The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Holiday Perfume Gift Guide

I really liked occasionally-feminist-website Jezebel’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl holiday gift guide, and I wanted to do a perfume-themed guide of my own. Here’s the traditional definition of a MPDG, courtesy of TV Tropes: “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is there to give new meaning to the male hero’s life. She’s stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime), often with a touch of wild hair dye.”

Classic MPDGs include Natalie Portman in Garden State, Zooey Deschanel in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (you totally thought I was going to say 500 Days of Summer), and Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown, the role for which the term was coined. Two movies that beautifully deconstruct the MPDG trope are The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Ruby Sparks.

MPDGs are generally frowned upon by feminists because of that whole “new meaning to the male hero’s life” part. If we go by this definition, being a MPDG would indeed seem unrealistic and undesirable. Who wants to be a man’s plot device? But I maintain that there are 3D MPDGs (and MPDGuys); strange, exciting people who enhance all of our lives, not just the shiftless male protagonists among us. My best friend, a beautiful, brilliant artist with wild, red-streaked hair and a collection of colorful tights shoplifted from American Apparel, happens to be one. Her cheerful boldness has been making me braver since the day we met 12 years ago.

She doesn’t need this gift guide (I just got her a bottle of Lolita Lempicka, the most charming fragrance I know), but what about the rest of the MPDGs? You can’t just get a MPDG the new Demi Lovato perfume and call it a day. (Please note that as of press time, Demi Lovato does not actually have a perfume yet, but I assume that she will by the time I press “publish”.) I am pleased to present a list of the most unusual, unexpected perfume presents for the MPDG(s) in your life to gleefully unwrap.

TokyoMilk Garden State Mix n’ Match Parfum Set

A little too on-the-nose? Probably. Still hilarious? Absolutely. Contains 6 ml each of three different scents: Patchouli & Tundra Moss, White Sage & Lemongrass, and Turned Earth & Cedar. $18 at TokyoMilk.

ZOMG Smells Marmalade Tabby

Orange cats are a MPDG tradition dating back to Holly Golightley’s long-suffering Cat. (HOLLY WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU CAN’T JUST THROW CATS OUT OF TAXIS) Marmalade Tabby appropriately smells of orange things: “sweet orange, peach, [and] fuzzy musk.” $15 at ZOMG Smells.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Wanderlust Scents

BPAL’s alarmingly extensive Wanderlust collection will have the perfect scent to accompany your favorite MPDG on her epic journey of self-discovery, whether the wind leads her to Prague, Morocco, or Machu Picchu. $17.50 at BPALPhoto courtesy of Temptalia.

Etat Libre d’Orange Tilda Swinton Like This

Everybody loves Tilda Swinton, but MPDGs really love Tilda Swinton. With its overdose of pumpkin and immortelle, SWINTON’s namesake fragrance is as unusual as her movies and love life. $99 at Luckyscent.

Byredo Gypsy Water

Free-spirited, commitment-phobic MPDGs feel a great deal of kinship with (a highly romanticized version of) the gypsy. I like to pretend that Byredo named this perfume for Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman. $145 at Byredo.

Histoires de Parfums 1828 Jules Vernes

Jezebel’s MPDG gift guide recommends “a beautiful antique book would make any MPDG chirp with delight”. Why not get them a literary perfume to go with it? Vernes’ fantastical novels dovetail so nicely with the MPDG’s cravings for adventure and whimsy. While you’re at it, get her the Kate Beaton Jules Verne/Edgar Allen Poe Bros shirt, too. $125 at Histoires de Parfums.

Guerlain Après l’Ondée

The MPDG is at her MPDG-iest when dancing in the rain, rekindling your sense of joy and wonder at the world. There could be no more appropriate perfume to round out this list than the graceful Après l’Ondée (French for “after the rain”). $108 at Bergdorf Goodman (in-store only).

Lubin Gin Fizz

Do MPDGs like gin? I don’t know. I like gin, and that’s what’s important. This is a really long post, y’all. Oh, wait, I remember the connection now- MPDGs love vintage dresses, so why not vintage perfumes? This Gin Fizz is a reproduction of the original Gin Fizz, created in 1955 to honor Grace Kelly. $120 at Luckyscent.

What other MPDG-worthy perfumes would you add to this list? Please share them with us in the comments!

18 thoughts on “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Holiday Perfume Gift Guide

    1. Thank you, Poodle! I don’t know exactly what the age limit for MPDGs is (26, maybe?), but I agree that it gets a lot less cute after one’s mid-twenties or so.

  1. I’m way too staid (and old…oh, and chubby) to be a MPDG, but I luuuurve my Après l’Ondée, just did a swap for some Like This, and Gin Fizz recently pinged my radar. Instead, I shall use the excuse that my daughter’s a MPDG in training: she’s a bit manic, cute as all get-out, and obsessed with pretending to be various animals, but then she’s 7, so that may be par for the course.

    Fun list, Ari!

    1. The true MPDG knows no size!! My beloved MPDG is no waif (and not white, either). It’s all about the spirit within (and this is where your and my staidness disqualifies us 😉 ) May I ask if your MPDG-in-training has any interest in perfume yet?

      1. Yes, she does. I picked her up a small bottle of Avon’s Sweet Honesty a couple of years ago after my own stash started to grow and she wears it occasionally; except now I should get her something different, as my nose has developed and I don’t care for her perfume anymore. Hmmm, maybe Daisy?

    1. Same here Susan. And I have a certain dislike for Zooey Deschanel. But love your list too Ari! I would add Jo Malone scents to the list too. They always seem very whimsical to me.

      1. Oh, Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise could be soooo MPDG. Good call, Natasha! I am kind of a Zooey apologist- I enjoy New Girl very much, and I am impressed with how frequently she pushes feminism in her interviews. But I agree that she has not shown too much range in her movies yet.

  2. What a great post, Ari! I’d never heard of MPDGs before but I totally get it. Thanks! Will spend the rest of the day trying to think of more… Perhaps like you, I’m far away from being one myself but I think they remind us not to take life too seriously and that’s no bad thing. I’m glad you have one in your life.

    Lovely list of perfumes to match. Maybe I’d add L by Lolita Lempicka – they’d love that bottle anyway!

  3. I’m the total opposite of a MPDG, but I like to smell like one. I think Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique, Atelier’s Orange Sanguine, or Tocade might work.

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