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Him and Him and Her and Her Holiday Gift Guide 2012

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Tuesday Nov 20, 2012
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You made it through the election season and you survived Hurricane Sandy - and now you’re supposed to be merry and gay amidst the mayhem of the holiday season?

Who are they kidding?

Fortunately, shopping for those you love doesn’t have to be drudgery and drama.

This year, instead of waiting until the last minute and ducking into a drug store for a case of Altoids and a bow, pause and reflect upon the people on your gift list.

Think back to the time when you first knew you wanted them as friends - and recall the qualities that you admired in them.

Then reward them with your thoughtfulness.

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Jacomo: #9 Eau de Parfum

One of the joys of the holidays is the abundance of evocative fragrances: pine boughs and pomanders, citrus and cinnamon. A bouquet of fragrances that, invariably, transports you back to holidays of yore.

Back in the Sixties, in New York, there were two designers named James and Gerard whose flagship boutique Jacomo on Fifth Avenue became a salon for the jet set and the glitterati. James and Gerard were Renaissance men whose refined tastes in art, music, and design were reflected in their fashion, as well as their fragrances.

In honor of these bon vivants, Jacomo recently launched a collaboration between artists and fragrances called "Art Collection."

The Swedish artist Stina Persson created a fragrance for Jacomo called #9, which is marked by a beautiful profusion of citrus and red berries, followed by a heart note of praline. As colorful as Christmas windows at Bergdorf’s, #9 is a burst of seasonal scents that settles into base notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and sandalwood that linger long into holy night.

Packaged in a smoked glass bottle, #9 is as joyful as holiday song and a perfect fragrance for the person who lives for the holiday season - and doesn’t want to let it go.

PRICE: $89.00 / 3.4 fl. oz. / 100 ml.
LINK: Jacomo #9 Eau de Parfum at C.O. Bigelow



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Legart Forschungs Atelier: Ambuja Empire Overnight Eye Cream

Recently, in Paris, we had the good fortune to enter a show house along the Champs-Élysées where designer Joseph Dirand and Louis Vuitton had designed a room called "the Maharajah baths." With walls of Calcutta marble marked with black ebony accents, the room was a highly-stylized homage to the Baths of Caracalla - and we wanted to move right in.

And were we to find this sumptuous bath in our own home, we would utilize only products from the avant garde German skincare studio, Legart Forschungs Atelier. 



The Bavarian company creates limited editions of bespoke, sustainable beauty products that are based on handpicked, raw materials with the purest alpine spring water from the Kitzbuehel Alps. 



Ambuja Empire Overnight Eye Cream is formulated with 100% bioactive ingredients including pomegranate, lotus cell water, and green coconut water to accelerate healthy skin growth. The addition of buckwheat promotes circulation, while algae minimizes dark circles. This absorbent elixir enhances elasticity, leaving your eyes sparkling and bright.

Packaged in boxes that are an amalgam of objets d’art and origami, the Empire line is designed for an "intrepid pioneer" - or, in other words, a connoisseur of quality and vision.

With its sleek packaging and stylish profile, the Ambuja Empire skincare line looks as if it belongs in the master bath of men like Karl Lagerfeld or Tom Ford.

A perfect holiday gift for the Maharajah in your life.

PRICE: 215.00 € / 30 ml.
LINK: Legart Forschungs Atelier Ambuja Empire Overnight Eye Cream

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Ulrich Lang: Lightscape

When you enter someone’s home for the first time, your nose knows before your eyes do just who lives there. And one of the joys of a fragrance by Ulrich Lang is that the very first whiff reminds you that you are in the hands of a refined gentleman.

To wear one of Lang’s fragrances is to enter into the world of a visionary designer who expands your horizons just enough to enable you a newfound perspective on what you might have thought you knew before.

Lightscape is Lang’s fourth fragrance, a riff on the concept of a fresh citrus fragrance - save for the fact that Lang expands the cliché and infuses it with character. The lightness of Sicilian lemon is underscored by a verdant note of galbanum and the earthy warmth of violet leaves. The result is less a lemon and more a locale. The gardens of Harold Acton’s estate, Villa La Pietra, outside of Florence, for example, where an alleé of lemon trees form but one part of the whole.

There’s a sense of place in Lang’s fragrances and the manner in which their structure transports the wearer. The heart of violet flower, with the slightest hint of mineral and metal, brought to mind a scene from Ian McEwan’s "Atonement" where the two protagonists have fought over a broken vase in a stone fountain.

Launched in 2003, Lang’s line of fragrances includes Anvers (the French word for "Antwerp"), Anvers 2, Nightscape - and now Lightscape. Lang’s passion for both art and fragrance has resulted in elegantly understated packaging that captures the spirit of his fragrances in photography. The Amsterdam-based artist, Elspeth Diederix, has created a luminous interpretation of Lightscape that evokes a dreamy afternoon in mauve, befitting the fragrance’s dry down of ambergris and cashmere wood.

Your cheek against the grass, a violet near your nose, you gaze into a lightscape that takes you away.

PRICE: $110 / 3.4 oz
LINK: Ulrich Lang Lightscape

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Strange Invisible Perfumes: Hydro-distilled Frankincense & Coriander Body Lotion

If it was good enough for Three Kings, then we’re all over it. That’s how we feel about frankincense, the aromatic resin with the sweet, lemon balsamic aroma that is as uplifting as it is evocative.

The new line of bath washes and body lotions from Strange Invisible Perfumes includes Frankincense & Coriander Body Lotion. Doesn’t that sound like a gift from the magi? And given how many queens are on your holiday gift list, Frankincense & Coriander Body Lotion might be the perfect offering for those divas.

Suitable for all skin types and formulated with frankincense from Oman, this vegan moisturizing body lotion is handcrafted with certified organic ingredients and purified glacier water. The fragrance is evocative of an Egyptian garden in summer. Inhale this after showering and you might find yourself reminded of Lawrence Durrell’s heroine Justine from his magnum opus "The Alexandria Quartet."

Founded in 2000 by botanical perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis, Strange Invisible Perfumes is dedicated to creating fragrances and beauty products from real botanical essences. Balahoutis utilizes 100% certified organic, beverage-grade grape alcohol alongside her proprietary blends of ethically sourced essential oils.

The line of bath washes and body lotions are handcrafted, with the most nourishing base ingredients and the purest botanical aromas. Strange Invisible Perfumes uses ingredients that are certified organic, wild crafted, biodynamic, and pesticide-free.

The company’s fragrances are designed, hand-blended, and bottled in Venice, California, which is also where the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique is located.

Offer this with a gift of gold and myrrh - and you’ll definitely be a King.

PRICE: $60 / 8 fl. oz.
LINK:
Strange Invisible Perfumes Hydro-distilled Frankincense & Coriander Lotion

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(Holiday Gift Guide continues on next page...)


Jacomo de Jacomo: Original

Remember Marlon Brando in "The Wild One"? You look at that iconic photograph of him on the Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle, you can smell the black leather jacket, the tobacco lingering in the air.

If there’s an iconoclastic rebel on your gift list, you might think about Jacomo de Jacomo. Intensely masculine and sensual, Jacomo de Jacomo is as dark as a moonless night, redolent of smoke and burning wood. Think bikers around a fire, quaffing from silver flasks. A hint of clove hangs in the air, mixed with the smell of Gauloises cigarettes.

Jacomo de Jacomo opens like a lavender smudge stick that burns like rubber: slow and steamy. It’s the dead of winter in an oil-stained woodshop where a cinnamon stick burns atop a cedar wood-burning stove.

Originally launched in 1980, Jacomo de Jacomo recalls a time when men like Brando and Bogart let their presence speak loudest.

PRICE: $65.00 / 3.4 fl. oz. / 100 ml.
LINK: Jacomo de Jacomo Original

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Lubin: Bluff

Years ago, in another century, we had a cowboy boyfriend who smoked Marlboros, wore a belt buckle in the shape of Texas - and slept with his cowboy hat on the pillow. What can we say? It was a chapter.

Long before "Brokeback Mountain" (and even the Village People), queer cowboys have been the stuff of homo fantasy. Enter the House of Lubin and their fragrance Bluff, subtitled "Conquest of the West."

Leave it the French to dissect and distill the American character. After all, it was the French who resurrected Faulkner and embraced Jerry Lewis and brought Disney to their homeland.

Established in 1798 by the peripatetic global nomad Pierre Francois Lubin, the House of Lubin made its mark with fragrances that captured the scents of exotic lands - and at the end of the 18th century, what was more exotic than the "New World"?

Dedicated to the Wild West and the invigorating elixirs that were popular during the Gold Rush, Bluff is an homage to the beneficial frontier tonics imbibed by the original Forty Niners. Top notes of lime, nutmeg, and cinnamon give Bluff a burst of effervescence that evokes a certain popular soft drink. The spicy sweet freshness of Bluff’s opening segues into heart notes of clary sage and kola nut, before settling into a woody, fresh drydown of vetiver and sandalwood.

The truth is, the Wild West was a rough and tumble time - and most of those cowboys probably had to wash in the river where they were panning for gold. The same river where they washed their original Levi Strauss jeans. And while those jeans dried on the riverbank, those cowboys probably rolled around in the grassy meadows before sleeping on pine needles.

If you want to relive those cowboy fantasies, Bluff is your man.

PRICE: $120.00 / 2.5 oz.
LINK: Bluff by House of Lubin

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Eight & Bob Eau de Toilette

In spite of their ostensible love for democracy, Americans love pedigree and provenance - and particularly when complemented by romance. Few figures in recent American history have more pedigree and romance than JFK and Jackie, which is one reason why the newly-recovered fragrance, Eight and Bob, is certain to provoke interest - even without smelling the juice.

Introduced in New York at Elements Showcase, the highly-curated fragrance show, Eight & Bob is packaged in a hollowed-out book of the sort where guns and flasks might appear in film noir. The story behind that book concerns JFK and his friend Albert Fouquet, the son of a Parisian aristocrat, who wore a bespoke fragrance that captivated JFK enough to request a sample - no, make that eight samples, plus one for brother Bobby Kennedy.

When Fouquet sent the samples to JFK, they were labeled "Eight & Bob" and arrived in a hollowed-out book to elude the Nazis. As for the fragrance which opens with spicy and citrus notes before settling into the warmth of amber and vanilla, it’s as much a personification of JFK’s seductive prowess as Acqua di Parma is reflective of Cary Grant’s charms.

Formulated with a plant that Fouquet called "Andrea," which is found in the highest altitudes of the Andes in Chile, Eight & Bob is produced in limited quantities, based on the annual harvest of this indigenous plant.

If there’s anyone on your gift list obsessed with American nobility, then Eight & Bob is going to make them swoon.

PRICE: $195.00 / 100 ml
LINK: Eight & Bob

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Perricone MD: Cold Plasma

Looking for something to make your mother smile? Want to see your man look like he was twenty all over again? How about a little something to make you glow with adolescent radiance? Dr. Perricone’s got just the thing.

Listen, are you going to argue with the Yale professor who wrote the best-selling "The Wrinkle Cure"? For years, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, the world-renowned aging expert, has been the dermatological authority on all matters related to the art and science of aging beautifully. It was Perricone who introduced the concept of cosmeceutical formulations as an alternative to more invasive procedures. In other words, as millions will attest, Perricone spared them from the knife.

Perricone MD has been at the forefront of cosmeceutical research since the brand’s inception in 1997. Launched in 2009 after five years of research, Cold Plasma has been Perricone MD’s biggest breakthrough - and one of the company’s biggest sellers. Why? Because Cold Plasma prevents and corrects the big ten most visible signs of aging. Yes, the big ten - and we know you can count them in the mirror.

With a formulation that includes neuropeptides and DMAE which help to reverse sagging (yep, that’s one of the ten right there), Cold Plasma brightens skin with amino acids, which provide superior hydration. Cold Plasma replenishes nutrients while creating an optimal state for cell growth.

Since Cold Plasma’s release five years ago, numerous studies have shown that nearly 100% of respondents said that their skin was healthy, radiant, and smooth.

Cold Plasma just might make all your New Year’s resolutions come true.

PRICE: $155.00 / 1 fl. oz.
LINK: Perricone MD Cold Plasma

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(Holiday Gift Guide continues on next page...)


Louis Purple: Made-to-Order Garments

As the adage goes, it’s the clothes that make the man - and no one knew that better than Jay Gatz, the Midwestern boy who grew up to become Gatsby.

Louis Purple knows it as well - and were Gatsby to appear in New York today, it’s likely that he’d direct his driver to the tony, made-to-order men’s haberdasher in NoHo.

Opened in France in 2009, Louis Purple offers made-to-measure garments for everyone who needs a suit, regardless of body type. Now with eleven shops in its home country, including Paris, as well as other stores in Bucharest, New York, Prague, and Belfast, Louis Purple provides an affordable luxury: bespoke suits, tailored with style to your body, starting at 699 USD.

The New York shop offers more than 300 fabrics and 60 different types of lapel and three different jacket styles, resulting in more than 18,000 combinations of fabric, cut, and style.

Apart from suits and shirts (which start at around 130 USD), Louis Purple also makes made-to-order overcoats, trench coats, and trousers. A bespoke cashmere overcoat, using cashmere by Loro Piana or Cerruti, might start at 900 USD, which is a price that would encourage Gatsby to purchase an even dozen.

If you have a budding Gatsby in your life, then you might think about a gift certificate to Louis Purple. Think of it as his finishing school.

PRICE: $130 per shirt
LINK: Louis Purple

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Spadaro: Noche Del Fuego

We know someone who grew up on the Cape, going to the coffee houses on the Vineyard and Wood’s Hole to listen at the feet of Carly Simon and James Taylor. Sometimes the Seventies seem almost idyllic.

Something about the earthy patchouli and woody notes of Kim Spadaro’s Noche Del Fuego (or "Night of Fire") evokes autumn nights on the Vineyard, where fourth-generation Cape Cod kids dash around a bonfire while their parents get the boat ready to sail back to the mainland.

After a burst of bergamot, Noche Del Fuego settles into a warm-hearted honey and saffron embrace - but it’s the patchouli and sandalwood base that brings back those Cape Cod nights. There’s a touch of incense as well, as if recalling the burned sticks meant to mask the marijuana wafting over the sun porch.

Spadaro has created a collection of three perfumes that are as beautifully packaged as they are luxurious on the skin. Formulated with high-quality essential oil blends, each Spadaro fragrance is bottled in a square Italian glass vessel, complete with a retro bottle stopper.

With its smells of a summer night, Noche Del Fuego might take you back to your halycon youth.

PRICE: $135.00 / 100 ml. (Sample set of three mini-spray vials / $10.00)
LINK: Spadaro Noche Del Fuego

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Fine and Dandy: Shaggy Brown Wool Scarf

We once had a friend who contended that the world would be a better place - if only everyone dressed just a little better.

Some men we know take sartorial inspiration from their grandfathers, men who spit-polished their shoes and never left the house without a tie. Our grandfather wore French-cuffed shirts - even when cutting his prize gladioli. Matt Fox, the shopkeeper behind Fine and Dandy, follows his grandfather’s advice to "show a little flair...be it socks or a pocket square."

The brand-new Fine and Dandy boutique in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen is a compendium of extraordinary male fashion - and the complementary website is a sartorial showcase of gentlemanly detail. With a focus on classic Ivy League style, Fine and Dandy is a bit like the J. Press of Hellsea.

The Shaggy Brown Wool Scarf, for example, is the perfect accessory to wrap loosely around your neck as you stroll across Harvard Yard, providing you with that "je ne sais quoi" that so often identifies a man of style. Handmade in New York of 100% wool and edge finished in burgundy thread, the scarf measures 9" x 62".

Toss it with insouciance befitting a gentleman.

PRICE: $55.00
LINK: Fine and Dandy Shaggy Brown Wool Scarf

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Candi Factory: Banana Blue Boxer Briefs

Do you have a monkey in your life? Someone who loves bananas? If so, then what better gift for him than a pair of blue banana boxer briefs. It’s the best of all worlds: breathable and huggable and squeezable in all the right places.

Made from 66% bamboo, 28% cotton, and 6% lycra, these delicious boxer briefs are designed and made in Toronto, Canada by an entrepreneurial couple with degrees in art and philosophy. No wonder the man briefs at Candi Factory are so comfortable: they’ve debated every detail. As they say at the Candi Factory, "If you’re going to wear underwear, wear ours."

Just think how happy your monkey’s going to be when he finds a bunch of bananas under the tree - and a pair of blue banana briefs in which to carry his own.

PRICE: $30.00
LINK: Candi Factory Banana Blue Boxer Briefs

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A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.

This article is part of our "2012 Holiday Gift Guide" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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