My 20 Favourite Perfumes in My Collection (2015)

20 of My Favorite Perfumes (1-10) © Victor Wong
20 of My Favorite Perfumes (1-10) © Victor Wong

Here are some of my favorite perfumes in my collection (as of 2015), in no particular order. Very personal choice:

1. Amouage’s Gold for Men – So rich, musky, powdery and opulent. When I die, I will be dowsed with this perfume.

2. Chanel’s Bois Des Iles  – Sandalwood and aldehyde bomb. I almost shed a little tear when I first smelled it.

3. Atkinsons’ The Odd Fellow’s Bouquet – Don’t know why, but I love this tobacco and cognac spicy scent. Not formal but full of personality. When in doubt, I wear this perfume.

4. Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew – Smells like an incense temple in Hong Kong to me. It is also very potent, yet when I am sleepless, I spray some on my pillow and I will be at peace.

5. Byredo’s M/Mink – Honey and ink that smells like sweet sun dried seafood. Perverted and unforgettable.

6. Lanvin’s Arpege (Modern 1st reformulation) – I will have a whole lot more to say about this perfume.

7. Kiehl’s Original Musk – Smelling flowers next to a monkey cage, and the perfume that inspired me to create my own Zoologist Perfumes brand.

8. Le Labo’s Gaiac 10 – When I smell this scent, I feel like my brain is being taken out of my head and get a cold river rinsing.

9. Robert Piguet’s Calypso – Super powdery rose with a few drops of chypre. Perfect.

10. Salvador Dali’s Dali – A floral blend that just clicks. The materials in this perfume may not be the best, but every week I have to take a sniff.

20 of My Favorite Perfumes (11-20)
20 of My Favorite Perfumes (11-20)

11. Oriza Legrand’s Relique d’Amour – It transports me to a different place of a different time. Longevity is its main problem though.

12. Annick Goutal’s Songes EDP – I love it, I hate it, I love it… a white flower bomb that smells so good and yet so potent I am smiling and gagging at the same time.

13. Lubin’s Nuit de Longchamp – Elegance, sophistication, retro; romancing on the balcony of a ballroom with giant fountains running down below. (See also #19)

14. Etat Libre d’Orange’s Archives 69 – Cherry lollypop that I can’t stop sucking.

15. L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Traversee du Bosphore – Istanbul is my favourite city and it inspired this perfume. Smells like Turkish delight and it’s marvellous.

16. Diptyque’s Philosykos – the best fig perfume IMO. Fig is also one of my favourite fruits and trees.

17. Le Labo’s Iris 39 – Green iris soaked up by a piece of bread. Even I can’t pull it off because it’s so womanly but that makes me love it more.

18. Helmut Lang’s Eau de Cologne – I should have picked Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, but this smells more sophisticated to me, still, it’s a lemon baby powder scent that I can’t get enough of.

19. Jean Desprez’s Bal a Versailles (vintage) – Legendary French perfume that fits for a cold or flaming queen, a fancy host or fancy whore, or any gentleman who isn’t really gentle.

20. Acqua di Colonia’s Melograno – I will save some for when I become an old man, I will gain more respect when I wear it. Excellent aromatic cologne.

Oriza Legrand’s Relique d’Amour (2012)

Oriza L. Legrand Relique D'Amour © Victor Wong
Oriza L. Legrand Relique D’Amour © Victor Wong

I’ve watched quite a few home renovation TV shows that teach people how to make furniture look like vintage pieces. You paint it, scratch it, score it, and even beat it with a chain like torturing a prisoner in the Middle Ages, and the end result is convincingly good. Making new things look old is nothing new, and the technique is an art by itself.

Interestingly, Orica Legrand’s Relique d’Amour (2012) is a perfume that gives me the feeling that I am smelling a new creation that was designed to smell antiquated. It smells of big institutions with a long history, sturdy furniture built with solid oak and traditional craftsmanship, and that has endured years of usage and occasional polishing. This is a grand feeling, like entering a huge library and being humbled by the massive collection of knowledge and bookshelves, or visiting a monastery and bewildered by the devoted monks who manage to maintain the dignity of their living quarters without saying a word.

Essentially Relique d’Amour is a woody perfume, but what you get out of it may depend on your age, your background, whether your country had been ruled by the British or not, and also mainly your imagination. You might find it smell like a TV amoire and nothing more, but to me, it brings back memories of me being an apprehensive Catholic primary school student standing in front of the whole class trying to recite traditional British nursery rhymes that I had no clue what they were about.

Oriza L. Legrands’ Muguet Fleuri (1920, reformulated 2014)

Oriza L. Legrand Muguet Fleur © Victor Wong
Oriza L. Legrand Muguet Fleur © Victor Wong

There are two lily-of-the-valley perfumes that I think are quite well known to the older generation of perfume lovers – Christian Dior’s Dioressimo and Guerlain’s Muguet.

I have a sample of vintage Diorissimo gifted from a generous Facebook friend, and the smell is truly spellbinding. Later I went to smell the current reformulated version in a department store for comparison purpose, although it smelled faithful to the original version, it was less rounded and the lily-of-the-valley note smelled apparently more synthetic or harsher. I have decided if I ever want to own a bottle of Diorissmo, I will get the vintage version from eBay.

Then there’s Guerlain’s Muguet. They release it annually around May as a limited edtion for $600 a bottle. The presentation is different every year and it’s always a delight to see or own one as they really put good artistic effort designing the bottles and packaging. They are beautiful. But I cannot forgive myself for buying a bottle in 2014 because the price was truly regretfully ridiculous. My coworker once visited my millionaire boss’ home and reported that he had an espresso machine that probably cost five thousand dollars. She said, “You know, that’s a downpayment for a car for work for a lot of people.” I swear that I will never buy another edition of Guerlain Muguet no matter how pretty it is. And I refuse to use my bottle too. I just admire it, sniff it, and when the time is right, I will sell it. The smell of Guerlain’s Muguet, nevertheless, is good, I give them that… actually, quite simple but wonderful, as it smells almost identical to the real one, with the exception that occasionally my subconscious creeps up to tell me that I am smelling some shampoo.

Just two days ago a superhero perfume came to the rescue when a friend decided to sell his bottle of Oriza L. Legrands’ Muguet Fleuri (1920, reformulated 2014). I have a feeling that, just like modern “oud”, the lily-of-the-valley note can be easily acquired as a synthetic compound from any big aromachemical company in France. One probably could dilute it with alcohol and call it Muguet la Sillygoose and people will think that a whole village of farmers have gathered 100 pounds of lily-of-the-valley at 5 am for distillation to make 10 oz of essential oil to make that perfume. But I don’t have access to those French aromachemical companies and even if I do, probably the minimum purchase amount is 10 kg. So I think that the price of Muguet Fleur is reasonable (~$95 for 100ml). Besides, Muguet Fluer is not trying to duplicate the smell of lily-of-the-valley exactly; it has notes of galbanum, angelica, violet leaf, oakmoss and lily. The opening smells a bit bitter, which I love, then the rest is similar to Diorissimo and Guerlain’s Muguet. Not exactly, but I am happy and satisfied.