Now that we’re finally out of last year, Jade and Kori take a look back at the fragrance houses they spent the most time enjoying or reaching for, and detail why they picked them as well as why you might want to check them out for 2023!
This was the year I just dove headfirst into exploring “wet shave” houses. While these companies focus more on making products for wet shaving, they also craft scents to go with said products and even make some fragrances to boot! Besides that, the guys you’ll find in wet shaving circles might just be some of the nicest people on the internet. Wholly Kaw is one of two wet shave companies on my top five this year, for both their scents (seriously, try Vor V) and for the quality of their other products. If you’re a gym rat like I am, I strongly urge you to give their specially made (and unisex) deodorants a try. They will change your life.
Fort and Manlé
I spent a lot of 2021 acquiring bottles from this house, but not so much wearing them. But, because we had such a warm 2022 over in SoCal, I found myself reaching for them more and more this last year. Astonishingly vivid and supremely versatile, I can safely say these bottles were a great investment (even if I’m sad some of the scents seem to be discontinued now) and I look forward to trying its newer offerings this year.
Okay, look, nobody should be shocked by this house being in my top five. Penhaligon’s will probably always be in my top five. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a variety of quality scents for you to choose from! And they certainly do not lack variety when it comes to new offerings. I’m excited to see what they have in store for 2023.
The second of the “wet shave” houses on my list, Castle Forbes is from a literal castle in Scotland. This “backyard brew” operation has grown from a tinkering hobby into a respected brand both in Europe and across the pond. It’s also the creator of quite possibly the only neroli scent that’s tailored for cold weather. And y’all know how much I love neroli.
Let’s rip the bandaid off. This house is NOT cheap. The price of these fragrances is a hard pill to swallow, and I’ve never been a fan of exorbitant pricetags on bottles of smelly water. So it’s saying something about the quality of their fragrances that I not only bought a bottle of Alba, but also included them on my list. Yes, I smelled Alba two years ago, and yes, I thought (and saved) long and hard about whether I wanted to drop that much money for a bottle. But when I can’t forget it two years later, well, I took the plunge, and happy holidays to me. Some houses inflate the prices just to make themselves seem prestige. Fueguia 1833 actually has the quality to back it up.
I spent 2022 wearing through my collection, identifying scents in my collection that worked on a day-to-day basis as well as those best suited for nights with friends new and old. Amouage simply dominated my rotation. It’s remarkable when a brand known for its splendor and complexity also manages to thrive in so many common situations. The abrasively ashy Interlude Man fell in my most-worn list, but I ended up wearing Sunshine Woman and Fate Woman more than perhaps any other fragrance over any other year. This house makes special perfumes that can add such a sparkle to the right wearer’s day.
Folie À Plusieurs
Folie is one of the few houses I’ve experienced whose fragrances are almost instantly recognizable, exuding this magnificent cohesion in their compositions despite reaching for bizarre, almost alien ideas. It’s the sort of house that boasts not one but a plethora of siblings to metallic masterpieces like Ganymede. Folie’s perfumes are the sort that exude coolness beyond my understanding, and it’s a privilege to integrate such genius compositions into my own presentation on a given day.
Frapin was one of those houses whose reputation wasn’t the best when I first stumbled on them. Most internet forums either centered around Frapin’s leaky bottles or their fragrances’ underwhelming performances. I can’t speak to the first issue as I’ve never owned a bottle, but wow, this is one of those houses that you shouldn’t overlook just because a few internet comments told you to. Even Frapin’s lesser scents have a comforting, unpretentious air to them. L’Humaniste has quickly become one of my warm-weather fragrances, and its strengths carry over to many of the house’s other fragrances as well.
This is a situational one. I live in Las Vegas, and we only have a few truly interesting fragrance shops on the strip. Sure, you’ve got your host of high-end designers that often carry the harder-to-find private lines, and yes, there is a boutique from a house that us Fandomentals editors aren’t particularly fond of. The Guerlain boutique, however, really is a shining star of the Bellagio, and the more I get to know its scents – specifically the greens and florals – the more I love them. Herbes Troublantes is almost certainly my next bottle pickup and I can’t wait for it to dominate next year’s wardrobe.
This is another house that I never expected to be a personal favorite. During the first few go-arounds, I found all the house staples to be rather straight-laced and traditional for my taste. Then the ‘Le Capitale’ incident occurred and I became weary of the house’s stronger offerings. Now we’re here in 2023 and I can safely say I reach for Xerjoff samples and decants far, far more often than I ever expected, burning through just about every citrus offering I have and cruising through my small bottle of Naxos. There’s something about the house’s best scents that ooze class and luxury without drawing too much attention to themselves. Their quiet confidence and indisputable quality are the perfect complements to any outfit, any day.
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