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Eros Meets Amour: Valentine’s Day Gift Guide 2012

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Wednesday Feb 1, 2012

It’s not easy for everyone on Valentine’s Day.

There are a lot of Miss Lonelyhearts out there - and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show them some love.

Freed from the burden of creation myths, Valentine’s Day is about nothing so much as Eros and Amour.

Look around and celebrate those who put the amorous and erotic in your life - and make them love you a little more with any of these sensuous (and sensual...) gifts.

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Jouany: St. Barthélemy

If you can’t take your Valentine to St. Barts for the holiday, then maybe you might consider the next best thing: the fragrance that brings the fabled island right into your own bedroom, Jouany St. Barthélemy.

Fragrance takes us deep into memory, returning us to places where we left a piece of our heart and soul. For Christophe Jouany, a celebrated fashion photographer for more than twenty years, the scents of his hometown on the island of St. Barthélemy in the Caribbean moved him to create his first fragrance. Jouany’s desire to evoke St. Barts’s refulgent beauty resulted in a perfume as elegant as its namesake.

As anyone who has spent time on St. Barts knows, the journey there requires patience and fortitude - but once situated on the luxuriant isle, the rewards are abundant. In spite of an invasion of A-listers and Russian oligarchs, St. Barts retains a casual elegance.

Refined and sophisticated, Jouany St. Barthélemy opens with a splash of white grapefuit before melting into heart notes that mingle jasmine and cedarwood with a hint of vanilla. Imagine walking Shell Beach early in the morning, the water lapping your feet and the air redolent with tropical flora. You might brunch later in Gustavia, at which point Jouany St. Barthélemy will have settled into its base notes of patchouli and sandalwood. Lifting your Champagne to your lips, you can’t help but inhale your wrist again, once more, for the scent of white musc that lingers on your skin.

For more than a decade before the perfume’s public launch in 2011, Jouany wore a fragrance of his own creation. The fragrance generated such enthusiasm from Jouany’s friends and family that he created his own line. An eau de parfum, Jouany St. Barthélemy is made in France of 68% pure essential oils of the highest quality. The fragrance was listed as an "Editor’s Favorite" by Allure magazine in December 2011.

Sometimes we can’t easily get to where we want to be - but with Jouany St. Barthélemy, an idyllic island life bursts into being.

PRICE: $125.00 / 1.7 fl. oz.
LINK: Jouany

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Parker Pen: Ingenuity Collection

All the great lovers in history wrote letters to their beloved. Where would the Marquis de Sade have been without a writing instrument? He needed a second implement with which to seduce his prey - and he used his words to conquer. (Of course, there’s also Abelard whose love letters to Heloise resulted in his castration - but that’s another story...)

For Valentine’s Day, let Parker Pen’s innovative new writing system help get you into the groove. The Parker Ingenuity Collection pens write as fluidly as a fountain pen - and as smoothly as a rollerball. Parker Pen employed cutting-edge technology to create an innovative refill tip with an engraved metallic hood - and the result is a collection of writing instruments that combine the classic beauty of a fountain pen with the precision and smoothness of a rollerball. Available in two categories, Classic and Daring, Parker Pen Ingenuity Collection is as tempting as it is timeless.

Founded in 1888, Parker Pen Company is one of the oldest names in American business, and for much of the twentieth century, Parker was the largest writing instrument company in the world. The Parker Ingenuity Daring Collection features a metal and texturized soft-touch rubber finish, with ring detailing and chrome trim. Presented in a premium Parker gift box, the Parker Ingenuity Collection is certain to put all sorts of ideas in your head.

Go ahead, put a Parker Pen to paper and tell your inamorato all the wicked and wonderful things you intend to do to him tonight. Be specific. Be creative. Let your Parker Ingenuity pen lead you into temptation...

PRICE: $160 - $190
LINK: Parker Pen Ingenuity Collection

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Ormonde Jayne: Tolu

South American sex. That’s where we go as soon as we inhale Ormonde Jayne’s mesmerizing Tolu. This must’ve been the fragrance that Madonna was wearing when she seduced her Brazilian boytoy Jesus. This is what Casanova would’ve bathed in - and what the Marquis de Sade would’ve doused between his legs.

Recently, we met a most engaging fragrance professional who confessed that, à ce moment, she was intensely interested in "dirty" perfumes. The ones that smell like sex and skin and the scent of hotel sheets on the morning after. With Tolu, you can smell the cognac on the nightstand and the roses whose petals rained down on your face the night before.

Tolu opens with the brightness of juniper berry and clary sage, which is just enough flirtation to quicken your heartbeat. To the best of your recall, the seduction continued in the elevator with a light muguet and a hint of Moroccan rose - and when the resins floated in, tolu and tonka bean, alongside the amber and frankincense, you were completely captivated. Pushed onto the bed, silken ties around your wrists, resistance was futile; you were captured by Tolu.

Ormonde Jayne’s perfumer Linda Pilkington has created a sophisticated ode to autumn and winter sex that is as opulent as a penthouse suite at the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. Named for a Peruvian balsam resin, Tolu is as golden as gingko leaves in autumn and intoxicatingly spicy with base notes of frankincense and amber.

It’s those base notes that linger - in the air, on the bedsheets, in your wake. You’re seduced and satisfied.

PRICE: $125.00 / 50 ml
LINK: Ormonde Jayne Tolu

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Caffè Bomrad: Premium Italian Coffee

For some people, the fragrance of coffee is akin to an aphrodisiac. You can see it in their eyes, which widen and nearly roll back with anticipation.

If your Valentine is one of those who loves premium coffee - the best of the best, esoteric brands from around the world - one who thinks nothing of dropping a hefty sum on a pound of coffee beans, then you’d be wise to consider Caffè Bomrad.

A premium whole-bean Italian coffee, Caffè Bomrad uses only 100% Arabica beans. Favored by true coffee aficionados, Arabica beans provide a more intense aroma, acidity, and flavor than Robusta beans, which are often used in instant coffees.

Roasted and packed in Italy, Caffè Bomrad bears the imprimatur of an Italian-Argentinean family. For years, the paterfamilias roasted the finest coffee beans from Colombia and Brazil for his family and friends - and now his grandson, Marcelo Bomrad-Casanova, has launched his own company to produce what he believes is "the best coffee in the world." (With a name like Casanova, you’re going to dispute him?)

The slow roasting system, ranging from 18 to 22 minutes, liberates the fragrant oil called coffeol, which provides the resultant coffee with an ambrosial aroma. Unlike the currently popular "burnt" coffee that seems to have conquered the globe, Caffè Bomrad has a delicate, smooth body and a fragrant, fruity flavor.

Available in the US, exclusively at Amazon, Caffè Bomrad’s 2.2 pound bag is good for more than 140 espressos.

In short, if your Valentine is the kind of person who races to Sant’ Eustachio upon arrival in Roma, then Caffè Bomrad will insure that your Valentine stays where s/he belongs - right next to you in bed.

PRICE: $49.00 / 2.2 pounds
LINK: Caffè Bomrad Premium Italian Coffee

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(Valentine’s Day Gift Guide continues on next page...)


SOS Novelties: Scented Soy Candle

As everyone knows, if you want a little something something on Valentine’s Day, you’ve got to set the mood. We know one couple that leaves a telltale package on the pillow, with the acronym SMC. SMC, as in "Something More Comfortable," describes the sexy, slinky contents within. It’s their little signal that things will be getting hotter than usual.

SOS Novelties helps move things along, in the right direction, with their scented soy candles. The French-inspired bougie is a multi-functional, 3-in-1 candle that moves easily from the living room to the bedroom. After the candle is extinguished, the soy wax becomes a silky oil emollient, much like baby oil - for a full body massage. (Happy endings are at your own discretion.) Later, when things have cooled down a bit, you can use the cooled wax as a lotion to soothe dry skin. (How’s that for a multi-tasking Valentine’s Day gift?)

Eco-friendly and formulated with aloe vera and vitamin E, the soy candle is made with essential oils of apricot, coconut, jojoba, as well as shea butter. SOS Scented Soy Candles are biodegradable and non-toxic - and also free from petrochemicals, paraffin, sulfates, and lead.

The soy candles are available in three signature scents, including Lueur Mon Amour (Glow My Love), which is cucumber and melon; Mer Du Rougir (Sea of Blush), for those who dream of mermaids and mermen; and Un Baiser (A Kiss) in pear and melon.

Presented in a black velvet container, each candle burns over 60 hours - and if this doesn’t get you boinked, we’re at a loss as to what to tell you.

PRICE: $49.99
LINK: SOS Novelties Scented Soy Candle

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Baskit Wear: Action Cool Collection

Who doesn’t love red underwear on Valentine’s Day? Red long johns, for example - what could be sexier than unbuttoning them slowly. Or check out baskitwear’s latest line called Action Cool. Made of 100% cotton mesh, baskitwear Action Cool line is super soft and comfortable - and made for packing.

Packaged like a box of something nutritious and delicious to eat, the label on baskitwear Action Cool undies promise "All the style and comfort you’ve come to expect in baskit brand underwear, but now in a lighter, less filling fabric." (Of course that depends upon who’s doing the filling...)

Action Cool is available in four colors - but then isn’t red the only color that matters on Valentine’s Day? Instead, why not spring for four different styles: briefs, trunks, boxer briefs, and jocks - all in red - and watch how quickly those underwear fill up.

Use the promo code VDAY20 for 20% off at www.baskitwear.com through 14 February 2012.

PRICE: $18 - 22
LINK: Baskit Wear Action Cool Collection

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Menaji: Eraser

If you’ve got a Valentine who loves nothing so much as his reflection (and really, what gay man doesn’t?), then you know that what he wants most for Valentine’s Day is something that’s going to preserve that pretty mug of his.

All those years of loving you have probably provoked a few wrinkles in that face of his, which means he might be a likely candidate for Menaji’s Eraser. Eraser, as in "erase time." Formulated with retinol and lactic acid, Menaji Eraser hydrates and tones skin with a combination of peptides that help to stimulate collagen production. The result is that fine lines are reduced, while tired and damaged skin gets plumped and hydrated.

For year, Michele Probst, the founder of Menaji, worked with a celebrity clientele that was frequently in front of the cameras. Clients such as Enrique Inglesias, Bryan Batt, Aaron Neville - and even Barack Obama - recognized her expertise at making her male clientele look youthful and natural - without suffering from "foundation face."

In creating her own line, Probst focused on products that would enhance the natural healing properties of men’s skin. "Skincare For the Confident Man" is the company’s tagline - and with Eraser, Probst says that "you’re going to look ten years younger in a week."

Hello! Now what could be a better Valentine’s gift than looking twenty-five all over again.

PRICE: $78 / 1.5 oz / 45 ml
LINK: Menaji Eraser

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Lush: Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner

Rekindle the passion for Valentine’s Day. Share a shower with the one you love - and lather up your libido with this decadently delicious rose-scented shower lotion.

Lush product inventor Rowena realized, like many of us, that hair conditioner needn’t be restricted to the scalp - and her Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner takes conditioner to those places where you want your skin to feel soft and sultry.

Formulated with generous scoops of cupuacu butter, which comes from a tropical tree native to the Amazon rainforest and which is highly beneficial for damaged skin and hair, Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner also contains heaps of cocoa butter, as well as almond and Argan oils.

A creamy hydrating emollient, Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner nearly begs to be slathered all over him after you’ve turned off the water. Rinse off lightly and pat dry - and then let him paw you all over. He’ll be worshipping you from his knees in a matter of minutes.

And when sleep finally takes over, you’ll be dreaming on a bed of roses, with him in your arms.

Happy Valentine’s Day indeed!

PRICE: $29.95 / 7.9 oz.
LINK: Lush Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner

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Le Palais des Thés: Le Thé des Amants Pour Lui

Gays do love a good package - and especially when the contents are as delicious as the wrapping.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, one of Paris’s most illustrious tea purveyors, Le Palais des Thés, has introduced a limited edition of their renowned creation, Thé des Amants (Lovers’ Tea) - for two boys or two girls.

With more than 25 boutiques in seven countries, Le Palais des Thés has been serving its savvy clientele some of the most exceptional teas from around the world for more than 25 years. Since 1990, the company has created signature flavored teas called "Les Creations," with each "creation" inspired by a feeling, locale, or event.

The Valentine’s Day Limited Edition of Thé des Amants Pour Lui is packaged in a turquoise and blue slip-on box (and who doesn’t love a slip-on?). Each container of Thé des Amants is decorated with a blank heart to be filled in with declarations of love (and lust). And when two boxes of Thé des Amants Pour Lui are placed side by side, the two halves form one complete heart.

Thé des Amants Pour Lui is a voluptuous and fragrant blend of black tea with bits of apple, almond, cinnamon, and vanilla, infused with a hint of ginger. Full-bodied and seductive (just like your Valentine), Thé des Amants is rejuvenating to the soul - and the libido.

Created in the most romantic city in the world, Thé des Amants Pour Lui is the next best thing to celebrating Valentine’s Day in Paris. Give him Parisian tea for Valentine’s Day - and you just might find yourself celebrating "April in Paris."

PRICE: $22 / 3.5 oz / 100 g / metal canister
LINK: Le Palais des Thés Le Thé des Amants Pour Lui

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A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.

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