vendredi 29 janvier 2010

My Top Ten Perfumes of Winter 2010

I’ve lived half my life in the endless Canadian winters and as much in the dreary rainy Parisian ones – save for the odd, magical snowfall dusting the 17th century place des Vosges, the gardens of the Palais-Royal or the Fontaine de Médicis in the Luxembourg gardens, a miserable affair at best.

What makes winter bearable to me are fur wraps and satin slips, or the olfactory equivalent thereof. Warm puffs of soft animal aromas laced in spices caught between hair and pelt; velvet-flesh corollas blooming in the hothouse like pockets of stolen summer…

(Most of the scents listed here have been reviewed, many rather recently. For more extended descriptions, click on the title.)

Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion for Frédéric Malle Éditions de Parfums

What: Cool tuberose shot with coconut sherbet and green sap, to slap back at Siberian cold snaps.

When: On a crunchy, snowy night, skidding on stilettos in a black fur jacket over serious cleavage.

Amaranthine by Bertrand Duchaufour for Penhaligon’s

What: Ylang-ylang magnified and churned with spices into a delectable, green and banana-tinged crème de fleurs.

When: Sliding off a 1930s bias-cut silk charmeuse nightgown in an overheated room.

Jasmin de Nuit by Céline Ellena for The Different Company

What: Jasmine stripped by lashes of cool/hot spices until all that’s left is vibrant floral heat.

When: Tipsy on liqueurs by a roaring fire, able, willing, and not alone.

Femme (original formula) by Edmond Roudnitska for Marcel Rochas

What: The wonderfully rounded Prunol base – ionones, aldehydes C-14 and C-18, patchouli, cardamom, cumin, patchouli and ketone V – gives a dark fruity tenderness to the brooding chypre base.

When: On an afternoon assignation in a red-velvet-upholstered Parisian hotel bar, lace peeking out of a tweed pencil skirt and nipped jacket.

L’Origan (vintage) by François Coty

What: L’Heure Bleue’s tougher, brazen big sister; orange blossom and carnation in a cloud of heliotropin.

When: Slipping off at twilight to slum with Montparnasse painters, wrapped in a vibrantly coloured Paul Poiret bubble cloak. The rich lover will have to wait.

Encens Flamboyant by Isabelle Doyen for Annick Goutal

What: Charred, leathery incense lit by the dark green fruity glow of fir balsam.

When: Stepping out into the icy night in pelts steeped in midnight mass incense.

XII – L’Heure Mystérieuse by Mathilde Laurent for Cartier

What: The thrum of incense, castoreum and patchouli melded into jasmine sambac, amber and musk.

When: The witching hour, under a black cashmere cowl – double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Attrape-Coeur by Mathilde Laurent for Guerlain

What: A tribute to the mythical Ambre 83 base by De Laire, softened with Mitsouko’s smile of peach and shimmering with iris.

When: Sipping an old Armagnac, lounging on a tawny leather couch with your lover’s head in your lap.

Tonka Impériale by Thierry Wasser for Guerlain

What: An oblique variation on the iconic Jicky, with the richer tonka bean standing in for coumarine and rosemary instead of lavender as the aromatic note.

When: Tucking in a Saint-Honoré and a hot chocolate with a girlfriend on a rainy afternoon at Angelina’s on the rue de Rivoli.

Havana Vanille by Bertrand Duchaufour for L’Artisan Parfumeur

What: Iconoclastic vanilla skewed towards freshly cured tobacco leaf, amber and wood in a cloud of resinous musk.

When: Shutting out the cold and working up a sweat. But not at the gym. (Or anywhere: this is my go-to scent this winter.)

For more Winter Top Tens, click to:

Now Smell This

Bois de Jasmin

The Perfume Posse

Perfume-smellin' Things

And P.S.: Sorry I'm late posting this, but I was in London for some very exciting meetings which will lead to... very exciting developments.

Image: Charlotte Rampling as Venus in Furs, by Helmut Newton

24 commentaires:

  1. Oh, good news on the London front - enjoy!

    You make our Posse choices decidedly pedestrian after reading your steamy selection. I'm off to suck on an ice cube and stick my bottom half in the deep freeze. Blimey!

  2. Your posts get more intriguing every day! ;)
    I loved your list: though I don't know several of the fragrances you mention, I do have in my top ten Carnal Flower and Amaranthine - and I like HV very much.
    I'll add to my own little list 31 rue cambon and the recently discovered Epic Woman, which I find great in cold weather. And, on the odd day, I love my Montale Intense Tiaré, layered with some nice sandalwood (like CC10). And I have a couple (=5) of HUGE Guerlain Lemmings: Bois d'armenie above all.
    (I just discovereed the papers, and I loooove them)

  3. Lee, I *am* feeling in rather a steamy mood lately. ;-)

  4. Zazie, I love Bois d'Arménie as well but I'm more inclined -- when my budget will allow -- to get Le Labo Patchouli 24, a tougher version of the same idea.

  5. Thank you for the suggestion: I haven't tried the Guerlain and Le labo yet, and am very curious. I think I gathered here and there that the Le Labo might be a bit more... challenging (for the best and for the worst), but of course these things are very subjective.
    ...'till now I haven't found the perfect woody-resin winter comfort sent. The closer I got was with VC&A Bois d'iris, but still... I hope BDA fills this empty slot.

  6. Zazie, Bois d'Arménie is an excellent choice. I also really like Francis K.'s Cologne pour le Soir in that style.

  7. Wow, this was a really interesting view of the winter top ten - I enjoyed imagining the whens very much! :)

  8. The 3 screens I stare at all day are all steamy now, loooove the settings you created !!!
    My top 10 this winter have been: Fille en Aiguilles / VC&A Bois d'Iris / La Treizieme Heure / Bois d'Armenie / MdO Carnation / Epic Woman / Organza Indecence / Vanille Galante (before I lost my little bottle, sigh sigh) / various incenses (L'Artisan for Aedes de Venustas, Encens Flamboyant, Olibanum)
    London news sounds like good news !

  9. Now there's a great list. And you and V both have Carnal Flower! The rest seem so appropriate to your time and place as well.

    I have a vintage bottle of L'Origan and agree, it's fantastic.

  10. You're having a very sexy winter, it seems...

    I solved my cold weather problem (I loathe it) by just moving somewhere we don't get much of it. Still. I helps to have an arsenal of warming-up frags.

    I've ordered a sample of the Amaranthine and can't wait. Am kicking myself because I forgot to order a sample of the Havana Vanille.

  11. Ines, I thought I'd take a different tack this time... All this was written aboard the Eurostar to while away the journey...

  12. Silvia, I was in and out so quickly I barely had the time to breathe, much less to see friends. Happy to be of long-distance steamy service though!

  13. March, vintage L'Origan is one of those perfumes that just knocked me out at first sniff. A masterpiece.

  14. Amy, hope you love Amaranthine -- I think you might.
    As for winter, well... It *is* still winter in Paris.

  15. Dear Denyse - Fabulous choice of scents and settings. I'm going to cave on a bottle of Amaranthine I know it and Tonka Imperiale. In close rotation on my winter perfume carousel has been Attrape Coeur, Bois des Iles, Vanille 44, Theorema and L'Air de Rien. Hugs from London! Nicola ps Love that photo of La Rampling.

  16. Hi Nicola! Cave away, my dear... I see we're pretty much on the same wavelength!

  17. That's it. As soon as I recover from this ugly cold, I will inaugurate the bottle of vintage L'Origan I bought some months ago. No doubt it can adapt itself to the mild, rainy winter of Northern California-- as would the Poiret coat, if only I had one.
    -- Gretchen

  18. Gretchen, I guess one is easier to lay hands on than the other. I can't imagine your not loving it.

  19. Great photo, I love Charlotte Rampling! My winter favorites have been Fille en Aiguilles, Tobacco Vanille, L'Air du Desert Marocain, Encens Flamboyant, Attrape-Coeur, Sarrasins, Noir Epices, Micallef Gaiac, and Oriental Brulant.

  20. Hi Tara! Now there's my spices, amber and resins gal!

  21. Thank you, Denyse, for warming up a snowy day and focusing my "to try" list! I'd been feeling quite resentful of the painful cold and lack of light and greenness, but you've reminded me that I really prefer winter clothing and perfumes, and that style is an essential survival tactic rather than a luxury! -- nozknoz

  22. Nozknows: agreed, it's more than a luxury, it's a lifeline!

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