Winter Favorites & a Prize Draw
This winter reminded us that, like Verna M. Kelly observed, "snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they do when they stick together". With this post, we stick together to shower you with our winter favorites. Each of us chose a fragrance family (loosely defined) to tell you about our favorite winter perfumes. The Woody category was not covered, and so we would like you to list your favorite winter woody fragrances in your comments. Those who participate, will be entered into a prize draw for a set of 12 samples of "wintery" fragrances, some of them mentioned in our lists and some surprises. The draw is now closed.
Winter Aldehyde (Marina)
If I were to assign a season to perfume ingredients, aldehydes would be filed under winter. Look at the notes of perfumes with "pure" or "white" in the name; more often than not, you would see aldehydes. And truly, what other accord is more capable of suggesting the sparkle of the ice, the whiteness of snow, the crispy feel of the frosty air, the overal dazzling coldness of an ideal winter...The story goes that Ernest Beaux, the creator of that legendary classic of the genre, Chanel N0 5, used aldehydes to replicate the fresh smell of lakes and rivers of the Arctic circle, as well as to lift the otherwise overly rich blend. That ability to provide a striking contrast to darker notes and to cut through heavier ones is what attracts me to aldehydes the most. Such luxurious, complex compositions are particularly appealing in cold weather, when they provide warmth and comfort (and glamour, for holidays!) and when the very chilliness of the air seems to illuminate every facet of the olfactory structure. And so in winter I reach for an "oriental" aldehyde, Natori, sweet Robert Piguet Baghari, cashmere-like Editions de Parfums Iris Poudre, and -the most favorite category- "incense" aldehydes like Chanel No 22, Comme des Garcons 2 and Byredo M/Mink.
Winter Chypre (Linda)
I freely confess that most chypres don’t move me; they remind me too much of my (rather glamorous) Grandma Rose, so I get too sentimental to live in my own skin when I wear them. But they DO move my partner with their vampish complexity. Our meeting point is Grossmith’s Hasu-No-Hana, which I think is the perfect chypre for winter. This rich, seamlessly pretty fragrance opens with a tender aura of bergamot, orange, and sensual flowers, progresses through a siren’s song of a floral, and lives positively forever on my skin as a sexy, woody Oriental drydown with naughty licks of patchouli and moss. It is seductively balsamic and unapologetically bombshell-y. Hasu-No-Hana is my new secret weapon, an empowering classic for a day when your tightest sweater and reddest lipstick have to save you from the slushy weather outside by inspiring your partner to take you somewhere fancy – or stay in by the fire.
Winter Citrus (Kelley)
Comptoir Sud Pacifique L'Eau du Gouverneur/L'Homme (1993). On me, L'Eau du Gouverneur opens with a huge blast of pepper and bergamot. It morphs into a wonderful citrus and allspice and nutmeg scent that lasts for several hours. Sillage is decent if you apply heavily and the best part is that it can be found for ridiculously low prices on Ebay and discount perfume sites. It is sunshine in a bottle (or should I say aluminum can?).
Winter Earthy (Beth)
When it comes to earthy notes in perfume I’m of the opinion that no one understands them better than Christopher Brosius of CB I hate Perfume. His perfumes Black March and Burning Leaves have the ability to evoke primal emotion and passionate memory in a way that can almost embarrass even me. Most recently I’ve fallen in love with his Second Cumming for the sheer sensuality of it. Rubber, Leather, Highland Mud, Whiskey, Peat Fire all laced with a bit of white truffle? Absolute pleasure and completely delicious in a very um, satisfied male sort of way. Then there’s Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Cuir et Champignon. This one is a deliciously erotic potion that leads you down into the depths of the earth where unseen magic lives and strange things flourish. I adore Cuir et Champignon...a complex blend of fleshy mushrooms, a wicked little twist of leather, a soupcon of clove, a little civet? There are many other wonderful accords woven through this incredibly sexy brew and all of them simply love a bit of heat.....
Winter Floral (Donna)
My choice for a winter floral perfume is the soft and gentle Tasneem from La Via del Profumo. Wearing this romantic fragrance is like being enveloped in scented gossamer. Its longevity is also impressive for an all-natural composition, so it holds its own even in cold weather. It is built around a unique note, the second extraction of the ylang ylang blossom, which gives it an appealing almond-like character without being at all “foody” and makes it both warm and very appealing.
Winter Fruity (Alyssa)
In perfume, a little fruit goes a long way. But what better time to indulge than in bitter February, when the charm of your regular winter rotation has worn off, but spring is still dispiritingly far away? I prefer my fruits seasonal. For winter perfume that means I want them sparkling (see citrus) or stewed and spiced. I love the luscious fig jam note in the heart of Bois de Paradis (Parfums DelRae), the apple pie opening of Ambre Narguile (Hermés), and dark plums wherever I can find them, from the plum-leather of the new Boxeuses (Serge Lutens) and the cognac soaked fruits of Frapin 1270, to the spicy stewed prunes in the heart of the sadly discontinued Asja (Fendi). I even enjoy an occasional helping of the unspecified Big Red Glam Fruits in Badgely Mischka’s original offering (though I must say I’ve only tried the parfum—$10 for 7.5 ml on *bay, people). And I have to sneak in a mention of Theorema, Fendi’s other discontinued wonder (apparently Italians know how to do fruit). Even though its beautiful orange note is officially citrus, it is far more marmalade rather than hesperides.
Winter Gourmand (Tom)
For my winter favorites I'm tackling gourmands, a category I usually shrink from. But when winter comes with its short, chilly days I start to reach for them. Ones like chewy cherry/almond of Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum or the dark cocoa and woods of Musc Maori by Parfumerie Generale. But when the wind is howling and the days are rainy and my commute to work is entirely in the dark (i.e. now) the one I find myself reaching for most is the giggle-inducing Lann-Ael by Lostmarc'h, which smells for all the world like a bowl of Frooty Pebbles eaten while reclining in the arms your partner, with whom you have just finished staving off the winter chill the old fashioned way...
Winter Green (Birgit)
After a few months of a long, snowy and grey winter, I am in desperate need of a breath of fresh air, a little respite from the cold as well as the heavy perfumes I like to wear during the season, a peek of what will come in a few months time. Andy Tauer’s Carillon pour un Ange provides me with just that – and more. Initially a burst of green is captivating and uplifting, before it develops into a perfect rendition of Lily of the Valley, petals, stem and all, planted in wet soil. Its rich ambergris base stays with me for hours and makes transitioning back into the winter still all around me a lot easier. (Carillon pour un Ange is available only from Luckyscent and Tauerperfumes.com for now. It will be in wider distribution as part of the Hommage series in May.)
Winter Incense (Marla)
We’ve all read pages on Avignon, Cardinal, and Incense Extreme, frankincense is the most glorious substance known to humanity, yada yada yada. The two perfumes I picked for the incense category, Magical Moon and Nu, epitomize the Asian style of fumes for the gods. Hanae Mori’s Magical Moon, in a stunning cobalt bottle, is a fruity floral for perfumistas; the walloping kick of kyara and sandalwood incense takes it from delicious to sublime. I’ve burned through 3 bottles of it, and have numerous backups. The osmanthus and tropical fruit background is cheerful and comforting in the dead of winter, and it’s been my HG since its debut in 2006. Yves Saint Laurent’s Nu by Jacques Cavallier is discontinued, but still available online. Bergamot, wild orchid, and sandalwood are woven into a lush, velvety wrap against the blast of ice-cold Asian incense. It’s unique, androgynous, and addictive.
Winter Leather (Tamara)
Two leather-featuring scents have utterly captivated me this winter. Accord Oud by Byredo takes first place. Its leather and oud lusciousness transports me to even chillier temps and dimly lit, sophisticated lounges, toasty fires and Italian leather club chairs; its hint of ladylike blackberry, clary sage and powdery musk grounding reminders of the present. The second, L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore - velvety leather that morphs into nutty, gourmand goodness and eventually musky vanilla – pairs perfectly with stylish boots and a colorful scarf during winter’s cooler days in the desert.
Winter Oriental (Ashleigh)
There's something about an Oriental fragrance, with its intoxicating spices and sultry lasting power, that just seems to warm me right down to my soul in the winter. Maybe it's the un-human like cold that I endure toughing out my winters in the land of ice snow or that fact that lighter fragrances just evaporate on me due to the low temps. But one thing is for sure, Geisha Noire by Aroma M is my Oriental fragrance go-to this time of year. Reminiscent of Guerlain's Shalimar, this is an eastern perfume in its truest form. The perfumer Maria studied Kodo, the ancient Japanese art of fragrance, and it shows. The dark, thick, mahogany-colored liquid of Noire lets you know immediately; this is the real deal. Opening with amber, incense and sandalwood, Noire lingers on the skin and dries down into an almost powdery and slightly flowery stunner. Incredibly sultry and alluring; I wear Geisha Noire when I want to feel sophisticated and sexy, even in my flannel p.j's. If it's the classics that you crave try Estee Lauder's Cinnabar; clove and cinnamon make this iconic fragrance warm, while top notes of peach, tangerine and orange blossom keep it fresh and feminine. Other fab Oriental scents to try: Coco, Obsession and Tom Ford White Patchouli.
Winter Oud (Marian)
Ouds from India are amongst the most difficult for Westerners to appreciate- their “barnyard” and “fecal” aspects can be a turn off to those of us who were brought up to believe “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Agar Aura’s Purana, which means “of ancient times”, exemplifies all that makes Hindi ouds so beloved by Middle Easterners- it pulses with the lusty smell of tawny leather, ripples with the supple smoothness of doeskin, trembles with the coolness of Vayu, the Wind God, and exudes a loamy wholesomeness as rich as the alluvial soil characteristic of its birthplace. For those who want to experience the dynamic complexity and thunderous sensuality of an Indian oil that is devoid of funky overtones common to the genre, allow Purana to introduce you to the aged virtues that inspire many connoissuers devotion to Hindi ouds.
Please check out other winter favorites at: Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This and Perfume Posse.
The image, Will Ryman's installation of giant roses on Park Ave in Manhattan, is from dailymail.co.uk.
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