By Janet Kelly
“NO ELEGANCE is possible without perfume. It is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory, “ said Coco Chanel.
Although the fashion designer has no memorable quotes (at least that I’ve heard) about her No. 5 perfume bottle, that’s not because she didn’t think hard about how it should look. Its minimalist architecture is as timeless as the scent itself. Wonder what her reaction would be to the company’s newest entry into the fragrance world—No. 1 De Chanel L’Eau Rouge. It’s not a perfume like Chanel No.5, but an eau fraîche, which has only a tiny percentage of perfume oil, so its scent won’t last long, but it comes in a scarlet red bottle that will.
It reminds me of the one I keep on a silver tray in my bedroom. The contents of Shisheido’s Revitalizing Essence are long gone, but the elegant bottle with Chinese script running down its length remains on display. During the winter, it’s an antidote to the white and woebegone gray I glimpse outside my window. In spring and summer it brings out the gleam of my vintage “Woman of the Year” tray.
Fragrance makes me happy, regardless of the occasion I spray or dab it on for. My outlook brightens more if scents—and makeup, too— not only fulfill their purpose but are lovely to look at as well.
With Valentine’s Day just a week and two days from now, what could be better than the gift of scent in an eye-catching red bottle? Our eight picks below range in intensity from eau de parfum to eau fraîche and from spendy to not -as. (We’ve also included a lipstick, scented candle and a nail polish in our favorite February shade.)
If your significant other pooh-poohs the idea of a present for February 14, gift one to the love of your life—you!
LEFT: Next to pure perfume, an eau de parfum contains the highest concentration of perfume oils, between 15 and 20 percent, which means it can last all day, like Christian Louboutin’s Louboukiss. A mix of jasmine, tuberose and musk, it’s packaged in a Louboutin-red glass vessel with a silver skull. The floral crown refers to the white blooms that create the scent, which sells for a heady $300 for 3 ounces at Saks Fifth Avenue.
CENTER: Amouage (the name is a mash-up of “amour,” plus an Arabic word meaning “waves”) is a perfume house established in 1983 by the Sultan of Oman, who hoped to revive the ancient Omani art of perfumery. Amouage’s eau de parfum Journey includes notes of apricot, jasmine tea, osmanthus, nutmeg, cardamom, jasmine, mimosa, honey, cedarwood, pipe tobacco, saffron, vanilla, cypriol and musk. Got all that? A fruity floral with a touch of leather in a regal red bottle, it’s $340 for 3.4 ounces.
RIGHT: Armani Beauty’s Sì Passione, a floral with a woodsy kick, comes dressed up in a rich red bottle that can’t help but spice up the look of where you want to show it off. Only, don’t put it too near a sunny windowsill or a heat source or in your bathroom. Heat and humidity can degrade the scent. However, a darker bottle will keep the oil blend from direct sunlight and preserve the perfume for longer. It’s $128 for 3.4 ounces at Sephora.
LEFT: Loyal Jo Malone fans will likely love its Scarlet Poppy Cologne (3.4 ounces, $196 at Sephora). A slightly powdery mix of iris, black currants and figs, it’s labeled “intense” cologne, but reviewers across several sites have complained that they although they like the scent, it disappears too quickly. They shouldn’t be too disappointed. An eau de cologne only has a light concentration of perfume oils, usually 2 to 4 percent, that is cut with alcohol. It’s a lovely spritz, but don’t expect it to last long.
CENTER: Inspired by vintage makeup, Gucci’s Voile Sheer Lipstick ($42, Sephora) in a pink-rosebud print tube makes applying lipstick a special event. Shown above in Goldie Red, it’s available in a palette of 18 shades.
RIGHT: Another eau de cologne, Eau de Rhubarbe Éclarate is one of the first fragrances created by Hermes’s in-house perfumer Christine Nagel. Fittingly packaged in orangey-red, it’s a crisp and refreshing scent—it’s $132 for 3.3 ounces at Neiman Marcus.
LEFT: What looks best against a white, snowy background? Red. Specifically, Chanel’s Pirate, a deep blood-red nail polish with high shine. The ceramide-containing formula helps strengthen and protect your fingernails, too. It’s $30 at Ulta.
RIGHT: Chanel’s first venture into sustainable, the No. 1 De Chanel line, which includes makeup and skincare, uses up to 97% “naturally” derived ingredients. L’Eau Rouge, a revitalizing fragrance mist, takes its cue from the camellia flower and is composed of notes of citrus and red berries that evolve into jasmine and rose. An eau fraîche also has a very low concentration of alcohol, sometimes 1 to 3 percent. While colognes are mixed with alcohol, an eau fraîche is mixed with mostly water. It’s $110 for 3.4 ounces.
LEFT: Similar to Chanel’s L’Eau Rouge, Tom Ford’s Lost Cherry Travel Spray ($75, Sephora) is a full-bodied perfume that’s good to go and to last you throughout the day with notes of cherry liqueur and almond.
CENTER: Inhale the sweet smells of cinnamon, caramel and apple and vanilla while appreciating the playful graphics of American artist Keith Haring, whose Red Running Heart this candle ($50, Amara) is based on.
RIGHT: Influenced by his family of cognac makers, Kilian Hennessy went into the luxury perfume business—with a sly sense of humor. One of his earlier creations was Good Girl Gone Bad, a reference to Eve who ate the forbidden fruit. It’s in the brand’s Narcotic collection, as is Rolling in Love, a white floral eau de parfum with notes of almond, iris and musk. Each bottle is meant to be precious—and refillable. The red-lacquered Rolling in Love flaçon is engraved on each side with the representation of Achilles’ shield. Perfumes this pricey should also protect their wearer, right? It’s $250 for 1.7 ounces.
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