Fragrances for the body and soul


November 26, 1995|By Elizabeth Large

One of the hot new fragrances this holiday season, Beach House, smells of salt air. We've come a long way, baby, from Chanel No. 5.

The packaging is clean and sophisticated, a handsome gift for $19.50. You have to look closely to see the fine print -- that this isn't perfume but part of Banana Republic's newest fragrance line, the Home Scent collection.

Scents for your house. Your spouse. Your health. Even your child's toys are scented. This year the stores are filled with an extravagance of fragrant gifts for the body and the soul.

In Christmases past, a gift of scent might express innocent love (Coty's Muguet des Bois) or passionate lust (Calvin Klein's Obsession). This holiday season you can do all that -- and much, much more.

This is the year when aromatherapy, the theory that scents and smells can affect moods and behavior, has become solidly mainstream. Ever since a prime-time television news show did a story on the relaxing properties of lavender, for instance, Wicks N Sticks (in area malls) hasn't been able to keep lavender-scented items in stock.

Give a contemporary-styled oil aroma lamp ($18) from Wicks N Sticks to create a mood for the home. Heated peppermint oil, for example, is said to invigorate, while sandalwood as well as lavender soothes. You can also get a room diffuser ($20) here, a terra-cotta pot that absorbs the fragrant oils.

Natural Wonders, in Towson Town Center, has its own aromatherapy line, with names like Morning Dew, Vanilla and Natural Herb ($12 and up). The perfumed oils look as good as they smell, with flowers and leaves suspended in the oils. Their glass bottles and corks are reusable.

The Nature Company, in area malls, carries the Essentiel Elements line of lotions, bath and shower gels and bath salts, with lavender to relax, rosemary to invigorate and citrus to soothe. Gift sets start at $20.

Give a gift of a good night's sleep with a Sweet Dreams pillow ($25) from NightGoods in the Gallery. Gently squeeze the chintz-covered pillow to release the scent of sleep-inducing herbs and spices. A soothing sinus pillow ($20), contoured to fit the face comfortably, is filled with an aromatic blend of mints, lavender and eucalyptus.

Have a friend who has frequent headaches? A Sidney Greensheep (or other herbal animals) pillow ($20) from the Store Ltd. might help. They're stuffed with lavender, peppermint and chamomile.

Fragrant candles are nothing new; but in the aromatherapy line, Caswell-Massey in the Gallery is carrying herbal pillar candles ($12) this season. With scents like soothing comfrey, relaxing chamomile and invigorating eucalyptus, they match the shop's line of herbal soaps.

In fact, far beyond the traditional holiday bayberry and Christmas spice, there are all sorts of scented candles for gift-giving in the stores this season.

At the high end, Bishop's Gate in Annapolis is the only area store to carry Slatkin candles ($55), wonderfully rich candles with scents like rain, spice, peach. They are beautifully packaged in octagonal frosted glass. But at the same decorative-accessories shop, you can also find inexpensive patchouli votives ($1.50), which are fragrant even when not lighted.

April Cornell in Harborplace sells a white ginger perfumed candle for $17.50.

Country Accents, in Towson Town Center, has cake candles ($12), which are so popular the store sells out of them constantly. The candles have a warm fragrance like when someone's baking, with flavors like applesauce cake, cinnamon spice, vanilla poundcake and cranberry cake.

Candles are one of many home scents that are making it big this holiday season. "Value-conscious consumers have discovered that home fragrance is a small investment with a big impact," explains the trade publication Accessory Merchandising.

Candles and potpourri are only the beginning. You can get perfumed hangers and drawer liners, mulling spices for a whole-house fragrance, fragrance rings and scented sprays. Any these are great gifts for your cocooning friends. Another plus with home scents: They aren't too personal, as a gift of perfume or cologne might be.

For the latest in potpourri, give brandied apple glass potpourri ($12), made of recycled glass, from the Body Shop in area malls. Bath & Body Works, in area malls, has scented wax potpourri ($3.50). You'll find perfumed pastel stones in a handsome wooden box ($27), a colorful alternative to potpourri, at April Cornell.

For a small treasured gift, consider an ornamental angel dish or a star amphora pot ($3.75). Both hold fragrant oils and can hang on the Christmas tree. From the Body Shop.

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