As of today, there are just under two calendar weeks until Christmas day! If, like me, you have neglected your Christmas shopping entirely up to this point, or if you simply have a few tricky gifts left to buy, you will more than likely be scouring the blogs for some gift inspiration in the form of fragrance gift guides. These pieces can be pretty helpful in guiding us to some special presents for those special people in our lives, so this year I’m bringing you two gift guides; a luxury fragrance guide in my Escentual column and today, this very guide that you’re reading right now!
This year I wanted to do a little something different with my Christmas Gift Guide. Instead of picking out scents for him and for her, or for mums and dads, or even personality types, I just wanted to gather together a selection of beautiful things that smell great. So that’s exactly what this gift guide is – a collection of fragrant things that are just gorgeous and will make wonderful gifts for those people in your life that like smelly things. They range from fragrances to shower gels, shimmering powders and candles, and whilst they may vary in their style, they all share one thing in common: they are drop dead gorgeous in every way!
Whenever I go to London I inevitably end up paying a visit to Liberty. The place is like a fairytale, I tell you. Housed within a mock-Tudor building built using the timber from two ships (HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan), Liberty stocks a wonderful array of treats, ranging from silk scarves in beautiful Liberty Art Fabric to exotic nicknacks, not to mention their impressive perfumery which houses classic and contemporary brands aplenty. It’s London’s most unique retail destination and it epitomises everything that is great about Britain: quirkiness and higgledy-piggledy-ness.
Swedish fragrance house, BYREDO, who have a space within the store, have just launched a fragrance exclusive to and inspired by Liberty. It’s called ‘Heliotropia‘ and it’s described as a “heady infusion, in turns virginal and narcotic” that “carries the mind to a dream like place, a higher state of illusion.” Much like Liberty the store, Heliotropia the fragrance is a fantastical experience that beguiles, fascinates and amuses. One may not enter it expecting to make a purchase, but they will leave with something that money can’t buy: a sense of bewilderment. How’s that for a headline?
As I walked up the Crawford Street in Marylebone, London, towards the new Perfumer H store, I must admit that I had a fair few butterflies in my stomach. I’m a nervous person at the best of times, but I was especially so on this occasion because I was on my way to meet Lyn Harris, the nose that puts the ‘Perfumer’ and the ‘H’ into Perfumer H. Harris’ CV precedes her, having built the hugely successful fragrance house, Miller Harris, from scratch in her early twenties, to the global lifestyle brand that it is today, Harris has a knack for making unfussy perfumes with a spirit of clarity. This spirit is not lost in Perfumer H however, it is presented in an entirely different way.
Stepping across the threshold of Perfumer H, I needn’t have been worried or been nervous at all, as the whole experience was an entirely relaxed affair, from the setup of the shop to the rather insightful chat I had with Harris herself over a cup of hot bergamot tea. As I enter the store, I’m greeted by a dog snoozing calmly on the chair. His name is Pop and he’s a handsome border terrier who, quite rightly, appears rather at home amongst the inviting, yet surprisingly minimal decor of the store. The presence of Pop cements the fact that Perfumer H is not a brand in the typical sense, with a pre-defined personality or ethos. Instead, Perfumer H is an extension of Lyn Harris, and its personality is Lyn as she is today, and it says what she wants to say, all through the medium of olfaction.
It’s not often that a perfume turns 100 years old, heck it’s not often that a person hits the big one double zero, let alone a scent. But in a world where there are a cool 1,200 + perfume launches per year, many of which ride the coat tails of some quasi-celebrity or another whose career is most likely going to be short lived, longevity isn’t something that’s guaranteed. So it stands to reason that a perfume which has managed to last for a cool century should be celebrated.
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Guerlain’s classic fragrance L’Heure Bleue and the house is celebrating in style. To honour such a huge feat Guerlain has released a trio of Thierry Wasser penned limited edition interpretations of L’Heure Bleue; L’Aurore, Le Crépuscule and Le Zénith, the latter of which has been added to the Les Parisiennes line as an Eau de Parfum entitled L’Heure de Nuit.
“I felt something so intense, I could only express it in a perfume.” Jacques Guerlain
L’Heure Bleue took its inspiration from the colour of the sky just before dusk, when the world is bathed in a melancholy blue light. L’Heure de Nuit represents a softer side of this blue hour, when the light is almost entirely faded from the sky and darkness begins to take hold. It encapsulates the placid coolness of the evening evoking feelings of calm rather than sadness.