It’s time for my gifts lists inspired by French magazines and Belgian stores. Christmas decorations are going up around Avenue Louise, Brussels’s version of Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and the boutiques are receiving their seasonal gift sets. I’m rarely tempted by the matching scented creams and shower gels, but the presentations are so irresistible that it’s hard to walk past the perfume shop window without taking a quick peak inside.
My list reflects things that I like to give and would love to receive. If you would like to introduce someone to fragrance and know a bit about their tastes, discovery kits are excellent options, and there are several choices below. Another criterion for including the sets is the high-quality matching products. All too often the body lotions and creams are of mediocre quality in comparison to the perfume and needless to say, such sets don’t make the cut.
Just a note on the availability and shopping options: to give you some ideas where you can find these sets, I’m including a few US and international retailers, but it’s far from an exhaustive list. My knowledge of perfume stores around the world is limited, but please ask questions in the comments. Chances are there is someone who might have the answer.
Balmain Silk Perfume
This argan oil enriched blend to perfume hair is getting lots of editorial coverage in France. The scent is a light rose and pear, and the spray leaves locks fragrant and soft. Silk Perfume 200ml/20,95 €. Available at Balmain boutiques and balmainhair.com.
By Kilian Travel to Shanghai
The presentation of Kilian’s discovery set is inspired by Art Deco and Shanghai in the 1920’s. Each boxed set comes with a silver travel spray and three 7.5ml spray vials of different By Kilian fragrances. There are four choices: Fresh Harmony (Water Calligraphy, Bamboo Harmony, Flower of Immortality), Floral Harmony (Liaisons Dangereuses, Prelude to Love, Good Girl Gone Bad), Sweet Harmony (Love, Sweet Redemption, Forbidden Games), Woodsy Harmony (Straight to Heaven, Back to Black, In the City of Sin). 3x 7.5ml atomizers, $115. Available at Luckyscent, Aedes, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus.
Aerin Fragrance Gift Set
All five of Aerin Lauder’s new fragrances are presented in a limited edition set of five 9ml atomizers: Gardenia Rattan, Amber Musk, Lilac Path, Ikat Jasmine and Evening Rose. The collection overall is polished and well-crafted. Some perfume lovers might miss the drama, but the set will be perfect for those who want something understated and elegant. 5x9ml, £70. Available at Selfridges, Harrods, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Lalique Encre Noire Gift Set
The Encre Noire gift set includes a 100mL bottle of the eau de toilette and the shower gel. The shower gel is scented with the same dry vetiver that makes this perfume one of my favorites. I already bought this set as a gift, and I’m trying to resist the temptation to keep it for myself. £65. Perles de Lalique, Lalique Le Parfum, L’Homme, and Lalique de Lalique sets are also available. Sold at Selfridges, Liberty, and Harrods.
L’Artisan City of Light Discovery Set
L’Artisan Parfumeur includes an interesting selection of perfumes in its newest holiday set, mixing its “classics” with newer additions: La Chasse aux Papillons, Mûre et Musc, Premier Figuier, and Nuit de Tubéreuse. The packaging is inspired by Paris and features hand-drawn illustrations. 4x 7ml Atomizers, $60. Available at L’Artisan counters, Luckyscent, Aedes, Selfridges, Harrods.
Prada Infusion d’Iris Gift Set
Prada Infusion d’Iris body lotion is excellent, and if you like to match perfume with lotion, this gift set is a good idea. It contains a mint green pouch, a 50ml eau de parfum and a 100ml body lotion. £57. Available at all Prada counters.
Diptyque Three-Piece Perfume Set
Diptyque’s three-piece set is available for Do Son, Philosykos, Tam Dao, and L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, but the travel atomizer is sold separately. 3 x 12ml spray refills, £30, $72. Available at diptyqueparis.com, Selfridges, Aedes, Luckyscent.
Jo Malone London Cologne Collection
A very nice selection of five colognes: Lime Basil & Mandarin, English Pear & Freesia, Blackberry & Bay, Amber & Lavender, and also the newest addition, Peony & Blush Suede. 5 x 9ml, £64. Jo Malone also has a variety of candle and individual fragrance sets. Available at all Jo Malone counters and boutiques.
Miller Harris Wood and Citrus Sets
Miller Harris excels at woody and citrusy perfumes, and it’s great to see two themed sets made available for the holidays. Each set includes three 15ml bottles of Eau de Parfum. Woods features Feuilles de Tabac, La Fumée, and Fleurs de Sel, while Citrus includes Citron Citron, Le Petit Grain, and Terre d’Iris. Packaged in a gift box, £60. Available at Selfridges, Miller Harris counters and boutiques.
Penhaligon’s Sets for Ladies and Gentlemen
Every holiday season Penhaligon’s does some of the best gift sets around. They’re well-designed, beautifully packaged and offer a wide range of scents. I’ve given them as presents in the past to friends and family, and they were always a success. This year’s collections are inspired by Victorian music boxes.
The Ladies Fragrance Collection includes five miniature 5ml bottles of Ellenisia, Lily of the Valley, Artemisia, Gardenia and Malabah. The Gentleman’s Fragrance Collection features Quercus, Sartorial, Endymion, Blenheim Bouquet and Opus 1870. All sets: 5x 5ml bottles, $50. Available at Penhaligon’s boutiques and counters, Luckyscent, Selfridges.
Penhaligon’s Quercus Fragrance Collection
Another interesting Penhaligon’s set is all about Quercus, a unisex woody cologne with notes of lemon, lime, bergamot, mandarin, jasmine, lily of the valley, cardamom, sandalwood, moss, musk, and amber. The set includes 1 x 50ml Eau de Toilette, 1 x 100ml Shower Gel, and 1 x 100ml Hand & Body Lotion. 3 piece set, $85. A similar set is available for Sartorial. Available at Penhaligon’s boutiques and counters, Luckyscent, Selfridges.
Atelier Cologne Voyage Cologne Absolue Collection
An elegant set and good value. A chic blue box contains Orange Sanguine, Grand Néroli, Bois Blonds, Trèfle Pur, Oolang Infini, Vanille Insensée and Ambre Nue in purse atomizers. 7 x 7.5ml, £75, $95. Available at Sephora, Selfridges, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.
Histoires de Parfums Tubéreuse Trilogy
A trio of tuberoses from Histoires de Parfums is my choice for the white floral lovers I know. Three different Eau de Parfums play on the tuberose theme and present this sensual blossom in different guises. Tubéreuse Capricieuse is gourmand and powdery, Tubéreuse Virginale is fruity and warm, and Tubéreuse Animale is leathery and dark. 3 x 0.46oz, $108. Available at Luckyscent.
Do you have any other perfumed gift ideas? What scented items are you planning to give to your friends and family this year?
Photography by Bois de Jasmin, the glass dome of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris.