Perfume shopping: Department store edition

Perfume shopping: Department store edition

Sometimes heading to a department store is the best way to go perfume shopping—there’s variety, helpful associates and perfume exclusives you can’t find anywhere else.

We love the perfume counters at The Hudson Bay, Holt Renfrew, Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart. They are full of variety, allowing for easy-to-sample spritzing and helpful counter service. But one of the best things about these destinations is their exclusive offerings. That means, these beauty behemoths each bring us the big beauty brands but they also strive to set themselves apart from their competition with something unique that can only be found with them.

Take for instance, Hudson’s Bay

MuglerThere is breadth and depth in the beauty department at The Bay—which has existed in some form since 1670, but became a department store in 1857.

Fragrance-wise, you’ll find everything from brand names like Marc Jacobs and Versace to perfume houses like Nautica and Jean Patou. But you’ll also find two collections that you can’t find anywhere else—Thierry Mugler Les Exceptions and Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire.

Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire features luxurious eaus taking their inspiration from nature. A different perfumer created each of the five scents in the collection which includes Gardenia Petale, Precious Oud, Orchidee Vanille, California Reverie and Rose Velours.

Mugler’s Les Exceptions boutique collection of fragrances includes five stand-alone scents including Supra Floral, Over the Musk, Oriental Express, Chyprissime and Fougere Furieuse. And they are all wonderful, nuanced, gorgeous perfumes.

Our pick for the holiday season? Over the Musk. With its notes of black pepper, musk and ambrette, this scent sounds alluring, warm and sultry—the perfect pick for cozying up this time of year.
Thierry Mugler Les Exceptions Over the Musk, $185 (80 ml),

At Sephora, you’ll find cool-girl designers alongside niche favourites

ComptoirWe often feel like a kid in a candy store when it comes to Sephora. The beauty-centric chain focuses on a mix of recognizable designer names and niche brands when it comes to perfume. For example, find Elizabeth and James Nirvana alongside the scent layering brand Community. Shop for Maison Martin Margiela’s Replica line as you pick up the latest fragrance from Nest.

Sephora also exclusively carries Atelier Cologne, Bond No.9, Comptoir Sud Pacific, L’Artisan Parfumeur and Tokyo Milk Dark—it’s quite the selection.

At the moment, we’re spritzing for Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Coco—heliotrope, coconut milk and vanilla make for a luxurious, almost edible experience.
Comptoir Sub Pacific Vanille Coco, $79 (100 ml),

Read our post on holiday gift sets to give from Sephora.

01_MiuMiuAt Holt Renfrew, you’ll find current and couture-esque perfumes

While browsing the perfume counter at Holt Renfrew, keep an eye out for brands like By Kilian, Frederic Malle, Sisley and Atkinsons, all exclusives to the luxury retail chain.

If you’re looking to indulge in the latest designer fragrance, head to your nearest magenta awning stat. You’ll find Miu Miu’s premiere fragrance (exclusive to Holt Renfrew until the end of the year) and Azzedine Alaia’s first spritz (until spring 2016). These newbies are a welcome addition to Holts’ expansive selection.

Miu Miu’s premiere fragrance rocked the style world with the bottle alone, but the scent is definitely worth spritzing and gifting—a white floral with pretty musk. Read more about the fragrance here.
Miu Miu EDP, $135 (100 ml),

Make sure to read our review of Alaia EDP.

L_12_12PourElle_bottleshots_Sparkling_HR_tif_dlAt Shoppers Drug Mart, you’ll find a mix of celebrity perfumes and designer perfume favourites

The classics are here at this exceptional drug store-cum-beauty destination, but you’ll also find the ones you won’t find anywhere else. Ariana Grande Ari—the debut fragrance from the singer, as well as Lancome La Vie Est Belle Intense, are here.

If you’ve got love for James Bond, be sure to check out James Bond Woman and James Bond Seven at Shoppers too. Beginning December 12 you can also find Lacoste L.12.12 Pour Elle exclusively at the chain.
Lacoste L.12.12 Pour Elle EDT, $70 (50 ml), available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

For more perfume shopping, check out our picks of independent boutiques that carry inspired selections of perfume in Toronto. 

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This article was written by

Alexandra Donaldson is the editorial assistant at The Whale & The Rose and a freelance writer and content creator. Although she recently took up yoga in an effort to be a healthy adult, she still binge-watches cartoons on a regular basis and dreams of running away to a cottage in the woods. She has yet to nail down her favourite perfume, but knows that it smells green, earthy and maybe a little bit spicy, but definitely not sweet.