Holiday Gift Mini-Guide 2020

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for a while, and suddenly I realized that we’re almost out of time: with the volume of products delivered via all possible carriers, and with many places heading into the next wave of lockdowns, it’s hard to predict how long any of the purchases will roam this season. I recently had a box traveling from somewhere around LA to South San Francisco’s sorting facility, then to somewhere in Minnesota and then again to South San Francisco before arriving at my place 15 miles away from that last mentioned hub. So, it might be that we have days rather than weeks before it’s too late to bring some holiday joy to ourselves and our loved ones.

One more “complication”: probably more than half of my readers live either in Europe or in Australia, so some of my recommendations wouldn’t probably work for them (but some would). And I thought that they still might spark some ideas. None of the links are sponsored or affiliated.

* * *

For many years we kept talking how niche brands should be releasing perfumista-friendly bottles. And some of them listened. So, I’m including several brands in my list.

Olfactive Studio has just recently released many of their perfumes in 15 ml bottles (available in the US and in Europe). These might be too expensive for a blind buy/unsolicited gift, but if you like any of these, you’ll get a chance to get something beautiful for yourself. I plan to find some of the newest “shots” under my tree (Iris Shot, Violet Shot and Rose Shot are especially calling my name). But if you haven’t tried this collection yet, then this sample set might be a good idea (you’ll get $25 off your next purchase of a 100 ml bottle).

Olfactive Studio Perfumes: Three Shots

Masque Milano has also launched 10 ml travel sizes for their perfumes. Currently available from their EU site, but they ship Worldwide. I already have in my collection a couple of perfumes that I love from this brand, otherwise I would have been tempted.

Ormonde Jayne is now doing mixed travel sets 5 x 8 ml. These are not “mix-and-match” but the combinations are good (if you like the brand), and an occasional one or two you do not care for should be not that hard to do in a split with fellow perfumistas. I would have bought the Set 3 if I hadn’t owned already 4 out of 5 perfumes.

Ormonde Jayne Travel Lab

I think, Parfums Dusita released their 7.5 ml travel bottles last year, but now they are available from Luckyscent. This is one of travel bottles about which I’m hesitant: while I like an idea of an original bottle, it is slightly less than I’d like to have of perfume that I like (Splenderis), and at the same time it’s twice more expensive per ml than a full bottle. But if I cannot find a decant to buy at a better rate, I still might consider it at some point.

Since perfumes are more likely to be gifts for ourselves, let’s see what can be either a shared pleasure (if you buy it for someone in your household) or would make a sensible gift.

Tauer Perfumes has released this year perfume in a soap again – Data Miner, Mandarines Ambrées and Majestic tuberose are available from the brand’s site with Worldwide shipping.

 

Tauer Soaps

 

Bruno Fazzolari (Fzotic) has also created several soaps. You can buy a set of three soapsHoney Cedar, Black Suede, Toasted Lilac or one of each.

Fzotic Soaps

If a soap bar isn’t something you normally use, as some of the readers mentioned in comments to one of the Saturday Questions, Thymes has a very season appropriate Frasier Fir hand wash. And if you’re a fan of fir scent, they have an extensive range of everything fir scented, including hand cream, linen spray, room spray, reed diffusers, candles in multiple different sizes and even laundry detergent.

Thymes Frasier Fir Liquid Soap

No gift guide would be complete these days without a new wardrobe item – a mask. Even though wearing those relaxed not only make-up routines but also perfume wearing restrictions, one might opt for wearing perfumes proudly not only on their body but also on their faces.

I found one design by Loralee Lewis. I’m not familiar with the brand, but reviewers seem to like these. On the picture (see below) I recognize Miss Dior and Prada Candy, but the rest aren’t too familiar, which, most likely, speaks to how well I know mass market perfumes. If you want something more subtle, Etsy offers this one (I recognize Shalimar and J’Adore bottles). Or if you want an even less obvious choices, here is another one with unidentifiable vintage bottles.

 

 

And just in case you have some time on your hands and consider remodeling, here is an idea: “Perfect for bathrooms and bedrooms alike, this romantic wallpaper features fancy bottles of perfume. A colorway emphasizes its classic style.” My guess: Chanel (probably 19), Guerlain Shalimar (EdT or Initial), Marc Jacobs Daisy EdT, Miss Dior, Elie Saab Le Parfum and one of Guerlain’s classic bottles (not sure which perfume). Not sure I recognize tall bottle to the left from Chanel.

Perfume Wallpaper

Are there any perfume-related items in your nearest holiday future?

Images: from the sites to which I link for each of the products cropped or compiled by me

Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

Hey there crew,

Mid Seasons are my favourites. I love the less extreme temperatures and the chopping and changing. Whether it’s Spring or Autumn, the days play similarly, and I find the same set of fragrances can often get some play. One day hot, next day cloudy, sunshiny days and chilly nights happen in both seasons. It does mean our easy reach fragrances need to be able to fit into more than a single weather mood. So I have a bunch of perfumes each year that are able to cross the borders comfortably. I pop them on the easy access tray with some all-year contenders. This year looks like it’s going to be fun.

 

 

Portia’s Mid Season Beauties 2020

Continue reading

Ofactive Studio Flashback in New York OR Narth’s Time Traveling Adventure

City scents! I think we’ve all felt the attraction. Could this scent transport me to my beloved Marrakesh? Will it be the ultimate armchair travel to exotic places? I have my olfactory associations, whether real or imagined, but I’ve often been disappointed.

I laughed out loud when I tried Santa Maria Novella‘s Alba di Seoul. Perhaps the outskirts of Seoul smelled like this in the Joseon era, all conifers and freshness but Seoul smells absolutely nothing like that today. Does Kyoto really smell like sakura? No, because most varieties of cherry blossom have no scent, and those that do are very faint. But we now have a sakura note in perfume which oft times is just left of peony with a dash of jam. You can bet any fragrance with Kyoto in the name will either be an incense or a light, pretty thing featuring “sakura”, that magical Japanese word.

The first time I saw Olfactive Studio’s Flashback in New York, I was excited. I grew up in New York, and having left it a long time ago, the word “flashback” captures the impact of my olfactory memories perfectly. They’ve faded over the years, but there are some odd smells that make me intensely nostalgic. Bus fumes is one. I associate the smell with the Port Authority bus terminal, a dark and greasy cave of a place choking in diesel. The smell of bus fumes still makes me wildly happy and full of anticipation of traveling. I rarely smell buses where I live now, so these memories have never been replaced with new ones.

Olfactive Studio pairs each scent with a photograph. The photo for Flashback in New York is of the Chrysler building in a blizzard, very atmospheric, but with one sniff the scent flashed me right back to New York City in the high days of summer, a much more pungent season. Flashback in New York smells like fruity garbage, exhaust and the skunky weed that filled the air before the young ones turned marijuana into an art form. The cumin phase is nicely sweaty and I can almost feel the sooty sheen on my face again. My city of Melbourne, Australia does not smell like any of these things. I have not been back to New York City in many years, perhaps it smells very differently today.  I found Flashback in New York wonderfully evocative, a whole bunch of crazy memories flooded me (oh excuse me, flashbacked me) and continue to do so every time I wear it. I went through a sample, and I knew if I didn’t have a bottle I would dearly miss it. It’s the clearest olfactory place memory connected to perfume I’ve ever experienced.

Olfactive Studio Flashback in New York

I’m sure some of you are wondering why you would wear perfume described as fruity garbage and weed. Let me assure you they are my very personal notes, my memories. For you Flashback in New York might smell like clary sage and leather, smoke and saffron and a dose of cumin. The clary sage is dry, herbaceous and tweaks Flashback in New York into something quite interesting. Unlike many of the Olfactive Studio fragrances, this scent has good lasting power. Just like New York, it will make an impression.

Tell me about your favourite city perfumes, which ones really speak of the city to you!

Olfactive Studio Flashback in New York (Jerome Epinette, 2018)

Top Notes: cumin, clary sage, white linen, saffron
Middle Notes: violet, Tuscan leather, jasmine
Base Notes: birch smoke, papyrus, vetiver, tonka bean

Photos of New York City taken by teenage Narth