Winter Fantasy : 10 Favorite Perfumes

Elisa plays Scheherazade with her 10 favorite oriental perfumes.

Come winter, you will find me in orientals almost exclusively. An oriental is a fragrance with an emphasis on amber, that fantasy accord of resins and vanilla, often accented with spices, woods, soft florals, or candy-like gourmand notes. Both the phrase and the fragrances remind me of an oriental rug: dark and rich, ornate, intricately patterned, dense but soft.

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Orientals tend to be heavy with long-lasting base notes, so they’re perfect in winter, when you want a scent to envelop you all day with comforting sweetness and warmth. Here are my ten favorite oriental perfumes that get me through the cold, dark days of winter.

Flower by Kenzo

The name suggests “floral,” but under the violet and rose lurks this perfume’s true character: a powdery vanilla musk with opoponax that feels plush and white, and seems to sparkle especially when it snows.

Sonia Rykiel Belle en Rykiel

This underrated gourmand gem is a cross between a fruitchouli and a more classical amber oriental. Belle en Rykiel opens with tart red currant and herbal, anisic lavender, then quickly settles into something dark, woody, and smoky, with a shadowy lavender-gray quality that I associate with overcast skies. The long, nutty drydown of amber and patchouli is simply one of my favorites ever. I can’t tear my nose away from my arm when I wear this.

Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule 

The newest of Lutens’s three sandalwood offerings, Santal Majuscule was one of my most craved perfumes this winter. Recent sandalwood-based releases can feel thin and headache-y due to a reliance on synthetics, but this one is full and round as liqueur swirling in a glass. It’s tinted with rose, rather than smelling directly rosy, with a hint of a roasty dark chocolate note (patchouli and orris, perhaps) and a big slug of Amaretto-like tonka bean. I’ll be smelling this on my coat sleeves and scarves for months.

Teo Cabanel Alahine

Alahine is the closest to a classic amber on my list, opening with a burst of bergamot and a dash of sparkling aldehydes, then moving into a lush, honeyed floral section (again, the classics: rose, jasmine, and creamy ylang-ylang) with a bit of powder and glamorous, billowing sillage. The base sits in the middle of the Venn diagram between pure amber, woods, and incense. This is a sweeter amber than those done in the dry, herbal style (like Ambre Sultan), but when you’re in the mood for sweetness, it’s intensely beautiful.

Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille

By far my favorite straight vanilla, Spiritueuse Double Vanille smells like really good vanilla extract, but better. Like Santal Majuscule, it’s pleasantly boozy and rosy, with just a hint of a smoky incense note. I wish I could drink this stuff.

Puredistance M

NYC perfume lover Daisy of the blog Cool Cook Style introduced me to this rich perfume – a men’s scent in a rare parfum concentration – and gave me a generous sample. It feels like a cross between vintage Chanel Égoïste and Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khän – spicy up top with a gorgeous, dirty sandalwood and leather drydown.

Les Senteurs Gourmandes Tendre Madeleine

This cheapie (you can find a 100 ml bottle for under $40) is a delicious combination of almond, vanilla, citrus, and cinnamon. If you like Maurice Roucel’s L de Lolita Lempicka as much as I do, you’ll almost certainly like this too, but the more pronounced citrus and musk in L make me prefer it as a (surprisingly sexy) summer gourmand, while Tendre Madeleine is a winter comfort scent.

1000 Flowers Reglisse Noire

I hate black licorice, but I love licorice in perfume. Go figure. Reglisse Noire has the most aggressive, true-to-life licorice accord I’ve found, accented by a bold top note of black pepper (which is accentuated when sprayed). Rather than amber, it takes its base idea from Angel and Lolita Lempicka: an exceptionally good vanilla-sweetened patchouli with musk.

Parfumerie Generale Coze

My mother accidentally bought me a decant of this for Christmas, after hearing me mention another C-perfume from this line (Cadjmere). Luckily, I love it. Coze is a smooth, masculine, not-too-sweet gourmand based on the idea of Mexican cocoa (spiced with cinnamon and chile pepper) plus lots of patchouli for edge.

DSH Mahjoun

Another happy accident: I sent my purse spray of Mahjoun eau de parfum to a friend by mistake. I mentioned the error to my husband, planning to stop by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s shop in Boulder at some point to buy a replacement, but he gifted me with a small bottle of the extrait for Christmas. This is probably the sweetest gourmand in my collection, but saved from cupcake-banality by its exoticism: dates, honey, figs, cardamom, myrrh, and more blended into a fantasy of Middle Eastern delicacies.

Extra: Victoria’s article on building your perfume wardrobe around Orientals.

What are your favorite orientals? Are there other genres that you love to wear during the coldest months?

Please also see lists made by Grain de Musc :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: The Non-Blonde.

Painting : Carl Blechen, German, 1798-1840, The Interior of the Palm House on the Pfaueninsel Near Potsdam, 1834, The Art Institute of Chicago. Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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96 Comments

  • Jillie: Your list is a lovely selection. To my shame, I have never smelt Kenzo Flower, and yet it sounds just like the sort of thing I would love! I do have the Flower Essentielle, which I snagged for a very cheap price – are they quite similar? I was tempted by the Essentielle’s incense notes lying under the rose. January 17, 2014 at 7:27am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi, Jillie, I haven’t tried that one! I have tried the Winter Flowers version, which I don’t like as much as the original. Hopefully another reader can weigh in? I’m betting they’re all variations on the same basic idea. January 17, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Evocative descriptions, Elisa, and together with Victoria’s article a rich source of information.
    I saw Rykiels’ perfume in Arnhem, but did not smell it…what a shame! I have left some precious drops from het 7th Sens. Gorgeous.
    I like bright perfumes when it is cold, like Bas de Soie, and my sample of Iris Silver Mist, or even Diorissimo. And with snow: nothing better than Fahrenheit 32.
    At the moment it is fresh but not cold outside, time for orientals. My all time favourite, Shalimar. And Ambre Sultan, so intriguing and spiritual.
    I love the new Opium better than the old one (sorry, Alicia!).
    Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme was mentioned on this blog, and I found a cheap tester of it. A happy discovery.
    I needed some time for Santal Majuscule, too sweet for me, but appreciation is coming.
    L’Heure Bleue (vintage and new) is always there, summer and winter. January 17, 2014 at 7:39am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Cornelia, it can be a nice change to wear something light and bright in winter, don’t you think? Occasionally I crave a big floral, like tuberose, on cold days.

      I haven’t worn my Shalimar EDC much this winter. Need to break it out before it’s too late! January 17, 2014 at 10:45am Reply

    • Ashley Anstaett: Cornelia, I love Diorissimo in winter! I still love a good gourmand or oriental in the winter, but when I’m feeling blue the lily-of-the-valley perks me right up. I also like to wear CB I Hate Perfume’s “To Smell a Flower” when the winter is starting to drag on a bit too long for my taste. January 17, 2014 at 10:49am Reply

      • Annikky: I agree. Diorissimo is perfect for a crisp winter’s day with the cold sun shining and snow glistening brilliantly. January 18, 2014 at 5:11am Reply

  • rosarita: It’s been so cold where I live that I can’t get enough of baroque heavy hitters: Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant, Casmir (thanks to you I acquired a decant), Theo Fennel Scent, Obsession, Coco, along with other winter staples. Many on your list I haven’t tried, always so many perfumes to sample! January 17, 2014 at 7:46am Reply

    • Elisa: Sorry if I’ve added to your sample list! :) Have you tried the original Fendi? It’s another great winter floriental that reminds me of Coco. January 17, 2014 at 10:46am Reply

  • Lucas: I really like Puredistance M that is on your list!

    My favourite winter orientals are Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman, Carner Barcelona Cuirs and Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme. Also Ambra di Luna from Ramon Monegal Barcelona. January 17, 2014 at 8:27am Reply

    • Ariadne: Oooh yeah, I’m wearing Rose Anonyme today. A winter alternative to orientals and a deep rose totally appropriate for snow, wool, furs, and fires. January 17, 2014 at 10:10am Reply

    • Elisa: I like Rose Anonyme too! It has that nice chocolatey note, actually reminds me of chocolate-covered strawberries. January 17, 2014 at 10:47am Reply

  • briony: What a great list – and so many I haven’t tried yet. I feel another sniffing session coming on! This winter my Serges will be getting a lot of wear – in particular Un Bois Vanille, Chergui and Boxeuses as well as other comforting favourites like Tea for Two, Bois des Iles and Mitsouko. January 17, 2014 at 9:19am Reply

    • Elisa: I haven’t been wearing Chergui much this year because my husband wears it so much. Have you tried Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea? I wore it last night, and it’s a really great rich, sweet pipe tobacco scent.

      Tea for Two is another one of my all-time faves! I wrote about it in my first post here, on smoky scents. January 17, 2014 at 10:48am Reply

  • Mals86: Orientals make up the smallest portion of my personal collection – they’re Just Not Me. Need my flowers. :) I doubt I could even come up with ten that I wear – though I understand the appeal.

    Ones I do enjoy: vintage Emeraude, the related, d/c Shalimar Light, PdN Vanille Tonka, and Alahine. How glad I was to see Alahine on this list! Beautiful glowing floral amber. January 17, 2014 at 9:20am Reply

    • Mals86: Oh yes. Forgot Organza Indecence. January 17, 2014 at 9:23am Reply

    • Elisa: I always think of you when I wear Alahine! I remember once you said to you it smells like joy.

      I’ve still never managed to smell Shalimar Light, which pains me. January 17, 2014 at 10:49am Reply

  • Portia: Hey there,
    My collection is quite amber heavy. I love most of them to be honest. Vanilla and resins are my friend.
    Portia xx January 17, 2014 at 9:46am Reply

    • Elisa: Ha ha, me too! Well, vanilla is more of an acquaintance, but I’m BFF’s with resins. January 17, 2014 at 10:49am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: I don’t know many of the perfumes on your list but it was great reading your descriptions and trying to imagine the smell. I also LOVE Kenzo Flower and it works especially well in winter like a cashmere cardigan. Lumiere Blanche has been keeping me warm so far this winter. Ambre Narguile and Volutes are also nice but I need to be careful not to overapply them and they’re not something I can wear everyday. I also need an occasional dose of citrus/green to lift my mood.

    I’m getting confused between Santal Majuscule and Santal Blanc so I need to re-smell them because I know that I really liked one of them and the other one was too sweet. As for Santal de Mysore, I found it too foody. January 17, 2014 at 9:47am Reply

    • Elisa: Glad to see another Kenzo Flower lover! I actually had to take a break from it for a while last year, because I became hypersensitive to the musk in it. Luckily that went away. In fact I might wear Flower today! Haven’t chosen my SOTD yet. January 17, 2014 at 10:53am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I love its warm yet melancholic nature. The only problem is that I can’t wear it on Sunday because another girl in my church is always wearing it. I’m glad to hear that your hypersensitivity to musk went away. January 17, 2014 at 4:02pm Reply

        • Elisa: Oh, funny! You wouldn’t want to have to compete with her. January 18, 2014 at 11:33am Reply

  • nikki: Such a lovely description! My orientals are
    Must de Cartier
    Shalimar
    L de Lempicka
    Vanille Gourmand Laura Mercier
    La maison de la Vanille Mexique and Madagascar
    Spellbound
    Mauboussin Original
    Maison Francis Kurkdijan Absolue pour le soir January 17, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

    • Elisa: Sounds like we have similar tastes for richness! L de Lolita Lempicka is underrated, IMO. January 17, 2014 at 10:54am Reply

      • johanob: For some reason,L is ALWAYS on discount here,I bought a 80ml for something like $3 here in South Africa.Probably too rich for the summer heat here,but sooooo comforting in winter.Great list!Puredistance M on my wishlist… January 17, 2014 at 5:55pm Reply

        • Elisa: You can easily find it on discount around here too, I think my bottle was under $20. January 18, 2014 at 11:32am Reply

  • maja: I currently live in a place where there is practically no winter so my choice is always something wearable in early autumn. Stella, Mitsouko, Timbuktu, Shalimar PI. Also big floral aldehydes: Nina, Nuit de Noel, Arpege. But I do crave minus ten degrees Celsius, lots of snow, masala chai and Kenzo Amour/Jungle Elephant maybe. :)
    From your list I have tried only Santal Majuscule and I liked it pretty much. January 17, 2014 at 10:10am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Maja, I moved a couple of years ago from Boston to Denver, and the winters definitely aren’t as long, dark and frigid here. There are usually quite a few sunny, 60-degree days in December and January where an oriental seems rather out of place. January 17, 2014 at 10:55am Reply

  • Aisha: I do enjoy Kenzo Flower a lot, but I save that for our “spring” when it’s really overcast, rainy and 40 degrees. Other favorite Orientals of mine are Dune and Tresor, with Dune being more for rainy, 40-degree days in the fall. ;-)

    For some reason, I gravitate toward gourmands during winter rather than any other fragrance family. That’s probably because of their “comfort food” effect when it’s below zero and snowy outside. January 17, 2014 at 10:22am Reply

    • Elisa: I love gourmands! A month or so ago, one morning I woke up and instantly knew that I had to wear Hanae Mori Butterfly that day, and nothing else would do. January 17, 2014 at 10:56am Reply

  • Lynley: I’ve only ever sniffed Flower from the bottle and always thought it a bit too screechy clean fir me, but you’ve inspired me to go test it on skin..
    I’m also an original orientals gal. Since the rabbithole my tastes have diversified significantly, but orientals are my first true love :)
    I tend to prefer ambers and spicy notes (though leather and tobacco have come in to blur the lines!)- ambre des Merveilles, organza ind, PdE Aziyade, jungle elephant, mdo vanille, pdn maharani, chergui, Epic, memoir, chinatown, parfum sacre, habanita, armani/prive anger orient, rochas absolu, krazy krizia, l’air de rein, keiko mecheri canyon dreams…
    Ok ok I’ll stop now :-/ January 17, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

    • Lynley: Of course, anger orient is something my phone made up. AMBER. and that’s more than 10… January 17, 2014 at 10:43am Reply

      • nikki: anger orient? that is so funny! January 17, 2014 at 6:41pm Reply

    • Elisa: Nice to see you mention Chinatown! I love it and nothing else really smells like it.

      Do try Flower on skin — there’s a lot of musk in it and it can be a bit strong at first, but the drydown is great. January 17, 2014 at 10:58am Reply

    • Patricia: Canyon Dreams is a favorite of mine, too, and one I don’t see mentioned very often. Must go find my decant and start using it! January 18, 2014 at 1:43pm Reply

  • Sandra: Like you, I am diving into santal majuscule -it’s winter here in NYC and that scent is very comforting. Also, Ambre Sultan is also very nice this time of year-the dry down is amazing .
    I am really enjoying Le fille de Berlin, a recent purchase, and I can’t get enough!!! January 17, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

    • Elisa: We love La Fille de Berlin around here too! Such a nice, bright, fruity rose. January 17, 2014 at 10:58am Reply

  • Ashley Anstaett: Thanks for your beautiful descriptions. I want to smell them all! I’ve always wanted to smell Belle en Rykiel, as it sounds like something that would be up my alley. All of these sound wonderful though, and I haven’t smelled many of them. This winter, I’ve been wearing lots of Dzing! and Prada Candy and Jeux de Peau. They make me feel all snuggled up and I love to catch a whiff of them on my sweaters when I open my closet. January 17, 2014 at 10:46am Reply

    • Elisa: I love that many-perfumes-mixed-together smell of a closet! My sample storage box also smells amazing.

      Jeux de Peau is one I liked when it came out and then sort of forgot about it — I should order a sample. January 17, 2014 at 11:00am Reply

  • Anka: Thank you for the interesting suggestions, Elisa!
    Cozé is a favorite of mine. But since winter is not very wintery here in Berlin at the moment and I recently wore a lot of “real” orientals (ambers), I’m craving for the lighter and more transparent ones right now. I’ve been wearing Vanille Absolument (L’Artisan – btw, interesting copyright case concerning the re-naming…). a lot lately. The vanilla is rather abstract, dried fruits, tobacco and a luscious rum note buzz around an airy, sheer vanilla.
    Other favorite orientals are Violette Fumée (oriental fougere is a new category for me), Trayee and Mohur – but there are unfortunately only some drops left in my samples. January 17, 2014 at 11:24am Reply

    • Elisa: I got a decant of Vanille Absolutement in a swap and drained in recently. Very unusual vanilla. I won’t seek out more but I enjoyed wearing it!

      I just tried Violette Fume at MiN last month and it’s really lovely. January 17, 2014 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Theresa: I love cozy orientals, especially at this time of the year. I have an Oriental dilemma right now – I recently bought a bottle of Chergui which I enjoy very much and wear several times a week. Tomorrow I am going to Seattle and have the opportunity of buying a bottle of Coromandel – which I have been planning and saving up for a year. But now I’m wondering – are they too similar? What do you think? I can afford it, but want to be prudent. January 17, 2014 at 11:27am Reply

    • Ari: They are different enough to me to justify owning both- Coromandel is more polished and has more patchouli. January 17, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Elisa: They strike me as quite different! Chergui is more about tobacco and hay and Coromandel is more about patchouli. So I think you’d be fine having both! January 17, 2014 at 1:17pm Reply

      • Theresa: Ari and Elisa, thanks for your replies! this is causing me some anguish today as I had already made up my mind, and I am slow to get to the point of “buy” – but was having second thoughts.

        Elisa, thank you for your article highlighting some perfumes I had barely heard of. I definitely want to go smell them now! January 17, 2014 at 2:31pm Reply

        • Elisa: Theresa, if you’re worried, you might get a decant first and see if you’re getting wear out of both of them. You’ll probably have another opportunity to buy Coromandel in a full bottle if you decide you love and need it! January 17, 2014 at 2:37pm Reply

  • Ari: PG Cadjmere is such a gorgeous sandalwood, but it seems to be one of the sleepers of the line. Happy to see it getting some attention! January 17, 2014 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Elisa: Yeah, it’s really the perfect cozy vanilla-woody thing with just a hint of coconut. January 17, 2014 at 1:17pm Reply

  • AndreaR: My part of the Pacific Northwest has been exceptionally foggy for the past few weeks and for comfort I’ve gravitated to: Bandit, L’Ambre des Merveilles, Attrape Coeur, Samsara and Dries Van Noten. The sun did shine the other day and I celebrated with a spritz of Rossy de Palma. January 17, 2014 at 2:59pm Reply

    • Elisa: Rossy de Palma is one of my all-time favorites! I always want to wear it when I’m wearing red. :) January 17, 2014 at 3:15pm Reply

      • AndreaR: Wearing Rossy de Palma with red always makes me feel slightly wicked :-) January 17, 2014 at 6:25pm Reply

  • E.Lime: This winter has been a bit strange–being pregnant, my comfort go-tos of Coco, Coromandel, and L’air de rien have just smelt “off” and too chemical-heavy. I will look forward to getting my sense of smell back–and trying that 1000 Flowers scent. I love black licorice and have yet to find a scent that touches on that love. January 17, 2014 at 3:02pm Reply

    • Elisa: Oh, you have to try it then! It’s really very licorice-y. I also love Lolita Lempicka Pour Masculin for licorice. January 17, 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

    • Cynthia Stock: Have you tried Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Mindoro di Sicilia….beautiful anise and vanilla January 18, 2014 at 6:59am Reply

    • Connie: Brin de Reglisse by Hermes and Reglisse Noire by 1000 Flowers are worth trying- particularly the latter. January 19, 2014 at 9:34am Reply

  • Jo: I love orientals, of all varieties, they feature strongly in my collection. I like your list! I really need to try Reglisse Noire (another person here who hates licorice but loves it in scents)!
    My favourite amber is Lorenzo Villoresi’s Alamut – it’s a pretty standard amber, but it’s so rich with rosewood and narcissus, I adore it.
    Other oriental loves are Jo Malone Oud & Bergamot (spicy, decadent and so warm), Le Couvent de Minimes Cologne of the Missions – supposedly very similar to SDV but I wouldn’t know – and, to remember the sunshine, the cozy tropical fruits and incense blend of Hanae Mori’s Magical Moon. January 17, 2014 at 7:03pm Reply

    • Elisa: Alamut sounds great — I haven’t tried that one. Magical Moon is an interesting one, I can never quite figure it out! January 18, 2014 at 11:23am Reply

  • Maren: Sandra mentioned La Fille de Berlin, and it’s weird because i kind of feel conflicted about it because there is something in the drydown I’m not sure I like, but I’ve found myself craving it, and this is the first fragrance I’ve ever felt like I craved! Don’t know why it seems to fit for cold weather for me. Also loving Ambre des Merveilles, Santal Blanc, Iris Silver Mist, and Cuir de Russie. January 17, 2014 at 7:26pm Reply

    • Lynley: I have that craving thing for MFK Absolue pour le Soir! When I spritzed it on skin a while back the initial cat pee notes repulsed me but the drydown was lovely, and now I can’t stop wanting more… January 18, 2014 at 3:45am Reply

      • Maren: Lynley, You got me reading about the MFK Absolue pour le soir and I think I’m going to have to get a sample now! January 19, 2014 at 9:03am Reply

    • Elisa: I get cravings for rose the way some people get cravings for chocolate, so I know what you mean! January 18, 2014 at 11:24am Reply

  • LP: 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noire is one of my licorice favorites. I”m glad you mentioned black pepper, because I got a pencil shavings scent from it. It’s great for layering, because it’s slightly spicy! January 17, 2014 at 7:41pm Reply

    • Elisa: It’s definitely quite spicy! I find the pepper to be a bit aggressive at first, but I love it. January 18, 2014 at 11:25am Reply

  • Das: Good grief, Elisa. Your writing is too compelling! You *compel* me to try everything on your list!! :)
    (except for Flower, which I’ve tried and do not enjoy because I don’t like that much violet)
    This winter, my cozies have not necessarily been orientals, but more tobacco or, oddly, saffron centered. Things like Midnight in Paris, Safron Troubalant, Back to Black, Tobacco Vanille, Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense. I think it’s time to play with a different theme :) January 18, 2014 at 12:26am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Das! I almost included Midnight in Paris on my list. Have you tried Fifi Chachnil? It’s a rose and tobacco scent with a nice saffron note, very nice and rarely mentioned. January 18, 2014 at 11:27am Reply

  • Annikky: A really interesting list, Elisa – a lot for me to explore. This is not the genre I know best, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like orientals… I’ve just bought my first bottle of Shalimar EdP and have been enjoying it a lot. While in the store, I also tried Jicky parfum and absolutely adored it. Others that I like are Aziyade, Tolu, Lyric, Lumiere Blanche (not officially an oriental, maybe?), Lubin Korrigan, Ambre Sultan. TF Tobacco Oud smelled very nice when I sprayed myself with it recently and I have been enjoying my sample of Miller Harris La Fumee Ottoman.

    I find that when it’s really cold, I actually like crisp and sparkling perfumes – Diorissimo has been mentioned already, Cristalle and Jacomo Silences are Gerat, too. I also love to wear white florals in the snow (the ones I think work for that I call „winter whites“). To me, lilies and gardenias are especially good in winter, as is Carnal Flower. Often, they wear more elegantly when it’s cold and it’s just lovely to get a whiff when outside. January 18, 2014 at 5:56am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Annikky, I think it’s so elegant to wear crisp white florals in the cold! It’s less expected. Have you tried Donna Karan Gold? It works perfectly in winter because it starts off with lily and then transitions into amber. January 18, 2014 at 11:29am Reply

      • Annikky: Gold has been on my list for ages, many people (inculding you!) have recommended it and it sounds wonderful. The problem is that every time I start ordering a sample/decant, I realize that I could actually buy a small bottle for the same money. But I’ve never bought a bottle unsniffed… so I dither. I really should get that sorted, I’m sure I’ll love it.

        PS And “Gerat” which sounds like an ancient Mesopotamian city, was of course meant to read “great”. January 20, 2014 at 4:16am Reply

        • Elisa: Are you in the US Annikky? I could send you a sample of it, if I don’t to deal with customs forms and whatnot! If you are, drop me an email (elisagabbert at gmail).

          Gold was actually one of my first and most satisfying blind buys! January 20, 2014 at 10:14am Reply

          • Annikky: Elisa, what a lovely offer, thank you! But as I’m based in Tallinn/Brussels, it would be way too much hassle for you.

            I’m in luck, however, as Austenfan has offered to help me out and she’s much closer, so I don’t feel too bad about exploiting her goodwill :)

            Further proof that Perfume People are the best. January 22, 2014 at 5:17am Reply

            • Elisa: Oh, lovely! I hope you like it! January 22, 2014 at 10:17am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I haven’t sampled most of the perfumes from your list for a simple reason – I’m not a great friend of orientals. I prefer colder scents, even in the winter. Most of the time I wear Dzongkha and when I need a break from it, I reach for Iris Silver Mist, Bas de Soie, AP Mon Numeró 8, Del Rae Panache or OJ Orris Noir.
    Right now winter feels more like spring in Germany which is a a bit confusing. I’m very tempted to get out my spring scents – yesterday I spritzed my scarf with Mimosa Pour Moi :) January 18, 2014 at 7:54am Reply

    • Annikky: It is my firm belief thet irises can be worn anytime, anywhere :) January 18, 2014 at 8:49am Reply

    • Elisa: It sounds like you are a big iris lover. Iris and I don’t always get along, and I seem to like it best when it’s warmed up, which is perhaps not really true to the material! January 18, 2014 at 11:30am Reply

  • Poodle: Love your list. I actually have quite a few of them. I’m also pleased to report that I’m enjoying the happy accident you sent. I might have never tried Mahjoun if it weren’t for that. At least you can take comfort knowing it went to a loving home. :)
    A few years ago I actually used up a bottle of Flower and bought another. Originally I hated the scent. Go figure. I still have a bit left. I actually loved it as a bedtime scent. January 18, 2014 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Elisa: I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Mahjoun! It worked out for everyone. :)

      Flower is a great bedtime scent. I find it very comforting. January 19, 2014 at 11:35am Reply

  • Patricia: Great article, Elisa! I can smell these fragrances just by reading your descriptions :).

    My favorite orientals are woody rather than floral: Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon, Chanel Coromandel, Guerlain Iris Ganache and Myrrhe & Delires, and Jo Malone Dark Amber and Ginger Lily. January 18, 2014 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks, Patricia! Have you tried Mauboussin? It’s a very wood-forward oriental. January 19, 2014 at 11:37am Reply

      • Patricia: Yes, Elisa, I own it! I also get quite a bit of fruit from it, at least in the opening. It is lovely with an unusual pyramid-shaped bottle. As much as I like it, I don’t find myself often reaching for it, probably because I have too many perfumes I like :/. January 19, 2014 at 7:35pm Reply

        • Elisa: I used to own a bottle too! It’s so rich I rarely wore it, and ended up swapping it away. Now and then I miss the drydown. January 19, 2014 at 7:47pm Reply

  • Daisy: Apologies for coming to the party late! What a wonderful list! Come to think of it, a large chunk of my perfume collection is made up of orientals. I love them in the fall and winter. Heck, let’s be honest: I like rocking the Shalimar and knocking ‘em dead with some Kenzo Jungle Elephant in the summer too! Speaking of Kenzo, I need to try Kenzo Flower again. I would never have considered it as an oriental, but it has been so long since I’ve smelled it that my memory of it is not good. Time for a refresh!

    And thank you for the lovely shout-out! So glad to hear that Puredistance M was one of your favorites this winter too! It’s wonderful! January 18, 2014 at 6:59pm Reply

    • Elisa: It’s not *really* an oriental, but it is all about the powdery vanilla for me.

      Thank YOU again for the sample of M! It’s so good. January 19, 2014 at 11:42am Reply

      • Poodle: Daisy should be the spokesperson for Puredistance M. She spritzed me before I came home from NY and the whole way home I kept smelling something fabulous on the train every now and then. I couldn’t figure out who it was. When I smelled it in my truck I realized it was me that was fabulous and my left forearm was the source. Great stuff. January 19, 2014 at 12:08pm Reply

        • Elisa: I love when that happens! January 19, 2014 at 12:27pm Reply

  • james1051: I love orientals–I can’t remember ever trying one and disliking it–but have a hard time finding appropriate occasions to wear them. Holiday dinners, Yes, they are perfect for that. But otherwise….?

    Anyway, my favorite orientals which don’t get worn as frequently as their quality would merit:
    Guerlain Habit Rouge EdC
    Guerlain Shalimar EdC
    Chanel Egoiste
    PdN New York
    PdE Ambre Russe
    Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
    HdP Amber 114
    Tom Ford Santal Blush
    Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau
    L’Artisan Safran Troublant January 19, 2014 at 8:44am Reply

    • Elisa: I love Egoiste! The old Cologne Concetree formula is my favorite. Such a great sandalwood scent. January 19, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

    • Annikky: No idea how I could forget Egoiste, it’s wonderful. January 20, 2014 at 4:17am Reply

  • carole macleod: I have been using two Rochas- Eau de Rochas, because i love citrus in the cold, and it has enough oakmoss in the base to keep me happy. And Mystere, which is such a tick smelling perfume i have difficulty discerning any one note. It all just reads as Mystere to me.

    Your list is wonderful! January 19, 2014 at 10:38am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Carole! I never think to reach for citrus in the cold, I’ll have to try that. January 19, 2014 at 11:44am Reply

    • Michaela: The same here! Winter is the only time of the year when I crave citrus in perfumes. I have alaways worn the orientals in summertime, just with a lighter hand. Kenzo Jungle can work wonders on a heat, with its divine, thick,amber. Flower, on the other hand, smells to me like a regular floral and I usually have it in springtime. My favorites for winter are L de Lempicka, Sensuous and Alien. I also think white flowers go well with the cold times, especially jasmine and gardenia. January 27, 2014 at 9:59am Reply

      • Elisa: As I mentioned above, I love L most in summer, even though it’s so rich.

        I’m about to fly to Boston and I’m packing Lust (from Lush/Gorilla Perfumes) for my cold-weather jasmine fix! January 27, 2014 at 10:04am Reply

  • Austenfan: Contrarian that I am, I tend to wear my orientals more in summer. I think they bloom in the “heat”( where I live it doesn’t get really hot anyway). Chergui for instance I only ever wear in really warm weather.
    The only fragrances I do wear more in winter are “earthy”perfumes like ISM, Aromatics Elixir and Love les Carottes.

    I’m glad to see Puredistance M mentioned. I have a small “overpackaged” sample that I won, I think on BdJ. While I find it too expensive to want a full bottle of, I enjoy it when I wear it. It’s very elegant and easy on the nose! January 20, 2014 at 8:55am Reply

    • Elisa: I love the idea of wearing Chergui in the heat!

      Yes, I would never actually buy M because it’s so pricy, but it is very rich stuff so I think my sample will last a while! January 20, 2014 at 10:15am Reply

  • Laura: My tastes have changed completely. I used to swim in Hypnotic Poison all winter, now it’s not spicy enough. Today I am wearing a little Dolce Vita, enough to realise it’s a good thing the bottle will finish soon. Even Eau de Merveilles seems heavy. I wear Bottega Veneta (sometimes the original, sometimes the Eau Legere). And more recently – Mandarine Basilic, I love how crisp and sorbety the citrus feels in the cold. Not that we had much winter, mind.

    I’d LOVE a COLD vanilla but my usuals (L’Instant Magic or Baiser Vole Extrait) are a bit warm. January 22, 2014 at 7:13am Reply

    • Elisa: Ah, Dolce Vita! That’s a good one — I should go dig up my decant.

      I like the distinction of a “cold vanilla”! I wonder if Flower might fit that bill? January 22, 2014 at 10:18am Reply

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