Back at the very beginning of the year, I gazed into my fragrant crystal ball to guess what the world of perfume would have in store in 2020. Well, it’s safe to say that my crystal ball needs a bit of a polish, because what I did not see was, well, *gestures at the world*, all of this…
2020 has been a tough year. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed so much about the way we live, work and shop. It’s been a year of staying home, or if you’re a key worker, a year of working extremely hard to keep the world moving. It’s a year where we haven’t seen our friends and family as much as we would like, and a year where we haven’t done all of the things we wanted to. It’s been quite the year, let’s be honest.
The world of perfume has changed too. Many scents that were due to launch have been delayed, and the usual churn of the industry has slowed down. What’s more, the way we shop for scent has changed, and we at Escentual have fully embraced this with #EscentualScents – bringing blind fragrance smelling to you, to allow you to explore fragrances, both new and old, all from the comfort of your own home. I think it’s going to continue to change and evolve in 2021 too.
But before we get to 2021, let’s take a look back at 2020 and whether those predictions at the beginning of the year held true…
1. More Intensity
I predicted that the trend of intense versions of existing fragrances would be continue in 2020 and we definitely saw that, most notably in the masculine arena. Paco Rabanne launched 1 Million Parfum, a richer and more vibrant take on the apple pie amber of 1 Million, and Jean Paul Gaultier launched the fantastic Le Mâle Le Parfum, which modernised Le Mâle’s barbershop signature, making it warmer, richer and more grown up. There were even Intense versions of Lancome’s Idole (launching soon on Escentual) and YSL’s Libre too, so it’s safe to say that this is a trend that seems to be very much alive!
Roses are evergreen when it comes to perfume, but I thought that we’d see more in 2020, specifically roses that felt modern and exciting. Whilst we didn’t see a wave of rose perfumes (imagine that!) this year, we did see some notable launches that featured a prominent rose note. Take Angel Nova, for example, which featured a beautifully sweet pink rose dusted with strawberry sugar – sure, it didn’t smell much like Angel (nothing like it, in fact), but it did smell rather lovely indeed. There was also Givenchy Irresistible – yet another delightfully fruity rose that felt utterly modern and chic. So yes, roses were very much a thing. I make that two points for me on the prediction front – is anyone keeping score?
3. Retro Masculines
For this prediction, I was thinking that we would see a response to all of the super fresh, clean masculine fragrances that we’ve seen over the last few years – scents like DIOR Sauvage and Dunhill Century. My thinking was that, because perfume is cyclical, we may start to go back to more classic masculine scents that are all rich and stinky. I was wrong and in reality, we’ve seen much more freshness and cleanliness this year, with beautifully crisp scents such as Bvlgari Man Glacial Essence and Coach Blue. That said, we did see some intriguing aromatics – take Lacoste Match Point, for example, which is soft, green and a little bit retro. I’m happy to concede that this one wasn’t a win and I do wonder whether all of our hand sanitising and need for cleanliness in the face of the virus, will continue our thirst for olfactory purity too. I think we may see even more clean scents over the next year or so.
This one however, is a total win and as I type this, I am doing a happy dance. You see, I predicted that almond would be the note du jour in 2020 and it seems that I was 100% correct. So many scents this year have featured almond. There was Bois d’Amande from Van Cleef & Arpels, which was a warm and woody rendition of almond that felt smooth and comforting. There was also Kenzo Flower Poppy Bouquet, which was fizzy, fruity and floral, with subtle almond accents. Oh, and we can’t forget Marc Jacobs Perfect with its soothing almond milk note. Yes, almond really was a thing in 2020!
5. Simple Bottles
In 2019 we saw several fragrances that came in simple, un-fussy bottles and I predicted that 2020 would see this as a trend. Was I right? Well, it depends on which scents you look at. Some, such as Givenchy’s Irresistible were simple and chic, with a clean shape and attractive quilted pattern. Others, like Marc Jacobs Perfect were much more maximalist, with charms in the shape of dice, a shoe, a bow, a star balloon and a banana (of all things), adorning the cap. So maybe in the case of bottles, we saw a lot of variety this year.
2020 has been a truly unique year, and for the perfume industry it has been a strong case of less is more. As the world recovers in 2021 and beyond, I’m sure things will continue to evolve. I’m excited to see what the next year brings.