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Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!

The theme at Penhaligon’s this season is ‘Christmas is in the Air’ and with this Christmassy concept they are mixing the two things that make their identity so unique: tradition and eccentricity. Their golden packaging is accented by beautiful red ribbons, with what appears to be a rather traditional, Victorian scene as the illustration. Look closer though, and the signature quirk of Penhaligon’s is revealed! Carriages driven by birds and flying clocks lead one to remember that the world of Penhaligon’s is a topsy turvy one, and that’s what makes it so wonderful to explore!

This Christmas, Penhaligon’s have curated a fine selection of gifts for any of those eccentric beauties in your life. There’s perfume aplenty, with gorgeous sets and mini-collections amongst their expansive collection of scent. There’s even a special home fragrance for this year, not to mention many other quirky things to love. So in this extravaganza of a Christmas Crush post I’m brining you a veritable feast of Penhaligon’s gifts to hopefully inspire your present-buying this holiday season. With any luck we’ll have ticked some people off your gift list by the end of the post no problem.

Néroli Outrenoir
Néroli Outrenoir

When I think of neroli I don’t necessarily think of the colour black, in fact, my mind wanders to shades of white, orange, gold and yellow – hues that are as far from ‘noir’ as they possibly can be. But it is the ingredient neroli and the idea of ‘outrenoir’ or beyond black (a concept created by artist Pierre Soulages) that serves as inspiration for the very latest addition to Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matiére (‘The Art and the Material’) collection: Néroli Outrenoir – neroli beyond black.

“I wanted all of its facets to be expressed: zesty, orangey neroli essence; woody, aromatic petitgrain essence; and orange blossom absolute.”

– Thierry Wasser

Created by Guerlain’s in-house Perfumer, Thierry Wasser, Néroli Outrenoir is described by Guerlain as being a fragrance that “draws on the contrast between the luminescence of neroli and the obscurity of much darker and more mysterious notes”. Coming from a collection that boasts bold compositions such as Spiritueuse Double Vanille (the booziest, biggest and baddest vanilla around) and Rose Barbare (the rose chypre to end all rose chypres), to name just two, it’s fair to say that Néroli Outrenoir has stiff composition, but it has many a trick and a surprise up its pretty little sleeves to allow it to earn its place in the collection.

Before we take a dive into the petitgrain pools of Néroli Outrenoir, it’s important to take a few moments to discuss packaging because the entire L’Art et la Matiére collection has been beautifully repackaged. The fragrances now come in a beautiful leatherette box shaded in a deep purple, but most importantly the bulb atomisers which have always been known to aid evaporation have been niftily remade (again in a beautiful purple shade) with an on-and-off mechanism to prevent fragrance-loss. The packaging is sublime, but how does the scent match-up? All shall be revealed…

Time for Tea
Time for Tea

One of my favourite non-perfume smell is Earl Grey tea. There is nothing quite like opening  a brand new box of tea bags and inhaling the dusty green scent of tea leaves infused with the sweet and fragrant smell of bergamot. Few fragrances are able to capture this smell, and in general, good tea fragrances are hard to find. That said, Spring 2015 has seen the launch of two very competent tea scents; Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra from Guerlain and L’Ile au Thé by Annick Goutal, both of which are the subject of my Escentual column this week.

Teazzurra is a more abstract take on tea that uses a green tea note alongside vanilla and citrus to paint the image of an idillic lakeside resort. L’Ile au Thé however, feels more grounded in nature and instead, evokes the smell of a soft breeze moving through the plentiful leaves of an exotic tea plantation. Both are light and wistful creations that set the mood for summer. Click here to head on over to the Escentual blog to read my review. Oh, and pop the kettle on!

"The Volcanic Island of Jeju"
“The Volcanic Island of Jeju”

Work is stressful. I know, I know, I’m playing the role of Captain Obvious here, but sometimes it just needs to be said, and I’m sure many of you would agree. Anyway, work is stressful and it’s important to enjoy some ‘me’ time after a long hard day at the office. We all have ways of relaxing. My method is tea. I don’t drink tea all day at work but when I get home, I always have a cup of Earl Grey. This has almost become a ritual and often, when that cup is finished, the stress of the day has been washed away and I’m ready to enjoy the evening. I feel cleansed. I think that putting on my skeleton pyjamas helps too, but that’s another post for another day.

Tea has been used for ritualistic purposes in many cultures for thousands of years, but it hasn’t really made much of a break into perfume, despite the fact that it smells heavenly, in all of its varieties. Honestly, there is no odour on Earth more pleasing than a fresh box of bergamot heavy Earl Grey – it’s powdery, zesty and fizzing with black tea goodness. Let’s not even get into the realms of Lapsang Souchong and Jasmine tea – we’ll be here for a while. In short, tea smells great and there is only a handful of decent tea fragrances out there, which is a shame.

Well stop the presses, dear friends, because I think I’ve found a really good one. It’s called L’Ile au Thé (Island Tea) and it comes from chic French fragrance house, Annick Goutal. Created by Goutal’s in-house perfumers, Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal, L’Ile au Thé takes inspiration from the volcanic South Korean island of Jeju, where the landscape is littered with fields of tangerines and hills brimming with tea. L’Ile au Thé is more than just a tea fragrance thought – it’s a mood and a feeling, and a restorative landscape born from fire, air and greenery. This is a fragrance that encourages one to spritz, sit back and just breathe.

“Where lava rocks give birth to lush green plant-life buffeted by the winds. Journeying through its undulating landscape, Camille and Isabelle are taken away by their emotions”

– The Island of Jeju

Guerlain Teas
Perfume Pic of the Week No. 7: Guerlain Teas

Ahh, tea! Is there anything better than getting home from a long, hard day and boiling the kettle for a relaxing hot brew? The answer is simple: no, there isn’t. Tea drinking, much like perfume sniffing, is one of life’s greatest sensory pleasures and with the wide variety of different blends, one can find a world of truly delicious treats with very little searching required.

So does that then mean that the mixture of both perfume and tea would make for an interesting blend? Venerable french perfume house Guerlain certainly seem to think so and with the revamping of their flagship store at no. 68 Champs Élysées they have launched a number of fragrant teas based on a handful their most inconic perfumes in conjunction with Les Thés de Constance.

The Guerlain fragrant teas are:

Perfume Pic of the Week No.5: Le Tentation de Nina Macarons
Perfume Pic of the Week No.5: Le Tentation de Nina Macarons

I love Ladurée, I love macarons and I most certainly love perfume. So it will come as no surprise that I am quite keen on the above picture, which very quickly become my perfume pic of the week when I stumbled across it, whilst preparing for my upcoming review (due to be up next week) of the latest Nina Ricci fragrance – the macaron inspired ‘Le Tentation de Nina‘.

Nina Ricci (the brand, obv), perfumer Olivier Cresp and Vincent Lemains (the Head Pastry Chef at Ladurée) have teamed up to create a macaron “inspired by a perfume” and a perfume “inspired by a macaron”. The macarons, which are winking at you in the above picture, are a devilishly delicious-sounding blend of lemon, raspberry, Bulgarian rose absolute and almond, all of which is topped off with a dash of gold leaf. The perfume is very much in the same spirit and lists similar notes. Does it perfectly capture the spirit of the most darling of pastries? Well, you’ll have to wait until my review for that little nugget of information…

Tea

“Time for Tea”

It’s been a busy week here at The Candy Perfume Towers, hence the lack of posts. I’ve been a busy boy with work-work, university work and a writing project that all seemed to come to a head at the same time. But I’m not complaining, there are worse things in life than being busy right?

Busy is good as far as I am concerned. I am a perpetually lazy person by nature so I need to have lots to do to prevent me from staring at the television or keeping my nose in a book all day. But when there is lots of work to do and deadlines to meet I find that I have to take some time to relax and re-organise my head. In other words, when things get a bit too busy and hectic, it is time for tea!

Tea to me is relaxation, it is also my other vice after perfume. Weirdly, I only drink tea in the evening and at weekends, I never drink tea at work, perhaps because I enjoy nothing more than coming home, throwing on my pajamas and sitting down to some serious blog writing with a nice, hot cup of tea.