In the run-up to Christmas, we at The Sybarite have put together our curated selection of heavenly products that we feel are truly unique. We have handpicked these specific products from each brand’s wider collection because they are so iconic in scent, so ethically inclined and, above all, so able to captivate attention, that they are simply irresistible. This is the first part of The Sybarite’s Christmas Gift Guide, written not from a press release, but by someone looking for the same thing that you are – Christmas gifts for that special someone.
Byredo and Ex Nihilo
Scents: Byredo – Baudelaire, Ex Nihilo – Vetiver Moloko and Oud Vendôme
When it came to men’s perfume, we had a tough time deciding: The Sybarite wanted to handpick a scent that wasn’t commercial, packaging that was simple yet elegant and a product that exuded a unique lifestyle and experience.
We finally settled on two unique perfume houses – Byredo (Swedish) and Ex Nihilo (French) – and we could not recommend them enough. Their packaging is beautiful and particularly well suited for the metrosexual man; but it is perhaps the story behind the products that makes these collections truly one-of-a-kind, resulting in very thoughtful gifts for the sophisticated man.
We sampled Byredo’s Baudelaire, with top notes of black pepper, caraway and juniper berries, and found this scent more suited to the older man. (For some reason or other, we pictured a well-groomed gentleman getting out of his Mercedes S.) The fragrance exudes cool, sophisticated, understated luxury without being too boastful.
From the Ex Nihilo line, Oud Vendôme and Vetiver Moloko were recommended to us, and we loved them. The scents were subtle yet romantic – perfect for boyfriends, husbands and man-friends.
What we love even more is Ex Nihilo’s brand story: ‘Real luxury should be unique, total, exclusive, exceptional, elegant and of unreserved quality. It expresses itself through a new idea, which fulfils the desire of a client.’ The self-styled ‘alternative Parisian perfume house’ seeks to ‘respond to the demands and desires of a generation searching for brand new and inspiring sensations’.
Ex Nihilo describes its Vetiver Moloko scent as being ‘unusual and addictive’, and although scents are always going to smell different on different individuals, we found their claim to be true. Featuring top notes of bergamot and Bulgarian rose with base notes of vetiver, amyris and Madagascar vanilla, the scent is intimate, sweet and sexy.
Oud Vendôme is similarly classic with a ‘deliberate urban and 100% Parisian signature’. What that last bit means, we’re not too sure, but the scent is captivating – perhaps due to the base notes of agarwood accord, incense and musk with hints of saffron and ginger.
As scent is so individualistic, Ex Nihilo emphasises personalisation and can produce personalised scents for the discerning individual at their perfume house in Paris’ Rue Saint-Honoré. Their personalisation is truly unique, as they also include precious nectars to enhance fragrances: These nectars are made on demand and weighed in front of the customer using the Osmologue, a high-precision dosing machine.
So, if you feel that our featured scents are too risky as gifts, the experience of giving an Ex Nihilo scent personalised for that special someone will be even more profound and thoughtful.
Scent: Velvet Oud & Rose
For fans of Jo Malone, this needs no explaining, but if you’re looking for a scent that is bittersweet and velvety, suitable for both men and women, then we highly recommend Velvet Oud & Rose. This is the one scent that we have handpicked from the entire Jo Malone collection.
The notes are rather contradictory – consisting of Darkest Damask rose, rich and textural, wrapped with smoky oud wood – but when put together, they create a sweet and sultry scent that is altogether magnetising. The concept behind the scent was inspired by ‘centuries-old traditions of layering scents, incenses and oils’, and we feel Velvet Oud & Rose has done the job. Our important tip is to spray on just a bit, so that the scent doesn’t slip into overpowering.
What we loved best about Velvet Oud & Rose is that it is a scent that stays with you throughout the day. There is almost no need for a re-spray. The scent is especially lovely during the winter season, given its hint of spicy rose notes. Perhaps due to how lovable this scent is, Jo Malone has also created a more concentrated version in the form of a dry body oil. If you want something stronger, the body oil is the perfect choice, but we prefer the Eau de Toilette: Though it is not as concentrated, you are still able to capture that density of scent with only one or two spritzes. The collection also includes the Velvet Rose & Oud scented candle.
This Christmas, Jo Malone are also selling their popular luxury advent calendar, which includes their refined colognes and rich body crèmes that make for perfect scent layering in the festive season.
Product: Vitalizing Ointment, Myrrh Cream, Gift Box, Mask
What we love about Radice Apothecary products is their simplicity and commitment to homegrown organic ingredients. The application of fundamental knowledge of different skin types while using ethically grown ingredients that improve signs of ageing, impede the loss of skin elasticity and, basically, treat skin with respect and love: This is what sums up the Radice skincare range.
The story itself contributes to how Radice Apothecary has maintained its discernment and prized position in the high-end skincare market. There’s nothing commercial about them and there are no frills – just true ingredients from nature, ‘most of which are the same ones that grow in the garden of [founder Jasmine’s] family home in Tuscany’. Not only that, but the entire skincare range is handcrafted by Jasmine, with attention to every drop that goes into each vial.
We tried out the Vitalizing Ointment made of lavender, rosemary, myrtle, lemon and juniper. At first we thought it was an exfoliant, due to its sandy consistency, but once applied onto the face with a light rub, the ointment seeped smoothly into the skin and created a fresh finish. Juniper was chosen for its effectiveness in preventing wrinkles by penetrating into the skin to smooth and protect, while lavender oil, rosemary oil, turmeric and beeswax provide additional nourishment and encourage regeneration by stimulating microcirculation. Radice says that the ointment is especially good for the winter.
We then applied Radice’s Myrrh Cream, which was like the cherry on top of a good facial. Made of myrrh and sandalwood, it enriches dry skin and prevents wrinkles. The lotion is easily applied by squeezing a few droplets from the vial and dabbing it lightly onto the skin. Not only does it feel wonderful, it smells like Jasmine’s garden.
The result? A fresh face and the feel-good factor of knowing that you’re applying ingredients that contain no chemicals, as you reap the benefits of Jasmine’s garden.
Radice Apothecary is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone, really, as it is suitable for most skin types. The packaging is simple and yet seems to tell a story. These products make perfect toiletry gifts.
Photography: Kashif H