Monday, December 17, 2012

Cool, Silken Fragrances: Like Snowcapped Trees in the Ringing Winter Air

In my mind there is a two-pronged approach to choosing personal fragrances for winter wearing: One is to go for traditional oriental elements, warm resins and balsams, rich florals and amber fragrance blends; creating contrast and invoking via perfume-magic warmer lands where the night is always warm and bodies radiate the heat of blood rushing to the skin's surface. Another, more unusual but perhaps more cherished because of it, is akin to homeopathy: inject a bit of cool silkiness to the routine, letting the outside cold enhance the silvery, metallic qualities of the perfume. Therefore throw in a mix of irises, artemisia, angelica and gentian essences, cool celebral notes, sour frankincense smoke that trails behind like the ashes off an extinguished censer...

photo by Johan Klovsjö

This is a capsule fragrance wardrobe for when the cooling touch of silk, with its shiny reflections reminiscent of drop of water on the icy pond, seems more sophisticated to you than the coziness of snuggly cashmere and wools.

GUERLAIN Aqua Allegoria Gentiana: The cool snowscapes of the Alps hide this plant, le gentiane. Its fresh and bracing properties are displayed in a simple composition that feels like icicles hanging from a thatched roof.

EDITIONS DE PARFUMS F.MALLE Angéliques sous la Pluie: Rained upon angelicas, a celestial gin and tonic on the rocks, refreshingly bitter with a cool edge of seeing snowcapped stone fences just across the road. 

RAMON MONEGAL Impossible Iris: Impossible Iris is like those beautiful raven-haired girls with big, sincere eyes that seem to engulf you and creamy, gorgeous skin that shines with the sheen of mother-of-pearl. Delicate, shy beginning with a cool touch, then comes wooly mimosa with its hint of warmth to smile into the proceedings, while the quiet, bookish woody tonality of the aftermath has a pencil shavings nuance.

TAUER Pentachord White: silvery, expansive imagescape. A fragrance of either the crack of dawn or the crepuscular drawing of a prolonged cool afternoon, the contrast between light and shadow. Orris, violet, vanilla, ambergris notes...

DIOR Homme: A fruity iris for men, a pretty boy with eyelashes a mile long to inflict "butterfly kisses" with. Supremely beautiful and sophisticated with a suprising note of....lipstick!

YSL Rive Gauche: Mysteriously "blue" floral, yet non- romantic English bone-china-pattern-style—it’s flinty! Absolutely classy, sparkling with aldehydes, like the spy who came in from the cold. 

ARMANI Bois d'Encens: A smoky incense that wafts from the forests on the cool wintery air, gloomy cedars silently silhouetted in the distance. The howl of wolves is heard from across the mountains.

GUERLAIN Après l'ondée: What is it that makes this so nostalgic, trembling with delight after the shower, which its name hints at? Is it its heliotrope soft powderiness married to melancholic iris and violet, like a smooth-faced Ophelia contemplating the joys of the river? No, it's probably what is more earthy: anise (and other herbs) give a glimpse of the sun forming a rainbow over still dewy petals. A 1906 classic.

Do you wear cool fragrances in wintertime? I'd love to hear your favorites. 


  1. Stephan16:06

    I've always thought that heavy oriental fragrances fit much better the hot and humid tropical weather. And similarly, you recommend cooling, steely fragrances for wintertime.
    And by the way, I've never ever heard or read about a pretty boy's eyelashes doing "butterfly kisses". But long ago, my mother actually taught me, how to use the eyelashes for exactly that purpose. Thanks for making me remember my loving mum.

  2. S,

    what a mother! Chapeau! :-)

  3. Some days during the darkest and coldest wintermonths I'm longing for cool fragrances,particulary irisfragrances as Chanel No 28 La Pausa and No 19 Edt, Edp and No 19 Poudre.Also citrus/citrusmossy fragrances as AG Eau d'Hadrien, Chanel Cristalle Edt and Eau de Rochas i prefer wearing during the winter as they lasts much longer and the dry down is much slower which give me the chance to actually smell them.PdN Cedrat Intense is good for a winterday even if that one lasts also in the summer with its distinct woody base.

  4. sanna20:31

    I love winter (actually, I wish it lasted all year long), and I love wearing perfumes which rhyme with the scent of snow and frost. So no to angora sweater and yes to:
    iris - Iris Silver Mist is just perfect! Winter in a bottle (btw, smells awful in the heat), Mythique DelRae, Iris de Nuit Heeley (actually, a violet)
    snowy aldehydes - Chanel 22
    cold flower ashes - Nu YSL.
    On my wish list - Eau d'Hiver (how originally).
    But it's never too cold and too dark for a floriental or a floral chypre, winter faves are: l'HB, Loulou, Divine Divine.

  5. I'm wearing Douce Amere today. I wouldn't classify it as cool, yet it has that biting flash of absinthe and anise that cuts through the sweeter notes and sends a little shiver through me. I can't imagine wearing it in warm weather, but the contrasts between the sweet, gourmand-like notes and the bitter-cool astringent notes are great for the winter.

  6. Anonymous01:15

    Cool on the cheap Yardley Iris discontinued I think

  7. Parfumista,

    perfect point about the lasting power and the slower arc of evaporation! You're absolutely right. Much as the citruses and tart frags are enjoyable in summer they evaporate much too quickly.

    I should make it a point to try the Cedrat by Nicolai. I only had experience with the Guerlain (which is fleeting for my taste).

  8. Sanna,

    I love winter too and your suggestions are very welcome! (Need to get Nu from the back of the closet too, why have I not done so yet??)

    As to L'Heure Bleue and Loulou, they "read" wonderfully in the wintertime.

  9. Melissa,

    hello there darling!

    Douce Amere, such a beauty! I had included it in my warm "hug me" cashmere sweater perfumes list the other day, but I can totally see your point regarding cooling contrast with the anise/absinth. It's perfect for winter indeed, no matter the mood!

    Hope you're well :-)

  10. Anon,

    that's one I love too (included in best inexpensive buys).

    They discontinued it? :-& Morons.

  11. Miss Heliotrope01:02

    I prefer cool in winter, and would rather have winter than our current summer.

    But as it is summer, I should like to thank the collected minds of whoever first suggested the Dr Bronner's peppermint soap - it's great.

  12. Anonymous01:20

    Yardley Iris- they have streamlined their range and "Image" not listed on their website anymore and getting harder to find their Rose is very nice too and the Citrus and Wood Mens is a lovely fragrance better than TDH though quite similar.
    guess they need a GaGa or two to help sell them which is a shame !

  13. C,

    is this summer very bad? Drought-like?

    Yes I thank my reader profusely mentally as well! It was a god-sent in late August!!

  14. Anon,

    from a brand as old-fashioned as Yardley I don't expect a Gaga "hip" frag, I want something old-fashioned. I bet lots of others too. It just doesn't compute...

    Thanks for your comments!

  15. Cool and Crisp, Shiny and Bright. But having just been on a search for Orris root to roll clove studded oranges in, and learning they are made with white iris root and impossible to get for my little task as fixative, I pulled out the Joy, for an outing, but at Christmas I wear the original Salvidore Dali, and I don't know what that is but the Christmas tree and many other things

  16. Miss Heliotrope01:18

    Summer is swinging up & down, but that means everything grows when it rains then dries out fast. We're on the edge of where the last bad fires where, and the fire trucks go racing out every second day...

  17. Nadine,

    sorry about that...

    I admit my memory draws a blank on most Dalis. I should probably seek to re-sniff the original if it's your Xmas choice, though!

  18. C,

    I sympathize, being in a country stricken with the same problem in high summer. Bush fires are the worst and then having property on the edge of them doubly perilous.
    I wish you the best of luck!!


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