Christmas fantasy includes perfume at $475,000

Sarah Blaskovich
The Dallas Morning News

Dallas — Designing your own fragrance with a master perfumer in Paris, then having your personal scent presented in 14-karat gold bottles is not, in fact, priceless. It costs $475,000.

The trip is one of Neiman Marcus' 10 fantasy gifts. And despite the name, these items are no fantasy: All are for sale right now.

The company's Christmas Book, a tradition for 88 years now, is stocked with awe-inspiring items such as an $18,850 cranberry-colored crocodile designer hand bag and an $189 Champagne bucket. Among the 600-some items for sale in the catalog are the 10 fantasy gifts.

The fragrance journey to Paris is the most expensive item in the catalog, at nearly half a million dollars. Approximately 40 percent of the items in the book go for less than $250, however.

The Nieman Marcus Christmas catalog offers his-and-hers Quadskis — amphibious vehicles that look like four-wheelers but convert to water cruisers — priced at $50,000 each.

It's that wide range of pricing that makes the Christmas Book so alluring, even for those who may never purchase a single item. It's also helped the Dallas brand become nationally and internationally known.

"People have said, 'That's the store where I can get a $25 lipstick or buy a camel!'" says Ginger Reeder, VP of Corporate Communications for Neiman Marcus.

Indeed. Of the 10 fantasy gifts, the lowest in price is a $25,000 custom-made silk peacock designed by Preston Bailey, who has thrown parties for the Trump family and Oprah Winfrey.

On the pricier end is a $425,000 trip to the Oscars. The experience doesn't actually include a trip to the Academy Awards, but it does include two tickets to the Vanity Fair after party, which Reeder calls "the hardest party to get into." It comes with a hotel suite in Beverly Hills, free meals, a personal stylist, loaner jewelry and a $5,000 gift card to Neimans for each of two attendees to buy clothing or shoes for the big night.

It's the right gift "for someone who wants to live the celebrity life but hasn't had the opportunity to," Reeder says. It's also the right gift for someone who gives gifts for $425,000.

Another "experience" for sale in the Christmas Book is a five-day adventure to Mardi Gras in New Orleans for six couples. The $125,000 price tag comes with special restaurant reservations, a cottage in the French Quarter and a ride on a float in the Orpheus Parade, which ends with a black-tie ball called the "Orpheuscapade" put on in part by Harry Connick Jr.

Then there's the his and hers Quadskis — amphibious vehicles that look like four-wheelers but convert to water cruisers — priced at $50,000 each. (And with the his and hers label, you really should get two.)

Other highlights are a $35,000 cocktail shaker; a $300,000 custom, mini race track; and $55,000 worth of linens for beds, baths and tables in the buyer's entire home. That one's "good for a husband looking for a gift for his wife," says Leontine designer and founder Jane Scott Hodges.

Perhaps the flashiest fantasy gift in this year's collection is the Maserati Ghibli S Q4, a car that goes zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds. Maserati will make just 100 of these cars, all of which come with a special Neiman Marcus logo inside. President and CEO of Maserati North America Peter Grady says he expects all 100 to be sold in an hour or less. They go on sale at 11 a.m. on Oct. 22.

Santa Claus made an appearance at the fantasy book unveiling, as he usually does, popping onto the set of each fantasy gift item to spread some Christmas cheer. The same Santa has been ho-ho-hoing at the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book event for 27 years. And in fact, he's a bit of a celebrity himself: He's spent time with the Pope in Rome and has dressed as St. Nick at the Kardashian house, he says.

As Santa made his way around each of the 10 fantasy gifts, he spread a sense of wonder that seemed to accentuate their extravagance. People will certainly purchase those 100 Maseratis, and husbands will get their wives $55,000 linens. For the rest of us, it's free to look.