Crowning Glory: Iconic Niche Brands
Crowning Glory: Iconic Niche Brands

The perfume community is very protective. All you need to do is search the subjects of European regulations, IFRA and reformulations on any fragrance forum to get an idea of just how protective perfume lovers are, and I’m right there with them. Heritage should be looked after, but at the same time, I think we all have to appreciate the fact that the world, and the industry for that matter, are ever-evolving. Things change, whether that’s because certain materials stop being available, regulations restrict their use, or because brands change hands. Change is inevitable but does that mean we have to accept it?

One of the topics that receives constant criticism is the fact that independent niche houses are being snapped up at rapid pace by big houses. So far we’ve seen Estée Lauder acquire By Kilian, Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, whilst Puig have acquired Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur. Most recently LVMH bought Maison Francis Kurkdjian and this certainly set the tongues of the perfume community wagging, and rightly so, because it’s a big deal (although MFK has always been positioned as more ‘luxe’ than niche). More often that not, people view these acquisitions as brands selling out or a pre-cursor to their spirit, and beloved fragrances being crushed by corporate greed.  But are they really a bad thing? Or are they just a reminder that, first and foremost, perfume is a business?

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Stocking Stuffers to Wallet Wreckers
Stocking Stuffers to Wallet Wreckers

Gift guide, gift guide, we all love a gift guide! Dear readers, I’m definitely working my way into this Christmas spirit quite heavily this year and I have been scouring the wondrous expanse that is the world wide web to identify some delightfully scented gifts that can; a) make excellent presents for your loved ones; or b) sit quite happily on your Christmas lists for aforementioned love ones to review, and hopefully take note. So far, we’ve had a look at some pretty awesome scented candles but we haven’t finished traversing the world of perfume gifts just yet, and we have more gift guides to go.

In this instalment I’m taking a look at some brilliant perfume gifts ranging from the cheerily affordable to the distinctly expensive, or as I like to call them the ‘Stocking Stuffers’ and the ‘Wallet Wreckers’. Hopefully there is something for every person and every budget here, whether you be tempted by an inexpensive novelty, a mid-range marvel or even if you intend to blow your budget completely to treat that special loved one to something out of this world. Failing all of that, you may just want to treat yourself. Why not, eh?

[Oh and P.S., do swing by for another gift guide in this week’s Escentual column in a few days time and again next week for our final guide, which will be focusing on quirky perfume gifts…]

Super Scent: Estée Lauder
Super Scent: Estée Lauder

Super Scent is here! In case you missed my little teaser on Friday, Super Scent is a new, list-based series run in conjunction with my blogging comrade, Persolaise. In each instalment we will each be giving a run down of what we consider to be the very best scents available from a particular, well-known brand. The idea is to individually rank our top offerings and marvel at how similar or different they are. We also hope that you will chime in with your top fragrances from each brand in these posts too!

We are kicking off the series with one of the biggest players in the perfume world – Estée Lauder. Now, Lauder’s name has been on the lips of a many perfume lover of late, mainly due to the fact that they have famously bought out the venerable houses of Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, but we’re not here to talk about that ¹. No, we’re here to take a look at just a small selection of some of the brand’s very own fragrances. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the Estée Lauder edition of Super Scent – a run down of my five favourite Lauder scents from five to one. Oh and click here, to check out Persolaise’s list too.

The Small Sniff - Scenting TV's Leading Ladies
The Small Sniff – Scenting TV’s Leading Ladies

“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”

I’d be lying if I said that the Scent a Celebrity Series wasn’t one of my favourite things to write. There’s just something about the challenge of trying to match a complex personality or character with the olfactory signature of a perfume. Sometimes the choices seem obvious or easy, but on other occasions these scented picks can range from the downright tricky to the marvellously obscure. Challenging or not, the Scent a Celebrity Series intends to be a bit of light, fragrant fun.

For this latest instalment in the series, I’m taking a look at some of television’s leading ladies. Over the last few years TV has risen to match, and even surpass the quality of film, creating a wealth of fascinating and entertaining shows for hungry eyes to feast upon. This means that we’ve also seen some exceptionally real and complex female characters on the small screen too, and that is never a bad thing. In this post you’ll find some of my favourites, along with a slew of scented companions.

Yep, That's Me, Rocking a #SantaSelfie
Yep, That’s Me, Rocking a #SantaSelfie

In the hit song ‘Who Do You Think you Are?’, the wise prophet, Gerri Halliwell, once said “giving is good, as long as you’re getting”, and whilst this may not be entirely true, as it is always lovely to give gifts too (Christmas is all about giving, apparently), it would be a lie to say that receiving presents isn’t pretty awesome. In fact, I’m happy to admit that I’m a bit of a monster at Christmas and have been known to supply lists to my family, of things I would, much to their dismay, even though I have eased off over the last few years, in a vain attempt to be less of a brat. But still, one must think of themselves every now and then and it doesn’t hurt to have a strong idea of what it is that you want in life.

Anyway, I digress. Everyone is doing gift guides at the moment and I find them difficult because there is just so much out there to choose, and so many people to choose for, that putting together a comprehensive selection of what to buy for whom, is pretty much mind boggling for me. So, in lieu of an actual gift guide, and seeing as my favourite subject is myself (I kid, of course, kinda…), I present to you my personal wish list of fragrant treats for Christmas. Perhaps this will serve as inspiration for gifts you’re buying, or maybe it’ll just be an insight into just how much of a demanding little sod I am. Either way, I hope you enjoy my joyful gathering of scented gifts.

Hothouse Flowers by Steven Klein for Vogue January 2013
Hothouse Flowers by Steven Klein for Vogue January 2013

It surprises me that this is my first review of a Byredo perfume. I haven’t tried everything they have to offer but most of what I have sampled has been well made, if not rather interesting (it’s hard to ignore the genius of the tinsel-esque M/Mink and Solero-esque Pulp). Still, my laziness as a blogger has resulted in the brand not being featured and for that I shall have to give myself a large slap on the wrist.

That was until a sample of the latest Byredo fragrance – ‘Infloresence’ – arrived on my door step. They pretty much had me at the name, but it was the brand’s description of the scent that got me;

“to celebrate the beginning of spring, nature’s perennial and powerful rebirth, Ben Gorham (Founder and Creative Director of Byredo) envisaged a wild garden and a floral scent that would capture the strength and beauty of its blossoms, just as they reach their dramatic peak.”

It didn’t take much more than that to get me salivating! According to my good friend Wikipedia, inflorescence means; “a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches” [1], and this is entirely in keeping with the fragrance’s theme of a bouquet of intensely aromatic flowers.

H.R.H. The Queen of Pop

Madonna; no other name is more instantly recognisable, no person is more likley to divide opinion. Arguably the most famous woman on the planet, Madonna is a force that is hard to define; singer, dancer, performer, entertainer, provocateur, feminist, business woman, calculating she-devil, love her or hate her, whatever moniker you throw at her will most likely apply.

The fascinating thing about Madonna is that her ratio of talent to fame is perhaps slightly off balance. She’s not the greatest singer or dancer in the world, or even the best looking, but she has that je ne sais quoi that makes a person a star. Some say that she’s just a good business woman and I’m sure she is but that does not make for such longevity. By pushing people’s buttons and having something to say (and saying it rather noisily) Madonna has ensured that she is more than a just a star, she’s that rare commodity: an icon.

Madonna is well-known to be a lover of perfume and is reported to be a loyal wearer of Fracas and practically anything containing tuberose, including her very own (and rather good) fragrance ‘Truth or Dare’ which was released earlier this year. A diva needs her diva-fumes y’all and in honour of the Queen of Pop and her love for perfume I present to you some of my favourite Madonna albums, each with their very own olfactory accompaniment that captures the spirit of the music and all that is ‘Madonna’.

[Please also head over to Persolaise, Eyeliner on a Cat and Fragrant Moments to see their takes on Madonna and perfume]