Choosing the right holiday fragrance gift.
It’s down to the wire on Christmas shopping, and acting now can still net some great deals on fragrance gifts including website discounts and free-shipping if you act early enough. But if you’re like most gifters, the bigger question is “what do I give”? It’s a question that no one should take on blind faith alone, and as I’ve said on this site many times before, fragrance is a very personal experience, not something one should randomly give without careful research and knowledge of the recipient.
But…the good news is that there are options in nearly every price range, and there are scents that are timeless classics that represent good bets provided you know where to look and what you’re seeking. Of course, we’ve helped to make that a bit easier by providing recommendations in various categories.
10 Fragrance Gift Classics under $75 (target audience: Men > 35)
Most of the following selections are fairly timeless classics and popular fragrances that have withstood time, but still represent a solid value. Most of them are eau de toilette concentrations. And by qualifying these as “classics”, you’ll understand that none are this year’s trend, or even last year’s or before. All have been around for quite some time and so have proven themselves as recognizable and decent choices that won’t be an embarrassment.
- One Man Show (Jacques Bogart) – a woody scent, highlighted by spices and floral, a “classic 1980′s chypre” with a recognizable signature. Available via most Web retailers for around $20 for the 100ml size.
- Aramis (Aramis) – It’s been around for nearly 5 decades for a reason, and the easily identified woody/leather and chypre signature that exudes charm and maturity is only one. Available widely for around $60 through both brick-and-mortar and Web retailers.
- Givenchy Gentleman (Givenchy) – a very classic and refined woody scent, highlighted with honey, cinnamon, rose and leather. A big 1970′s classic for the uncle that enjoys a refined scent. Available around $60 at various Web retailers.
- Declaration (Cartier) – a spicy rose and sandalwood scent that’s typical of Cartier quality, and far more on the lighter side than others on this list. Despite its description, it’s a refreshing fragrance available for around $60 via department stores and Web retailers.
- Kenzo Pour Homme (Kenzo) – among the originals in the aquatic movement in fragrances, Kenzo offers more than the standard watery aromatic. It’s light enough without lacking substance, and available via Web retailers for around $55.
- Polo (Ralph Lauren) – instantly recognizable, iconic scent that was a highlight of the 80′s and after and became a classic scent. This woody, spicy chypre contains elements of cedar, pine, leather, spice and background free notes and florals. The 120ml size is generally available for less than $75 everywhere.
- Quorum (Puig) – seeking a softer take on Polo with more emphasis on florals? Quorum is a good choice and actually significantly less expensive. This lost 80′s woody and aromatic gem is available for around $25 at most Web retailers.
- Vetiver (Guerlain) – the reference standard for Vetiver scents since its introduction in 1959, it’s the oldest of this grouping, and still among the freshest and most verdant scent available . Lemon, spices and tobacco surround the vetiver elements, and you’ll find it available for $60 via various Web retailers. A very solid choice.
- Pour Lui (Oscar de la Renta) – the classic 80′s leather powerhouse, a take-no-prisoners scent that opens with spices and florals in an arrangement that entices the wearer until they’ve been captured by the leather base. And it’s a bargain from most Web retailers at around $35 for the 90ml size, a bargain for a scent with such incredible endurance.
- Lagerfeld for Men (Largerfeld) – the last of our recommendations is a creamy sandalwood affair, imbued with oriental spices, tobacco the highlight of the experience. You’ll still find it at Web retailers for less than $40.
Fragrance gift suggestions for $75 and up
Seeking a fragrance gift that’s a little more ‘current’? Price less of an issue? Looking to make an impression or give something that will be remembered long after the holidays? Here are a few fragrances/houses to consider.
Montale – Though the origins of the house (and whether there actually is a Pierre Montale) remains a controversy, the fragrances can be very memorable, especially their extensive selection of Oud (or Aoud, agarwood). Scents all are packaged in aluminum decanters to protect the scents from light or outside elements. Not all are keepers, but there are a number of standouts in the collection. A few of their Ouds include Black Aoud (a strong Oud augmented with rose), Aoud Leather (Oud with Saffron and a leather base), Aoud Cuir d’Arabie (Arabian Leather and Birch wood with a strong Oud note), along with Steam Aoud, Dark Aoud, Aoud Roses, and a variety of unique fragrances in eau de parfum formulation. All are power monsters for projection and longevity, any more than two sprays will announce your arrival well in advance. Min New York has the very extensive collection of fragrances in stock and available to recommend…and ship. Pricing at $160 for 100ml, plus shipping and tax.
Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier (MPG) – Although considered a niche line, MPG provides an excellent selection of very high quality scents at reasonable prices. None are more than $130, and two Amber scents are stand-outs: Ambre Precieux (a high caliber amber scent) and Ambre Dore (the base of Ambre Precieux combined with use of Oud). Several others, including Cuir Fetiche and Santal Noble are solid choices from the line-up. Lucky Scent provides a selection from the line, Min New York carries the entire collection.
For something a little different, and perhaps more personalized that is sure to make an impression, check out the fragrance line of Le Labo Perfumes. While each is classified as an Eau de Parfum, the concentration of many puts them in the Pure Perfume range (their concentration amounts generally are 20% oils and above, Santal 33 is a 30%+ concentration.
Information on their scents is available at many Barneys locations, as well as their boutiques (233 Elizabeth Street in NoLita, Manhattan, 212.219.2230), or shop via their Website at Lelabofragrances.com. Pricing generally ranges from $145 for a 50ml size to $220 for 100ml, plus tax and shipping. When you place your order, the perfumer will create the scent, bottle it freshly (no fear of the old stock sitting on the shelf under hot lights and poor temperature and storage) and label it specifically for your intended recipient. Now if that doesn’t grab the attention of your fragrance gift recipient, we’re not sure what would.
Our perennial favorites from the line include Vetiver 46 (a very unique and smoldering vetiver combination that uses the plant root rather than just the leaf for its essence), Santal 33 (which is a fantastic rendition of sandalwood and other additives, and Bergamote 22 (which is a fresh scent highlighting an effervescent top note).
The Xerjoff line offers a number of coffrets for each of their collections, including the uber-luxe XJ 1717 collection (pricing per 100ml bottle is $660 and up, the coffret is $340), and provides a sample of each of the fragrances. There is also one for the most recent Oud Stars and Shooting Stars collections.
Keiko Mecheri is another niche line that has gained accolades, and offers similar coffrets of her collections.
Both are available through Min New York.
Creed offers a wide selection of excellently crafted scents, available through upscale retailers and the Creed Boutiques both in New York and online at Creedboutique.com. Crowd pleaser selections in our view include Imperial Millesime, Green Irish Tweed, Original Santal, Aventus, Royal Oud and Spice & Wood.
Whatever your budget or aims, there are less than 2 shopping weeks before Santa slides down the chimney. There’s still time to add the right fragrance gift to your Christmas list, so happy shopping!