Lisa Wordbird has given me three days off this week and has kindly minded the shop so that I can have my annual Christmas panic in peace. Lisa is a woman after my own heart who has quite rightly pointed out that we perfume lovers love perfume via the media of soap, lotions, potions…anything. If it smells good, we’ll have it, thank you. Below are some fabulous ideas, not just from your High Street, but via some grand little treasure chests you might not have come across yet. Over to you Lisa…
If you’re a perfumista, then you probably smell pretty much everything. I can’t buy toilet cleaner or antiperspirant without sniffing the cap first. So it stands to reason that I’m drawn to use things – shower gels, soaps, bubble baths and foot soaks – that smell particularly good to me. These are exactly the sort of things that make smashing presents for what I like to call ‘Smelly Friends’, but have to clarify as ‘friends who enjoy fragrance’ as opposed to ‘friends who really should wash more often’ (also known as ‘soap dodgers’).
This is the time of year for buying gift sets. How else does anyone ever end up with Chanel body lotion? It’s not the kind of thing most people buy for themselves, but if you know your Mum is a Chanel No 5 loyalist then a bar of soap can be a wonderful way to buy her a piece of the brand without breaking the bank. It’s also a rather unexpected gift, which is also a good thing.
One of my absolute favourite fragrances is the lavender and caramel cosiness of Pour un Homme de Caron. Yes it has ‘Homme’ written on the bottle, so it’s a perfect gift for your favourite chap, but frankly, I have my own bottle and wear it regularly. I love lavender and I’ve been making lavender bags for friends for Christmas this year (shh, don’t tell Sam IScent, will you?), but I’d be very happy to receive one as a gift. And if you want to bathe in a scent remarkably like Pour un Homme, pop along to LUSH and look for their bath bombs and shower gel in Twilight fragrance. It is the same caramel and lavender and it has a remarkably calming influence on me. Lush claims it’s soporific; I claim it’s plain terrific.
I’m a big lover of soap. Hugely fond of the stuff. How could anyone dodge it? There are always fragrant, moisturising bars by my sinks and I love being given soap as a present. I have never tried Diptyque’s soaps, but friends tell me that their bath and body line is excellent. A bar of Tam Dao soap may cost £10, but that’s a darn sight cheaper than a bottle of the warm sandalwood perfume (a beloved of mine). I had a bar of Miller Harris soap and it was honestly the creamiest I have ever used. It lasted about a year! I also rate Fragonard soaps (from Marks and Spencer in the UK) – they’re delightfully fragrant and a pleasure to use – and of course the great Roger et Gallet, whose range of luxurious soaps come complete with useful tough plastic travel cases. Happily, you’re free to have a good sniff at soap packages to see if you like them before you buy (and you can keep your soap stash in your drawers to fragrance your clothes).
Finally, shower gels and handwashes: I came across a British brand called Noble Isle this year (in House of Fraser) and fell in love with their range. They are available in the US through Barneys New York and from various stockists in the UK. My personal favourites are Fireside: a warm, woody, smoky bath and shower gel whose fragrance is inspired by the coaching inns of the Mynwy Valley, (which happens to be close to where I live), and Summer Rising: a fresh and rounded floral based on the scents of Cornish hedgerows. I would certainly like to put a bottle of their Whisky and Water handwash in my bathroom for the festive season: can’t think of anything more appropriate, can you?