Friday, 22 November 2013

Christmas 2013 Perfume Gift Recommendations - Little Black Dresses, Smoky Vanillas... And A Good Read

Please don't mention sprouts or cranberries. I haven't even done my cards yet! And as for presents... well, I expect there'll be a fair amount of mad dashing around in the next few weeks. But to get myself in a gift-giving mood - and to offer inspiration to those of you struggling to find something suitable for the scentusiasts in your life - I'm going to ward off my foray into the retail rat race a little longer and indulge in some Yuletide list-making. So mull that wine, jingle that bell, mince that pie and allow the delights of Persolaise's Christmas 2013 recommendations to cascade upon you like thick gravy smothering a plateful of sizzling roasties. Enjoy!

For a special someone of the female persuasion: Portrait Of A Lady from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle - I know I keep recommending this left, right and centre, but it really is THAT good. A massive rose which knows no equal, it consumes everything that comes within a few inches of its indomitable personality. Madame Persolaise says it never fails to win compliments, and I believe her. [If you're based in the UK, do try to get your hands on the limited, Liberty-exclusive edition, featuring packaging inspired by a suitably baroque, 18th century print.]

For a special someone of the male persuasion: Tuscan Leather from Tom Ford - 'Virility' can be such a cliche in modern masculine perfumery, but TL pulls it off: tangy leather, dusty spices and gallons of sophistication.

For the distinguished older lady: Aromatics Elixir from Clinique - Currently available in a limited edition presentation (a floral pattern etched into the familiar glass bottle), this classic has lost none of its power to impress. Rose, patchouli and woods have rarely smelt so authoritative.

For the distinguished older gent: Vanille Absolument from L'Artisan Parfumeur - This one's proving increasingly difficult to find, but if you can track it down, spare a moment to enjoy its curiously dignified take on vanilla, as seen through a haze of rum and pipe tobacco.

For the little princess: La Petite Robe Noire shimmer powder spray from Guerlain - A shocking pink bulb atomiser. A neon illustration on a gleaming black bottle. And an almost impossibly sparkly rainbow powder gently wafting Guerlain's popular black cherry scent. Fairy tales are made of this.

For the little prince: Artisan from John Varvatos - Masculine scents that manage to play the mainstream game without checking in all their brain cells are thin on the ground. But Rodrigo Flores-Roux's Artisan is slick and citrusy without being stupid. A wise choice for a youngster who hasn't yet ventured over to the niche side...

For utter delight: Peoneve extrait from Penhaligon's - Penhaligon's extraits always cost a bomb because they're housed in expensive, opulent bottles. However, if you've got the pennies, then consider splashing them out on this subtly re-engineered version of 2012's edp. Olivier Cresp has toned down the peony, upped the vetivert and created an even more compelling version of his deceptively simple little garden.

For the one who never holds back: Rien from Etat Libre D'Orange - Another perennial favourite at Maison Persolaise. If nothing else, this gigantic leather must surely be one of the 'best value' scents on the market: one spray appears to withstand showers, baths and even a 60 degree wash cycle. Clearly, this is hide tanned to an indelible shade of dark brown.

For the one whose elegance knows no parallels: Iris Silver Mist in the Vaporisateur Tout Noir from Serge Lutens - This year's 'export exclusive' from Lutens comes not in the rectangular bottle, but in the chic, all-black purse spray... which makes unleashing this superlative, aristocratic iris an even more aesthetically pleasing experience.

For trouble: Absolue Pour Le Soir from Maison Francis Kurkdjian - Down boy! Time hasn't improved the manners of Kurkdjian's incorrigible satyr. But who's complaining? On some occasions, perfume just needs to be filthy. And for those occasions, APLS's wicked brew of woods, resins and, above all, civet is just about as wanton a creature as you could hope to find.

For the one longing for luxury: Coromandel and Bois Des Iles from Chanel - Take your pick. The former is a fur coat of chocolate, patchouli and benzoin. The latter is a fur coat of jasmine, vanilla and sandalwood. Both are unapologetically extravagant.

For the one who enjoys hovering a few miles above Earth's atmosphere: Alien liqueur de parfum from Thierry Mugler - Fear not: the booze note is not overwhelming. It boosts the familiar woody-jasmine accord, adds a touch of nutty, rummy intoxication and re-affirms Alien's status as one of the most startling mainstream creations around.

For the one who'd like to be zapped into an entirely different galaxy: Onda voile d'extrait from Vero Profumo - Vero Kern has released the extrait compositions of all four of her scents in more dilute versions she's dubbed 'voile d'extrait'. All are worth visiting, but for my money, Onda steals the show with its cosmic magnificence. Vetivert has never been so omnipotent.

For an alternative to perfume: Rose Anonyme soap from Atelier Cologne - Not all scents transfer well to soap bars, but RA makes the journey unscathed. Floral, woody and ever so slightly Middle Eastern, its volume control is set at just the right level. Lovely.

For everyone: Le Snob Perfume - Forgive the shameless self-promotion, but if Harrods see fit to give my writing pride of place on a table at their bookshop, then surely I must be allowed to mention it here. Packed with reviews of more than 100 scents as well as insights from the likes of Christopher Chong, Andy Tauer and Linda Pilkington, this beautifully designed volume (I'm allowed to say that: I had little to do with the design!) is a must for any scentusiast's library. And it comes in at under £10. Bargain!

Happy shopping to one and all,



  1. You've left out one very important category! For the nutty perfumista friend (i.e. moi, The Smelly Vagabond):

  2. Perfect list and yes I want all of them too!

  3. At the risk of sounding a Bah Humbug note, is it wise to be buying perfume gifts for other people in the first place? A voucher for Selfridges / Liberty etc might be the way to go, though it would make for a shorter post! That obviously excludes the soap and your book, which are safe enough bets for all comers. ;-)

    1. Vanessa, thank goodness gift-buying is one of life's unregulated pleasures. Those of us who don't mind taking a risk and buying a scent for someone else can do so; those of us who think vouchers are a better idea can stick to vouchers.

    2. Interesting topic, this whole thing about giving fragrances as gifts. I do it myself, but usually what I do is I make a buffet spread of decants for my friends, so that they'll be more likely to find something that they like :)

    3. Vagabond, that sounds like a wonderful idea! Almost like a car boot sale... without the car boot... and the selling...

  4. My very favourite is little black dress... otherwise Le Snob Perfume is also a good idea for a gift...

    1. Fashion Blogger, you are SO right about Le Snob Perfume.


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