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01-25-10 | Posted by


Just in Time for Valentine’s Day, Scented Gifts for $55.00 and Under

I’m powerless against the siren call of fragrance—particularly niche fragrances, those artisanal and mindfully crafted perfumes that reflect the creativity of the perfumer and the fearlessness of the marketer. Often transportive, sometimes challenging, the olfactive compositions of companies like L’Artisan Parfumeur, Bond No. 9, Le Labo, Serge Lutens, Santa Maria Novella and Frédéric Malle call to me like Christian Louboutin speaks to the shoe obsessed.

But alas, such temptations come with a price, and in these recessionary times, I’ve sublimated my proclivities…at least, a bit. Some of my favorite niche lines offer moderately priced options that would make wonderful Valentine remembrances. Just remember to drop a hint to your beloved.


Jo Malone French_Lime_Blossom
Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom cologne is available in 1-oz. and 3.4-oz. sizes. Photo credit: www.jomalone.com.

For example, Jo Malone, the bath, body and home collection created by a London esthetician, offers all of its colognes, 23 in total, in a 1-oz. size for $55.00. My favorite is Orange Blossom, but in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, French Lime Blossom, inspired by a stroll down the Champs Élysée, is a particularly romantic option, and Pomegranate Noir entails a sensual, spicy and fruity bouquet. All are available at www.jomalone.com as well as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus stores.

L Artisan Rose_des_Indes_candle_small
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Rose des Indes small candle. Photo credit: www.artisanparfumeur.com.

I’ve wiled away many a rainy afternoon nosing through the scent library of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Upper West Side boutique in New York City. While its eaux de toilette, which have transported me to places like Cuba, Timbuktu and Reunion Island, remain firmly in the $135.00 range, the Paris-based line also includes 1.2-oz candles for just $20.00. The flowery scents, including Oranger en Fleurs and Rose des Indes, create a classic romantic ambiance. Store locations can be found at www.artisanparfumeur.com.

“Fighting the rising tide of conformity” is Le Labo’s inspiration, manifested as a line of hand-made perfumes formulated individually at the time of purchase at seven U.S. and seven international locations. All of the fragrance-maker’s scents are available in a 0.5-oz. size for $52.00, perfect for a little Valentine’s Day surprise. The collection comprises 11 perfumes available at all venues, as well as six scents exclusive to individual cities. My favorites include Patchouli, Neroli and Oud, a mythical wood essence. Go to www.lelabofragrances.com for locations and online purchases.

Laurice Rahmé, the founder of the New York-based Bond No. 9, is well aware of the financial pressures set upon fragrance lovers; case in point, the recent debut of Andy Warhol Success is a Job in New York, an eau de parfum. As an inclusive gesture, many of the brand’s 35-plus scents are available as a 7-ml Bon-Bon spray vial for $45.00 or $50.00. Appropriate Valentine’s Day choices include Chelsea Flowers, redolent of white peony, white hyacinth and musk, and Nuits de Noho, a simultaneously feminine and irreverent fragrance with notes of jasmine, creamy vanilla and sheer patchouli. Select scents also are available as single-boxed soaps for $35.00 including the brand’s popular Scent of Peace fragrance. Visit www.bondno9.com or Saks Fifth Avenue to purchase.

Tsi-la_Fleur_Sauvage
The mini-sized Fleur Sauvage perfume oil from Tsi-la. Photo credit: www.barneys.com.

The Barneys New York website features a passel of reasonably priced gifts through its boutique fragrance category. Red Flower offers a host of organic scents like Guaic, Ambrette and Champa in a roller ball bottle for $48.00. The Tsi-la natural line includes mini-sized perfume oils for $45.00 each; fragrances include Fleur Sauvage, Ilang Ilang and Fiori d’Arancio. Other brands worth checking out on www.barneys.com are Kiehl’s, Malin + Goetz, Apothia, Tocca and Kai for gifts priced under $55.00.

And finally, Annick Goutal, one of the original niche brands to reach U.S. shores offers a chic option for cost-wary fans. Its Petite Cherie eau de partum can be had as a 0.3-oz. roller ball for $39.00 through www.aedes.com.

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