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 JUSBOXscents 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
The skies this time of year are ablaze with colour as the sun sets – the heavens awash with purples, reds and pinks that melt into the darkness like nature’s fireworks. And fragrances are often inspired by this spectacular display, too – perfumers creating scents that light us up even on the dullest days. Here’s five we feel so colourful wearing right now…
COACH Dreams Sunset
Inspired by ‘golden hours and one-of-a-kind journeys with friends’ – which we are indeed dreaming of – this ombré bottle, echoing the colours of sunset, perfectly shows off a floriental composition crafted by the brilliant Nathalie Lorson. Refreshing pear sorbet and bergamot playfully tease the wearer, before jasmine sambac and magnolia dial up the intrigue. But what keeps this beach party rocking is the smoochy, sultry base of tonka and vanilla. We’re so there. From £34.50 for 40ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com
GHOST Orb of Night
Setting a darker, moodier tone to the pantheon of Ghost perfumes, Night Orb glimmers with a dark cherry almond accord, kissed with mandarin before plunging deeper into a heady orange blossom, ylang ylang and freesia heart. The sandalwood base has rivulets of caramel running through it, but being rippled with a salty, slightly animalic ambergris, is rendered salty and moreish. From the rose gold bottle to the vegan certification, it impresses. £22.95 for 30ml eau de parfum escentual.com
BVLGARI Omnia by Mary Katrantzou
The most glorious, iridescent sunset-esque bottle acts as a vase for Alberto Morrilas’s beautifully composed ‘maximalist bouquet’, as Bulgari describe it. A green rustle of fig leaf unfurls to billowing orange blossom and gardenia before settling to underpinnings of fluffy musk and a deeper, woody base. An exclusive collaboration with fashion designer Mary Katrantzou, this vibrant scent reflects her designs, and we can almost feel the fabric flowing around us as we wear this. £87 for 65ml eau de parfum bulgari.com
MAISON CRIVELLI Osmanthe Kōdoshān
A sublime portrait of the apricot-y bloom, this is inspired by a trip to ‘a tropical mountain shrouded in mist.’ We sense sunsets, height and grandeur in a scent that slowly unfurls itself as it warms. Curls of fog clear to reveal a forest far below, the resinous scent of verdant vegetation and grounding woodiness rising to meet you, the osmanthus swathing your skin in a leathery embrace. Calming, mysterious, transcendentally beautiful. From £170 for 100ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com
On spraying this, we were immediately greeted with a highly refined, almost leathery iris – the image of an intricately carved wooden shutter suddenly flung open to welcome evening air and blazing skies, a tang of salty shores nearby carrying waves of delicate, powdered spices on the breeze. Beneath an earthy, mossy layer nestles seams of liquid vanilla, milky ripples later reflect moonlight, harbouring the expectation and tingling anticipation of tomorrow’s exotic adventures… £178 for 100ml eau de parfum penhaligons.com
Luxe for less can be done – there’s a plethora of pocket-friendly perfumes out there, that smell like a million dollars but don’t make a huge dent in your bank account.
Because let’s face it, we all know January can be hard on the pocket (and the soul!) but we’re now craving occasional treats to self like never before, and a little luxury arriving through the post can go a long way to cheering yourself up on a grim day – or simply letting someone else know you’re thinking of them, giving them something to smile about.
This is the third of our curated selection of affordable scents, having already shared some that were Thrifty but Nifty, and Indie but Not Spendy. Now we’re going Luxe for Less, and encourage you to seek these out for a fragrant hit of happiness that needn’t have you living on instant noodles to fund your perfume habits…
Lancôme Ô De Lancôme£41 for 75ml eau de toilette
A sparkling icon since 1969, spritz scented sunbeams with this whoosh of effervescent exhilaration. ‘Green’ and fresh fragrances are predicted to be a huge trend year-round, and the clean floral notes of jasmine, honeysuckle and lily of the valley are radiantly projected against a backdrop of mossy, herbaceously bracing breath of fresh air. lancome.co.uk
Kayali ELIXIR | 11 £18 for 10ml eau de parfum
May rose combined with crisply sweet red apple, rose and dreamy, decadent jasmine makes for a fragrance to spray when we want to be whisked to happier times and untainted dreams. The creamy swirl of vanillia as it warms on the skin helps to restore a sense of safety and assurance. Decadently dreamy. hudabeauty.com
Yves Saint Laurent Kouros £49 for 100ml aftershave
Another absolute classic many are reaching for right now, this aromatic ‘fougere’ (fern-like) fragrance begins aldehydic with freshly cut grass tempered with jasmine, rose, clary sage and coriander, then snuggles down to a smooth, honeyed leather on a warm, amber-rich base. A scented splash to soothe razor-burn and frazzled nerves at any time. yslbeauty.co.uk
Potion Paris Amber, Praline & Wood Seduction£35 for 2 x 10ml eau de parfum
Seductive doesn’t have to mean attracting others: you can seduce your own senses with this delicious duo. Meant as refills for the so-glam Potion Paris perfume necklace, succulent plum swoons to a heart of toffee as vanilla swirls to a warm, musky and comfortingly soft dry down. Opulence served with a reassuring hug. potionparis.com
Cacharel Noa£16.99 for 30ml eau de toilette
Created by Olivier Cresp, this is a timeless masterpiece of understated loveliness. Who doesn’t want to be wrapped in a whisper of white, soft cotton and powdery peonies? Effortless and soothingly nuanced, freesia nuzzles fuzzy peach skin, ylang ylang and a shower of sheer rose petals to a creamy incense-swathed base. theperfumeshop.com
Indulgence Discovery Box£36 (£32 for VIP Club Members) for 14 fragrances + candle
Indulge in a whole box of luxury from home with the ENTIRE CARINE ROITFELD COLLECTION, a trio of newness from Lalique, generous minis from Vines House Parfums Love Story, Floral Street Chypre Sublime, Tocca Giulietta and Versace Crystal Noir. PLUS perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek new candle – either Ancient Frankincense OR Rebel County. The Perfume Society Shop
Luxury fragrance gifts needn’t break the bank – Discovery Sets are the way forward! Stunningly presented, ordered at the click of a button, easy to wrap at home or have sent straight to the lucky recipient: these boxes are the perfect presents for perfume-lovers…
The joy of a luxury Discovery Set is the chance to indulge in the fragrances of ultra-luxe niche and designer houses, often giving your lucky gift recipient (or yourself, let’s face it) the opportunity to try the entire collection of a particular perfume house. Or, perhaps, allowing the luxury of sampling the scented wares from cult brands not everyone knows about yet.
Very few of us could go out and purchase full-size bottles of every brand we want to try – with these luxury gift sets, you can afford to wear every single one!
If you have someone who’s difficult to buy for, or you’re not quite sure exactly what kind of scents they like – gifting a whole range ensures they’ll fall immediately for at least one of the fragrances (and, in our experience, will come to love them all or enjoy sharing with a partner or friends).
To send to loved ones you can’t be with this year, or to treat yourself after a year of woe? Not going to lie, we shamelessly do the ‘one for you, one for me’ rule of Christmas shopping, and most especially this year. Think of the hours of bliss you’ll have! Trying all the fragrances for the first time, reading about the notes, the perfumers and history of the house (all the information you can find right here on this website, with our in-depth brand pages).
Luxury fragrance gifts are a fail-safe way of showing how much you care. Whichever of these you chose, they cannot fail to be utterly delighted…
Harvey Nichols boasts one of the best fragrance halls in the world, and in the last few years have tirelessly worked to bring in many more niche and exciting artisanal houses. We were thrilled to be asked again to curate a box of some of our favourites with them! Twelve luxury fragrances from six houses in this one, showcasing the hotly anticipated UK launch of Atelier Materi and Maison Crivelli, alongside classically adored fragrances from Creed, you can explore THREE fragrances from EACH of these beautiful perfume houses. We’ve added generous MINIATURES with just-launched Juliette Has A Gun Lipstick Fever (5ml) AND Maison Francis Kurkdjian L’Homme À La Rose (5ml)! And lest we forget, the pièce de resistance is Ramon Monegal Flamenco (10ml) swathed in a golden fabric pouch for an extra hit of luxe.
The Indulgence Discovery Box £36 (or £32 if you become a VIP!) Squeal-worthy miniature bottles & indulgence, bottled – for someone who deserves a treat.
Don’t you think you deserve to indulge in this gorgeous box of delights? It’s simply brimming with fragrant fabulousness, from the ENTIRE CARINE ROITFELD COLLECTION (former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, dontcha know, based on seven cities and seven imaginary lovers), to a trio of newness from Lalique, inspired by precious metals, we’re going crazy for. We’ve also included generous MINIATURES – inhale DEEP! – from our latest perfume house crush, Vines House Parfums Love Story (7.5ml), together with the so-modern beauty editor’s fave, Floral Street Chypre Sublime (10ml), the dinkiest darling bottle of the delightful Tocca Giulietta (5ml) and for some seasonal va-va-voom, the perfumista’s favourite: Versace Crystal Noir (5ml). PLUS new home fragrance from perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek, whose new candles we’re showcasing – you’ll receive either Ancient Frankincense OR Rebel County, and trust us, you won’t even WANT to leave the house…
AMOUAGEhave been drawing on the ancient, alchemistic traditions of perfume-making, creating perfumes that are loved all over the world for over 35 years. This is a luxury perfume house with its finger on the pulse-point of what modern men and women want, so we are delighted to introduce the truly magical SECRET GARDEN DISCOVERY SET featuringFOUR NICHE FRAGRANCES inspired by the floral haze of secret gardens. Spray away the darkness with a joyful leap in to Spring (oh, yes please!) with every spray from Blossom Love, Lilac Love, Love Mimosa and Love Tuberose – each fragrance crafted using the finest oils and essences sourced from around the world. Dare we say: it’sbetter than a real bouquet and therefore makes a truly WONDERFUL GIFT either for yourself, or someone special. If they like glorious gardens, gasp at flowers and adore floral fragrances – they’ll love you forever.
Taking their name from their motto: ‘Joyau, Unique and Sensoriel’ (a ‘unique sensory jewel’), this ultra-cool niche French house delight in doing things differently. Using vintage bottles in bold, neon colours, allowing their perfumers free-reign and with everything eco-conscious – the fragrances are just are vibrant, but oh so beautifully wearable. Appealing to artistic types who like to tread their own path, the scents are seductively unique (genuinely, we love ALL ELEVEN!) From the salted amber of Ambraser, coffee and oudh of Coffeeze, Cuirissime‘s leather, violet and iris; zesty ginger and absinthe in Gingerlise and darkly daring leathery floral of Noiressence. There’s the whole rose (petals, thorns, humid air) of Rosamonda, sensual rose oudh and vanilla in SexyCrush or powdery soft rose in Sopoudrage to explore. SpringPop is green shoots, fresh cut grass and sea air, while Superfusion‘s silvery musk shimmers intriguingly, and UltraHot crackles with sensual saffron and incense. Oh wow, it’s a fragrant journey alright – and we’re re-using our pots for makeup brushes and pens!
This one’s a Perfume Society EXCLUSIVE (so you can guarantee they wont have this!) Atelier des Ors Discovery Set is truly a majestic perfume house: think decadent scents for perfume-loving grown-ups, created from the best quality ingredients the world can offer. (And the full-size bottles are like snow globes for grown-ups, a-sparkle with flecks of real gold.) Atelier des Ors will fan the flames of your fragrant desires, as Jean-Phillipe Clermont, founder of Atelier des Ors, explains: ‘In every civilisation, gold symbolises the pursuit of perfection and the quest of absolute.’ Get spraying for yourself and explore FIVE NICHE fragrances in this divine set, which you won’t find anywhere else. Aube Rubis is crisp, woody, inspired by the dawn, while Lune Féline captures the brilliance of the night sky and the moon in the most creamy, dreamy vanilla. Musc Immortel sparkles with grapefruit, iris and clary sage and Nuda Veritas swathes the skin in an airy, fresh and pure floral creation. Rose Omeyyade, meanwhile, is a breath-takingly sensual rose and oudh perfume that will make you sigh. We’ve swooned, many times, over all of these…
Ostens Discovery Set £30 The créme de la créme of ingredients + the world’s top perfumers = a luxury niche house of refined elegance.
Friends and business partnersChristopher Yu and Laurent Delafon have been in the fragrance industry for over 20 years, founding United Perfumes (a prestigious fragrance distribution and development company) which afforded them unrivalled access to the finest ingredients and perfumers in the world, including extraordinary new extractions from LRM Naturals of ‘vetiver, rose, patchouli and more. We realised that if we loved those smells, then there were surely other people who’d feel the same way.’ Everyone in the fragrance world raves about these scents, and your recipient definitely will fall for…. Cashmeran Velvet cocooning with smoky woodiness, Cedarwood Heart grounding, while unexpectedly creamy and Jasmine Absolute – addictively heady, just-bloomed jasmine on a sultry day. Two patchoulis explore the note’s diversity: Patchouli Heart No.I a softer, warmer, and a more modern interpretation of the classic, while Patchouli Heart No.II is fresher, aromatic and timelessly elegant. And, oh! Rose Oil Isparta – A rose is a rose…or so we thought until we smelt the unique scent of the Rosa Damascena from Turkey. Love at first sniff…
Why not buy the same box for you and a best friend you’re missing terribly? That way, you can schedule a Zoom meeting, get the wine in and some snacks on the go, and have a live smell-along together!
Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge have just opened a fabulous NEW fragrant hang-out: Exclusives and boutiques and workshops, oh my! We got the low-down on this exciting new scent space within the department store, now with a whole host of new houses to explore in DOUBLE the room…
Harvey Nichols have long had a passion for perfume – often showcasing niche brands that never dreamed of being stocked in such a world-famous store, finding the most unique names that are hard to find anywhere else along with their curated selection of the finest fragrance houses this planet has to offer perfumistas. With innovative art installations and all manner of fragrant events already under their belt, and an array of gorgeous shop-in-shop boutiques queing up to join in the fragrant fun – it was time to expand the space and really commit to a larger integral fragrant experience. Behold: The Fragrance Room…
Bigger, better, bolder than ever before, this new department has now been unveiled and includes over 100 fragrance houses, including in-store boutiques from Creed, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Serge Lutens and Kilian. With a roll-out of inclusive, immersive experiences for customers, the new concept will include a sensory fragrance discovery wall – to help customers navigate the often tricky fragrance families – boutique activations, including fragrance workshops with the Fragrance Foundation to celebrate National Fragrance Week and opportunities to meet brand founders and perfumers through interactive events and partnerships.
Jo Osborne, Director of Beauty and Concessions at Harvey Nichols, said that because fragrance has been such a significant part of their business, since the 2016, they’ve taken the decision to massively expand their fragrance offering.
‘…we have outgrown the current area but are fortunate enough to move to a space double the size. The new department allows us to offer some of our bestselling brands an opportunity to create their own boutique space and the rest of the department to curate unique and fine fragrances from across the world, which we know our customers will love. We are excited to work with new and existing brands to offer exclusive activities, such as expert consultations and welcome various brand founders such as Francis Kurkdjian and Geza Schoen.’
The first phase is already open, and when fully complete at the end of this month (March 2020), the space will be a whopping 1,600 sq ft – showing exactly how important fragrance is to Harvey Nichols. And that’s great news for all of us who love perfume, don’t you think?
Harvey Nichols say: ‘With a portfolio of UK exclusive brands including Maison Crivelli, 28 87 Barcelona, V Canta by Terenzi, Ormaie Paris and Ella K, the deapartment will be home to a library of fragrance brands from across the world.’
Additional fragrance houses joining Harvey Nichols for the first time include Hermessance, Nassomatto, Parfums de Marly, D.S. & Durga and Initio, among others.
We don’t know about you, but our shopping (and must-sniff) list just got a LOT longer…
Take your front row seat and get ready to smell-along with our very own Suzy Nightingale and Carson Parkin-Fairley in our #FROW Discovery Box unboxing extravaganza!
In this fashion-forward box, timed to launch alongside our Couture edition of The Scented Letter Magazine, we explore each fragrance in-depth, and there are so many samples in the box – THIRTEEN fragrances in all – that we had to split the video into three parts.
Banana Republic Neroli Woods 1.5ml eau de parfum (full size £55 for 75ml) Ermanno Scervino Ermanno Scervino for Women 2ml eau de parfum (£52 for 30ml) Hugo Boss BOSS The Scent for Her 1.5ml eau de parfum (£49 for 30ml) Kenzo World Power 1ml eau de parfum (£46 for 30ml) Les Eaux Primordiales Couleur Primaire 2.5ml eau de parfum (£180 for 100ml) Michael Kors Wonderlust Sublime 1.5ml eau de parfum (£46 for 30ml) Mihan Aromatics Mikado Bark 3ml eau de parfum ($190 AUD for 100ml) Mihan Aromatics Sienna Brume 3ml eau de parfum ($190 AUD for 100ml) Molton Brown Bizare Brandy 1.5ml eau de toilette (£85 for 100ml) Narciso Rodriguez Pure Musc 1ml eau de parfum (£45 for 30ml) Oscar de la Renta Extraordinary Pétale 2ml eau de parfum (£85 for 90ml) Paco Rabanne Lady Million Empire 1.5ml eau de parfum (£47.50 for 30ml) Salvatore Ferragamo Signorina Ribelle 1.5ml eau de parfum (£50 for 30ml)
Ermanno Scervino is one of the hottest fashion houses around, and with the catwalks of the world having been freshly strutted, we wanted to pay tribute to the house currently wowing the perfume world, too, with their just-launched first fragrance…
‘As a boy, I was immediately attracted to the world of beauty and aesthetics,’ Ermanno Daelli admits, and even his childhood was full of fashion fantasies, as he reminisces spending the summer ‘…in Forte dei Marmi and the Cote d’Azur and winter in Cortina. These places were always crowded with the great divas of Italian and Hollywood movies, such as Monica Vitti, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor or Kim Novak.’
Rather more fabulous-sounding than our own childhood holiday memories of wet weekends in Bognor, we have to say! Among such glamorous icons, he ‘…dreamed, one day, to be the one who dresses such beautiful, talented and inimitable women.’ That dream came wonderfully true, as his clothes have been worn by Amal Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie to name but three.
There’s an airiness of the materials the designer favours in his collections and an insouciance in the way they are styled: exquisitely gauzy gowns worn with precisely (yet so-relaxed looking) Italian tailoring. Now, this refined but playful aesthetic is translated perfectly in the first perfume from the house. And with his love of strong, brilliant women, Ermanno chose a trio of female perfumers – Julie Massé, Véronique Nyberg and Mathilde Bijaouo – to compose it.
Ermanno Scervino for Womenencapsulates the frothy frivolity of a couture dress, opening with an irresistible gourmand Giaduia (chocolate and hazelnut) accord shot through with the sunshine of neroli and the sharpness of green mandarin, balanced against a fluff of white flowers.
The trio of perfumers visited the Ermanno Scervino boutique to get closer to the couture while creating the fragrance together, and you can see a video of that trip, below…
Julie Massé notes that ‘…composing a fragrance is like tailoring: mixing and matching raw materials, readjusting the formula, until it’s the right fit.’ Véronique Nyberg adds that Ermanno’s juxtaposition of fabrics, ‘…inspired us to create a multi-textured fragrance.’ Agrees Mathilde Bijaoui: ‘Giving texture to a fragrance is key,’ explaining: ‘In this creation, we created it from the top to the dry-down.’
That white heart simply billows with hushed, velvety tuberose absolute, a transparent jasmine and the coconut-water like Jungle Essence extraction™ – an exclusive formula from the fragrance house MANE. Set against the creamy vanilla, cashmere wood and white musk of the base, the overall effect is of white tulle on a backdrop of sunshine: sparkling, refined, and simply beautiful.
There are THIRTEEN fragrances to sample at home, from the chic and uplifting Banana Republic Neroli Woods to dazzling Oscar de la Renta Extraordinary Pétale via creations by the hot new niche brands Mihan Aromatics and Les Eaux Primordiales. There’s a fragrance for every look with Michael Kors, that fabulous Ermanno Scervino, Kenzo – and so many more...
The box also includes a FULL SIZEINC.redible Semi Matte Lip Click (worth £10 alone) and an invitation to wind down into colder nights with the shimmering, decadent new Molton Brown Muddled Plum Bath & Shower Gel.
The entire box is only £19 + P&P (£15 for VIP Club members), so if you want to get front row to be in the know – and make sure you’re dressed in the best that fragrance has to offer – you can get your hands on the box right here…
The phrase ‘modern classic’ is bandied about a lot in the fragrance world, but what does it mean, and which of these fragrances should you make time to get know, now…?
A modern classic essentially denotes a fragrance that has made such a mark, it’s become part of people’s scent memories already, a perfumed page in their own story, perhaps even spawning several new editions which are scented spins on the original. For a classic to be born, we really need a great back story – a heritage that evokes trust, while still having something new to say.
Lancôme is one of the most recognised names in the beauty and fragrance world, but did you know they were launched by an employee of the legendary François Coty – Armand Petijean founding the house in 1935, and the name inspired by the romantic ruins of a castle, Le Château de Lancosme? Their now world-famous rose symbol evokes the rambling roses that grew around the grounds of the castle, like something from Sleeping Beauty’s fairy tale.
How fitting, then, that rose featured as the scent of their first pink/red lipstick, initially sold in 1938 and remaining a bestseller for over three decades, and of course features in the iconic Trésor… First launched in 1990, legendary perfumer Sofia Grosjman wove rose through hypnotic heliotrope, sun-warmed fuzzy apricots and a powdery haze of orris – a timless, evocative, and unashamedly fromantic evocation with every spritz.
The Cacharel story began in 1958, when Jean Bousquet – who was qualified as a tailor – created a collection of ready-to-wear clothing and accessories in Nimes, where he worked in a tiny studio. He named the company after a small duck, locally known as the ‘cacharel’. (Bousquet was literally born into the fashion industry: he was the son of a sewing machine seller.) His very first collection was a smash – and Bousquet soon moved to Paris. When French Elle featured a Cacharel seersucker shirt on its cover on 8th November 1963, the world woke up to this stylish, wearable line – which was soon showcased in department store windows around the globe.
From its early days, Cacharel was a brand that young women longed to wear: and, along with women of all ages, still very much do! The sheer white floral beauty of Anaïs Anaïs has kept it on the fragrant bestseller list since 1978, with The Perfume Shrine blog calling it ‘one of the most influential perfumes in history…’ and we absolutely concur. Sparkling bergamot, hyacinth, honeysuckle, orange blossom and a great, green gust of galbanum swoon to a heart of lily, lily of the valley, rose, ylang-ylang, tuberose, carnation, before cedarwood, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss, incense and vetiver, deliver its long-lasting, utterly unforgetable trail.
Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs £30.50 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy it at debenhams.com
Yves Saint Laurent‘s career began at the tender age of seven years old, when he began designing clothes for his sister’s dolls, expressing a natural talent and indulging a dream of fashion design. A decade later, he’d enrolled on a graduate fashion course at college, winning both 1st and 3rd prize in the prestigious International Wool Design competition at only 18 years old. His talent was showcased to the world and a young Saint Laurent was offered the role of haute couture designer for the House of Dior, later opening his very own couture house, still aged just 21. 1962 saw the dawn of the Yves Saint Laurent brand and his masterful couture creations for the rich and famous. But clothing was never the only way Yves Saint Laurent wanted to dress women, and fragrance soon followed…
Wanting to pay tribute to the city that had always loved and supported him, and where his dreams had taken flight – in 1983, Yves Saint Laurent launched Paris: a quintessential floral fragrance for the woman in love in this magical city, and another created by accomplished perfumer Sophia Grojsman.The jofully exuberant scent of a rose in full bloom, Paris sparkles with armfulls of fruity, raspberry-like rose entwined with violet, bergamot, a gentle dusting of iris, and a smooth, vanilla-rich, woody dry down. While many more know the iconic Opium, you really must make room to try Paris, too!
Yves Saint Laurent Paris £62 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at boots.com
He’s been called ‘the man who invented red carpet dressing’ – and since the 1970s, Giorgio Armani’s easy elegance, with its sensual European simplicity, has had a stellar following. Armani started his career as a display assistant and buyer for the famous Italian department store group, La Rinascente. He moved on to designing for Nino Cerruti, and in 1970 launched his own pieces – notably men’s leather bomber jackets. Armani’s designs were a world away from the suited look Italian menswear was known for – using softer, cooler fabrics like linen, and unconstructed tailoring – and changed the face of fashion forever.
Armani Code for Women was launched in 2006 and became an instant hit: just effortlessly evokes all the elegance of a Giorgio Armani red carpet dress. Orange blossom – so quintessentially feminine, one of the truly noble perfumery ingredients – plays at the heart with a radiantly chic sambac jasmine amplifying the elegance, then a deliciously decadent swoon into a base of Madagascan vanilla and honey, offering a wonderfully soft embrace you’ll want to sink in to.
Armani Code for Women £42 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at johnlewis.com
Ralph Laurenvirtually invented the idea of ‘lifestyle’ – and as Vogue put it when writing about the designer, ‘his story is the story of the American dream’. Born Ralph Reuben Lifshitz in the Bronx in 1939, from a humble Jewish immigrant background, Ralph Lauren (he changed his name while still a teenager) never even went to fashion school. He actually studied business science, and spent time in the Army, before breaking into fashion. Among his iconic designs, of course, is the celebrated ‘Polo shirt’, the bestselling item of Ralph Lauren clothing. (Beyond that, research has identified the Polo pony as the second most recognised symbol in the world, after Coca Cola!) From that moment, he began to influence the worlds of fashion, homewares and fragrance, showcasing everything he created in that so-desirable ‘lifestyle’ way.
Safari is just as wearable today as when legendary perfumer Dominique Ropion composed it back in 1990. In its beautiful, cut-crystal silver-capped bottle, Safari was inspired by America’s spirit of freedom and adventure, and ‘the call of the wild plains’ – a bracing gust of green galbanum breezing to juicy blackberry, mandarin and airy hyacinth. In its heart, be seduced by a gorgeous bouquet of rose, narcissus, jasmine and honey – and as you gather round that camp-fire at the end of the day (or wherever you happen to be, when those base notes emerge), enjoy vetiver, moss, tonka bean and resinous styrax.
We hope this little fragrant trip down memory lane will urge those of you who wore and loved these to rediscover their delights – and all the scent memories they will surely evoke from the first spritz. And for those who have yet to try them, we welcome a new generation of what (we’re pretty sure) will be a lifelong love affair with at least one of these duly-deserved ‘modern classics’… now which will you try first?
Fresh off the shelves and ready for sniffing, we present the fragrances we’ve been trying most recently. From empowering or coffee-infused to an elegant pastoral scene; invoking a notorious pair of jail-breaking lovers or inspired by beloved drag queens – the perfume world is certainly never boring, darling…
MISSGUIDED BABE DREAMS
A juicy fizz of bergamot, pink pepper and red fruit accord veritably bursts from the bottle – which looks for all the world like a classy energy drink, suitably enough. Velvety rose powdered with orris and violet is further cushioned by a plumptious base of patchouli, sheer amber and creamy vanilla. A sweet-tinged Chypre that many a modern miss would surely love to wear, look out for the other Babe infusions similarly promoting self-confidence in fragrant form. £28 for 80ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com
Exploring that universal sigh of relief from enjoying a hot beverage, and incorporating the historic trade routes of the coffee trade itself, Xerjoff begin a new collection with the release of this fragrant evocation. Dallah is an overtly feminine offering, entwining sumptuous rose with a haze of incense, sprinkling hazelnut, cocoa and tonka for a deliciously sweet nibble, infused with Cambodian oudh and amber to enhance the toasted coffee beans. Ravishingly more-ish!
€235 for 50ml eau de parfum xerjoffuniverse.com
XYRENA CHOICES BY TATIANNA
It isn’t every day that news of a drag artist’s debut fragrance crosses our desks – but we’re here to share everything and anything that comes our way. Pop artist, drag perfumer and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ star Tatianna teamed up with LA fragrance house Xyrena to confect this aquatic signature scent, a fusion of sea salt and water lily, sharpened by lemon, key lime and tangerine, warmed by ozone, cedar and musk. Breezy, yes – but glam (naturally). £47.40 for 50ml extrait de parfum xyrena.com
What an elegantly hazy scent this is, with high-pitched notes of petitgrain and lily of the-valley drifting into a cool breeze of Haitian vetiver. Pissara, Dusita’s founder and perfumer, blends Siamese nobility with fine French perfumery traditions, all inspired by beloved late father’s poems. So sweet hay steams in the early morning mist, then drifts of herbaceous clary sage embrace cedar, oakmoss and vanilla. It feels like wearing a whisper: quiet, but hopeful. £168 for 50ml eau de parfum lessenteurs.com
EX IDOLO LOVE & CRIME
Based on the true story of a once-notorious couple – basically the Bonnie & Clyde of Boston burglaries in the 1900s – founders Tanya and Matthew Zhuk immortalise their daring prison break. This darkly delicious gourmand evokes May Coyle hiding a saw in a cake, enabling her beau, Thomas Howard, to escape. Pink pepper juxtaposes red mandarin, icing sugar dusts a floral bouquet and star anise spikes natural cocoa in the base of this quirkily wonderful concoction. £95 for 30ml eau de parfum At Fenwick Bond Street
Yves Saint Laurent was a ground-breaking designer who delighted in shaking up the mainstream, always in his stylish and undeniably sexy way, with this ethos effortlessly transferring from fashion to fine fragrance.
Producing several of the best-selling perfumes of all time, with stunning bottles that have become collectors items in their own right; not many fragrance houses can claim to have a founder who dared pose naked for his own fragrance advertising campaign, because ‘perfume is worn on the skin, so why hide the body…?’
It all began at the tender age of seven years old, when Yves Saint Laurent began designing clothes for his sister’s dolls, expressing a natural talent and indulging a dream of a career in the glamorous world of fashion design. A deacde later, and he’d enrolled on a graduate fashion course at college, winning both 1st and 3rd prize in the prestigious International Wool Design competition at only 18 years old. His talent was showcased to the world and a young Saint Laurent was offered the role of haute couture designer for the House of Dior. A dazzling debut, interrupted by a brief period of national service in the army, led Saint Laurent to opening his very own couture house, still aged just 21, and enabling him to truly express his fashion expertise.
1962 saw the dawn of the Yves Saint Laurent brand and his masterful couture creations for the rich and famous. But clothing was never the only way Yves Saint Laurent wanted to dress women – in 1964 he created his first fragrance, Y, a collaboration with perfumer Jean Amic. It was an olfactory expression of the elegance and luxury of his couture fashion – a fragrance tailored for the beautiful women he dressed. In its original packaging, the green chypre juice was housed in a bottle cut to reflect the silhouette of a woman’s head and shoulders. The letter ‘Y’ cleverly placed to represent the neckline on her dress.
In 1971 Yves Saint Laurent continued to shock when he launched his first fragrance for men, Pour Homme – posing nude for the visual, in stark representation of the values of the Yves Saint Laurent House, comfort and sophistication coupled with modernity and audacity. In the same year, he created a fragrance for the independent, free-spirited woman who shopped at his new boutique: Rive Gauche. At a time when fragrances were presented in classically feminine bottles, best stored on the dressing table at home, it was the first fragrance to be launched packaged in a tin can!
In 1977 Yves Saint Laurent wanted to glorify another facet of YSL femininity; sensuality and seductiveness – and women the world over were seduced by YSL’s Opium . An opulent swathe of ambrée ambers and vanilla by perfumers Jean Amic and Jean-Louis Sieuzac, this audaciously-named fragrance sparked immediate controversy. As the scandal and the hype grew so did demand. Global press took straight to the newsstands to criticise Yves Saint Laurent’s determination to shock, but scandal only served to fuel desire; testers were stolen, posters were ripped down and stores sold out of stock in a matter of hours on the launch date.
Fast-forward to 2014, when the latest reinvention of the YSL woman was launched in the form of Black Opium, composed by four master perfumers (Marie Salamagne, Nathalie Lorson, Olivier Cresp and Honorine Blanc), with an overdose of black coffee accord to instantly invigorate the senses, contrasting with voluptuous white floral heart notes and a gourmand vanilla base.
The following year, Black Opium scooped Best New Fragrance for Women in the UK’s prestigious Fragrance Foundation Awards – and since then, the fragrance has acquired countless ‘collectors’, thrilled by limited editions and new ‘spins’ on this smouldering scent.
There are few people who’ve not owned and loved an Yves Saint Laurent fragrance, or who don’t have one of these – classics and modern must-haves alike – in their collection. We’d be hard-pushed to pick a favourite… so, we wonder, what would yours be? And while you’re pondering which perfume to choose, you can read all about their history in more detail on our page dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent…
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