The 12 Days of Christmas, day three

The 12 Days of Christmas, day three

“On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…three French hens.”

Please excuse us but when we heard “French hens” in that holiday song, The 12 Days of Christmas, we spun our perfume interpretation to the colloquial.

In our fragrance-centric world, we took French hens to mean three sassy and feminine, quintessentially French perfumes. And you can’t get more feminine—or French—than Chanel, Annick Goutal and Guerlain. Therefore, day three in our 12 Days of Christmas series celebrates Chanel No.5, Annick Goutal’s classic L’Eau d’Hadrian and Guerlain’s iconic Shalimar. Any one in this trio of spritzes makes a standout gift, no matter the occasion.

Chanel No.5: a gift guaranteed to please

Is your giftee enamoured with all things French? Is she drawn to elegant black and white palettes that may or may not be jazzed up with a splash of colour? Does she love the history and mythology around Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself, that fashion iconoclast and entrepreneur who broke the style mould and who’s definition of chic has stood the test of time? A bottle of Chanel No.5 will most certainly be a great gift for her then.

Rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang with a touch of citrus and vanilla: The notes of Chanel No.5 are legendary. As is its sparkling character—thank the aldehydes and early 20th century perfume labs for that.

Rich and feminine, round and velvety: Choose No.5 comes in gorgeous parfum form or in eau de parfum or eau de toilette formulas. There is also Chanel No.5 Eau Première, which is a lighter, fresher interpretation of the original spritz. Of course there are all manner of related perfume indulgences that could also be packaged up together with a bottle of perfume: Foaming Bath, Loose Powder, a gorgeous egg of No.5 Bath Soap, to make the ultimate Chanel No.5 perfume gift. Chanel No.5 EDP, $150 (100 ml),

Guerlain Shalimar: A sultry symbol of love

Story has it that Guerlain perfumer Jacques Guerlain, when crafting Shalimar which debuted back in 1925, was inspired by the four-centuries-old story of an Indian Emperor and the princess who had won his love and bore him 14 children. In her name, this Empereror built the Gardens of Shalimar and, upon her death, dedicated the Taj Mahal.

Given all that, if you give a bottle of Guerlain’s Shalimar, you might be promising a lot. Or you could be, if you wanted to share the story. Just saying.

Either way, this moody and wonderfully spicy scent is reported to be one of, if not the first, true oriental perfume.

Shalimar’s personality combines flowers—iris, jasmine, rose—with citrus, as well as rich vanilla, opoponax, amber and tonka bean. It remains sultry, elegant and timeless, and a perfect perfume gift. Guerlain Shalimar EDP, $110 (50 ml),

Annick Goutal L’Eau d’Hadrien: Parisian chic by way of Italy

Annick Goutal opened her first shop in Paris in 1981. This was also the year that she debuted the exceptional fragrance Eau d’Hadrien.

Goutal’s daughter, Camille, continues the tradition of wonderful perfume in her mother’s memory, but that citrusy spritz which was born almost 35 years ago retains timeless appeal.

Indeed, Goutal was inspired by the Southern Mediterranean when composing this perfume, which blends cypress with citrus notes, ylang ylang and a touch of sparkling aldehydes. It is an understated scent that speaks to the heart of French perfumery but with an Italian joie de vivre. What a great gift this makes for the fragrance lover who dabbles on both sides of the perfume gender divide. Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien EDP, $209 (100 ml),

ICYMI, read about day two—two turtle doves—here, in our 12 Days of Christmas fragrance buying guide series.

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.