Christmas Fragrance Gift Guide (how to choose & who to buy for)

How to buy fragrance at Christmas? Where do you even begin? Well, right here with The Perfume Society‘s everything-one-click-away guide! From nervous noses to designer divas and scented gents or even fussy family or friends.

Christmas is always the most scented season, but present-buying panic can set in (we all know the feeling), so we’ve collated a guide to help you start (and finish!) your shopping right now…

When you’re not sure exactly what scent to get them for Christmas, or are sick of giving loved ones the same old thing, our overwhelming feedback from happy customers suggests a Discovery Box is definitely the way forward. Bursting with luxurious and often hard-to-find mini, try-me size scents and decadents beauty extras, each box is specially curated around a theme or with a particular kind of perfume-lover in mind.

At The Perfume Society, we’ve something to suit everyone, no matter how picky about perfume they are! From designer name divas to scented gents about town, millennials desperate to discover what suits them best and those keen to branch out with something different – see how many gifts you can tick off your shopping list in one fell swoop (and all from the comfort of your sofa/desk/bed…)

 

 

Men’s Must Have Discovery Box: £15 (or £12 for VIPs)

The perfect treat or gift filled with a curated edit of those fragrances we believe men simply must have, this collection of male and unisex fragrances features globally adored best sellers and just launched scents from THoOJeroboamDSquared2Paco RabanneBentleyJean Paul GaultierVersace & Initio! Those wishing to expand their collection will delve and get ready to be truly addicted to their new favourite fragrance(s)….

 

 

Niche VII Discovery Box: £23 (£19 for VIPs)

Featuring fragrances chosen to make your gift recipient feel truly special (particularly for someone who’s had a tough time and deserves to feel their best again) this box is bursting with newness from Floral StreetComme des Garçon & Caroline Herrera, plus the incredible artistic beauty of Sarah Baker Parfums. Let them dive into the best scents the fragrance world has to offer (and extra pampering treats for the colder weather from Skinsense and Stories Parfums).

 

 

 

Feel Good Discovery Box: £23 (£19 for VIPs)

Know someone who’s been seriously stressed? (Maybe even YOU deserve a treat?) Recent world events have left us a little off kilter, so here at Perfume Society HQ, we decided to put together the perfect gift box of fragrance to help everyone achieve a better sense of equilibrium. We’ve brought together fragrances that have been purposely designed to induce a sense of calm and help cope with all life has to throw at us, perfumes for grounding us in natural surroundings, and there are also scents for boosting inner strength. Click on the link to discover each item individually…

 

 

 

Platinum Discovery Box: £25 (£21 for VIPs)

For the most suave and chic of your perfume-loving pals, here’s a box that swaggers with charm and sophistication. Filled with fragrances from some of Britain’s finest brands – both classic and utterly contemporary names – to help them find their new fragrant passions. Indulging in these voluptuous, classic scents and new launches all from within the UK will keep them feeling confident (and let them know how much they are loved!) Smart…sexy…elegant – this is a box that has it all, and then some, in scent appeal.

 

Perfumes for Goodwood Revival – vintage fragrances still just as fab today!

When you think of ‘vintage fragrances’, what do you imagine? If it’s anything musty, dusty and a little bit fusty or, god forbid, that completely hideous (and totally sexist / ageist) phrase ‘old woman-like’ you can banish such sinful thoughts from your mind immediately. What we now think of as classics were once, in their day, utterly shocking – the punk rock of perfumes, totally overthrowing olfactory conventions. Given time (something not all fragrances, sadly, are granted today); these scents became part of our perfumed surroundings, something we all became somewhat familiar with. If we’ve not worn them personally we know people who have, or we recognise the bottles and names at the very least.

There are so many vintage fragrances still around today and going just as strong, that with the annual Goodwood Revival vintage festival about to get into full swing, we felt it was the perfect time to reflect on some of these incredible perfumes, and urge you to seek them out to try on your own skin – all of these launched first in the 1920s and are still (fabulously) appropriate to wear in 2022. Think you know vintage? Think again…

 

 

Chanel No.5 – launched 1921
Coco Chanel wanted to launch a scent for the new, modern woman she embodied. She loved the scent of soap and freshly-scrubbed skin; Chanel’s mother was a laundrywoman and market stall-holder, though when she died, the young Gabrielle was sent to live with Cistercian nuns at Aubazine. When it came to creating her signature scent, though, freshness was all-important. While holidaying with her lover, Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich, she heard tell of a Grasse-based perfumer called Ernest Beaux, who’d been the perfumer darling of the Russian royal family. Over several months, he produced a series of 10 samples to show to ‘Mademoiselle’. They were numbered one to five, and 20 to 24. She picked No. 5 – and yes, the rest is history.

Why it’s still wearable:
After that infamous Champagne-like aldehydic rush, notes of jasmine, rose, vanilla and sandalwood calm the froth, but it still smells incredibly ‘abstract’ with no dominant note the wearer can really make out. It’s timeless, clean but sexy in a so-French way. Perhaps this will be the year you succumb to its charms?

From £65 for 35ml eau de parfum chanel.com

 

 

Molinard Habanita – launched 1921
Molinard say that Habanita was the first women’s fragrance to strongly feature vetiver as an ingredient – something hitherto reserved for men, commenting that ‘Habanita’s innovative style was eagerly embraced by the garçonnes – France’s flappers – and soon became Molinard’s runaway success and an icon in the history of French perfume.’ Originaly conceived as a scent for cigarettes – inserted via glass rods or to sprinkle from a sachet – women had begun sprinkling themselves with it instead, and Molinard eventually released it as a personal fragrance.

Why it’s still wearable:
Honeyed tobacco notes and the aforementioned vetiver along with a supremely supple leather manage to distinctly butch up the orange blossom and fruits of the opening, with a floral heart that further ruffles the feathers of gender stereotypes – jasmine and heliotrope saucily winking atop a softly powdered amber base. Truly delightful and thrillingly illicit, it’s a crime not to have tried this at least once in your life, no matter your gender.

£85 for 75ml eau de parfum bloomperfume.co.uk

 

 

Lanvin Arpège – launched 1924
Jeanne Lanvin was a contemporary of Chanel’s, and – like her – began as a milliner and seamstress, founding her own millinery fashion house at Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré. Lanvin’s daughter was her inspiration for the fragrance Arpège.It was conceived for the 30th birthday of her daughter Marie-Blanche, and took its musical reference name from a comment Marie-Blanche made on being shown the first sample, created by perfumers André Fraysse and Paul Vacher: ‘It smells like an arpeggio would’. The spherical black-and-gold bottle was a nod to their love, too, with its silhouette of a mother dressing her daughter (designed by Paul Iribe) is still so recognisable – and covetable – today.

Why it’s still wearable:
A melody of florals – rose, iris, lily, lily of the valley, jasmine, ylang ylang , camellia and geranium – the lasting impression is of being wrapped in warm, white, fluffy towels, a veritable hug in a bottle. As blogger The Candy Perfume Boy observes: The truth is that Arpège has aged rather well and its supple aldehydic floral tones feel strikingly genderless today, making for a throwback floral that would feel perfectly comfortable on any perfume lover (male or female) who may be looking for something with a bit of a vintage edge.’

£27.60 for 100ml eau de parfum allbeauty.com

 

 

Guerlain Shalimar  – first launched 1921, re-launched 1925
The Champs-Élysées-based perfume house had continued their tradition of launching rich, sumptous fragrances with this now legendary perfume from Jacques Guerlain, complete with lashings of the newly-popular synthetic vanillin. (It prompted Ernest Beaux himself to comment: ‘When I do vanilla, I get crème Anglaise; when Guerlain does it, he gets Shalimar!’) Said to be inspired by the Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar, part of which was laid out by the lovesick Emperor Shah Jehan, in 1619, for the delight of his wife Mumtaz Mahal (meaning ‘Jewel of the Palace’). When she died in childbirth, three years after Shah Jehan took the throne, he build the Taj Mahal in her honour, in Agra. Re-launched in 1925 at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts, it harkened to a growing passion for romanticised exoticism in fashion, home decor and fragrance.

Why it’s still wearable:
Oodles of uplifting lemon and bergamot are swirled with night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine and iris over other famously velvety base notes, including patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. Jacques passed that love on to his great-grandson Jean-Paul Guerlain, who’s said:  ‘He taught me how to love vanilla, as it adds something wonderfully erotic to a perfume. It turned Shalimar into an evening gown with an outrageously plunging neckline.’ To wear it, at any time, is to add some serious va-va-voom to your presence.

£87 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

 

 

Coty L’aimant – launched 1927
First created by Master Perfumer François Coty in 1927, apparently inspired by the love of his life, Coty L’Aimant (meaning ‘magnet’ in French) has remained popular through the decades for its distinctive, timeless and delicate fragrance combining rose, orchid and golden jasmin softly embraced with sandalwood and vanilla. Fragrance Blogger Sam from I Scent You a Day describes L’aimant as ‘peachy and soapy, with the neroli providing a hint of heady white flowers,’ with ‘a creamy and warm finish and a flourish of powder puff.’

Why it’s still wearable:
It definitely smells delightfully retro, but somehow those aldehydes just keep on fizzing through the ages and refuse to become fusty. As Sam comments, ‘What never ceases to amaze me is that a long lasting perfume of this calibre can still be had for a song,’ while lamenting that ‘It’s a perfume that I would love to smell more people wearing.’ And for that price, you cannot go wrong. Let’s say it’s not quite you… simply spray all your writing paper (or the boudoir curtains) with it – fabulous, dah-ling!

Coty L’aimant £9.99 for 50ml parfum de toilette boots.com

At the time of writing, half the world seems to be on fire or flooding, and the political climate remains turbulent, so it’s hardly surprising increasing numbers of fragrance lovers are turning toward retro smells with misty eyes. But they don’t all have to be whimsical museum pieces, as these definitely wearable scents certainly prove. We’d love to see more men exploring what used to be considered ‘female’ fragrances, too – fragrant ingredients do not have a gender, and these should be worn by bright young (or older) things again, as we head toward 2023, stockings rolled down or otherwise…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Lavender true… scents to make your heart sigh for an everlasting summer

Those beautiful swathes of purple lavender patches that swathed the countryside might be gone – the plants are all harvested during August, the best to capture their fragrant oils – but we’ve some suggestions for true lavender scents to revive the sesnes and keep that feeling of late Summer going, year-round…

 

While lavender’s almost universally accepted as aesthetically pleasing and, of course, soothing to the senses; many fragrance fans unfairly discount a dominant note of lavender in perfumery as being ‘old-fashioned’ perhaps recalling scented drawer-sachets or bath salts that rarely use the high quality, perfume-grade lavender, and instead the far cheaper, dusty-old-drawer smelling low quality essential oil or even poorly made synthetic lavender. Judge not, oh ye of little fragrance faith, until you have read on!

Known in Provence as ‘blue gold’, the best lavender used in perfumery tends to be grown in higher altitudes, and often doesn’t at all resemble what we think we know lavender smells of. Pure lavender essential oil can be spicy, peppery, herbaceous, misty, smoky or green and many cannot identify the note when asked to sniff blind.

With lavender having a resurgence as a note to rediscover in contemporary fragrances we suggested you try, it is also important to appreciate those British classics that have withstood the test of time, and fragrances that cherish it as the “hero note” – revelling in their true lavender love.

You can read more about the history of lavender’s use in perfumery on our fascinating Ingredients section of the website, but in the meantime, here’s our edit of the absolute must-try lavender scents. And every time you spray, you can keep summer alive that little bit longer…

 

 

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Freshly aromatic with a twist of eucalyptus and rosemary with the traditional lavender, the heart is a tender bouquet of geranium, rose and orange flower, with an earthier base of patchouli and musk for a dusky trail…
Bronnley Lavender £17.25 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at bronnley.co.uk

 

 


Atkinsons Lavender On the Rocks
We love the typically English eccentricity of Atkinsons, who play up to their heritage with a nod and a wink from the styling of their bottles to the fragrances themselves. True to the cocktail-esque name, this one has a double-shot of lavender to tickle your fancy. From the bracingly fresh opening with geranium and basil to the honeyed hay-like dry down with almond, guaiac wood and saffron, every facet of lavender’s complex character is allowed to shine.
£120 for 100ml eau de parfum
At atkinsons1799.com

 


Yardley-English-Lavender
With a green hay-like sweetness, this is Yardley London’s signature fragrance. Beautifully elegant, lavender leaves enhance the freshness on top, then the oil is infused with neroli and clary sage, geranium,  sandalwood and tonka for a smooth dry-down…
Yardley English Lavender £15.99 for 125ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Boots

One of the very first flowers distilled by founder Olivier Baussan, L’Occitane uses lavender directly sourced from farmers’ cooperatives in Haute-Provence. This new aromatic tribute to their homeland is the softest way there is to soothe frazzled nerves, being further grounded by sandalwood and white musk. Simply beautiful!
L’Occitane White Lavender Limited Edition £54 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at uk.loccitane.com

Fragrances For… A Return to Happiness

We’re perhaps used to thinking of lily of the valley as a very traditional (even, whisper it, old-fashioned) perfumery ingredient, yet so many modern classics and contemporary perfumers use lily of the valley to magnificent effect in their compositions. We chose this symbolic flower – meaning ‘a return to happiness’ – eight years ago as our kind of unoffical emblem, and at our birthday launch we gave a precious beribboned posy as a gift to loved ones and fragrance industry friends.

If perhaps the stunning Guerlain Muguet 2022 we wrote about on the 1st of May was beyond your means, have a wander through these lily of the valley scents – yours to re-discover, or fall in love with afresh this spring…

 

 

 

MEMOIZE LONDON
ROSE LUXURIA
‘The essence of ultimate want and desire’ this intoxicating take on lily of the valley thrusts it betwixt a soapy rose, and creamy magnolia for skin-like sensuality, while orange flower and powder soft orris remind us of true romance. Fall in love with the floral bouquet, fall deeper for the warm, amber-rich base drizzled with benzoin, cushioned by velvety moss and rolled in precious musk and woods. Light and darkness juxtaposed to licentious yet luminescent effect!
£227 for 100ml Extrait de Parfum
perfumesociety.org

 

 

 

 

DIOR
DIORISSIMO

An eternal classic lily of the valley launched in 1956, according to Christian Dior, Diorissimo is the perfume of Edmond Roudnitska’s spirit, or, “the scented expression of his soul”. Green leaves and bergamot bring energy to the flower, while lilac adds further spring-like hopefulness. Sunlit jasmine, lily and ylang ylang beam becommingly as the gentle animalic purr of the base prevents this beauty being too cold and cut from marble.
£69 for 50ml eau de toilette
dior.com

BVLGARI
Rose Goldea Blossom Delight
Swapping out heavier scents for fresher fragrances feel like a proper escape from winter, an exuberant change in the weather here evoked by the delicacy of lily of the valley, powdery peony and a kiss of musk. This pretty bouquet is further refreshed ‘by incorporating the freshness of the rosebuds at sunrise, embraced by just-picked spring flowers.’ We’re dropping down the denier scale in olfactory form, wearing this joyous ode to spring.
£65 for 50ml eau de toilette
bvlgari.com

 

YARDLEY LONDON
LILY OF THE VALLEY BODY MIST
A charming bouquet that always makes us think of traditional English picnics in the woods, here Yardley entwines the heritage of their name and these delicate yet powerfully-fragrant flowers with a surprising note of juicy pear to add a modern twist on a traditional theme. Freesia and musk add a further layer of richness to this lighter spritz of a posy, perfect for layering while maintaining your skin’s moisture levels in the most elegantly fragrant way.
£6.99 for 200ml body mist
yardleylondon.co.uk

 

 

 

EIGHT & BOB
ANNICKE 1

Perfumer Albert Fouquet’s life was turned upside down one evening in the French Alps, where he attended a high society soirée and was introduced to the strikingly beautiful Annicke. Now this collection has been created as a contemporary tribute to his love, the first fragrance marrying lily of the valley, rosy notes of peony and intoxicating jasmine. Sparkling mandarin cuts through the heart, white musk and driftwood soothing the passion.

Try a sample in the Annicke Fragrance Discovery Set: £20 for 6 x 2ml eau de parfum

 

 

COLLEZIONE PRIVATA BY VALMONT
Collezione Privata Just Bloom
For the fourth fragrance in the collection, we’re presented with a stunning bouquet of white flowers, traditionally a symbol of femininity but chicly paired back, here, allowing the blossoms to fully bloom. CEO Sophie Vann Guillon’s favourite flower happens to be lily of the valley, so joyfully evoked in the top notes, and complemented by the creamy exoticism of gardenia in the heart. Finally caressed by the ethereal woodiness of ambergris, it’s a sun-dappled delight.
£230 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

 

 

 

CHANEL
N°19
Sparkling and vibrant with every elegant spritz, it’s daringly green but still supremely wearable. The snapped-stalk freshness of galbanum is balanced with soft, powdery iris, heady ylang ylang tempered by a shiver of spring air in lily of the valley and luminescent rose. Exciting and immediately mood-lifting, if N°5 wasn’t for you, try this joyously energising fizz of freshness as a pick-me-up.
£107 for 100ml eau de toilette
chanel.com

Fragrant gift ideas for men this Christmas

Looking for fragrant gift ideas for men but don’t know where to start? Follow our handy guide to find the perfect one…

The days are long gone when chaps wore one scent for life (possibly something sold on TV by an ex sportsman) which they were urged to ‘splash all over’, and those in their immediate vicinity likely wished they hadn’t.

Indeed, we know many of our readers and subscribers are men who love exploring the wider world of fragrances available to them now. But if you’re scent shopping for the special guy in your life – perhaps someone who’s interested but hasn’t quite figured out his personal scent style yet – it can be a tricky business thinking of something that shows you’ve been thoughtful and considered their character, but also pushes them (gently!) out of their comfort zone a little.

So, where to begin?

If you happen to know some names of fragrances they’ve loved wearing, type one in to our simple Find a Fragrance tool: the so-clever algorithm suggests six new scents with similar characters to try. Narrow down the selection by asking yourself…

What type of a chap are you buying for?

Age, character, hobbies and career are all pointers to fragrant gift ideas for men, but can never be an absolute guarantee of what he’ll prefer – he might just surprise you (and himself!) Masculine fragrances have moved on somewhat since the one-size-fits-all sporty-fresh-or-nothing days. Now there are ‘gender fluid’ fragrances categories, and men are offered a fragrant feast along with sophisticated fougéres; addictive gourmands, bigger, bolder Colognes, opulent ambers and even floral-forward scents that smell utterly incredible on a man’s skin.

However, we know not all chaps will be as open to more experiemental scents styles, so we’ve put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of fragrances to suit all tastes – from more classic and designer names to cult, niche houses they’ll love to explore.

Have a look at our current top picks of fragrant gift ideas for men, below…

 

 

Contemporary scents putting a modern twist on a local apothecary approach to luxury, MALIN+GOETZ have excelled with this NEW Discovery Set of SIX invigorating fragrance delights. £22

 

 

 

Music-lovers will adore these stunningly packaged, musical genre-inspired fragrances. Each of the 14 JUSBOX scents pays homage to an icon or era in music, with their own playlists on Spotify! £35

 

Paring fine fragrance with fashion-leading (cruelty free) pampering treats since 1973, iconic British brand Molton Brown built a global reputation on modern classics, with scents suit all tastes. £33

 

 

Founded in 1730, Floris create beautiful contemporary-style fragrances, as well as true classics. Still run by members of the family, heritage is taken to new levels with this niche-led collection. £35

 

 

The perfect gift for scent lovers to create their own bespoke fragrance, Emmanuelle Moeglin started Experimental Perfume Club in 2016. Now you can share & compare your layer combos! £32

Floris – Royalty, Churchill & Marilyn Monroe loved them: here’s why YOU should, too…

Floris have scented everyone from royalty, Florence Nightingale, prime ministers and even Marilyn Monroe, but now you can dip into their incredible history (and try some their more contemporary fragrances) in their newly curated Floris Discovery Collections

The long-distinguished history of Floris first began in the dreams of one Juan Famenias Floris, who in 1730 sailed from his native Minorca to set up in London. Marrying an English girl, he settled in business as a barber on Jermyn Street within the fashionable St. James’s area, first making hair combs and then assuaging his homesickness by blending fragrant oils he’d transported from Europe. Customers soon took to ordering bespoke blends, all recorded in leather-bound ledgers, enabling Floris to re-create them should further supplies be required in the future – and thus a fragrant dynasty was born.

 

Many of those original ledgers, order forms and letters of thanks are still in existence, preserved by successive generations of the Floris family, and offering a uniquely fascinating glimpse of British fragrant taste through the ages. Their books boast orders from Admirals serving under Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, George IV, through to Winston Churchill. In 1820, Floris received the first of 16 Royal Warrants and retains the title: Perfumers to HM The Queen Elizabeth II and Manufacturers of Toilet Preparations to HRH The Prince of Wales.

 

 

And then there was Marilyn Monroe. The scent the world’s biggest sex-symbol always made sure to stock up on? In their extraordinary archive (some of which is on display in the rear of their Jermyn Street boutique), Floris happen to have an original form detailing Marilyn’s order for their surprisingly unisex and greenly fresh Rose Geranium. Indeed, she loved it so much she requested SIX bottles at a time be delivered to her in Beverley Hills! (NB: A far more contemporary rose is their A Rose For… in The Private Collection – an intriguingly smoky gossamer embrace).

 

 

 

The original Floris shop still stands on Jermyn Street. (A couple of generations ago, fragrances were actually manufactured two floors below street level, in a basement known as ‘the mine’.) Now beautifully refurbished, the boutique many other intriguing artefacts to discover on display, along with a wide wardrobe of perfumes to explore. Edward Bodenham – an ancestor of Juan Famenias Floris himself – is the current Perfumery Director at Floris, with fragrance clearly in his blood.

Floris Classic Collection Set £35

As he explains: ‘I feel immensely proud to be part of the family business and to have the opportunity to help introduce our perfume house to a new generation. I have such fond memories of visiting the shop from a young age, and it is very nostalgic for me to be around the fragrances that I have grown up with my whole life. They really are like old friends to me.’

No matter how fascinating or notable their past, however, no perfume house could merely trade off their history. So as Edward notes – and more recent creations like sun-drenched Neroli Voyage in the Classic Collection and utterly addictive Honey Oud in Private Collection, prove – Floris are ‘always evolving. We have to be experimental and explorative when working on new fragrances – in just the same way my forefathers were in their day.’ Adding: ‘I hope that they would be proud of our creations today.’

Floris Private Collection Set £35

No question about it, in our minds. And we say: here’s to the next 300 years or so, Floris!

Celebrating 100 years of Shalimar (and why we still love it)

It’s really quite incredible to think that Shalimar is 100 years old – having been first launched in 1921 – and that Guerlain‘s most romantic fragrance is still worn and adored to this day. If you’re already a fan of the fragrance you’ll know how special it is, but if you’ve never tried it… oh, you’re in for in a treat!

 

Jacques Guerlain – Guerlain Perfumer 1890-1955

‘A good perfume is one whose scent corresponds to an initial dream.’

 

 

The History: The most prolific of the Guerlain perfumers, Jacques’ rein lasted for an astonishing 65 years. He took over from his uncle Aimé in 1890 and was responsible for creating the ultimate signature of Guerlain, the ‘Guerlianade’: an accord which blends vanilla, bergamot, balsams, tonka bean, iris, rose and jasmine, and has been at the heart of (almost) every fragrance since the early 1920s. His most celebrated creations include L’Heure Bleu, Mitsouko and of course, the astonishing Shalimar, launched in 1921, which remains one of the bestselling fragrances in the world.

 

 

 

The flacon for Shalimar is almost as fascinating as the fragrance inside. Sometimes described as the ‘bat’ bottle (we hadn’t until now quite realised it resembled outstretched wings!), it is also said to resemble a basin that could be admired in the Mughal gardens in India, and was designed by another talented Guerlain, Raymond, with a dark blue stopper chosen to evoke Indian starry nights. The bottle won first prize at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industry in 1925.

 

 

Why perfumers love Shalimar: When we interview perfumers, we often ask which classic fragrance they wish they’d created or most admire. One of the most frequent answers? Shalimar, of course. Carlos Benaïm told us, ‘My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. It is magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with that mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses which we’re restricted from using so much these days…’ And Alberto Morillas – another nose often cited as one of the most talented perfumers working today – explained, ‘If you ask me what is the greatest fragrance ever created, I’d say Guerlain Shalimar. Some might imagine it’s old-fashioned but it’s also very modern. There are all sorts of contrasts inside it – but it works so well.’

 

Guerlain Shalimar £83 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

Why we love wearing Shalimar: Imagine a silky pair of 1920s pyjamas worn as daywear (or with heels, to a cocktail party) as uplifting lemon and bergamot swirl with honeyed, night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine. Beautifully rounded by powdery iris and cocooned in a comforting, vanilla-plumped base of patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. To wear Shalimar is still the ultimate gesture of olfactive romance.

Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece that’s effortlessly glam. And it’s one of those perfumes that people will still be wearing and talking about in another 100 years, we reckon.

Many Happy Returns, Shalimar!

By Suzy Nightingale

 

Angela Flanders Aqua Alba returns!

When fragrance ingredients become scarce, suddenly our favourite scents can be rendered obscure – something fans of Angela Flanders Aqua Alba know all too well. But those craving this perfectly seasonal, warm and smoky fragrance can now rejoice, as it’s back, baby!

Originally released as a limited edition in 2012, Angela Flanders Aqua Alba soon achieved something of a cult following – and no wonder, for this loamy swirl of amber-rich magnificence celebrates the very art of blending, distilling the distinctive flavours of whisky – translating them into a fragrance that captures the character without smelling as though you’ve had one too many. Indeed, the name Whisky stems from the Gaelic word meaning ‘water of life’, and the dark, peaty notes of Aqua Alba perfectly evoke i’ts magically restorative properties.’

Brown Oak Moss – one of the key base ingredients for Aqua Alba – suddenly became unavailable, meaning that the original formula needed to be completely re-worked from scratch. Flanders’ daughter, Kate Evans, has now painstakingly amended that original formula with new accords that still create the spirit and true character that so many fell for, which has been, she admits, ‘…quite a journey.’

Kate reminisces that ‘It was a fascinating process to watch Angela create Aqua Alba originally, inspired by her conversations with Jim Beveridge, Master Blender at Johnnie Walker Whisky; and attempting to replace the lost ingredient while remaining as true to the original as possible has been quite an olfactory challenge.’

So what did Kate discover to re-create the distinctly cosy mossiness of the first fragrance?

Angela Flanders say: ‘Distinguished, comforting and rugged, Aqua Alba draws on elements of the Scottish landscape that so imbue whisky with its distinctive flavours – peat smoke, heather, wind blasted wood, soft green mosses… Labdanum and patchouli represent the moss and earth, overlaying a heart of heather and gaiac wood, on a base of sweet amber, oudh and smoky peat.’

Says Kate, ‘With such a loyal following for this particular perfume, and a waiting list for the new iteration we are thrilled to have it ready in time for this winter season.’ Not nearly as thrilled as though of us who have waited breathlessly for it to return…

Angela Flanders Aqua Alba £79 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at angelaflanders.com

By Suzy Nightingale