Monday, January 27, 2014

Frederic Malle- L'Eau d'Hiver

I always had a healthy appreciation for L'Eau d'Hiver, a 2003 Jean-Claude Ellena creation for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums. Admiration, yes. Love came much later, when something in the incredibly soft and quiet composition finally clicked with me and I could smell beyond the almondy  heliotrope over the softest milkiest musk.

There's no doubt that L'Eau d'Hiver is a very white perfume. It tells  its story in a barely audible whisper, reminiscent of that eerie silence that envelops the world in the middle of a snow storm. The crunchy powdery snow is reflected in the dainty puff of heliotrope and iris, all white, of course. And the whiteness continues in the form of a sweet white musk that borders on the gourmand as its milky nature is enriched with a drop of honey, like a  nighttime hot beverage one craves on a dark winter night.

The subdued floral notes in this Editions de Parfums creation are the reason I've always found it hard to wear L'Eau d'Hiver. Just like with Apres L'Ondee that inspired Jean-Claude Ellena in his work for Frederic Malle, I don't have the skin chemistry that allows dainty perfumes to bloom. But years of sampling, paying attention, and sometimes spraying L'Eau d'Hiver like it's my job finally brought me to the place where I can enjoy the soft and cozy white coat that traps the beautiful skin scent around me on a cold day, with its very delicate sweetness and nuanced wood-iris-almond core. L'Eau d'Hiver is not just pretty, it's also incredibly sophisticated as a personal scent if you only let it do its thing.

L'Eau d'Hiver has a close cousin also composed by Jean-Claude Ellena: Blanc from Paul & Joe. It's no surprise that once I've conquered the Frederic Malle perfume I went back to Paul & Joe and discovered that I enjoy it very much. You can read about the similarities and differences between the two on Bois de Jasmin.

Notes: white heliotrope, bergamot, angelica, iris, hawthorn, jasmine, carnation, caramel, musk, and honey.

Frederic Malle- L'Eau d'Hiver ($100 for the 3x10ml travel refills) is available from Aedes, Barneys, and Frederic Malle boutiques.

Photo: Tatler Russia, December 2011


  1. L'Eau d'Hiver took a while to grow on me, too. Now I love it dearly. Thanks for the lovely review.

  2. This was one I loved from the first, though I know that's not the case for everyone. I must have the right skin chemistry for it because I find L'Eau d'Hiver shifts and evolves like a fairytale on my skin. I get a strong refreshing green scent (I picture a dark-green stalk growing out of an ice-covered stream) paralleling a clear caramel note, and the dance between those two is ongoing and lovely. I adore that it's simultaneously cold and warm; it works in all weather for me. I don't wear it that often for some reason but when I do I invariably feel good. Thanks for reviewing this special scent.

  3. I absolutely love L'Eau d'Hiver. I am not fond at all of soft perfumes but its whiteness and delicacy won me over at first sniff. It does create that silent, contemplative, yet happy atmosphere of a snowy day and I feel like I am born again. Now I need to try Blanc by Paul&Joe :)

  4. "spraying L'Eau d'Hiver like it's my job" - love that! :-) I've had the same approach to a number of perfumes over the years. I've been trying to find the magic in some perfumes for over 20 years. Have had radical changes of heart enough times to know it's worth it to go on trying, but God knows I've spent a small fortune purchasing and repurchasing samples and decants of every formulation and vintage of some classic scents.
    I can't remember how long it took me to fall for L'Eau d'Hiver, but it was at least a few years. It's one of my favorite comfort scents now. I didn't realize Jean-Claude Ellena also created Blanc. I know I have a sample of it somewhere, but have never got a bottle. Must go find that sample.


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