Doug Moss

Though he’s new to St. Louis (transplanted from Texas last August), Saks Fifth Avenue general manager Doug Moss has been with the company for more than a decade and has been in retail for nearly two. LN talked to him about holiday gift-giving trends in cosmetics and fragrances—two areas that have become even more important in this economy, he points out, when people are looking for gifts that are luxurious but not flashy.

What are the most popular beauty gifts this year?

There’s the home collection portion of the business, which includes candles and reed air fresheners, and then there’s the personal side of it, whether it’s body creams or fragrances. As for cosmetics, it’s tough to anticipate someone’s foundation or other colors unless they give you a list.

What are the top gifts at Saks this year?

It’s always Laura Mercier—they have something called ‘Crème Brûlée,’ which has this wonderful smell; it smells like dessert on your skin. Also the Bond No. 9 fragrances, which are exclusive to Saks. They have a collection of scents that are unisex and named after New York neighborhoods. You can also mix and layer those scents. And then Chanel has this incredible collection of nail polish with names like ‘Vendetta.’ I just bought my wife that collection.

What are favorite fragrances this year?

Chanel No. 5 is a terrific standby, and Josie Natori just launched a beautiful fragrance called Natori that does really well. Also, Bond No. 9.

What have been memorable fragrances in years past?

Viktor & Rolf, when they did the Flowerbomb, it was just a dynamic, enormous success…Viktor & Rolf are very obscure designers, but they managed to have a bestselling scent. Thierry Mugler’s Angel and the Estée Lauder collection have always been popular. Dior has Miss Dior Chérie and Poison. There are such great names out there in the perfume world!

What are favorite non-fragrance gifts this year?

Candles have become a luxurious gift, especially when they have essential oils in them. If you’re trying to guess whether something works for someone’s skin or not, candles are a better choice. Then there are cosmetic mirrors, and great men’s skin care products from Jack Black—his ‘Lab’ series.

What have been historically popular non-fragrance gifts?

La Mer has always been great. Do you know the story? The founder was a chemist, and he had chemical burns, and he created this to cure his chemical burns and it actually worked! The pressed perfume from Estée Lauder is also very popular.

What are some extra-special gift items this year?

The Estée Lauder compacts. They become collectibles, and I think that people enjoy collecting things, whether it’s a piece of fine crystal or makeup products. People also collect pure perfume. Most fragrances are eau de parfum, or eau de toilette, which is perfume that’s been diluted. Pure perfume is the pure essence, essential oils in a very pure form. And the difference is, it lasts on your skin an incredibly long time. It’s rare, because it takes such a large concentrate to get.

Who is buying gifts for whom?

Men are definitely buying fragrances for women. That’s pretty cross-generational, whether it’s for your mom, your significant other, or for children. I also think it’s a great gift for children to buy for parents. In some cases, women are buying their men fragrance, because they like them to smell a certain way.

What’s the top gift for men?

Scent has to be No. 1. And then there’s a real return to the old barbershop concept—GQ did an article about the barbershops in London. Men are very interested in their faces now; there’s eye creams, scrubs, and all sorts of products that help with your skin.…Men want to look good and they want to look young. Women have been working on that for years, and men are finally catching up!