So. There are differing ways of dealing with cold temperatures in terms of fragrance. You can wear warm cozy things to combat the cold with the olfactory equivalent of a woolen blanket and a hot cup of apple cider. You could cozy up to a nice log fire. Or you can pretend you’re on vacation and wear warm tropical florals, thus confusing your mental thermometer. Alternatively, you can follow the old Ben & Jerry model and wear chilly aldehydes while eating ice cream, on the theory that equalizing one’s inner and outer temperatures will make you feel the cold less intensely. Or you could just wear vanilla and smell like toasty-warm baked goods – that ought to warm you up, right?
(Okay, so I’m not sure eating ice cream actually helps, but I do know that New Englanders at one time had the highest per capital ice cream consumption rate in the US. That’s got to have something to do with their weather, because it’s just inexplicable otherwise. Read Calvin Trillin’s nonfiction story “Competitors” here, if you’d like to be entertained by the doings of premium ice cream makers. No, seriously, it’s a good read.)
(Also parenthetically, Bookworm is currently glaring at me because I’m typing while holding a conversation with her. She thinks I’m freaky. I tell her that touch typing is a very valuable skill to own, and she’d do well to develop it herself. I mean, c’mon, I learned to type on an IBM Selectric, in a summer community college class when I was sixteen, so I’ve been doing this for some time, but still. A keyboard is still basically a keyboard.)
Well, taking these theories of cold amelioration one at a time, first we have the Wooly Blanket-Apple Cider scents. A lot of people love Serge Lutens Chergui for this sort of thing, or Hermes Ambre Narguile, but Chergui has a musty angle to it that just kills me and I don’t really like amber as a focus, so I won’t be naming them as favorites. Soivohle Centennial is a lovely wool-blanket floral thing with a fuzzy texture, and Givenchy Organza Indecence is fuzzy-blankety without the florals. Teo Cabanel Alahine is a warm, rich floral amber that rings like tenor bells. Parfums d’Empire Cuir Ottoman would be wonderful as well, and also Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant.
Or you could cozy up with Warm Woods and Incense – Chanel Bois des Îles or Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne de Bois would be lovely and warm, with their focus on sandalwood. SSS Winter Woods would be nice too. Or possibly the smoky goodness of Le Labo Patchouli 24 – which smells like a wood fire and vanilla, not like patchouli (making patchouliphobes like myself very grateful). Donna Karan Black Cashmere, either vintage or rerelease, is wonderfully comforting, and for incense I really like Comme des Garçons Incense Series: Zagorsk with its cold-air effect. DSH Twelfth Night is another lovely woody incense; this one reminds me of the smell of the cathedral in Mdina on Malta.
Next up is the Tropical Floral Paradise type of scents. Frangipani, jasmine, tuberose, tiare, ylang-ylang, all those big, bosomy, generous florals that I love so much. Bonus points if you can sneak a little bit of coconut in there. If you normally find BWFs too big for you, fear not – they cover the cleavage when the weather is this chilly, and wear closer to the body. Parfums de Nicolai Juste une Reve would be wonderful for this purpose. Frederic Malle Carnal Flower is another big white floral that smells great in cold weather. In fact, the first time I ever smelled Carnal Flower, it was a December day so clear and cold that the air crackled, and it was absolutely perfect. (I don’t, in fact, know of weather that Carnal Flower would not be perfect in. I’ve worn it in sticky August and it was, yes, absolutely perfect.) Escada Margaretha Ley is a warm, snuggly white floral (sorry for mentioning the discontinued). The original Karl Lagerfeld Chloë, which I wore all during my teens, is beautiful in winter; you can still pick up vintage parfum minis on eBay for under a ten-spot, if you are vigilant. Micallef Ylang in Gold would be another to enjoy, or perhaps Diane von Furstenberg Tatiana, with its spicy-creamy lily.
You knew that your friendly neighborhood AldeHo would have some suggestions, right? Try Sparkly Aldehydes in bitter chill – these sometimes-difficult, blindingly-bright molecules go crystalline with an undertone of powdery warmth in this kind of weather. Favorite aldehydic fragrances of mine for cold include Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, with its feathery iris and creamy benzoin under all those sequined aldehydes (spray a bit more heavily in the cold, or my experience is that it will evanesce too quickly) and Lanvin Arpege, preferably the vintage because its woody base is so very lovely, like polished mahogany. Mariella Burani is another aldehydic thing that gets cozy after its sparkles burn off. (Sorry, that one’s discontinued. I apologize for mentioning it.) Chanel No. 5 parfum (try vintage, if you can get your hands on it, but the current is still nice) is truly wonderful, or you can go all-out aldehydes with No. 22, particularly the Les Exclusifs version which contains incense and has less of the crunchy sugar-grain thing that bothers me in the earlier versions. Coty L’Aimant – vintage only, you don’t want anything from the 1990s or later – is wonderfully rich, and smells like cooked peach pie once its sparkles float off.
OR you can go Very Vanilla. Vanilla can often be Too, Too Much for me in warm weather, especially when it’s combined with sweet frooty notes as it seems to be in a number of mainstream celebuscents, but it too hugs the body in the cold. I’m honestly not much of a vanilla fan in general, but I have my favorites. I adore vintage Coty Emeraude, as regular readers probably remember. Just adore it. Guerlain Shalimar Light (ack, sorry, another discontinued! Don’t worry, though, just go snag some Emeraude parfum de toilette instead) is a wonderful lemon-vanilla thing, very lovely. Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille is a wonderful almost-gourmand that I keep dithering about getting a decant of. Hanae Mori Butterfly is a delightful, sweet, berry-vanilla a million miles from Kool-Aid ice cream; the related (and, sadly, recently discontinued) Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss is another one I really like. Finally, there is the sinfully rich Prada Candy, which is not strictly vanilla but rather caramel and benzoin, such a delight. If you have major cash, you can spring for Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille (though, honestly, I’d rather have the Prada Candy).
Edit: Shame on me for forgetting one of my favorite vanilla fragrances! Like most of my other favorite vanillas, it’s a Vanilla-And scent; that is, it’s not just vanilla. Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka is, despite its name, a giggly, rummy, spicy carnations in a vanilla-bean-forest sort of thing, and it makes me laugh. Mmmm.
How’s your winter weather? And what fragrances will you be warming up with?