Shopping: 16 posts

Explaining Oud and Middle Eastern Perfume Trends

I get lots of requests to talk about perfume trends–what themes are promising to remain popular, why white florals are perennial favorites, what we might see in the upcoming season, and other questions along these lines. Answering them is a bit like reading a crystal ball, and some marketing agencies earn a nice profit doing just that. On the other hand, what people wear in different countries and why they enjoy what they do is something I find fascinating. This is the topic of my recent FT column, Perfumes with Middle Eastern panache. Based on my travels and interviews, the article explains why fragrance is such an integral part of Middle Eastern culture and how European perfume houses are taking note of it.

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The Italians

Some of the most interesting artisanal brands I’ve recently discovered come from Italy. I won’t venture to generalize about this trend, if it can be called so, although what strikes me about the new Italian creations is the freshness of their approach. They pay tribute to classics, but not self-consciously so, and they stay au courant while avoiding the pitfalls of style versus substance. In my new FT column, Italian Perfumes, I focus on two fairly new niche houses, Antonio Alessandria Parfums and Rubini Profumi, and explain what makes them stand out.

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Wearing their perfumes reminded me why I love the Italian take on elegance. It has a sense of humor.

“Classic Italian perfumery has a reputation for flamboyance – embodied by the Cinecittà glamour of Sophia Loren, as well as the gold tan and bleached-blonde aesthetic of Donatella Versace. It may be a cliché, but one need not be a marketing specialist to notice that Italians wear scents differently from the French or Germans. Women enjoy lush white florals with a touch of powder for an enveloping, lingering effect. Men aren’t shy about donning sweet perfumes and using them to make a statement. Encounter such a fragranced denizen cutting la bella figura at an outdoor café some place in Rome or Palermo, and you’ll understand better Italy’s penchant for the baroque. To continue, please click here.”

Do you have any favorite Italian fragrances? Apart from the bottled sort, mine would be the wet vetiver and iris smell of Milan, freshly baked pizza bianca with rosemary, lemon groves off the Amalfi coast, and the shamelessly lush Sicilian jasmine.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved

Le Flacon : Kyiv’s Perfume Gem

I have long held that the owners of perfume boutiques all over the world have more similarities than differences–artistic dispositions, creative personalities and a boundless passion for fragrance. It’s not enough to be a good manager and sales person to run such a specialized enterprise. One needs to inspire visitors to learn new things, to expand their horizons and to step outside their comfort zone. For this, energy and knowledge are essential, but so is passion.

le flacon

Walk past the fanciful House with Chimaeras, whose dolphins and monsters look as if they are about to tumble down on the guards patrolling the Ukrainian President’s office. Then continue past the former residence of  the ballet dancer Serge Lifar and the pale blue Ivan Franko Theater that looks like a Ladurée pastry. Tucked away nearby is Le Flacon, a boutique run by a team of perfume lovers.

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Holiday Gifts for All Senses : Perfume, Incense, Makeup

While the first part of my holiday gift guide this year was dominated by edible things, the second is an eclectic mix of skincare, perfume, incense, soaps and a few beautiful makeup items. Many gifts on the list are suitable for men. A large portion is reasonably priced, including a selection of under $25 delights that would make great stocking stuffers. As always, I look forward to your gift ideas. If you have come across anything interesting (or if there is something you would like to receive), please share in the comments.

Gifts Under $25

incense sachet

Shoyeido Johin Incense Sachet

I have several of Shoyeido’s incense sachets stuffed in various linen closets, and they have a rich, elegant perfume of sandalwood, clove and camphor. Johin incense is rich in patchouli and sandalwood, for instance, and the sachets are made out of colorful textured fabric. Sachets are small, but they keep their aroma for months. Available from shoyeido’s website. Each sachet retails for $7.50.

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Gifts From The Silk Road

One of my favorite stores in Brussels isn’t a chocolate shop. It’s not even a fabulous perfume treasure trove called Senteurs d’Ailleurs. It’s a supermarket at Rue de l’Escadron 35 called FreshMed. Technically, it’s not even in Brussels proper, but in Etterbeek, one of the 19 communes that make up the metropolis. It’s a store offering a vast selection of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods, with a smattering of Baltic and Polish products.

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FreshMed isn’t a fancy store; it’s a place where the aesthetics are provided by the towering pyramids of fresh vegetables and fruits, not an overly creative interior design. I like this simple and unpretentious approach. Here you can find fresh tarragon and pomegranates, stock up on Greek retsina and Lebanese arak, and then load up your cart with homemade foods: tiny Syrian pies, Turkish-style pizza, hummus, tzaziki, olives and 10 kinds of feta. Then there are shelves of Iranian floral waters, Cretan dark honeys and Moroccan amber scented soaps. It’s a journey down the Silk Road within the space of a few supermarket aisles.

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Latest Comments

  • kat in Top 10 Summer Picnic Scents: LOL! Glad I’m not the only one. There’s always a sickly sweet note lurking that I can’t stand. Reminds me of the dark sticky liqueur leftovers at the bottom of… June 24, 2017 at 7:55am

  • Connie in Top 10 Summer Picnic Scents: Ahhh, I love this list! None of these are ones I own but they’re all ones I solidly like (except I haven’t tried the Moschino, Demeter, or Fashiony). I think… June 24, 2017 at 6:38am

  • Richard Goller in Top 10 Summer Picnic Scents: These are all wonderful recommendations, Victoria. I would opt for Atelier Cologne Silver Iris. Eau de Rochas Pour Homme would be another good one. Thanks for sharing with us. You… June 24, 2017 at 5:07am

  • Maria in Top 10 Summer Picnic Scents: I’m with you on Guerlain (and I always feel like a Philistine saying it :-)) . The only one that I can wear is Eau du coq, but it is… June 23, 2017 at 11:11pm

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