Perfume: The Best Last Minute Christmas Gift

I’m sure, dear womenfolk, that you are all super organised, with every present bought and wrapped as we screech (nearly) to a halt on festive present buying. Of course you are.

For those who, like me, have just the odd one or twelve presents still to get, can I suggest perfume?

Now, I can already hear you starting to to say ‘Perfume? But that’s so personal! What happens if they don’t like it?’ I admit it is a bold idea, but I and my colleagues on We Wear Perfume have inhaled more alcohol through fragrance trialing this year than I have through drinking Negronis, so we can help you narrow down the options to some surefire winners.

And perfume is a wonderful present to receive, if you DO get it right and your giftee loves it then you will have provided them with possibly their next signature scent, a present that may well influence the rest of their life. If it’s wrong, they will simply pass it on to a daughter/aunt/ friend who might love it instead.

Perfume doesn’t need the giftee’s size, colour, gender (sort of) or age to shine and many niche brands are selling discovery boxes, such as this one from Miller Harris, where a sample size of a range of fragrances are packaged beautifully to try at leisure and improve your odds at success.

For amazing quality at a reasonable price

Stash SJP, by Sarah Jessica Parker.

Forget everything you know about celebrity fragrances, Stash’s amber, black pepper, sage and patchouli hit is a masterful compilation of quality and value. Gender free and deliciously warm and spicy, I think this is a cracking buy. Perfect for sassy young women, grown up hippies and proper SJP fans alike.

Zara Home Collection.

No, not home scents but personal fragrances, created by two extremely well regarded noses (that’s an actual job title) for Zara Home’s first collection of fragrances with which it wants to be taken seriously. It looks more like a niche artisan range than a high street fragrance offer and the scents are very good value for their quality. There are six, we like fresh citrusy Aqua Bergamota and Tonka Wood, the violet-wood with shades of red berry. Only available at Zara Home stores, would suit modern boys and girls with a Skandi aesthetic (the bottles have a lovely minimalist appeal).

Fabulously interesting brands that no one will have heard of.

Rosier by Nancy Meiland

Nancy Meiland is a British perfumer with a great skill at producing wearable, interesting scents. Aquilaria was one of We Wear Perfume’s top three fragrances of the year. We also love the softer Rosier, which is a very easy to wear modern rose. Ideal for the stylish Millennial women who want to find a modern, female-founded brand to grow up with.

Hauto, Insulo and Oriento by Jeroboam

These three Jeroboam extraits (a higher fragrance to alcohol ratio than edp or edt) blew our mind on WWP, quality, rich spicy scents that are presented in cute 30ml bottles. My favourite is the deliciously sensuous Insulo, which The Perfume Society described as smelling like ‘sexy custard’, who could resist? Perfect for quality-seeking creatives who want to be one ahead of the crowd.

Not just, but very suitable for, Middleagedads

Blackpepper by Comme des Garcons

There are all sorts of reasons for loving Comme des Garcons Blackpepper. Firstly, it has that spiced, earthy, upbeat warmth of black pepper at its heart. Secondly, TWR fav designer Faye Toogood helped launch the scent with a Studio Toogood installation at Selfridges (yes, I know that doesn’t really count as a selling point, but whatever…) And thirdly, my own middleagedad and twentysomething sons absolutely love this scent. When it was absent on a photo shoot recently, a minor riot broke out here at home, with grumpy men demanding its instant return. Would suit both edgy, dark denim wearing creatives and be-suited bankers with a desperate need to be interesting.

Fathom V by Beaufort London

One of our favourite niche brands on WWP, Beaufort London, recently launched this new scent inspired by the sea, as are all of its Come Hell or High Water scents. But where the previous fragrances have concentrated on blood, sea battles and gunpowder (1805 Tonnerre) or inky drawings of boats (Coeur de Noir), Fathom V is reminiscent of coastal walks along damp sandy pathways, covered with coastal botanicals and with a robust, force 9 gale blowing. The fantastically manly (for fragrance) leather discovery set, below, would make a brilliant present for any chap with a yearning for the sea.

Finally, if you’re thinking of self gifting…

Velvet by Perfumer H

Actually anything from Lyn Harris’s range of exquisite fragrances would work for us, Velvet (top image) is one of our favourites, but Rain Cloud, Heliotrope, Ink and the lusciously delicious Tonka would do us. Candles are also guaranteed to work, too. We’d advice a visit to the ultra stylish, Retrouvius-designed store if you can, Lyn is nearly always there, which it’s a bit like turning up at a Prada store and bumping into Miuccia…

Vert D’Encens by Tom Ford

If you want to be really on trend in terms of fragrance, then anything from Tom Ford’s new Les Extraits Verts collection would put you ahead. His innovative ‘greening’ of classic ingredients such as incense in Vert D’Encens (another of WWP’s scents of the year)  is both on trend – green is the Pantone colour of the year, after all – and gorgeously wearable, overlaying a herbaceous, crushed pine needle trail to the warm, woodsy notes.

If you’re still stuck or running very short of time, consider a perfume workshop day, such as those offered at 4160 Tuesdays and The Experimental Perfume Club. Or buy a very reasonable subscription to The Perfume Society, which offers discovery boxes and an excellent magazine, The Scented Letter. Merry Christmas!

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