Top Niche Picks for 2013




It was "kid in a candy store" time when LA's Scent Bar invited me to join manager Steven Gontarski in a survey of our favorite indie fume picks of the last year or so. While Steven zeroed in on smoke and incense and leathers, I was captivated by narcotic white flowers: lily, tuberose, orange blossom.

Here is our sniffing list:

What We Do in Paris is Secret by A Lab on Fire

Bois d'Ascèse by Naomi Goodsir

Kiss My Name by Ramón Monegal

Black Amber by Agonist

Séville à l'Aube by L'Artisan Parfumeur (Inspired and co-created by perfume writer Denyse Beaulieu, who wrote about its creation in her book The Perfume Lover.)

Cuir de Nacre by Ann Gérard

Soussanne by Keiko Mecheri


All perfumes available from Lucky Scent. For more Mr. Gontarski, read his blog, still-sound.

24 comments:

  1. Ramón Monegal as an indie brand? Oh, well... If By Kilian gets Fragrance Foundation Indie Award why not but for me it sounds strange. As well as naming Bertrand Duchaufour's perfumes in that category. But probably we understand that term differently.

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    1. Undina, I use "niche" and "indie" interchangeably, generally indicating "smaller perfume lines not available at the local mall". But now you've got me thinking about a distinction between the two terms. Tell me what you have in mind - I'm always looking for a way to clarify how I talk about perfume.

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    2. I'm not saying that my classification is the correct one but I always thought that "indie" goes for those perfumes that are actually produced by perfumers - e.g. Tauer Perfumes, Sonoma Scent Studio, DSH Perfumes. Those with limited "number of doors" but produced industrially I consider to be "niche" - e.g. By Kilian, Ramon Monegal or Parfumerie Generale.

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    3. That's good distinction - I figured that's what you meant, Undina. It's a useful classification, and I do believe I'll adopt it.

      But I find when chatting to civilians about perfume, they understand "indie" more readily than "niche", since they know the indie concept via music and film - so I end up calling all non-mall perfume "indie".

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  2. Fabulous picks all round, dear Katie - but a special hurrah for 'Black Amber'!! I love this fragrance - in fact, I wouldn't turn my nose up at most of the Agonists. A friend of mine actually bought it at Scent bar when visiting LA back at Easter time, and my furtive snorting of her just became embarrassing ( for her; not me). I bought my own bottle last month. True love. Justineantonia xoxo

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    1. Justinantonia, now you can drop the furtive and snort to your heart's abandon!

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    2. Yes - I'm a peach to hang out with, in all my furtive, snorting glory. Never short of a pal. :) Justineantonia xoxo

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  3. Goodness, where have I been? I have only sniffed two of these - Seville a l'aube and Cuir de Nacre. The standout highlight for me from the Ramon Monegal line (howsoever classified) was Ambra di Luna. Positively swoonworthy.

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  4. Niche = expensive, indie not so much...AnnieA

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  5. you and Steven make a great team- not only was this informative, but was delightful to watch the two of you "in action", doing what you love- sniffing and analyzing for all the world!

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  6. and ...how charming and handsome is Steven? Just "googled" him to discover he is an incredible artist- among many other talents...this, and that dashing stache make him "swoon- worthy" I hope that doesn't sound offensive or stalker-ish...just sayin.....

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    1. Steven is near-on irresistible. I pass his public sculpture at Renzo Piano's Central Saint Giles in London just about every day.

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  7. Maybe I commented over on YouTube, I can't remember. In any case I really enjoyed this visit at Scent Bar. The picks are perfection by two who's noses know.

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    1. Lanier, I did see you over on YouTube - thanks the props!

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    2. oh yes I am dabbling with my own channel...we'll see how it goes. Wish me LUCK... Maybe I should change my channel name to Deer Milk and Boy Tears.

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    3. I vote for deer milk and boys tears as the name of any and everything that needs a name!!!:)

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  8. It's a delight to hear two informed enthusiasts waxing lyrical about perfume. I've a sample of What We Do In Paris Is Secret and I've been debating if it's a future buy or near-future. More exploration is clearly called for.

    Black Amber sounds toe-curling-- I'm going to have to check that out. Heck, they all sound wonderful!
    Thanks for the reviews.

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  9. But I didn't clarify - What We Do In Paris Is Secret is marvelous to me so far. I like their packaging with the zip-tie on bottle. More texture. Nice!

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  10. Here are my two favorite indie perfume finds this year: DS & Durga's Boston Ivy and Ineke Perfume's (insert_anything_they_come_up_with_here).

    Boston Ivy is as close as I've ever gotten to designating a perfume as a "signature scent." I realize that it came out in 2011, but for me, of all the fragrances I've tried this year, this is the one I wear the most.

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    1. DS & Durga have really been capturing people's imaginations with their evocative perfume narratives backed up by actual nice smells.

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  11. Lovely video Katie!
    And Merry Christmas to you!

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