The Really Big Perfume Present: Your Suggestions Requested


If you had around six hundred dollars to spend on perfume or perfume-related activities for a beloved, perfume-besotted friend, what would you buy? (Besides four of your favorite bottles to split.)  I recently got a letter from a reader who wanted suggestions for just such a gift, and I asked her if I could post about it here. Please chime in with suggestions, fantasies, and wishes. My ideas so far:

One really expensive bottle: Most perfumistas have one on their list–the Amouage attar, the JAR perfume, that discontinued one they’ll make just for you if you have enough cash, the vintage bottle you bid on but always lose because you can never gamble enough. In some cases $600 might not (gasp!) be quite enough, but it would get you pretty far. Pretty far indeed… Drawback: You would either have to know what the giftee wanted or allow her to choose post-present. Possible solution: Order a set of rare samples and present with gift certificate for full bottle of one of them.

Many less expensive bottles: Gift certificates can feel tacky sometimes, but in this case I think free reign at a wonderful, high end boutique like LuckyScent, Aedes de Venustas, Beautyhabit, The Perfume Shoppe, or MiN New York might be just the ticket. It would take me years to spend a gift like that, and every time I dipped in to my treasure chest to buy another bottle it would be like getting a present all over again.

Bespoke perfume: Many of the talented artisan perfumers in our world work with clients to create perfumes. I know Mandy Aftel, Dawn Hurwitz, and Ayala Sender do this, with varying price structures. No doubt there are more folks out there–feel free to speak up in the comments if you do this or know someone who does.

A full set of exploratory kits from The Perfumer’s Apprentice: With a wide range of raw materials, synthetic and nataural, and an accompnaying book like Mandy Aftel’s Essence and Alchemy, you could open up a whole world to a perfume lover and still have some cash left over for her to spend on some of the super special absolutes available only at Enfleurage.

An airplane ticket to Paris: I just saw one the other day for $660, departing from LaGuardia. What could be better for a true perfume lover? (What’s that you say? Where will she sleep? What will she eat? Trivial concerns! She will live on beauty and perfume!)

So, what do you think? What gift would you suggest? And what would you be hoping for, if you had such a lovely (generous!) friend?




  1. Option 2 — funds for a shopping spree! But I would want it to be a true spree, a single wild tear through Aedes de Venustas. And in person, not online, so I would have the pleasure of walking out the door with my arms full of booty (including the samples they are so generous with).


    • Oh, that’s a great point, Maria. Being there, choosing, getting waited on, being piled up with samples because you’d been a big spender, that would all be a huge part of the experience.


  2. The OzMoz exploratory packs are closer to $300, which would still leave room for a BIG bottle. I also just calculated my “wish list” at Enfleurage, which would just about get to “luxury” status now. For almost anyone I’d want bespoke from, $600 I’m pretty sure is not enough…


    • I like those options! Will hve to go look at the OsMoz pack, I haven’t paid attention to those yet.


  3. Okay, the perfume collecting hoarder in me wants to say #2, but truthfully?

    Number 1. And here’s why — I am extremely cheap. Super cheap. So cheap that no matter how badly I want a very expensive bottle of perfume, I cannot make myself buy it. (Not even if I will immediately move to another website and spend the same amount for a handful of samples or a couple of bottles of perfume that work out to roughly the same price, because I can rationalize the bejesus out of my impulse shopping.)

    For example, I coveted a bottle of the L’Artisan limited edition Iris Pallida for THREE YEARS. I saved and saved, and when I graduated from law school, I finally bought myself a bottle as a graduation present. But I only did it when I had a 30% off coupon, free shipping, and got a bonus 10ml of an additional scent. Because despite wanting it every day for over a THOUSAND days and having a VERY SPECIAL reason for getting it, I still wouldn’t do it at full price.

    And for this reason, if no other, I think you should go with option #1. Or if you go with #2, let it be for no more than two different equally absurdly priced bottles (~$300 a piece). If this person were me, it might be one of the nicest, most fanciest (shut up grammar fascists, I’m making it a word!) gifts I ever got. From anyone. And i would cry.

    So I think that should be #1.


    • Ha, ha, ha! Oh how I love this reasoning. I completely understand what you mean about spending the same amount on samples or cheaper bottles but being unable to allow yourself to buy the big bottle. I have a bottle like that, and still haven’t bought it and probably never will, because every time I looked at it I would blush and squirm no matter how many times I explained the math to myself.


  4. I would take the trip to Paris without hesitation, even if it ate up most of the $600! There is always window shopping, people watching and perhaps a small bottle or samples at the perfume boutiques along the Champs-Élysées. When I was there last, I was too young and intimidated to go into Guerlain 🙁 I can still see those massive display flacons and sample bottles on the center table ::sob::


    • Well, you are one ahead of me, Deanna. I’ve never been to Paris at all! Trying to fix that this year…


  5. I’d go for option #2, because several bottles….. ooh, that would be a thing. Partly because I’m getting to the point where I’m doing lots of “consults” for friends, and I love having the chance to show just how many options there are out there, and sending people home with a decant. It is ironic to me that once I decided to stop talking ad nauseum to real-life friends about perfume and finally de-lurk online(and eventually invited to start blogging), that’s when people started saying, “Oh hey, you DO know what you’re talking about. Can you help me find something?”

    Alyssa, just finished your book (and I thought you’d enjoy the serendipitous aspect that portions of it were read while driving south through Idaho – have often does “south” show up in a discussion about Idaho?) and loved it. LOVED it. It is uncanny to me some of the parallels I found between your story and my own.

    And then popped over to check out fragrance names, and discovered you were blogging here as well. It’s lovely to read your posts here.


    • Hi Dionne! Thanks so much for all the kind words (and yes indeed that is the very first time I’ve seen “south” and Idaho in the same sentence). I’m still learning to balance blogging with the rest of my online and writing life but the next couple of weeks will bring many more perfume names over here.
      So glad you are getting more respect and interest from your friends!


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