Dollars and Scents: An Exotic Fragrance Gift Guide

We know you’re out there. Armed with your gift list, you hit the stores on December 24 because there’s nothing like the adrenaline high you get from stealth shopping. Or you decided to cut back on excessive spending this year for obviously reasons, but suddenly that hemp tote for your BFF is starting to look pretty sad and you want to trade up. Or you’re hyper-organized and got all your shopping done before Thanksgiving, but now you want to gift yourself because you know your clueless Significant Other is going to give you three pairs of wool socks. In any case, run to the nearest high-end fragrance counter and score these holiday-perfect Woody-Oriental scents.

You may remember your mom wearing Shalimar back in the Seventies, which started the craze for Orientals. The category has been given an update by Anick Goutal Encens Flamboyant (EDP 100ml/$175), which plays on our strongest scent association to this season with notes of fir balsam and lentisk, an evergreen shrub. Spicy Frankincense, nutmeg and cardamom round out the unisex juice.

Hermes Elixir des Merveilles is a confectionary story that smells like Christmas treats baking in the oven. Based on a blend of citrus pulp and chocolate, it opens with the scent of candied orange peel followed by a sweet biscuit note composed of tonka bean and vanilla combined with sugar and milk. Men will gravitate to this fragrance without knowing why. (Answer: It reminds them of eating milk and cookies.) At 48ml/$85 for the EDP, it’s a relative bargain.

Serge Lutens Arabie (EDP 50ml/$120) translates the richness of fruitcake into olfactory form. Even those of us who find the holiday dessert inedible will be hooked by notes of candied mandarin peel, dried figs and dates spiced with nutmeg, cumin and clove. Winter is the perfect time of year for bold scents, and Arabie is exactly that. Its presence is big enough to be detectable even in the rush of a New Year’s Eve party, which is where we’re planning to wear it.

Discounts on all fragrances can be found online through, or, to name a few.