These wise men arrived with gold, myrrh and frankincense. We now wear Diptyque perfumes and Chanel perfumes, two millennia after their fragrance visit.

This time of the year accounts for 49% of all scent sales. As Christmas Day draws near, I find myself longing for seasonal wonders: Caron’s Nuit de Noel, a heady amber-floral evocation of smoking church candles from 1922; Etro’s Messe de Minuit, a contemporary (1994) take on the midnight-mass theme; and a new pash, Laboratorio Olfattivo’s Sacreste, an incense blend concocted in 2018 (£110,

We often go on Christmas vacations together. Wherever we roam, Terence brings a mini Diptyque Feu de Bois candle as our own portable Yule (£29 for 70g, Its architect was the brilliant Olivia Giacobetti, who created Hiris for Hermes and Diptyque’s figgy Philosykos.

UK-based columnist Hannah Betts provides some stocking filler fragrance favourites which will get you in the good books in the final days before Christmas (file image)

Hannah Betts, a UK columnist offers some stocking stuffer scent favorites that will keep you warm in the last days of Christmas. (file image).

The sublimely woody Feu de Bois (1999) somehow contrives to both be robustly literal — a log fire — and conjure the primordial desire for warmth, comfort, sanctuary.

December always spells Chanel No. 5 (from £62,, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, yet forever young — not least at Christmas, when it is the scent via which the globe’s menfolk pay tribute to the women in their lives.

Jacques Polge, house nose between 1978 and 2015, asserted that: ‘No. 5. is the best example of a perfume that grows more mysterious with each passing year. Each year adds to its charm, its mystery, its depth.’

He wasn’t wrong. In an age in which the shelf life of many fragrances is less than 18 months, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s first perfume is less a scent than a cultural phenomenon. Perfumer Ernest Beaux’s creation for Coco remains the best-selling fragrance in the world — a status it has held since the late 1920s.

It was so well-known that American soldiers flocked to the Rue Cambon in Paris during 1944’s liberation.

Marilyn Monroe was able to sleep peacefully in her sheets after this event. No. 5 is a May rose and jasmine bouquet, which is what makes it stand out. 5 has a stark, bracing, modernist aspect, the product of the then radical — still radical — aldehyde crystals, or fizzing ‘champagne’ quality, that distinguishes it.

It is this that made it the perfume of the 20th century —marching on into the 21st. No. 5. is the fragrance of an extravagant life. It lends itself well to the holiday season.

Hannah (pictured) says a hefty 49 per cent of scent sales take place at this time of year

Hannah (pictured), says that 49% of all scent sales occur at this time.

Like me, Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir turned 50 in 2021 (from £26,

Aromatics are addictive throughout the year. But, mid-winter is when this scent of roses, patchouli and sandalwood (or mossy), takes off. Fabulously uncompromising and aromatherapeutic, Bernard Chant’s marvel deserves its cult following.

‘Womanly’ is a platitude tossed about too often when it comes to perfume — typically to describe some watery mishmash insufficient to beguile the most skittish girl. Here, however, you can use the W-word in all its true meaning. Aromatics is knowing, worldly, unapologetic — a status one has to grow into and earn.

Some users therefore advise a ‘spray into the air and step into the mist’ policy. To this, I say ‘Pah’ and continue to drench myself. As no less an authority on womanliness than actress Mae West decreed, ‘Too much of a good thing can be wonderful’.

My final festive fixation is Estee Lauder’s unjustly neglected Youth-Dew of 1953 (from £32,

The indomitable Estee first sold it as a bath oil (still available to buy at £34) so that women might be persuaded to purchase it for themselves.

Hollywood beauty Dolores del Rio claimed that the secret to ‘driving men gaga’ was to brush this sensuous, softly spiced classic into your hair then sweep your tresses up onto the top of your head.

It’s possible. It works.


Ren’s All Is Bright set contains two gems.

Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, a gentle exfoliator with lactic acid that brightens skin. Overnight Glow Deep Spot Sleeping cream is my favorite for those who have a dingy complexion.

By morning you’ll look as if you lead a life of milkmaidish innocence. 





Hannah's icon of the week is Gwen Stefani, 52, who looks no different from her younger days

Gwen Stefani 52, Hannah’s symbol of the Week, is no different than her younger years.

The 52-year-old singer looks unchanged from her No Doubt days, with her platinum ponytail and Revlon’s 1953 classic Cherries In The Snow lipstick.

Her make-up artist, Gregory Arlt, decrees: ‘If a woman has 32 seconds to get ready, then definitely use shimmer because it just pops. It puts a little life in your face.’ 


While I do get a lot slap mail, my Christmas present is the Pat McGrath Dark Star 016 V2 Limited Edition.

Dame Pat, the world’s most fashion-forward make-up artist, has created a small but utterly joyous package containing the most coruscating, super-saturated, ultra-violet eyeshadow; a silky PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil in Xtreme Black to serve as smoky kohl and/or a jet-black base; plus a pot of Cyber Clear Eye Gloss to give lids (and anywhere else) a ‘heavenly holographic shine’.

It’s cosmic cosmetic genius for DIY catwalk looks. Make sure you invest now in order to make the New Year a success. 



For some pizzazz, use glitter.


A glimmering, limited-edition liquid eyeshadow that I’ve been using as a fetching liner. 


You can find highlighter colors in metallic colours, from Soft Frost (violet-white) to Oh Darling! (gold, pictured). 


MOST of Posh’s shades are too brown on me, but not this limited-edition ‘black-tie’ berry. 


Recapture 1990s nights with a slick of clear, high-shine Juicy Tubes — perfect on top of lipstick or bare lips.