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Monday, February 13, 2012

Best of Winter 2012

Yes, it's time again where we list our bests of winter!  Feel free to list yours in the comments.

The best scent of this winter is, no doubt, Bottega Veneta. At some point I even stopped wearing it, to not turn into a routine the contact with this wonderful scent. Canonical beauty also has reverse side – large circulation. Remember those crowds in front of Mona Lisa? But I felt for Bottega Veneta not because of it's beauty. I got tired of feeling myself a hundred years old, nagging about everything new not less than about conceptuality and too much self-expression in perfumery. Bottega Veneta doesn't make me feel myself a stranger in my own time.

I seem to be having an affair du coeur with Tom Ford. First it was his luscious woodsy Violet Blonde, but about three weeks ago I fooled around and fell hopelessly in love with Tobacco Vanille. Tobacco Vanille is described as a modern take on a man's club and I must agree but go a bit further. When I'm wearing it I immediately think of that incredible striptease scene from 9 and 1/2 weeks  when she's completely naked and wrapped in his fully clad arms.   All of that cocoa, tonka bean, dried fruit , wood sap and vanilla blends together in a way that's practically edible and layers on my skin like one of the DH's oversize cotton shirts that I love to sleep in. However, there's no sleeping when I'm wearing it and it's definitely the perfume that kept me warm at night all winter long. 

When it is cold, outside, really, really cold, I look for an olfactory blanket to go with my down coat, and the brand I come up with time and again is none other than the stylish Tom Ford's. While Tom himself might disapprove of my Trip to the Himalaya-style garb, he sure would love to get a whiff of me. Amber Absolute and Tobacco Vanille are my two most worn, go-to warming fragrances in winter.
A classic amber, big-boned, smoky and very much present, Amber Absolute is like a rock, always reliable, always pleasant, staying the distance and fulfilling its duty of being a layer of protection and warmth. Similar sentiments go for Tobacco Vanille, although this is the one I wear when I need an extra dose of sweetness. A pronounced honey note makes this duet of mellow tobacco and dark vanilla cozy and warm, and therefore ideal to keep the cold at bay.

Winter here in the Pacific Northwest has been mild, even for us, so my big Orientals like Bal à Versailles and Rochas Absolu have not been getting the attention they usually receive at this time of year. I have been wearing some summery and even tropical fragrances, especially light floral bouquets such as vintage Crown Alpine Lily on those days when it’s so soft and humid that anything balsamic or ambery would be too much, especially at work. Overall, my winter default fragrance has been the comforting yet very sexy Natori, both in the Eau de Parfum and the rich body cream, especially at bedtime It has been in heavy rotation along with Badgley Mischka pure parfum, a deliciously fruity chypre which really brightens me up and gives me a mood lift on those grey, unrelentingly rainy days. I have also been on a rose and rose chypre kick for several months now, so my L’Arte di Gucci, Parfums de Rosine Une Folie de Rose and Rose Kashmirie get regular use, and of course, always and forever, my beloved Caron Parfum Sacré in the original formula is so well suited to winter and evening that I have been finding reasons to wear it even when the occasion only calls for jeans and a sweater. There is never a wrong time or season for it!

Al Mendoos by Agar Aura
It’s not often than one can call an oud-based perfume “understated” and delicate but Al Mendoos is this exception. With notes of osmanthus, cedar and Cambodian oud, this perfume is redolent of apricots and smooth sweet woods, dusted with a sprinkling of powder that adds a soft downy-ness to this ultra-feminine perfume. Oud mellows and supports the ripe juiciness of the beloved Asian flower, cushioning its sweetness and adding resonance and luster to this tender and gentle blend.

This has been a gentle but cruel winter. The kind that makes you want to be wrapped up in a perfume not for warmth, but for comfort, protection and escape. Nuit de Noel's nostalgic, not-from-this-era feel and the velvety texture akin that of old Persian lamb fur provided just that. It made me feel as if I am not here, but on an old sepia photograph, a stranger looking inscrutably from under her pill box hat with short black veil...a stranger to my own sorrows and worries...gentle, aloof and maybe a little bit cruel. 

"Once more I sent to you a letter
Tenderly kissing its pages
And opening the bottle of your evil perfume
I'm inhaling its intoxication
And then oh so clearly I see
These thin black birds that are flying
From the bottle they fly to the South
From the bottle of Nuit de Noel"

We've had several scary cold snaps here in the Southeast this winter, and each time, I've reached, without even thinking, for Serge Lutens Chergui. The warm hay, tobacco, resin and spice scent is the ultimate warmer for my winter chills. Luca Turin claimed that hay absolute, all on its own, would make a perfect perfume. This is true, and so it seems to me that Lutens and Sheldrake have outdone perfection with Chergui. No big surprise there.

Our winter has been just plain weird.  One day in the 50's, the next in the 90's  My usual winter stalwarts are a little much in those circumstances.  Musky by smell bent is one that I'm reaching for a lot; it has just the perfect amount of sweet immortelle without going all syrupy.  It's as comforting as sipping hot, sweet tea by a fire in a cashmere sweater.  Since it's $45 bucks I think it's also the easiest indulgence I can think of.

Please check out the other participating blogs: Bois de Jasmine, Perfume Posse, Grain de Musc and Now Smell This.



Blogger Tara said...

OK I am just dying to try Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille now!

I was saving my bottle of Bottega Veneta for spring but maybe I should stop waiting...

1:51 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's worth to try Bottega Veneta during different seasons. It seems the fragrance will show it's warm or fresh guise depending on the weather. I hope you'll not be disappointed!

3:03 PM EST  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Marina, now you've got me so intrigued by Alexander Vertinsky. He seems like such a fascinating, novelesque character!

5:30 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Marina is no doubt one of the my favourite Perfumes.It helps to get warm and smell great in this hard winter , one must need to feel warm and gentle fragrance to feel comfortable.

8:54 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tobacco Vanille has been on my list to try for so long now, but I'm scared that I'll fall in love with it given the price! I loved your description of it.

10:48 PM EST  

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