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…]

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Scenting the Beales of Grey Gardens
Scenting the Beales of Grey Gardens

“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.”

If you haven’t seen the Maysles Brother’s 1975 documentary ‘Grey Gardens’, please click the following link and come back you have educated yourself. You’re welcome. In lieu of watching the film, I shall provide a quick summary. Grey Gardens was (and still is) the name of the East Hamptons mansion once owned by the Bouvier Beales and inhabited by the mother/daughter duo that was Big Edie and Little Edie. After many years of neglect, both the Edies and the Grey Gardens estate were found to be in a dilapidated state, and in need of lots of care and attention. After a load of hoo-hah in the press and calls for their eviction, along came the Maysles brothers who spent a number of months documenting the lives of these two reclusive, yet utterly eccentric women in this strangest of settings. Grey Gardens the movie, is the result of their labours.

Grey Gardens has become a cult classic over time with Little Edie, who is easily the star of the show, remaining a fashion icon long after her death. There’s tons of memorable quotes  (“he always compliments me on the way I do my corn”, anyone?) and fun moments, but the overarching feeling is one of sadness. Watching Grey Gardens, the sense of loss both Big and Little Edie feel for their past life, wealthier times when they were members of New York’s high society and not shunned shut-ins, is palpable. It’s safe to say that the longing for the glory days and the constant rumination over missed opportunities, and what could have been, is painful to watch, but the Edies have a strong sense of survival, and they get through. As Little Edie would put it, they are ‘staunch characters’. That’s ‘S-T-A-U-N-C-H’. Let’s scent them.

Here's to 2015!
Here’s to 2015!

2015 is finally here and seeing as we’ve all spent some time looking back at the year that has just passed, it seems fitting now to look forward to the year that will be. In truth, 2014 saw 12 months of pretty solid perfume output from the industry and it would be fair to say that there really was some beautiful fragrances released in the year, but as with every year, there was also a lot of less-great stuff, too.

To kick off the new year, I’ve put together a list of hopes and wishes for 2015. They cover what I’d like to see from the perfume industry, as well as some things that I would rather not have to see. I’ve also taken a brief look at some of the upcoming launches that I’m most excited about. 2015 is going to be a great year, I can feel it, so let’s hope and dream that this year will be even better than expected.

The Candies 2014
The Candies 2014: The Very Best and The Very Worst Perfumes of the Year

Wow, what a whirlwind of a year 2014 was. The perfume industry has, as always, been nothing short of prolific in its output, with new brands popping up all over the place and the same big names releasing perfume upon perfume, and flanker upon flanker. It has, once again been a very busy year, and the hive of activity within the industry has meant that a great number of wonderful new olfactory treats have been unleashed on the noses of perfume lovers and consumers.

For me, this year has been one of great personal significance. In March I won my first Jasmine Award for my Guide to Violet, and shortly after in May, my best buddy and I tied the knot, only a few days before I presented an award at the Fragrance Foundation Awards. Then in August I was promoted at work, and in September my new husband and I headed off to Tokyo for the honeymoon of a lifetime. In short, it has been a fantastic year and one that will always remain truly in my heart as one of the very best.

To celebrate 2014 from a fragrant perspective, I present to you ‘The Candies 2014’. Those of you who have followed The Candies before will know that they are my annual perfume awards, celebrating the very best, and the very worst perfumes of the year (out of the 147 scents I have reviewed in 2014). Under the jump you will find the winners, losers and honourable mentions filed under neat little categories. So please, don your tux or ball down, break open the Bolly and take your seats for The Candies 2014.

[Also, please don’t forget to head on over to my dear perfume pals, Persolaise and Perfume Shrine, who are both joining me in sharing their ‘best of’ lists today.]

Down by the Docks
Down by the Docks

Quintessentially British fragrance house, Penhaligon’s have been busy this year. Not only they have release Bayolea, an entire male grooming collection complete with accompanying Eau de Toilette, they’ve even teamed up with quirky fashion house Meadham Kirchoff to launch Tralala, an unsettling and whimsical fragrance that certainly lives up to it singsongy name. That’s not to mention the fact that they’re already gearing up for next year’s launch, Ostara! Not content with all of that, they’ve launched the Trade Routes Collection, which consists of three new fragrances inspired by London’s rich maritime history.

The Trade Routes collection takes the “luxurious and decadent commodities which were traded through London’s historic docks at the turn of the 19th century” and turns them into three contemporary fragrances that are decidedly modern in their style. Consisting of Empressa (Mike Parrot), Levantium (Christian de Provenzano) and Lothair (Bertrand Duchaufour), this collection is a perfect example of Penhaligon’s knack for taking the historic and bringing it bang up to date, making for something subversive, and a little bit different.

“Piled high on the quaysides and arriving daily from the farthest flung corners of the globe in a burst of exoticism; the rarest treasures in dizzying abundance; London was the Warehouse of the World.”

– Penhaligon’s

Perfume to Wrap Around Your Neck
Perfume to Wrap Around Your Neck

Oooh, I do love a good scarf and now that winter is finally bedding in, it’s the perfect opportunity to step out of the house wrapped within the warm confines of many a piece of neckwear. In fact, leaving the homestead isn’t particularly necessary (nor much fun in the cold) and I have been known to float around the house, scarf wrapped around neck, simply enjoying the fabulous warmth (and aesthetic) that it brings. I am, if anything, a bit of a poser, after all.

Scarves go incredibly well with fragrance and one of my favourite things to do is sniff a well worn scarf and try to identify the many perfumes that are imbued so deeply within the fibres. The truth is that, scarves may be a fashion item, but they also make wearing fragrance more pleasurable, due to the simple fact that they retain odour, as well as almost amplifying a fragrance so that it can be smelled at numerous intervals throughout the entire today.

In this piece, I’ve picked out some of my favourite scarves and paired them with matching fragrances. These pairings identify the synergies between the textures, colours and signatures of fragrances, and neckwear, but also take a look at some fragrances that simply smell great when lavishly sprayed on any old scarf. So, if you’re looking for a nice winter warmer of a fragrance to pair with your very best winter scarf, then read on, dear reader, read on.

New from Penhaligon's: Ostara Eau de Toilette
New from Penhaligon’s: Ostara Eau de Toilette (Illustration: Melissa Bailey)

This spring, quintessentially British perfume house, Penhaligon’s will launch ‘Ostara’, the brand’s latest collaboration with venerable perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour. Charting a fragrant journey of daffodil from “bulb to bud to bloom”, Ostara is described by the brand as a “modern interpretation” of an “incandescent flower”.

“An iconic feature of the British countryside, the daffodil symbolises the optimism and revival of spring. In 1802, the distinguished poet William Wordsworth wrote about a sea of daffodils in his poem, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’. Excerpts have been included on the outer packaging of the fragrance to reflect the radiance of the flower.”