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F is for Fitting Fragrance: Connecting Perfume to Personality

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Sephora Collectors Ed Fragrance Sampler for HER

I know, I know, another perfume story so soon after the other, but this one is fun. And 'tis the biggest season for scent on account it's a popular present.

A couple of years back, cosmetics companies got really smart and put out sampler boxes to allow a recipient to try a bunch of wee testers then use an enclosed gift card to buy a proper flacon of her fave. Fragrance speed dating. Shoppers Drug Mart has some impressive types, as do department stores; the above is a nice one from Sephora (which in Canada doesn't have that gift card) for $45.

But you might prefer to buy someone a full-sized bottle or set to try, in which case knowing your subject is key. My fragrance friend and oft-consulted expert Marian Bendeth, owner of Sixth Scents, is freaky good at matching folks up with options that speak for their personality as well as fit their body chemistry. In our very first phone convo about -- oh good God -- nine years ago, without my having mentioned any preference, Marian said to me, "I bet you wear L'Eau d'Issey."  And she was right. We hadn't even met. Nifty, yes? Here's her take on seven scents worth giving.

Chloé Intense

Chloé Intense, the most sensual of the Chloé scent range, is a floral oriental fragrance of rose, pink pepper and sandalwood. Marian pegs this for "a warm-hearted woman, worldly yet maternal, with a sunny nature and down-to-earth values." 50 mL/$90 at drug and department stores as well as Murale.

Eau Mega Viktor & Rolf

Eau Mega from designers Viktor and Rolf is a fresh green floral with violet leaf, basil, pear, lemon and aquatic notes. Marian profiles the wearer as understated and relaxed, yet detail-oriented and thorough. And yup, it smells really pretty on me. *grin* 50 mL, $90 at The Bay.

Feerie by Van Cleef & Arpels

Féerie by Van Cleef & Arpels is a fanciful floral woody scent that beckons with violet, blackcurrent, Bulgarian rose and Egyptian Jasmine. Marian characterizes this personality as exciting, highly creative and larger than life. "Constantly busy, she creates her own magic -- she's a woman a man has to keep up with," she says. 50 mL, $145 at Murale, The Bay and Holt Renfrew.

Idole d'Armani

Idole d'Armani is a sparkling floral with a hint of spice, sophisticated and glamorous, without being overpowering. "The woman who wears this is self-assured and intuitive," says Marian. "She's a multi-tasker who loves to delegate and knows how to get things done." 30 mL, $60 at department stores.


Idylle is an ultra-feminine floral by Guerlain, lush with rose, lily of the valley, peony, freesia, jasmine, and lilac. Youthful and chic, it's a delightfully romantic fragrance (read: perfect for weddings) for the "savvy sophisticate who seeks out quality at every turn," notes Marian. 35 mL, $82 at Guerlain boutiques and department stores.

Lola Marc Jacobs

Lola Marc Jacobs, a warm floral with fruity topnotes, a peony heart, and a vanilla and musk drydown, is for the quirky, upbeat girl with a great sense of fun, says Marian. "She's youthful, artistic and into fashion." 50 mL, $79 at drug and department stores, Murale and Sephora.

Tom Ford White Suede

Tom Ford White Suede spins on a light modern musk, blended with smooth suede, leather, rose and amber. A unisex fragrance, it appeals to "a confident, laid-back trendspotter, a woman with a phenomenal, eclectic yet simple sense of style," says Marian. Think minimalist approach with maximum impact. 50 mL, $210 at Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew.

Tom Ford Grey Vetiver

And Merry Christmas to me, I've discovered I can wear something I never would've tried had it not been given to me at an event. The lovely folks at Harry Rosen thought I should try Tom Ford Grey Vetiver, maybe because I was obsessing about citrus and wearing a top-to-toe monochromatic grey ensemble. (They didn't know I have a bit of a "history" with vetiver.) This one's a men's eau de parfum of grapefruit, orange blossom, nutmeg, sage, vetiver, amber wood and oak moss, and smells quite interesting on my skin, in a good way. According to my pal Liza, all the vetiver seems to vanish (maybe I scare it?), but it works. Huh. 50 mL, $100 at Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew.