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…]

The Dance of the Seven Veils
The Dance of the Seven Veils

Perfume lovers across the world have been watching the New Forest studio of Papillon Artisan Perfumes with bated breath. Last year, Papillon launched with three fragrances; Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose – three perfumes that boldly said that a scent should be beautiful and unique, rather than awash with gimmickry. Papillon Artisan Perfumes have been a refreshing addition to the world of perfume that, along with Sarah McCartney’s hugely important 4160 Tuesdays, has put independent British perfumery on the map – a fact reflected by the nomination of all three Papillon scents for Best New Independent Fragrance at this year’s Fragrance Foundation Awards. It stands to reason then, that Papillon’s latest scent ‘Salome‘, launches in a veritable cloud of fragrant excitement.

You will hear a lot of talk about Salome and her erotic, and animalistic tendencies over the coming months. “Pure filth” is what they’ll call her and perfume lovers here, there and everywhere will revel in her raunchy and primal ways. But there’s more to Salome than meets the eye, and there’s another facet that deserves praise – her golden sheen and glittering sense of movement, to be specific.  Salome is a dancing diva moving methodically and mesmerisingly through the many hypnotic motions of the dance of the seven veils.

Salome takes its name from the biblical character – the daughter of Herod and the dancing woman from the New Testament. In a recent interview on The Candy Perfume Boy, Papillon Perfumer Liz Moores explained how a vintage photograph of a 1920s flapper girl was the inspiration for Salome; “I have an original vintage photograph of a 1920’s flapper girl in a state of undress; she’s positioned side on to the camera with her breasts bared and the lower half of her body only slightly covered with ostrich feathers. The woman in this photograph fascinates me; I have often wondered who she was, where she lived in the world and what her name might have been. In my head I called her Salome, a name befitting such a beautiful and daring woman of her time.” This photo, which potrays the seductive dancer partly nude informs Salome’s vintage tones and erotic escapades. This is a fragrance made in a style seldom seen in this modern, post-IFRA age, and it acts as a startling reminder that perfumes can still be richly textured, gloriously complex and absolutely, downright filthy.

Too Sexy - Tuscan Leather by Tom Ford
Too Sexy – Tuscan Leather by Tom Ford

Leather fragrances all fall somewhere on a spectrum that spans from ‘Expensive Handbag’ to ‘Cow Hide’, with a great distance of space between both polar ends. On one side we have the likes of Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum and Dior’s Cuir Cannage, olfactory interpretations of luxury leather goods, and on the other we have fragrances such as Mona di Orio’s Cuir, which is essentially chorizo in a bottle. Somewhere smack bang in the middle of this spectrum of suede is my favourite kind of leather – the “hell yeah I’m sexy” kind of leather.

To me, the ideal sexy leather fragrance is undeniably Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather. Even the name is evocative of tumbles in the hay under the hot Italian sun – what could be more enticing, right?. Released in 2007 as part of the original crop of Private Blends, Tuscan Leather is not only dashingly handsome, it’s also the perfect scent for this chilly weather we’re having – it’s warm, enveloping and totally sexy. Too sexy, in fact. It’s use has to be restricted in our house because it is, without being distinctly raunchy, completely and utterly delectable. Did I mention that it’s sexy?

Selling Sex - Etat Libre d'Orange's Putain des Palaces
Selling Sex – Etat Libre d’Orange’s Putain des Palaces

When I started The Candy Perfume Boy, I didn’t really have much of a plan, I simply wanted to talk about perfume. Since my first post way back in July 2011, the way I write and the subjects I write about have evolved. Nowadays I tend to focus more on reviewing new launches, with ancillary series such as Desert Island Sniffs, The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to… and the Scent a Celebrity Series as supporting materials. Series have come and gone (due mainly to my short attention span) but this year I’d like to spend a bit more time looking back, as well as forward, by reviewing some scents that aren’t brand spanking new.

So to start, I want to look at a fragrance that has always been on my mind, but never in my collection, well up until recently, that is. Those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that I’m quite partial to the intriguing olfactory output from rebellious perfume punks, Etat Libre d’Orange. I own about seven or eight of their 32 fragrances, with the latest addition to my collection being the tricksy Putain des Palaces – a perfume I’ve always liked but have been reluctant to buy, for no reason other than the fact that I’m indecisive.

Putain des Palaces was released in 2006 as part of Etat Libre d’Orange’s initial crop of fragrances. Composed by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer (Hermès’ Eau des Merveilles, Van Clef & Arpels’ Gardénia Pétale & Amouage’s Honour Man) the fragrance, which is roughly translated as “Hotel Whore” (racy, huh?), is described by Etat Libre d’Orange as “the temptress who awaits her prey in the hotel bar, and leads her lucky victim to unimaginable delights…” So yes, Putain des Palaces is a perfume about sex, specifically the transactional variety, and you know what? It does exactly what it sets out to do.

Pluriel
“Mirror Image” – féminin Pluriel & masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

“Perfume is not art.”

– Francis Kurkdjian

At the recent launch event for Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest duo of fragrances there was a lot of discussion around art and its relation to the world of perfume. Kurkdjian, who is ever a frank and fascinating speaker, asserted that perfume is not art because it is created to please consumers and where art is given a value by the market, perfume prices are set by their creators. This isn’t to say that Kurkdjian is belittling perfume by any means, in fact it seems that he takes a purely practical view of the subject, comparing his collection to an olfactory wardrobe, containing a plethora of pieces ranging from the everyday staple of the white T-Shirt (Aqua Universalis) to the more occasionally worn leather trousers (Absolue Pour le Soir).

Also at the event, Art Curator, Karine Giannamore spoke at length about what constitutes a masterpiece, piecing together simplicity, hard work, innovation and emotion, as the key ingredients that create a timeless work of art. Giannamore states that a masterpiece “has to be new [and] has to be original” but also must be “cemented in tradition”. This collision of the innovative and the traditional is exactly what Francis Kurkdjian has played with for his two new fragrances – féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel.

“What makes a work of art? A masterpiece? A Timeless work of art? Something so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion.”

– Karine Giannamore

The Pluriel (Plural) duo has been created as a mirror image – two fragrances that perfectly capture the essence of femininity and masculinity, or as the brand puts it; “the eternal feminine and masculine.” With each fragrance, Kurkdjian takes a traditional theme and adds a contemporary twist to create a pair of perfumes that feel thoroughly modern and very much in keeping with his clear and radiant style. For féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel, Kurkdjian has crafted two new pieces for his olfactory wardrobe – two fragrant garments that are as modern, chic, timeless and elegant as anything a couturier could construct.

House of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, 1903
Houses of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, Claude Monet, 1903

London is an awesome city. I say this not just because I am British and therefore undeniably biased in the matter, but also because it is a simple truth. London has a charisma that many cities do not, stemming from the many contrasts that besiege its winding streets. These disorganised clashes of new and old, rough and smooth, and clean and dirty, make for a cultural mish-mash that is at times, utterly bonkers and entirely unique but ultimately very charming.

One man that loves London as much as I do is Tom Ford and to celebrate the opening of his Sloane Square boutique in 2013, the incredibly prolific fashion and perfume purveyor that is Mr. Ford created his very own olfactory tribute to this finest and fairest of cities. Taking its name from the city of the same name and launching last year, ‘London‘ is the newest addition to the Private Blend collection, available only in a select number of stores within the nation’s capital.

The brand describes London as being “rich, elegant and urbane” – three words that could certainly be attributed to the city after which it is named, if only just the glamorous bits in which one would find a Tom Ford boutique. But this perfume is more than just a tribute to a city, it is in fact a celebration of Mr. Ford’s favourite ingredient – oud. Now before you all start rolling your eyes at the sheer mention of the ‘o’ word (I see you), heed this notice: this perfume is a damn good example of how to do an inconspicuous oud – an oud that doesn’t take centre stage and plays a supporting role, or as they used to call them back in the day – an oriental.

Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees
Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees

Celebrity fragrances (or ‘celebuscents’ as I like to call them) are so often the scorn of the perfume industry. Mainly because most are simply extra vehicles for our dear ‘celebrities’, a term which must be used loosely for a lot of the stars releasing perfumes these days, to make extra cash. After all, what’s easier than putting your name on a bottle of something you’ve had little involvement in creating?

But not all celebrities are in it for a quick buck and over the years we’ve seen a number of good celebuscents join the foray. Etat Libre d’Orange’s collaborations with the weird and wonderful Tilda Swinton and Rossy de Palma are notable examples, Madonna’s Truth or Dare was nicely done and even Britney Spears’ Fantasy has a degree of merit to it (I dare you to disagree that it is the perfect fruity floral cupcake scent). And then of course there is Dita Von Teese – the antidote to the world of naff celebrity scents and Dr. C. Perfume Boy is prescribing two big doses today.

Dita came to the rescue with her first perfume ‘Dita Von Teese‘ (sometimes referred to as ‘Femme Totale’) in 2012, a perfectly decent floral-patchouli affair that puts most of its contemporaries to shame. We shouldn’t be surprised though, as Dita is known for exuding glamour and style, and her perfumes certainly follow suit. This year sees the launch of Dita’s third and fourth perfumes – FleurTeese and Erotique, both of which show the Queen of Burlesque’s passion for fragrance

An Outdoorsy Kind of Guy
An Outdoorsy Kind of Guy

Seeing as it the very last week of Movember, a month in which we celebrate all aspects of masculinity, it’s only fair that we also take time to look at some pretty epic masculine fragrances. Over the course of the month I’ve been featuring classic masculine scents on Escentual, but this week I’d like to focus on two new and very well executed fragrances for 2013 – one designer and one ‘niche’ – starting with the newly launched Bottega Veneta Pour Homme.

The astute amongst you will know that Bottega Veneta have already proved that they take the world of perfume seriously with their debut feminine fragrance launch of the same name. The feminine was a masterfully composed (if perhaps a little too whispery) ode to the leather goods for which the brand is famous for and it appears that its masculine counterpart has been subject to the same degree of thought and quality control.

Created by perfumers Daniela Andrier (Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, Candy and basically everything else good they’ve done) and Antoine Maisondieu (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fat Electrician and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones), Bottega Veneta Pour Homme feels very much like an extension of the luxury leather feel of the feminine Eau de Parfum but in a more outdoorsy, nature-filled and relaxed manner.

Fashion, Fumes & Furs
Fashion, Fumes & Furs

It came down to yours truly to pick the theme for this edition of the group blog post between myself, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, Fragrant Moments and Eyeliner on a Cat. For me this task was simple, I knew straight away that I wanted to talk about the relationship between fragrance and fashion, and more importantly I wanted to see just what my fragrant brothers and sisters would make of the correlation.

For years the worlds of perfume and couture have collided to create a wealth of classics and a whole heap of dreck. Houses like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford and Dior are as famous for their perfumes as they are for their fashions, with the former serving as an accessible way for one to own just a small piece of one’s favourite luxury brand.

One’s favourite fashion trend is most definitely animal print. There is just something so wonderfully wild about such bold, beastly prints and furs (all faux of course) in fashion and when one wishes to make a statement there is no greater choice than a measured dose of shocking animal print.

This post takes a look at one’s pick of the best ‘Animal Print Perfumes’ – those fragrances that perfectly capture the spirit of the boldest of prints. Whether it be the spots of the royal leopard, the stripes of the elegant zebra or the scales of the deadly black mamba, this post celebrates the collision of fashion and fragrance in the most utterly outrageous of styles.

[Please head on over to Persolaise, Olfactoria’s Travels, Fragrant Moments and Eyeliner on a Cat to read their takes on fashion and fragrance]

Amouage Opus VII
Amouage Opus VII

There should be a club for those that consider themselves as ‘Amouage Addicts’. We could all sit around discussing our adoration for the Omani house, pouring over our favourites and consoling each other over the fact that we’ll never be able to own them all. One matter that definitely would not be up for discussion however, is the idea of giving the house up any time soon. It’s simply not on the table.

We are truly helpless really, what with the annual masculine and feminine pairings. Not to mention special editions such as Beloved and the highly artistic and fascinating Library Collection. The truth is that we are mere lemmings for Amouage and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year’s addition to the Library Collection is Opus VII. Created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Alberto Morillas it “arouses the juxtaposition of harmon with the intensity of reasoning between conflicting ideas and beliefs” [1]. Much like the chaos of the Interlude duo from last year, Opus VII appears to take a slightly more abstract approach with its dark black flacon serving as a small hint for the wild ride that’s unleashed upon the very first spritz.