eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Fragrances of 2011

Below you'll find my 10 favorite new fragrances of 2011, in no particular order. This past year held several surprises in the fragrant universe, as well as a few personal honors for me. I was asked to join The Fragrance Foundation's Committee for Indie Fragrances, I was interviewed by Allure magazine for print and online (along with other perfume blogger pals), forged meaningful friendships with kindred spirits, and now I'm ending the year by joining a new, small collaborative blogging group consisting of myself and three other bloggers whom I hold in very high esteem (from Persolaise, Olfactoria's Travels and Fragrant Moments). We are planning on some fun group blogs for 2012, so stay tuned! Today, we are presenting our Best of 2011 lists together, and you will find links to their blogs at the bottom of this post. Year-end "best of" lists are without doubt my favorite to do, and so, without further ado, please read on to discover my creme de la creme fragrances!

Oscar de la Renta Esprit d'Oscar
notes: lemon, bergamot, citron, jasmine, orange flower, tuberose, heliotrope, vetiver, tonka bean, musk

I was enchanted with Esprit d'Oscar from the start, in a way that I never was with the original Oscar. The sparkling optimism combined with the sensuality of this flanker led me to wear it quite a bit over the past year, and I foresee my future fully stocked with it. The similarities between it and Guerlain L'Heure Bleue only urge me to love it even more.

Aftelier Oud Luban
notes: elemi, orange terpenes, blood orange, frankincense CO2, oud, opoponax, choya ral, benzoin, aged patchouli

I must admit that I had a very hard time choosing my favorite of Mandy Aftel's three new releases in 2011, because I love them all. It was Oud Luban solid perfume, however, that spoke to me in my own language. It combines two of my favorite scent elements- oud and incense, it lasts for several hours on the skin and leaves a delicious trail of smokiness everywhere you go.

Amouage Library Collection Opus V
notes: orris absolute, rum, orris concrete, rose, jasmine, agarwood, civet, dry wood accord

Opus V was somewhat of a revelation for me. Never in my life have I experienced a fragrance as overtly animalic as Opus V, and yet it retains a certain refinement at the same time. It's powerful and sexual without being the least bit vulgar. This perfume is responsible for getting me hooked on Amouage. I think the firm is thriving under the creative direction of Christopher Chong, and I look forward to future launches.

Prada Candy
notes: caramel, musks, overdose of benzoin

Prada Candy is one of the surprises of the year that I alluded to. The name and the graphics that go along with the fragrance are wildly misleading. Candy has sweetness, that much is true, but it's an extremely cozy yet streamlined scent. There is an addictive boozy effervescence about it that keeps me coming back for more.

Aroma M Geisha Amber Rouge
notes: Moroccan amber, deep wood resins, cinnamon, clove, star anise

Perfumer Maria McElroy triumphed this year with her first launch in five years, Geisha Amber Rouge. If you love honey with your amber, this intense gem of a fragrance is mandatory. The star anise keeps the blend from being too warm, and it retains an aromatic richness throughout wear, which is actually close to 24 hours. I've not been able to stop yapping about Geisha Amber Rouge since its release, and I don't see an end to that anytime soon. Sorry.

Etat Libre d'Orange Archives 69
notes: mandarin, pink pepper, pimiento leaf, orchid, prune, incense, camphor, benzoin, patchouli, musk

I love ELdO. I don't love every single one of their fragrances, but I love them as a firm, and occasionally one of their releases will knock my socks off. Archives 69 made me giggle the first time I wore it, and in subsequent wearings, the joke wore off and I was left with a very solid, imaginative blend that I wore all summer long. In a market flooded with pink pepper and patchouli, Archives 69 stands out as a display of strength for this house.

Mona di Orio Les Nombres d'Or Vanille
notes: Brazilian orange, Indonesian clove, petitgrain, rum extract, Bourbon vetiver, ylang ylang, Indian sandalwood, gaiac wood, vanilla absolute from Madagascar, amber, tonka bean

2011 saw the life of brilliant perfumer Mona di Orio cut short, and many (including myself) would say in the absolute prime of her creativity. The introduction of Les Nombres d'Or collection indeed heralded the golden age for Mona, and the blogosphere exploded with praise for her work from all across the globe. Vanille is my favorite release from this collection, and it reminds me somewhat of Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille, but more powerful, spicier and with stunning longevity. Longevity is a blessing with perfumes like Les Nombres d'Or Vanille because it's a ride that you never want to end.

Opus Oils Les Bohemes Dapper
notes: violet absolute, orris root, blond tobacco, sandalwood, aged dark patchouli

I am a notorious fangirl of select big houses like Guerlain, but in the end, it's the independent perfumers who torture me the most at year's end. As with Mandy Aftel's fragrances, I had a very hard time choosing just one of Kedra Hart's Les Bohemes perfumes as my favorite. In my heart, though, I always knew it had to be Dapper, a berry-violet and leather concoction. I've never smelled anything like it before, and its charm and uniqueness kept it in high rotation since the very first time I wore it.

Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial
notes: bergamot, orange, green notes, fruity notes, rose jasmine, iris, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, tonka bean and white musk

As much as I love Guerlain, I've never been too much of a fan of Shalimar, but I was still looking forward to Parfum Initial. My inkling that I would love it turned out to be correct. The gourmand facets of lemon curd, vanilla and puff pastry open the fragrance in a very feminine way, but the undercurrent of patchouli and vetiver allow a masculine edge to emerge. This irresistible allure is what makes this flanker a real success in my eyes.

Le Labo Santal 33
notes: Australian sandalwood, papyrus, cedarwood, cardamom, iris, violet, ambrox, leather accord

Santal 33 was another surprise for me this year. I was not expecting it to be so razor sharp and refreshing, but that's exactly why it's a perfect summer fragrance. Le Labo can always be counted on to alter perceptions and push boundaries, and Santal 33 has become one of my favorites of theirs for its audacity alone. Bold, camphoraceous and full of heart, it's not a fragrance you'll soon forget.

Please visit these fabulous blogs for more Best of 2011 posts:
Fragrant Moments
Olfactoria's Travels

I'd like to wish all of you a Happy New Year, and my hope is that 2012 will be a prosperous and love-filled year for all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm interviewed by Arielle of Scents of Self!

The frightfully adorable Arielle Weinberg of the blog Scents of Self has graciously included me in her perfume blogger interview series.

Click HERE to go to the interview!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

I'd like to wish everyone a warm, safe and happy holiday season! And when your relatives or friends demand to know what perfume you're wearing because you smell so good, just tell them it's Calvin Klein Obsession, because that's all they'll remember.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Retail Me Not Insider: Best Perfumes of 2011, with Trae Bodge, Victoria Jent, and me!

Part 2 of my participation in Trae Bodge's Retailmenot.com Insider was posted today, and I'm very pleased to share the spotlight once again with my homie-4-life, Victoria Jent of EauMG. We dish a little bit on a few of our favorite fragrance releases of 2011. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Perfumer Interview Series: Maria McElroy

It was a unique pleasure for me to interview Maria McElroy of Aroma M Perfumes recently, for many reasons, one of which was a spontaneous Vulcan mind-meld that occurred (read on for explanation). The trajectory of Maria's career as a perfumer is an interesting one, as are her various cultural influences. As a fragrance writer, living in a world where there are upwards of 1200 new perfume launches a year, it's refreshing to meet someone like Maria who chooses to focus on quality over quantity.

Maria in her native NYC

CM: There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to your latest fragrance launch, Geisha Amber Rouge. What was your process like when you created it?

MM: Thank you so much, it has been such a wonderful journey creating my latest fragrance. Geisha Amber Rouge was inspired by my trip to Tangier two summers ago and also the lingering memories of my travels to Istanbul.  I have always felt such an affinity to that part of the world.  The crimson pink light of the desert set against the azure blue sea, and the evocative scents and sounds of the ancient markets, set my imagination aflame when in creating Geisha Amber Rouge.  Once I experienced the extraordinary perfume oils in Morocco, I knew then that I had my next aroma M perfume.

Geisha Amber Rouge

CM: It was surprising for me to learn that it’s been five years since the last Aroma M launch! Why did you wait that period of time to release a new fragrance?

MM: Each of my fragrances has had a different gestation period. The longest being Geisha Rouge. It took five years to finalize that scent.  I do not like to create fragrance, on a schedule.  Like painting a painting, there is a process that takes hold and you have to see it through. Some fragrances are easier and quicker than others.  I always have a very definite idea of how my perfumes should smell, so it makes it a bit harder, as I do not rest until it is exactly as I have imagined.

Maria in Morocco

CM: Your fragrances have a well-edited aesthetic to them which is very much in line with their Japanese influence. What aspects of traditional Japanese culture do you connect with the most, and why?

MM: That is a lovely compliment, thank you. There are so many aspects of the Japanese culture that work their way into my life and therefore into my perfumes. I love the Zen purity and the wabi sabiconcept, which finds the simplest objects interesting, fascinating and beautiful. Fading autumn leaves would be an example as well as the clouds lightly covering the moon-a natural simplicity, which is actually very difficult to achieve.  This is an aesthetic seen in Japanese cuisine, traditional dance and painting as well.  I hope that these values come through in my perfumes.

[unknown photographer]

CM: I recently told you that I had a dream that you released two specific new scents in your Geisha line, and you’d responded that you had indeed already thought of doing them. That was a very cool “a-ha!” moment for me. Have you had other moments of odd synchronicity like that in relation to your creative process?

MM: I have to say Carrie, that experience with you was a first!  I was so astounded when I heard about your dream. Indeed, so cool!  I have had though, a very wonderful creative synchronicity in collaborating with my Cherry Bomb Killer Perfume partner, Alexis Karl.  It has been so fun and fascinating to share in the creative process together.  Our latest collaborative perfume, Immortal Mine, which was created for the Clarimonde Perfume Project, has had an incredible response, one that neither of us could have imagined. After almost seventeen years of working on my own at aroma M I am really enjoying the collaborative process.

CM: Besides perfume, do you work with any other medium to create art?

MM: I love flower arranging and I write a bit of poetry that I only share with my husband and kitty, Tama!

[flower arrangement by Keiko Kubo]

CM: I sense many different types of feminine energy in your fragrances and find that there is a different face (or character) one can put on for every mood or whim. Is this something you went in with the intention of doing?

MM: I have always wanted to make sure that each of my perfumes was different and distinct.  When my line started growing it became even more important to me.  I wanted to create a perfume wardrobe so to speak, one you could wear for every mood.  It is a challenge to keep each fragrance unique, as I have sixteen perfumes now. I hope that they all maintain a certain aroma M personality, which might be the feminine energy you find.  By the way, I love that you sense that about my perfumes!

CM: Do the different seasons inspire your work at all, and if so, how?

MM: Yes, I think that the seasons and climate have a great effect on my perfume process.  The way that Central Park smells after the first snow fall of the year, the warm night air in Tangier perfumed with Jasmine flowers, the sweet scent of orange blossoms mixed with the salty Mediterranean sea of the Greek islands, the incense- laden air hanging heavy in the ancient street of Kyoto are some of the inspirations that come to mind.

CM: Finally, as is the tradition here at eyeliner on a cat, do you have any cats, and may we ogle them?

MM: Yes most definitely!! I have had two Maine Coons; my beloved Bogey of 18 years passed away this last summer, and our new six-toed Kitty Tama!  Tama has the most perfect eyeliner that any girl would love to have…we adore her!

we must give respect to those special kitties who have passed over

the new addition to the family

[I happen to have a thing for Coonies because my mother has several, and they all have way more personality than any cat should be allowed to have. I've always had mutt-kitties, but a Maine Coon cat is a beautiful thing to behold.]

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Tannenbaum! [a joint blogging project]

Around Christmas time every year, I think back to my much-cherished days in 'a capella' choir in high school. Singing holiday songs in different languages was one of my favorite parts about choir, and no song was more beloved by me than "O Tannenbaum" sung in its original German, which was also my favorite language to sing in (it's so satisfying and earthy). So, when Joanne of Redolent of Spices first contacted me to see if I wanted to participate in this blogging project and told me the name and theme, my heart leapt just a little bit.

I could have chosen dozens of fragrances that I love with a woody and/or tree resin theme, but alas, we could only choose three. I decided on Aftelier Perfumes Fir solid, Odin 01 Sunda and Ormonde Jayne Man. Please do check out the following blogs who have also participated in "O Tannenbaum", we are all very excited to share the spotlight with one another:

Joanne of Redolent of Spices
Ines of All I am.. A Redhead
Mals of Muse in Wooden Shoes
Krista of Scent of the Day
Victoria of EauMG
Meg of Parfumieren
Joey of Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies
Dee of Beauty on the Outside
Suzanne of Suzanne's Perfume Journal
Birgit and Tara of Olfactoria's Travels
Julia of Undina's Looking Glass
Thomas of The Candy Perfume Boy
Nick of Fragrant Reviews
Natalie of Another Perfume Blog

Now, on to the perfumes!

Aftelier Fir Solid
Fir solid perfume has a particular bright, jammy quality that I've found in several of Mandy Aftel's perfumes. One of the golden threads running through many of them is a flair for adding fruity elements to enhance the major notes and to cast some sunshine on the entire blend. This technique is used to great effect in Fir, and it makes me think of fir trees in Mandy's native California instead of those found, say, in the Midwest this time of year. These are not snow-covered trees, these needles have been sun-warmed and are sticky with resin. It's a truly charming and sensual fragrance and a year-round favorite of mine.

Odin 01 Sunda (formerly Nomad)
Surprisingly potent for an eau de toilette, Odin 01 Sunda really delivers all the best mouthwatering bits of a woody, musky perfume. I've been consistently impressed with Odin's fragrance offerings, but so far, Sunda is my favorite and the only one I have a full bottle of. There are notes of juniper berries, cedarwood, bergamot, palmarosa, black pepper, heliotrope, tonka bean, West Indian sandalwood and grey musk. Right off the bat, you get a soft but persistent pinch in the rear from a really lovely bergamot note, followed very closely by an amalgam of juniper, cedar and sandalwood. If Sunda were a person, it would be Barry White. By that I mean that it's one smooth cat. Nothing is ever too sharp or too soft, and it melds with the skin to create a musky, sexy scent that can very easily be worn by both women and men. In fact, my husband loves to wear it too (maybe there is a god?).
P.S. Odin, if you're reading this... hey... it's me, Carrie. You should have left the name at Nomad, it's cooler.

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man
Okay, I need to compose myself for this one. Ormonde Man, the slightly more masculine version of my beloved Woman, is less sweet and powdery, more herbal and the grass oil has been replaced with juniper- but it's got that sigh-inducing level of Iso-E Super and natural sandalwood that still makes a massive impact on me every time. What's more, it has oudh. Oh yes, there's oudh. I personally think that Man and Woman are equally good, so if you're going to have one, you really must have both. If you've spent any amount of time at all with these two fragrances, you'll know how each one satisfies different moods and whims, and they beg to be shared with your significant other. Ormonde Man is sexy, intelligent and defies you to categorize it with anything other than its female counterpart.

Please enjoy visiting the other bloggers involved in "O Tannenbaum", and have a lovely Winter Solstice, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Now go hug a tree and tell it that you love it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spotlight on 30 Indie Brands for 2012 Indie Fifi Award!

I am so excited to share this press release from the Fragrance Foundation Indie Committee regarding the entrants for the FiFi Award for Best Indie Fragrance. There was a really fantastic response and a lot of buzz has been generated around the submissions. I'm delighted that so many indie perfumers stepped up to this challenge!

Press Contact: Lyn Leigh, 212 725 2755 ext. 102

For Immediate Release

The Fragrance Foundation:  
Spotlight on 30 Indie Brands
2012 “Indie” FiFi® Award

New York N.Y. December 15th, 2012.  What an amazing response! 36 “Indie” fragrance entries representing 30 brands arrived at the office of The Fragrance Foundation by UPS, FedEx, mail, messenger and even hand-delivered by the perfumers themselves.  “Indie fragrance brand entrepreneurs are clearly excited and enthused to participate in the 2012 “Indie” FiFi® Award Category in partnership with Elements Showcase and have the chance to win the 
FiFi® Award along with the $10,000.00 congratulatory check generously sponsored by Givaudan to provide an extra measure of encouragement and support to these talented, creative free-spirits,” comments Mary Ellen Lapsansky, Vice President of the Foundation.  The award presentation will take place on January 30th at the Elements Showcase in a fun, festive ceremony highlighting the five finalists and announcing the winner.

"Independent brands and the people behind them are driving innovation. Surely all the nominees are deserving of accolades," said Frederick Bouchardy, co-founder of Elements Showcase. "We are proud and thrilled to shine the spotlight on them next month."

In the meantime, The Fragrance Foundation and the “Indie” Committee are delighted to recognize and congratulate the Indie submissions that are now official 2012 FiFi® Indie Award nominees:
A Dozen Roses Collection:
360 Degrees, Inc.
Gold Rush, Iced White, Shakespeare in Love
Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee Cologne Absolue
Atelier Cologne
Blu Oltremare, Bois 1920
Bois 1920 (Perfume Holding Corp)
Burning Barbershop by D.S. & Durga
D.S. & Durga
Carner Barcelona "Cuirs"
Min New York
Come L'Amore, Bois 1920
Bois 1920 (Perfume Holding Corp)
Debonair: Eau Dandy
smell bent
Strange Invisible Perfumes
Divine Gardens
for Denver Art Museum
DSH Perfumes
Eau Pear Tingle by Opus Oils
Opus Oils
Eva Luna Eau de Parfum
Providence Perfume Co.
40notes Perfume Limited Edition Signature Perfume
40notes Perfume
Spring Vetiver
Sampaguita Jasmine
White Winter Flower
Exotic Ylang Ylang
Cashmere Musk
Exquisite Amber
Oudwood Veil
Frapin "1697"
Min New York
Geisha Amber Rouge
Aroma M Perfumes
Hope by Tallulah Jane
Tallulah Jane
JOUANY Marrakech
World Scents
JOUANY Saint Barthelemy
World Scents
Miller Harris La Fumée
Miller Harris
Mountain High
smell bent
Nectar of Love
April Aromatics
November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest
For Strange Women
Odin New York 06 Amanu
Foundry NYC
Orcas by Ayala Moriel Parfums
Ayala Moriel Parfums
DSH Perfumes
Painting - Picture Frame
Eclectic Collections
Perfect Coconut Milk
Sarah Horowitz Parfums
Petite Mort
Marc Atlan
Rose Bohème Eau de Parfum
Providence Perfume Co.
Royal Lotus from Anya's Garden Perfumes
Anya's Garden Perfumes
Secret Garden
Aftelier Perfumes
Siberian Snow by D.S. & Durga
D.S. & Durga
Signed, Sealed & Delivered
Eclectic Collections
SOIVOHLE Leather Krem
Liz Zorn Perfumes LLC
Sombre Negra
Yosh Olfactory Sense
"Staghorn Sumac" by D.S. & Durga with Joya
D.S. & Durga with Joya
untitled no. 9 for luckyscent
DSH Perfumes

“Indie” Committee Mission Statement:
To support the excellence, talent and artistry of ‘indie’ perfumes, celebrate their individuality and craftsmanship, give a voice to the “indie” brands, address any issues and concerns that are important to the group as a whole.

The “Indie” Committee Members:
Mandy Aftel (Aftelier Perfumes)♥Arnaud Adrian (Robertet)♥Rochelle Bloom (The Fragrance Foundation)♥Frederick Bouchardy (Joya Studio)♥Karl Bradl (Aedes de Venustas)♥Virginia Bonofiglio (Fashion Institute of Technology♥ Denise Capozzalo (Barneys)♥Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Givaudan Fragrances Corp.)♥Victoria Frolova (Bois de Jasmin)♥Mary Ellen Lapsansky (The Fragrance Foundation)♥ Carrie Meredith (Eyeliner on a Cat)♥Ralf Schwieger (Mane)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Coming Soon: The Perfumer Interview Series continues!

I'm very pleased to announce that my Perfumer Interview series I began this past summer with Mandy Aftel and Kedra Hart will continue shortly with the lovely Maria McElroy of Aroma M Perfumes, and then Liz Zorn of Soivohle. I'm really looking forward to the continuation of this series, and I hope my readers are too.

Maria McElroy [photo from AromaM.com]

Monday, December 12, 2011

L'Art of Guerlain: Tonka Imperiale

Guerlain Tonka Imperiale is the kind of cozy fragrance that I immediately took a liking to. Just by reading the notes list and knowing that it's composed by Thierry Wasser, it was a no-brainer for me. It's a honeyed tobacco confection with an astringent rosemary topnote and a coumarin-rich, mellow drydown that is so fabulous that I've not been able to wear anything else since I got my bottle last week. At first, I kept thinking about Tonka Imperiale's similarity to Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, but after having worn both fragrances many times now, I can sense the many differences between them. Tonka Imperiale has gourmand facets that are amped-up in typical Wasser style but still can easily be worn by women and men. Tobacco Vanille tends to fall on the drier side of the spectrum, a little less like baklava and more like vanilla-scented pipe tobacco straight from the shop. Both are excellent fragrances, but Tonka Imperiale was made for me. It's a scent with body and strength, but its edges are soft and yielding, very seductive. It reminds me of this photo of Greta Garbo- I think she would have worn Tonka Imperiale with great style.

notes: rosemary, almond, tobacco, honey, gingerbread, hay, tonka bean (the Guerlainade accord is definitely here)

Tonka Imperiale can be classified as an oriental gourmand with a really wonderful progression of notes: as time goes by, it only becomes more comforting and complex on my skin. The overall effect is so rich and full that its tendrils reach out to encompass and enhance every degree of heat my skin gives off, amplifying the balsamic undertones. This perfume is another success in Guerlain's Lutens-esque L'Art et la Matiere line, and I very much hope to see more fragrances as arresting as this one in the future. 

[Guerlain Tonka Imperiale is available at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus (in store and online), a 75ml bottle is $235. Bottle was purchased for my own collection.]

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide 2011: The Most Covetable Fragrant Gifts

All year long I've been gathering intel on what I consider to be the most tantalizing, squeal-inducing gifts, jotting down notes on everything that gives me a thrill. What follows is a list of my favorites paired with the type of person that might enjoy each gift the most.

For your favorite xenophile luxury junkie:
Amouage Jubilation 25 Candle with holder (available at Amouage.com for 165 euros, candle by itself also available for 120 euros. Available in the US at Lady Ruth Perfumes for $220)
Arguably the finest incense-y candle you will ever come across. It looks every bit as beautiful as it smells.
For the boyfriend or husband who really needs to toss that bottle of cologne you hate (or you'll toss it for him):
Soivohle Transcendental Musc Pour Homme ($135 for 35ml spray at LizZornPerfumes.com)
Welcome to the 21st century, honey! This fragrance is a modern take on musk. It's fresh, addictive and will increase snuggleability by about 1000%.

For the frustrated city-bound nature worshipper:
Juniper Ridge Steep Ravine Natural Room Spray $15, Soap $8, Yuba solid perfume $65 (at juniperridge.com)
Place these three things together in a pretty gift bag and give to the nearest wistful city slicker you can find. There's no substitute for the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, but all of Juniper Ridge's products are created from that environment. They also donate a part of their proceeds to environmental conservation for the region. It's a win-win for everyone- stunning, resinous, woody natural fragrances for you, and much needed help for the environment. Juniper Ridge is one of my best discoveries of the year.

Juniper Ridge Steep Ravine Room Spray
Juniper Ridge Steep Ravine Soap
Juniper Ridge solid perfume

For someone who works with their hands a lot (and unfortunately, it shows):
Becca & Mars 3 Piece Holiday Hand Candy set ($25, scents are: Orange Clove, Peppermint Vanilla, Winter Night)
Becca & Mars make the most amazing all-natural sugar hand scrubs, and this set of three jars will make anyone happy who needs some serious hand-smoothing action and would like to smell festive while doing it. You can also split up the set for smaller (yet still fantastic) gifts.

For the lady who was most certainly a flapper in a past life:
Opus Oils Les Bohemes deluxe coffret (10) 1 dram roll-on  bottles (in oil or alcohol base, your choice. $300 available through Opus Oils Etsy site)
I thought about choosing only a few of Kedra Hart's Les Bohemes line to feature, but I am inclined to feel that would be a crime. This is a set of all ten fragrances in dram roll-on bottles, and they are designed to be layered together or worn alone. The whole line is brilliant and executed with a sense of fun that is infectious.

For the dedicated but persnickety perfume enthusiast:
Aftelier Oud Luban solid perfume ($210 for 1/4 oz at Aftelier.com)
Yes, I can name a dozen people I know who are like this, all of whom I adore (and okay, I might be one of them too). In truth, any of Aftelier's perfume solids make stunning gifts, but Oud Luban has stolen my heart. Its woody, smoky spiciness with a mouthwatering orange topnote makes it particularly wonderful for the season. A connoisseur's delight.

For family, teachers, your veterinarian, hairstylist... yes, anyone!
NEST Sir Elton John Holiday candle ($38 at CandlesOffMain.com, 8.1 oz, 50 hrs burn time)
This candle has a gorgeous balsam fir and citrus fragrance and spot-on presentation with its deep aubergine glass vessel and wax to match. This is how you get major bang for your holiday buck.

For the vintage villainess:
Ayala Moriel Bon Voyage Purse Roll-on Trio 5ml each- Sabotage, Espionage, Film Noir ($175.50 at AyalaMoriel.com).
With this trio, you can choose any of a number of different perfumes, but I love these three together. It sets the scene for a particular type of character- the 1940s Film Noir Villainess. She's got perfectly waved hair, kohl-rimmed eyes and deep red lips. She's smoking a cigarette and packing heat, and she looks damn good doing it.

For someone who wants to bone up on their perfume history:
Francois Coty: Fragrance, Power, Money ($25.55 at Amazon)
Francois Coty's life story is a fascinating one and is intertwined with the history of perfume as we know it. This book captures the good, the bad and the odoriferous.

For your friend who has a growing curiosity about perfume:
Ormonde Jayne Discovery Set, 12 x 2ml spray sample vials (44 GBP at OrmondeJayne.com)
Ormonde Jayne's entire range of scents is available in this gorgeous discovery set, and it's such a pleasure to explore. Just about everyone I know loves at least one Ormonde Jayne fragrance- there are delicate tropical florals and rich, woody chypres and everything in between. A brief word of caution: this set has been known to turn a person with a harmless affinity for perfume into a bona-fide, sample-hoarding scent-obsessive.

For a much-adored femme:
Guerlain L'Art et la Matiere Iris Ganache 75ml ($235, available at Bergdorf Goodman in store and now online)
Iris Ganache is my holy grail gourmand perfume. It has a very sexy elegance about it and the creamy sweetness bounces off of the cool iris in the most bewitching way. It comes in a lovely presentation box along with a bulb atomizer and a regular one, and the bottle itself is a feast for the eyes. Iris Ganache (or any of the L'Art et la Matiere line) would be a luxurious gift for the most cherished girly-girl in your life.