Top 10 Scents of Winter

Yes, ladies and gentlemen — it’s that time of the year again, when we all put forth our Top Ten Fragrances of Winter.  These are scents that may be new, or just new to us — or perhaps rediscoveries or simply old favorites that we rely on to get us through the gloomies until Spring.

Lee: We’ve had more snow this year than I can recall since childhood. A full two inches laid on the ground for a week. Hell indeed, or its inverse (waves at Canadians, Scandinavians and midWesterners with irritating insouciance). Anyways, what’s ringing my bells and pulling my buttons? Well, the first is no surprise – Parfumerie Generale’s Cozé. Pure wonder. But I reckon this will be a year-round mainstay for me. (By the way, winners of the samples from two weeks back are Geordan1244, carlene and chasa. Get in touch, peoples!).

And sticking with the patchouli and chocolate oddness, I’m going to choose dear old Serge’s Borneo 1834. Reeling from Perfume Shrine’s discontinuation revelation, and still soccer-punched by my sample of l‘Eau Serge Lutens (bright light, squinting eyes, iris squeal, high pitched melody – “Der Hà¶lle Rache” from the Magic Flute is how high it goes –  facets of bleach and scrubbed sanatoria, with Dior Homme in the far drydown) Borneo 1834 is the perfect elegant off-centre number for when I want to project more … something… than the delectable Cozé will allow. No nasty vomit comments (vomments?) now please.

March:  It’s been a funny winter (aren’t they all?) because it’s either 67 degrees, or it’s cold and there’s 20 inches of snow on the ground.  Oddly, I have not yet shifted to my gourmand cozy-sweater comfort scents.  Instead I’ve been reveling in these two:

The first is Lancome Climat, re-released in La Collection, I blogged on it already.  Part of the ongoing fascination is that I’ve fallen in love with a fragrance I wouldn’t consider “me” at all.  It’s too big, too angular, too green-and-white.  Too dressy.  Too … too.  Not that I’m opposed to ballsy elegance (hello, Mitsouko!) but I never thought I’d find myself swooning over an aldehydic white floral with plenty of the dreaded lily of the valley.  I like wearing it casually — in the daytime, with my jeans and a sweater.  Perfume is always full of wonderful surprises, isn’t it?

The second is Serge Lutens Santal Blanc.  When I mentioned it in my sandalwood post, several sandalwood fans said they hated this scent.  My new interest in sandalwood (my timing couldn’t be worse, could it?) allowed me to have a perfume experience I’m not sure I’ve had before: to view an already-appreciated scent through a completely different lens.  I think SB was my second Serge bottle, and it’s always been that weird pencil-y thing.  But right this second it’s the perfect sandalwood for me, radiant, with no giant rose to spoil it for me.  Also, sandalwood and fig together are delicious.  Having acquired several figs during my fig jag, and then promptly burning myself out, I’m getting a chance to wear those figs again.  (My personal fave: Philosykos layered with SB.)

Musette:  A lifetime ago, my (then) husband had the noive to sniff my best friend and say “you smell intoxicating.”  It was in Winter.  She  was wearing Prescriptives Calyx.  I was furious.  But intrigued.  Went and sniffed.  He wuz right.  Busted!….but right.  I think the good ship LucaTania gave it 5 stars, with good reason.  It goes on smooth and sunny and blooms in the cold, without trying too hard.  It’s not quite ‘summer’, just a nice fresh, juicy (without being ‘fruity’) rosy-green.

Speaking of rose…normally I am not a huge rose fan in perfume (love ’em on bushes, though)…but something about winter brings out the Rose Love in me.    My favorite for this time of year is The Different Company’s Rose Poivree, with that hit of peppery zing! slicing through the redness.  First runner up is Rosine’s Big’un –  La Rose de Rosine.  Nothing but, uh, Rose….it’s great for snuggling under the blankets on a cold winter night.

Nava: So far, my first full Canadian winter has been less than impressive, but I should be careful what I wish for, correct? It hasn’t been anywhere near as brutal as what my mother’s childhood recollections had me fearing, but at least it was snow, ya know? Nowadays, it’s those pesky “ice pellets” (aka, sleet) I need to worry about; that and falling on my ass in the driveway while I scrape the protective coating off my car. But hey, at least I’ll smell good wearing Serge’s Five O’ Clock Au Gingembre and Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille. I know I’ve been singing the praises of wood, incense and the like for a while, but when it comes down to chasing away the doldrums of winter, these two get it done. This is where I’ve landed on the journey from foody and gourmand, to, dare I say it…grown up.

Patty:  I’m a simple girl, and I feel like I’m flogging these two scents to within and inch of their life, but they are quintessentially winter, By Kilian Pure Oud and Amouage Tribute Attar.  Dark, rich, warm, pungent, a little bitter, but, like life, worn long enough, warmed up by the heat of your life, the become almost an extension of you, even while retaining an other-ness.

For more Top Ten lists, please visit Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, and Perfume-Smellin’ Things.

  • nozknoz says:

    I’ve been reveling in vintage Lanvins for leather, Coze for patch, and ALWAYS L’Air du Desert Marocain and Etro Messe de Minuit for incense. And the other day, vintage Joy really hit the spot – it is really wonderfu for winter. Also agree with those who mentioned Niki. Many thanks to the authors and commenters all for lists and ideas!

  • Kim says:

    Much to my surprise, Chanel No. 19 has been one of my winter loves this year. I had only ever tried it in the summer and didn’t like it one bit, but in the winter I love it!! Won’t displace No 5 as my all time favourite but it is coming close! Have also been enjoying PG Corps et Ames this winter. Not quite sure what I am craving with those 2…..?
    Also in heavy rotation have been Guerlain Angelique Noire, YSL Cinema, and Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. All quasi-cozy with an edge or a twist that make them unique and cuts down the cozy to a whisper.
    Thanks for a great post – I do love reading the ‘best of’ posts, including the comments.

  • Joe says:

    Great winter picks! I know and love several of your picks, especially Santal Blanc, Borneo, and Rose Poivree. I’m gonna have to pick a different Amouage — Epic Woman — because I’ll probably never sniff that spendy Tribute. March, I can appreciate Climat, but Sikkim is the Lancome that makes me swoon in a huge way … love it, but more in warmer seasons.

    A few of my faves this winter have been Mona di Orio Jabu, HdP Tubereuse 3 L’Animale, ELdO Vierges et Toreros, and Wazamba. Oh, and I enjoyed my holiday visit to the frigid Northeast, but California winter is plenty chilly for me.

  • mariekel says:

    I am veering between frosty aldehydic chypres that make me think of expensively coiffed women stepping in and out of heated limos along 5th Avenue — Morabito Or Noir, vintage Diors and their ilk and cozy snugglebunnies like Chergui and DSH Cafe Noir.

    Every few days however, I seem to need something bracingly green, along the order of Bandit and vintage Vent Vert. Must be all this damned snow — i need a dose of Spring! Sounds like I should also take up a bit of Calyx.

    Today, for some reason, I was in the mood for that chilly marble wonder, La Myrrhe. I will no doubt have unsettling dreams tonight.

  • ScentRed says:

    Musette, thanks for the Calyx suggestion. I loved it years ago and we were reunited last summer. I’ll be sure to dust it off and try it in the cold weather, too.

  • carter says:

    Iris Silver Mist, vintage Bandit, and Tubereuse Criminy :d

  • Geordan1244 says:

    Oh, and I forgot about Black Tourmaline… been wearing that a bit, too. Not so much a warm wrap there…just love the smoky notes that hit me unexpectantly throughout the day.

  • Geordan1244 says:

    In December, I was layering fumerie turque with b2b (b2b in itself is too sweet for me); however, this month I’ve been bouncing between Cimabue and L’air du Desert Moracain by Tauer (both discovered this past year; have receive overwhelming response to the latter). I hate the cold and love wearing something that feels warm and cozy like a cashmere wrap.

    Speaking of Coze (obligatory pun), I’m really excited to try my sample. 🙂

    Safe weekend to all.

  • Tiara says:

    We’re in Florida where it hit 69F today – not the kind of weather that has me dreaming of winter scents! I am, however working my way through some samples from the Maison Francis Kurkdjian line. The APOM Pour Homme was the SOTD and I like it better than the femme I tried yesterday. Have fallen quite hard for Micallef Note Vanillee. Yum.

  • anatole says:

    March, I’m with you for Santal Blanc, almost indecent on the fenugreek side. Winter for me has been a leather chase and then came.. Cuir Mauresque, the somptuous. And of course, in case of depressurization: Patchouli 24 or L’air du désert Marocain. Oh and the coming next: Tonka Imperial, the well named.

  • Aparatchick says:

    “good ship LucaTania” :d Thank you, Musette. I needed a good giggle this morning.

  • Disteza says:

    Am with you all on the 5 o’clock and SDV, have also swooned over Pure Oud and Epic Woman, and have been dousing myself in COze and Borneo much moer frequently on the below-freezing days. But, Rose Poivree, really? REALLY? I only ask because the sample of it I got waay back when it came out is noticeably, um, fecal, on me. I de-skank mostly everything, but Rose Poivree smells like unwiped man-a$$ on me. I’ve horrified so many people with that one; perhaps later versions have gone lighter on the civet?

    • March says:

      Rumor has it they’ve de-skanked the current version (I’ve not tried it.) But yes, back in the day, Poivree was something of an insider perfumista joke. Of course it was one of the few roses I could stand, just for that bit. 🙂

    • Nava says:

      I blew through a 50 ml bottle of Coze and never replaced it. Now Lee has me jonesing it in a big way! 😡

      I was never a fan of Rose Poivree because there are just not that many rose scents I can stand (Eau d’Italie’s Paestum Rose is an exception). It never smelled particularly skanky to my nose, but it was too in-your-face for me from a rose perspective. But, oddly, Jasmin de Nuit changed my perspective on jasmine scents completely. I always found them way too fecal until I smelled this one.

  • Jemimagold says:

    I have really come to enjoy YSL Rive Gauche this winter. It is cozy and elegant, yet devoid of spice/vanilla/other gourmand notes which I really don’t care for. I’ve also been wearing Chanel 18 a lot which like warm sunshine on my skin.

  • Musette says:

    Y’all are TOO funny!

    Where sre my hardy Midwesterners, my stalwart Mountaineers? It’s 9F here this morning, with a 30mph wind. Not realizing that, I put on Diorling. One of the most gorgeous scents known to humankind, it nevertheless takes on a screechy lemon note in the extreme cold. But it’s Diorling, dammit! I cannae wash it off. So I’ll just have to stay indoors. Pity me.;)

    xoxo >-)

    • Nava says:

      I almost broke out KenzoAmour Florale after March’s revisit earlier this week. And I contemplated some Dior Escale A Portofino for a split second the other day. It was relatively warm here for a bit, but I just couldn’t do it. I am horrendously fickle when it comes to fragrance, but serially seasonal at the same time.

      • Aubrey says:

        Nava, I’m beginning to think you may be my scent twin. I took an unexpected trip to NC, where I am now cold and expecting 8 to 14 inches of snow, sleet etc tonight— and I am wearing Escale a Portofino. I really like it in the cold, which *sounds* weird, but it feels so right…

      • March says:

        Funny, I was just thinking Portofino might be the ticket in our cold weather.

        • Nava says:

          It’s funny how we’re all on the same page with these traditionally warm weather scents. Neroli is such an uplifting scent; it says “spring” better than anything. IMHO, of course. I was also thinking about showing some love to my bottle of Tom Ford Neroli Portofino as well, since he was my topic last week. And I’m hoping to actually visit Portofino one of these years… 🙂

        • ScentRed says:

          OK, I can’t take it anymore. After reading these recommendations and revisting March’s review from last May I am resolved to seek out some Escale a Portofino. It sounds like nothing I’m currently wearing, but an intriguing and refreshing change of pace.

          • March says:

            I went back to look — what I like about it is the almond/caraway bit in contrast with the neroli. It’s unusual. Everybody’s got a neroli, and they can be too sweet, or citrusy, or just plain not all that interesting. Portofino’s a thing that reminds me of nothing else I own. And okay I cling to scents, but this lasts beautifully, not like an EdC.

          • ScentRed says:

            Can’t wait to try it! Caraway isn’t my favorite taste, but I’m intrigued enough to order a sample. A week ago I would have been tempted to plunge in head-first with an eBay bottle, but my unsniffed bottle of Cashmere Mist arrived yesterday and despite my proclaimed love of the cream, was a true-blue scrubber. I waited it out hoping the musk would back off a bit and let the other notes emerge, but after 4 hours I couldn’t stand it any more. I even have to wash my bathrobe that carries a faint whiff. Go figure. Seemed like a sure thing, but I’ve learned my lesson.

  • Wendy says:

    Hi March. You are not the only one in love with Climat! I always dismissed it as cheap juice (despite it being Lancôme, which ain’t cheap!), but then i smelled it properly in the re-issue Collection set and i knew i had to get me a whole bottle.. Yummmy!:x (it contains oakmoss, if i am not mistaken, so it may soon get reformulated).. Have you ever tried Ma Griffe, and if so, would you understand me if i said it reminds me of Climat? (I have an older bottle of Ma Griff, apr. 20+ years old.. not sure if it ever got remixed). Cheers, Wendy

    • March says:

      I’ve only tried the new, wretched, dimestore Ma Griffe. Having smelled enough vintage bottles of dimestore dreck (looking at you, Emeraude!) I knew not to trust it. My Climat is easier for me, but it’s not a fair comparison. Certainly there are similarities between the two in terms of green meanness. 😉

      • Musette says:

        Green AND Mean? I’m IN! I used to wear the vintage Scar back in my youth. The stuff they are pushing as Scar is a lie! A LIE, I say![-(

        Okay, that’s it. Climat it is.

        xoxo >-)

    • mals86 says:

      I am lovin’ that Climat too. I get an immediate hit of civet under all those aldehydes and white flowers, and wow, is it smooth. Mmmmmm.

  • Catherine says:

    I’m with Francesca and Louise, Serge swaddles me in winter. This winter has seen large usage of Diam Blonde, Borneo, Serge Noire, and Chypre Rouge. The latter was the first SL to steal my heart, and I’m very sad to see it’s being discontinued.

    But sometimes I need the large flower blasting sunshine, and Carnal Flower delivers.

    Whenever I go out for a party or an event, Chanel remains the accompaniment. No. 22 is a blessing in winter with its sparkling incense.

    I’m ready for spring, however. Pulled out Bel Respiro yesterday. Heaven.

  • Louise says:

    Francesca and I are all woody together…Filles en Aiguilles is leading the pack atm, followed up by several deep roses-Amouage Epic being in the lead.

    All my Serges are being good to me this winter-Chergui, Arabie, and UBV, especially.

    But I had a strange craving for green on a warmer rainy day last week, and Niki St. Phalle was stupendous. Watch out, new PG-I think it’ll be lurve 😡

  • ScentRed says:

    It’s -20 C this morning – cold weather’s always more dramatic in celcius ;-). I’m wearing Donna Karan Gold and the lotion as my protection from the bitter cold. Donna must know something about warming, comfort scents because this and Chaos layered over Cashmere Mist are in the heaviest rotation lately (again I feel like I’ve flogged this combo to death). My other current winter favorites, all fairly new discoveries for me, are: Feminite du Bois, Sacrebleu, Bois des Iles, Parfum Sacre, and M.Micallef Winter.

    Stay warm 😉

  • Meggie says:

    Chergui, 10 Corso Como and Coromandel have been sharing the spotlight with Iris Pallida.

    • Lee says:

      Three comfort scents par excellence, and something fragile too. Lovely.

    • Nava says:

      Great choices, Meggie. And I’m marveling at the fact that you’re still smitten with Iris Pallida. That scent will forever remind me of you. 😡

      • Meggie says:

        I recently brought a half ounce decant of it to a friends house, while I was visiting. Her daughter accidently knocked it off the bathroom counter, onto the tile floor, where a corner of it broke off, spilling the entire content out. When I heard her calling out to me, I ran to the bathroom, stepping into the invisible puddle of Iris Pallida goodness, completly soaking my socks in the process. I have not washed said socks, I have instead tucked them into my lingerie drawer, where they will stay until the glorious scent fades away.

  • Francesca says:

    Idole de Lubin! I’ve needed a lot of comforting this fall/winter, and that’s my number 1 go-to. Goddess bless the man who gave me a FB of it.

    10 Corso Como, especially when the weather is wet in addition to cold.

    MPeG George Sand. A lovely warm rose potpourri. Not right for every single occasion, but when the mood strikes, I am so happy I have it.

    Fille en Aiguilles–piney goodness.

    And thanks, Patty, for reminding me about By Kilian Pure Oud. Now where did I put that decant?

    • Lee says:

      You’re a woody one, and no mistaking. Great taste. Plus a tocuh of booze in the Idole to keep the glow in your cheeks…

  • That’s the kind of girl I am, lad. But I’ll put out when the time comes, fear not.

  • This winter, I’ve been going back and forth between spiced-up tropical flowers, witchy incense and slightly more gourmand scents than I’d usually wear, but the undisputed star of my winter is Havana Vanille — it took Bertrand Duchaufour’s artistry to make me crave the pod. I’m also pretty obsessed with his Amaranthine.
    But I’ve been road-testing the new Parfumerie Général, Papyrus de Cyane, and that’ll probably make the Spring top ten — along with another fragrance I’m not allowed to name for the time being.