Buying perfume as a gift can be hard, but it is never more difficult than when you need to purchase something for a perfume lover. Oy, trust me when I say this, perfume people (those that love perfume) are the hardest to buy for; they know exactly what they want, they have the most discerning of noses, and what’s more, they don’t want the everyday. No, fragrance lovers want to be able to enjoy fragrances that not everyone else is wearing. They want the exclusive, the weird, the daring, heck, even the dangerous! Fragrance lovers know what they want, and that makes it difficult to buy for them, but it’s not impossible.
In this guide, I’ve put together a selection of under the radar fragrance gifts. These may be brands you haven’t heard of or perfumes you’ve not seen in your local department stores, but each is a unique and fascinating olfactory experience unlike any other. They range from soft, melancholy florals to essays in Japanese ink and French tobacco. These are perfumes from the upper echelons of the avant-garde – for those that seek out fragrant experiences that set them apart from everyone else.
#1 The Classic Choice
Let’s start with a classic, and if we’re real, there are few classics more iconic than Tabac Blond. Caron is a historic French brand with a huge wealth of game-changing perfumes under their belt, and Tabac Blond is perhaps their most famous. Created 100 years ago, Tabac Blond celebrates the smooth scent of tobacco, enveloping its sweet, fruity facets in swathes of spice, leather and vanilla. Tabac Blond smells classy but also rebellious, conjuring the image of a perfectly dressed man or woman (gown or tuxedo on point) looking effortlessly cool as they light a fresh cigarette. Get this for that fragrance lover in your life who admires the classics.
#2 For Floral Fans
Often, people think a perfume has to be bold or weird to be considered “niche” but boldness comes in many forms and it doesn’t necessarily have to knock your socks off either. Amouage’s Library Collection is a fragrant exploration of familiar perfumery themes executed without restraint. Opus III focuses on the softness and powdery quality of flowers, feeling almost as if it were a fragrance curated by a botonist rather than one crafted by a perfumer. It smells airy and fresh, with the velvet-like pollen quality of mimosa set starkly against a rich, oriental backdrop of musks, incense and woods. Get this for the fragrance lover in your life who adores flowers.
Curious to find out more about Amouage? Read this edit.
#3 To Turn Heads
Leather is such a distinct and versatile accord in perfumery. It can be treated in many ways with a spectrum ranging from the smoky, tarry harsh leathers, to the soft, supple, and buttery suedes. Either way, leather is quite a tricky note to enjoy and is somewhat of a connoisseurs style. Leather Rouge by Miller Harris is a handsome take on leather that sits smack bang in the middle of the spectrum. It opens fruity and shiny, evoking bright red PVC through the tartness of berries, before dissolving into a buttery, smooth and powdery leather heart offset by roses, smoke and leather. Leather Rouge takes inspiration from the flickering flames of a fire, and in doing so, it offers an igneous, hot signature that verges on the sexy. Get this for the fragrance lover in your life who isn’t afraid to make people swoon.
#4 For The Experience
We now move to the truly avant garde and surprisingly, we look at an offering from a house that isn’t too far from the mainstream: Comme des Garçons. Their fragrance 2 is an exploration of Japanese black ink and is an abstract floral that makes one rethink their entire understanding of what a flower can smell like. Aldehydes add a silvery shimmer to 2’s black flowers, turning it to metal. There is no other fragrance like this on the planet – it’s floral, metallic, milky, unusual but beautiful. Get this for the fragrance lover in your life who truly appreciates the strange and beguiling things in this world.
Learn more about Comme des Garcons 2’s intriguing scent here.
#5 The Wild Card
Finally, our last perfume is not actually a perfume. That’s right, Not a Perfume by Juliette Has a Gun lives up to its name by not being a perfume at all. Consisting of one aroma chemical (cetalox) in alcohol, Not a Perfume showcases how one material can have many different facets. Because it’s not a perfume (a composition of many ingredients), it does not wear like one, offering an experience that sticks close to the skin. It smells salty and sweet, with hints of ambergris, but ultimately it’s one of those fragrances that smells like your skin but slightly better. Not a Perfume is a novelty, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also smells quite wonderful. Get this for the fragrance lover in your life who has a good sense of humour.
Want a woman’s take on Not a Perfume? Read Ceryn’s edit.
• Find more amazing gifts recommendations in our Christmas Gift Guides…