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The Globe and Mail

10 holiday fragrances for the woman in your life

She can convey her mood in a whiff – the best new scents are personality in a bottle

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Chanel’s Coco Noir: Masterminded by Chanel’s in-house perfumer Jacques Polge and described as a “great nocturnal Baroque,” this darker descendent of Coco and Coco Mademoiselle draws on jasmine, sandalwood, patchouli and vanilla to conjure their namesake’s adventures in Venice with her lover Boy Capel. Starts subtle, then escalates quite enticingly. $158 for 100 ml at Chanel counters across Canada.

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Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose & Oud: Over the past five years, oud, the oil derived from resinous agarwood, has become a trendy raw material thanks to its heady, aromatic depth. By introducing it to the intense, romantic rose, Jo Malone deserves full marks for a flirtatious formulation that is as familiar as it is exotic. $155 for 100 ml at Holt Renfrew (

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Byredo’s Black Saffron: Always expect the unexpected from this Sweden-based niche label with Canadian DNA (founder Ben Gorham grew up in Oakville, Ont.). Black Saffron gives off spice and leather and if you inhale deep enough, you might even smell rubber tires. Finishing with a delicate veil of violet, it proposes a striking variation on sexy. $235 for 100 ml at Holt Renfrew.

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Givenchy’s Dahlia Noir: Like a cinematic femme fatale, there’s softness beneath the commanding top notes. As the first Givenchy fragrance to benefit from the involvement of creative director Riccardo Tisci, it sways between assertive woods and pretty, powdery territory. On the right woman, this is a buckle-your-seatbelt scent. $75 for 90 ml at The Bay, Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart.

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Versace’s Vanita: Most commonly, vanitas refers to a genre of painting that symbolizes mortality. But as the name for the latest perfume from the house of Versace, the message is somewhat mixed. The glamorous blend of floral and citrus notes make this scent a rousing call to carpe diem. $110 for 100 ml at Holt Renfrew.

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Balenciaga’s Florabotanica: There has been a personality shake-up over at Balenciaga, where the feminine sophistication of the previous namesake scents has given way to something wilder and packed with verve. Classic rose has been spiked with mint and vetiver to create a scent that has all the impact of the graphic bottle. Fresh above all, it’s the new Youth-Dew. $90 for 50 ml at Holt Renfrew, Sephora and other retailers.

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Maison Martin Margiela’s Replica Funfair Evening: When a brand known for its conceptual fashion presents a fragrance that evokes the playful, kitschy spirit of candied apples and carousel rides, you can be sure the result will be equal parts Proustian and PG-13. Like MMM’s recent collaboration with H&M, it’s a mainstream move – and quite possibly a mood-booster, too. $100 for 100 ml at The Bay (

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Lancôme’s La Vie est Belle: Life may be beautiful, but it’s also evidently sweet when under the spell this new spritz from Lancôme. The refined gourmand notes – far more pronounced than the floral iris and heady patchouli – are reminiscent of chocolate soufflé, making the wearer smell as delicious as a Parisian pâtisserie. $95 for 50 ml at department stores across Canada.

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The 7 Virtues’ Middle East Peace: The grapefruit essential oil in this crisp, citrusy scent has been sourced from Israel. The origin of the basil and lime raw materials is Iran. Yes, the fourth fragrance conceived by Canadian Barbara Stegemann establishes olfactive harmony between volatile nations. Heads of state: Take note. Everyone else: This is the feel-good scent of the season. $70 for 50 ml at The Bay.

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Van Cleef & Arpels’s First: Newly released in a limited-edition bottle, First is no shrinking violet – it’s more like an explosive bouquet of jasmine and iris doused in vanilla and candied nuts. After decades of being considered your grandmother’s perfume, it’s well poised for a comeback. $125 for 100 ml at The Bay and Ogilvy (

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