Holiday Gift Ideas from French Magazines : Perfume Sets

My weekend mornings start with a cup of tea and a couple of French magazines. I call it my language practice, but there are other reasons I prefer French Marie-Claire and Elle to their US equivalents–more articles on diverse topics, in-depth interviews, and better fashion coverage. They feature much more on perfume, besides the usual sponsored ads and token mentions of the advertisers’ products. Thanks to French Marie-Claire, I’ve rediscovered Shiseido Zen and fell in love with a delightful orange blossom cologne Bien-être L’Eau Parfumée des Familles.

With the holiday season approaching, the glossy pages are splashed with tempting perfume gift ideas, and today I wanted to share with you a few of them. I love the idea of a scented present that includes several fragrances to try, but in some cases I also wanted to highlight a few interesting products that are presented exclusively for the holidays. While I’ve collected some of the ideas from my dog-eared issues of French Marie-Claire, Vogue and Elle, I featured the sets that can be easily found in the US as well as Europe.

Atelier Cologne Collection Voyage

Atelier Cologne set 0.25 oz  of their seven perfumes: Orange Sanguine, Grand Néroli, Bois Blonds, Trèfle Pur, Oolang Infini, Vanille Insensée, and Ambre Nue. A beautiful presentation and a great way to try the collection. Available at Sephora and Bergdorf Goodman. $95.00

Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien Set

No wonder that the French press fell in love with this holiday set. The packaging is elegant and festive, and I like the gilded 10 ml purse spray (in addition to the 50ml of eau de toilette). Eau d’Hadrien is one of the classics, and those who enjoy fresh, crisp scents will appreciate its effervescence of lemon and bergamot. A glimpse of the summer on a white Christmas morning, perhaps? Available at Annick Goutal counters and online. £60.00

Chanel No 5 Sheer Moisture Mist

Chanel No 5 Sheer Moisture Mist is presented as a limited edition for the holidays. I saw it mentioned in Vogue and Elle, and when I tried it at the store, I understood why the beauty editors were smitten. It’s a light veil of scent that nevertheless has a great tenacity, and it leaves skin silky soft. Now, Chanel, please make this mist scented with No 22 and No 19. Available at and most Chanel counters. 3.40z, $50.00

Chanel No 5 Gift Set with Body Lotion and Gel

I usually am not tempted by scented body products, but I make an exception for Chanel. The quality of their lotion and gel bases is excellent, with body creams seeping into the skin within seconds, leaving it supple and perfumed. The holiday gift set is a luxurious one, but it includes everything that a Chanel No 5 fan would want: Eau de Parfum Spray 3.4 oz. ($130 value), Body Lotion 3.4 oz. and Bath Gel 3.4 oz.; in a deluxe gift box. Available at, Bergdorf Goodman, and most Chanel counters.$180.00

L’Artisan Parfumeur Fragrance Gift Set

I love the whimsical packaging of this L’Artisan Fragrance Gift Set, which unfolds to reveal three 0.5oz  bottles of their signature scents. For women, L’Artisan offers Mûre et Musc, La Chasse Aux Papillons, and Premier Figuier, while the set for men–and that’s the one I’m eyeing–includes Timbuktu, Fou d’Absinthe (EDP), and Mechant Loup. Available at Aedes, Barney’s and Selfridges. $98.00

Penhaligon’s Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ miniature fragrance set

The opulent boxes decorated with illustrations of Victorian theatre-goers are irresistible, but I also like the idea of a varied collection of scents. I wish that the sets included some of the recent launches like Juniper Sling and Peoneve, but Quercus, Blenheim Bouquet, Endymion, Sartorial, and Opus 1870 make for a classically minded choice. The collection for women likewise contains 5 x 5ml bottles of perfume: Artemisia, Gardenia, Malabah, Lily of the Valley, and Ellenisia. Available at, Saks Fifth Avenue and Selfridges. $50.00

Penhaligon’s website includes more gift ideas, both for perfume and for body products.

Jo Malone Cologne Collection

The beauty of Jo Malone sets is that the fragrances can be layered and that they are light and understated enough to appeal to a wide audience. Blackberry & Bay has been a hit in the French magazines, which called it nostalgic and romantic. Cologne Collection includes Lime Basil & Mandarin, Pomegranate Noir, Blackberry & Bay, Red Roses and Amber & Lavender, in 9ml spray bottles. Available at Neiman Marcus and $95.00

Robert Piguet Fracas Little Pink Box

Packaged in what looks like a vintage hat box with a black satin box, Robert Piguet Fracas gift set includes Fracas Eau de Parfum Spray, 1oz and Eau de parfum roll on, .25oz. Available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Selfridges. $65.00

Estée Lauder Private collection tuberose gardenia evening star

Another great option for a white floral lover–a duo of Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia Eau de Parfum Spray 30ml and Eau de Parfum Travel Spray 4ml. This lush tuberose scent is accented with crisp green notes, which give it an effervescent aura. But the drydown is languid and warm, wrapping you like a delicate cashmere veil. Available at Selfridges and Estée Lauder counters. £59.00 ($95.00)

Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile Holiday Set

The refined Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile comes this season in a generous gift set: 50ml of Eau de Parfum, 50g Luminous Body Cream, and 50g Bath and Shower Gel. These sets are also offered in other Acqua di Parma perfumes: Gelsomino Nobile, Magnolia Nobile, Colonia Intensa, Colonia Essenza, and Colonia Assoluta. Available at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Selfridges. $120

Guerlain Vétiver set

According to the local Guerlain counter, Vétive de Guerlain is still the best seller for men, and these gift sets have already been sold out since the beginning of the month. For a gentleman who likes classical elegance, Vétiver has few rivals. The set includes Vétiver Eau de Toilette (100ml), Vétiver Shower Gel (75ml), and Vétiver Deodorant (50ml). Available at Selfridges and Guerlain counters. 56 euros

For women, Guerlain offers sets of La Petite Robe Noire, Insolence, Idylle, Shalimar Parfum Initial, and L’Instant de Guerlain (eau de parfum 50ml, purse spray 15ml).

Tom Ford Violet Blonde Collection

Violet Blonde easily goes from morning to evening and that has enough sensuality to play up its refined green violet aura. The Tom Ford Violet Blonde collection includes an Eau de Parfum (1.7 oz.) and Body Moisturizer (5 oz.). A perfect gift for someone who likes understated, elegant florals. Available at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Tom Ford boutiques. $105.00 Tom Ford for Men, Grey Vetiver, and Black Orchid are also offered as gift sets.

Shu Uemura Chocolat Donna Eye Palette

A little bonus for the makeup lovers. When I first saw this palette in the Selfridges’s holiday catalogue, I knew right away that one of my friends will be getting it in her Christmas stocking.  This limited edition Mint and Vanilla palette is inspired by a box of chocolates. The case is refillable, and it includes three matte colors in dark brown tones and three shimmer shades–mint, gold and pearl. Like all Japanese makeup brands, Shu Uemura offers excellent quality. The finely milled eyeshadows are easy to apply and layer, and the colors are vibrant and rich. Available at and Shu Uemura counters. $65.00 (other color selections include Orange-Pistachio and Raspberry-Mocha)

Have you seen any interesting gift ideas in stores? What is on your wishlist this holiday season?

Top photo by Bois de Jasmin



  • Diane07: I want the Annick Goutal set, but what makes me salivate the most is that Chocolate palette by Shu Uemura. I checked out the other colours at their website, but your pick is the most wearable one. November 21, 2012 at 8:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I also thought that vanilla and mint was the most wearable one. I can’t pull of pink or orange on my eyes, but the sheer mint is a perfect accent color. Of course, with Shu Uemura you get quality all the way. November 21, 2012 at 10:06am Reply

    • Ursula: I have that Shu palette and it’s fabulous (although the two glitters might make it less wearable than you think…).

      Figured I’d give a heads-up that the American website has a promo code, “shuxtemp”, for 25% off and free shipping through EOD today (Nov. 21). November 21, 2012 at 11:57am Reply

      • Diane07: I love glitter. 🙂 November 22, 2012 at 3:21pm Reply

        • Ursula: Then girl, work that glitter. You’ll totally love it. 🙂 November 24, 2012 at 12:40pm Reply

  • Barbara: Great ideas, thanks, V! Do you know if Clinique Wrappings is going to be reissued again this year? November 21, 2012 at 8:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I think so, Barbara. It gets reissued every year for the holidays. November 21, 2012 at 10:07am Reply

    • Sophie: As of yet, it is not on the website. November 21, 2012 at 10:52am Reply

      • Sophie: Sorry, pressed the “Reply” button too fast. I do think it’s already available in Europe and USA. Lucky girls! November 21, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

        • Victoria: Soon! I bet that it will be available in Canada soon, Sophie. 🙂 November 21, 2012 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Tracy: Hi – yes, I have enjoyed Zen for many years now. Chanel has really good skin care products also, tho expensive, especially the face serum. My skin has never looked better!

    Am thinking of trying your spicy cranberry chutney this year!

    I have two boys graduating from college this year. Any suggestions of cologne for young, somewhat sophisticated males? November 21, 2012 at 9:24am Reply

    • Victoria: How about Prada Infusion d’Homme? That’s a fantastic fragrance that’s easy to wear, but that smells elegant and sophisticated. I also like Tom Ford Noir, but it’s more of a classical elegant scent, with some sweetness that may or may not be what your boys are used to. November 21, 2012 at 10:09am Reply

  • Daisy: Great gift ideas! That Atelier box is calling me . . . 🙂 November 21, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I know! That’s such a great way to try their collection. I wish I could swap Ambre Nue for Vetiver Fatal though. November 21, 2012 at 10:10am Reply

      • Daisy: I just noticed that the box was missing the latest two. Sigh. Very true! November 21, 2012 at 10:17am Reply

        • Victoria: That’s too bad, because I liked the last two very much. But a note to self–I’m not getting a gift for myself, only buying for others this holiday season. 🙂 November 21, 2012 at 10:45am Reply

          • Daisy: I’m making everything this year! I figure that this will be the last year that I will have the luxury of time to do it. Fleur de sel caramels for everyone! November 21, 2012 at 11:00am Reply

            • Victoria: Your friends are lucky! I really envy them. 🙂
              I will make some of my gifts as well too, and in fact, the handmade gifts are the ones my friends look forward to the most, since most of mine include food. November 21, 2012 at 2:20pm Reply

  • smellslikeroses: I’m stuck at the airport as we travel to my parents’ for Thanksgiving and this was a fun read. Sign me up for No 5 Sheer Mist! Last year I bought No 5 bath oil, but I don’t see it online anymore. If you or your giftee like No 5, give it a try. November 21, 2012 at 9:51am Reply

    • Victoria: I wish you a safe trip! A day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel date in the States, so I can sympathize. Hope that you reach your destination quickly.

      I’ve tried No 5 oil before, and I agree, it’s the ultimate No 5 luxury (well, apart from the perfume!) November 21, 2012 at 10:11am Reply

  • Ariadne: The Penhaligon sets are SOOO adorable! What fun! They gave me an idea to go to Home Goods and buy some of those elaborately papered gift boxes and fill them with my hand selected mini perf’s as holiday gifts. Gets my buddies hooked on my hobby at the same time. ;+) Can you tell I am in Santa’s naughty queue? November 21, 2012 at 10:12am Reply

    • Victoria: What a great idea! I confess that I loved Penhaligon’s packaging more than their perfume choices. Sephora has such nice atomizers, and I bet that a handmade perfume box would be even better. November 21, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

  • Amer: last time I checked Eau d’Hadrien was not a Guerlain classic 😉 November 21, 2012 at 10:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Nope, it’s not, it’s a typo… Still jetlagged! November 21, 2012 at 2:19pm Reply

  • breathesgelatin: The Penhaligon’s set is the most tempting to me – great packaging, great price! I sort of wish they had some of the more modern scents in there but whatever. November 21, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I was surprised that they didn’t include Bluebell into their women’s set. I always hear that it’s their bestseller. November 21, 2012 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Ann-Sofie: They are all adorable and so very, very alluring. And a great top photo to illustrate! Wish it was my bag…. I also especially favour Penhaligons lovely box – it is quite Le Budoir….Thinking of it, I would like to have all my fragrances in small bottles, standing in richly decorated boxes with tassels. With a budoir of much splendour to match, of course. November 21, 2012 at 1:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it!
      Mmmm, I’m imagining the kind of sumptuous boudoir that would match those Penhaligon’s box. I have always wanted a little dressing table with a mirror. November 21, 2012 at 2:26pm Reply

      • Ann-Sofie: I have no boudoir, but I have a dressing table with a mirror! I found it in a garage sale in an old barn outside Stockholm a couple of years ago. True art deco, beautifully hand crafted with intarsia. The mirror has a crack, sadly, but I do not care. I have placed all my perfumes in front of the mirror, and admire the splendourama every night before I go to bed. I really have to start building up my decadent boudoir. Need a dark red velvet day bed, heavy silk curtains, georgeous mirrors and dramatic lamps from anno dazumal. And a load of money and a few extra square meters to get these things in… November 21, 2012 at 6:07pm Reply

        • Andrea: You are reminding me of Countess Olenska in “The Age of Innocence”. I seem to remember Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie role; she had a sumptious bedoir as you describe. Perhaps it was only her sitting room that I recall, but I remember dark burgundy velvets. Time to rent the movie again! November 21, 2012 at 6:39pm Reply

          • Ann-Sofie: I remember that movie too and liked it much. Yes, I think it was the sitting room – indeed a lovely interior. Daniel Day Lewis played Countess Olenskas love. He is much welcome into my boudoir. LOL! November 22, 2012 at 4:37am Reply

            • Victoria: LOL! This made me laugh out loud. 🙂 November 22, 2012 at 4:46am Reply

            • Andrea: LOL! November 22, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

  • maggiecat: Cravings awakened…almost any one of these under the tree would make me very happy! Thanks for sharing. November 21, 2012 at 5:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad to be of service. 🙂 I would most want that Atelier Cologne box and Iris Nobile, but I would be happy with any of these. November 22, 2012 at 4:48am Reply

  • annemariec: What lovely things! Christmas is a difficult time for the perfume obsessed. My inbox is full of special offers and gift sets (I’ve had the Jo Malone offer twice and the L’Artisan/Penhaligon’s once already). And of course the department store counters are filling up with gift sets from Chanel, Lauder, Lancome …

    I am ignoring them all for I am resolved that my Xmas present to myself will be a Le Labo 15 ml bottle of Rose 31, plus a few samples. Yay for 15 ml bottles!

    Chanel often do a little set of five (I think) teeny bottles of parfums: No. 5, No 19, Allure (blech), Coco and CM . I bought one of these two years ago and loved it. I did immediately give away the CM to a friend and she was so delighted. I’ve never found anyone to give the Allure to. After all, I do actually LIKE my friends. 🙂 November 21, 2012 at 6:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Passing through one of the perfume stores in Paris this time of the year, I’m always impressed by the beautiful holiday gift presentations. Chanel’s are always gorgeous. I remember that parfum set. It is a good value too, but Coco Mlle and Allure don’t tempt me much. November 22, 2012 at 4:52am Reply

  • Andrea: Neimans and is having their “scent event” right now; spend $85 and get a cute clutch loaded with great samples. I purchased Eaudemoiselle gift set with the moisture spray and EDT. I already own the Moisture spray, but think I may run out soon! It is lovely, a veil of milky lotion which quickly melts into skin, leaving softly spicy rose. I also qualified for a 4ml (or was it 8?) mini of the same… My husband was admiring my gorgeously scented skin today, so I informed him that he also just bought me the gift set for Xmas. Timing is everything!

    I bought my sis-in-law a Tarte gift set; it has many lovely shadows, full-size glosses, blushes. The Stila makeup sets are nice this season, with as many as 10 blush colors and more than 20 shadows. Using one of the many 20% off coupons that come into my inbox (SpaLook,, Sephora, Ulta), they can be had for under $40. I also saw some makeup kits that looked like chocolate bars, each set of colors had its own “bar”, from Sephora and Ulta. Cute packaging, but I’m afraid it takes up a lot more space than I would like… November 21, 2012 at 6:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I miss Neimans! There are no department stores in Brussels, except for one that resembles Macy’s but much smaller and with less of a selection. You can certainly find most things in the city, but often you have to go to several different stores. Neimans has a kind of calm and elegance that are hard to replicate. Plus, I have a soft spot for it anyway. November 22, 2012 at 4:58am Reply

  • nozknoz: Great ideas – that Penhaligons set is adorable!

    Last year I gifted myself one of the Xerjoff discovery sets. The packaging is beautiful and I love most of the scents. These sets are not inexpensive, but they are good value in dollars per ml. The new oud set is sold out on LuckyScent, but the sets are still available. November 21, 2012 at 10:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s one perfume brand I haven’t tried yet and can’t bring myself to because of the price. Which fragrances do you enjoy from this line? November 22, 2012 at 5:00am Reply

      • nozknoz: I know what you mean, Victoria: it’s bad enough to be tempted by perfumes in the $200 to $350 dollar range, but over $600 is just insane!

        Reviews and comments have focused on Irisss, Richwood and the new ouds, but if I were rich, I’d have Damarose. Actually, since the samples in the kits are 15 mls, I basically do have it now, minus the extravagant bottle. 🙂 November 22, 2012 at 1:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: Damarose was the one that caught my attention the most, but you’re right, it’s hardly ever mentioned. Irisss didn’t interest me, because I can’t imagine anything besting Iris Silver Mist in the dramatic iris category. November 22, 2012 at 2:36pm Reply

  • Ines: I adore the look of the Penhaligon’s set! 🙂 That is just so cute.
    Hmm, Chanel mist? I wonder if that is available here, I’ll check it out as I’m intrigued now by it. November 22, 2012 at 5:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Isn’t it! I would keep the box for something else if I ever got this set as a gift.

      This mist is a great No 5 version if you don’t care for the overly sharp aldehydes in the EDT/EDP. A great product overall. Chanel site says that it’s a limited edition, but I hope that it is available widely at least for the holidays. November 22, 2012 at 12:07pm Reply

  • MADCUTE: I would love getting my hands on the Frederic Malle coffret, sold at Barneys as well as November 22, 2012 at 10:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I saw those too, and they are gorgeous, but the price made me pause (not that it’s not worth the set, it’s just very high). November 24, 2012 at 7:46am Reply

      • MADCUTE: Oh, absolutely! November 26, 2012 at 7:58pm Reply

  • Lindaloo: Gorgeous and tempting offerings. Would love to read your thoughts on Shiseido Zen. I wore it in the 70s and recently acquired a bottle of the “Classic” version they currently sell. Still love it. November 23, 2012 at 12:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I will write about it, Linda. It’s definitely a beautiful perfume, and the classical version they sell now is wonderful. So rich and elegant. November 24, 2012 at 7:47am Reply

  • maja: How I would love those little round boxes of Fracas and Iris Nobile! 🙂 November 23, 2012 at 6:44am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 I have a thing for round boxes too. The hat boxes I see sometimes at the vintage stores always tempt me. November 24, 2012 at 7:48am Reply

  • Annikky: Great choices, Victoria, I would be happy to get any of these as a present. But if I had a good friend who loves perfume and India, I would get her (him) a Neela Vermeire discovery set. Beautiful and special and I think almost everyone is bound to like at least one of the three scents. November 24, 2012 at 5:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, Neela’s perfumes are unique and well-crafted, and I find that they really do remind me of India. Trayee is perhaps my favorite in this regard. November 24, 2012 at 7:49am Reply

  • Natalie: These are all gorgeous finds, Victoria! I’m tempted to get that L’Artisan set for myself … 🙂 November 25, 2012 at 11:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: The box opens up sideways, which give it a charming, “pop-up book” quality. Overall, nicely done. November 26, 2012 at 5:55am Reply

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