Friday, January 26, 2018

Ten Perfume Picks For Winter

I will remember this winter as a time of searching for comfort as well as increased awareness. Two concepts that can be seen as contradicting. I prefer to think of them as complementing each other when one gains comfort from the hope brought on by awareness, compassion, and the change they can bring. The light and warmth that pushes consistently against the darkness, propelling us one step closer towards spring while relishing in the cozy comforts we love in winter. Those were the thoughts and mood that guided my ten perfume picks for this particular winter. New ones, modern classics, cult classics- they all fit my mood.

  • Bruno Fazzolari- Feu Secret. I love to wear iris perfumes in winter and this is a great addition to the theme of fire and ice. Whifs get caught up in my layers of cashmere and scarves, on the brim of hats, and in my cozy blankets. 
  • Sonoma Scent Studio- Bee's Bliss. This is probably the last perfume creation by Laurie Erickson before she sells her brand. And it's spectacular. Bee's Bliss actually smells like summer, a very specific summer from my childhood, and it's pure comfort and sunshine on the gloomiest, slushiest day. Smile, hug someone, pull back the drapes. Breathe in.
Winter roses (not the Westeros blue ones favored by Lyanna Stark, which should be a topic for a different post. Note to self) for me are dark, blood red, black-wearing goths. I'm usually not a big rose person, but something made me crave these lately and I've been luxuriating in their velvety fragrance.
  • Etat Libre d'Orange- Eau de Protection (Rossy de Palma). It took me eight or nine years to come around this one (I used to dislike Eau de Protection), which is the lightest rose in this bunch. The spicy zingy rose with the dry incense core is sophisticated and wearable like a very NYC black winter outfit. Who knew? (everyone but me, apparently). I bought an older bottle with Rossy's nae and the dragon illustration, and it smells the same as the juice in the new streamlined packaging you can get at Twisted Lily.
  • Memo- Lalibela. A creamy incense rose that wafts to heaven and back. Sometimes it's moody, sometimes cuddly and comforting. I've loved it from the first whiff on a rainy day in Paris and it remains a favorite. Now easily available from and select department stores.
  • Regina Harris- Frankincense - Myrrh - Rose Maroc. Here's a blast from our collective past. Back when the online perfume conversation was at its infancy and tiny micro-niche brands (the term didn't even exist at the time) were emerging, the two perfume oils from Regina Harris were sort of a secret for those in the know. I've moved from an instant dislike of the thick rose note to an absolute adoration of its mysterious gothic beauty. And, yes, it's still sold at exactly the same price as thirteen years ago, $125, which used to be rather steep and is now Sephora-level.
This leads me to the depths of my (and possibly your) perfume collection. A recurring theme in the beauty/makeup community these days is appreciating and enjoying items we've acquired long ago, examining why we loved them and taking a good look at the reasons we want more new things. It doesn't apply quite the same way to perfume, but I do love going back to old favorites such as the following ones with their rich gourmand notes and attached memories.
  • People of the Labyrinth- Luctor et Emergo. It was all the rage in the year or so before I started blogging. Almond, cherry, wood, Play-Doh, and incense- a composition people either adored or disliked on the spot. It's still weird, still wonderful, and thankfully- still available (at BeautyHabit and Luckyscent).
  • St. Barth- Lea. This one is sadly no longer available but I HAD to mention this other cult obsession, especially n the context of modern gourmand. Lea was a creamy almond-vanilla concoction with a phantom note of cocoa butter. Do you still have a bottle? Do you still wear it to bed while pulling the covers tightly around you? I do.
  • Serge Lutens- Chergui. Serge (the brand) is no longer what it used to be and I haven't bought a new release since L'Orpheline. But do you remember your first Chergui bottle? Hay and tobacco, honey and iris- it was part of my serge Lutens Midwinter series and I still crave its warmth and gender-ambiguity that feels like borrowing a boyfriend's jacket and wearing it over a flowy dress. Available at Aedes, Barneys, and wherever else they stock Serge Lutens these days.
Wearing the almond-laced perfumes mentioned above (as well as Uncle Serge's Louve) made me go back to the drier and darker side of this note:
  • Cartier- Le Baiser du Dragon. Officially discontinued but still available online (at the time I'm writing this), almond and amaretto, dark chocolate and patchouli come together to create a hot toddy for the soul. This perfume feels a bit baroque at times, but it's a season we do things to cheer up. I wear glitter eyeliner when going out in the evening these days, so why not a chocolate dragon?
  • Back to present days, while the holiday season is behind us I must include the stuff of twinkling lights and spices. I'm cheating here because it's two perfumes instead of one, with an honorable mention of their spiritual ancestor. Both MDCI Les Indes Galantes and Baccarat Rouge 540 from Maison Francis Kurkdjian are perfumes I love bringing out the day after Thanksgiving. One is a spicy orange while the other a spicy amber, and both help me control the use of the long-discontinued Theorema, because there's no such thing as a lifetime supply in this case.

For the rest of our wintery mix please visit my friends at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, and Perfume Posse.

Art: Edmund Du Lac, Dreamer of Dreams, 1915


  1. Happy to see a ‘top 10’ list again! Really missed your perfume reviews, which feel like soul narratives!

  2. Thank you for this top ten
    I always love your suggestion and favorites.
    Of course you are dead on with MEMO LALIBELA ....
    I just finish my sample and it is soo lovely, I told myself that it will be my next buy this year. it is classic, flowery with this comfy musk.
    Ditto for Chergui but my favorite for Winter from Uncle Serge is Fille en Aiguilles, so wintery
    But my top 1 is really Annick Goutal Myrrhe Ardente and I like to layered it with Serge Lutens Bois Vanille

  3. Wonderful winter perfume picks. I'm really sorry I missed out on Bee's Bliss (at least, until the new SSS owner gets the cart going again). I could use something summery right now, as I look out over snow and ice everywhere.

    I'm with you on POTL and Chergui. I remember how crazed the perfume world was for POTL back then! I still have the dregs of a bottle, which I dig out occasionally and spritz on to both enjoy and wonder at. A weird, intoxicating scent. As for Chergui, I got a new bottle a year or so ago and it didn't seem the same as my previous one (but I couldn't compare, that one was empty). Of course, my sense of smell has changed (for the worse) with time, so I thought perhaps the difference was in me. Regardless, I do still enjoy it, even if I'm enjoying the shadow of a once vivid creation.

    Thanks for this list--it was fun to read and remember along with you :)


I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

Related Posts Widget