecarlate and rather solid Galop D’Hermes (we have info about her 2017 feminine launch for Hermes, yet it can not be revealed just yet). Cheap and chic category – Yves Rocher with Rose Oud and Accord Chic. But the biggest suprise and best launch – Angel Muse by Mugler. More than another Angel’s flanker, with comforting nutty accords – bravo! Kudos to Kenzo World fantastic ad campaign, pity that the scent was bit less exciting.

Best designer 2016 launches – masculine

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Cartier L’Envol campaign

Masculine Lalique Encre Noire A L’Extreme took what’s best from the original and transported it into the bolder dimension. Cartier L’Envol brought back honey notes which make it truly great unisex launch. Sarah Jessica Parker came back to scene with solid and affordable SJP Stash with almost “that’s so niche” feel, this time made without support of big company. We still need to test promising Gucci Guilty Absolute, so hopefully it will be included in our 2017 report.

Biggest 2016 fails

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Louis Vuitton collection

Without too much negativity – the already-mentioned case of Guerlain‘s decline (and Dior’s as well – Poison Girl EdT anyone?), completely unnecessary reformulations of Chanel Les Exclusifs into EdPs which often ruined their character. Another bunch of pricey and predictable boutique lines launched just to jump the “high-end” bandwagon. And rather dull Louis Vuitton collection without proper references to the history of this famous house.

Best 2016 perfumers:

Cécile Zarokian who had extrememly good and productive year with Laboratorio Olfattivo Nerotic , Fath Essentials (line we stil need to cover), gorgeous oud-tuberose Hayari New Oud, Making of Magie du Desert and excellent UÈRMÌ Collection Extraordinaire. Not to mention two big orientals Puredistance Sheiduna and MDCI Fetes Persanes!

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Cécile Zarokian

Amelie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel of Flair Paris. In 2016 this energetic duo managed to create Aether line, Room 1015 Power Ballad, Evody Onde 7, Parfums Volnay Ambre de Siam, Talismans Nettuno and Olibere L’Etoile Noire. Their ability to translate concepts in unique fragrance still continue to amaze us! Not to mention about fun 2016 project – Parfum INDÉLÉBILE with Philippe Di Méo (pictured).
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Luca Maffei of Atelier Fragranze Milano – entries for Masque, Gabriella Chieffo and Jul et Mad continue to prove ungoing talent of this young perfumer. And for sure it is not the end of his suprises…
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Luca Maffei, AFM

… which leads to us to the final part:what to expect in 2017?

Oh, teasers – how we love it! We have high hopes for many releases and information on secret Esxence launches continue to come.
For sure we can unveil that e.g.:
Luca Maffei has created bunch of exciting novelties as Coolife Le Sixieme Parfum, his first scent for Olibere Paris and also Archetipo Extrait for Mendittorosa
SANTI BURGAS is preparing big launch, but shhh….
– there will be completely new NISHANE collection
– UNUM will unveil new Extrait..
– Laurent Mazzone’s LM Parfums will enter the new era
Angelo Orazio Pregoni of O’Driu will take us to the sea depth with Sea Angel (and we haven’t tested Gothic Angel just yet)
Talismans collection will be joined by gorgeous OSANG
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Talismans OSANG
– and finally, Persefume is waiting for NAJA – new creation of our beloved Vero Kern of Vero Profumo: NAJA naja
Vero Profumo NAJA

So, that was 2016 in the nutshell – hope you have managed to read it all! We wish you and ourselves lot of valuable scented experiences in 2017! And of course, as always – big thank you to our Friends and Followers, to all noses, brand creators, beloved bloggers, especially to Alex Musgrave of The Silver Fox for his constant support, to Rossella, Victor of Mood Scent Bar, Perfumeria Quality, to the whole Fragrantica Team, Equipe Milano, PR agencies and finally to the ultimate party squad – Margo, Silvia, Marina and Cezary.

With love,
Jakub and Aleksandra

Pictures – brands’ press offices.