There is no reason to keep citrus, white florals and other effervescent blends only for the summer month. As Elisa explains, they’re as perfect for the winter as they are year-round.
I’ve written the top 10 list for the past three winters, and both last year and the year before, I focused on traditionally seasonal perfumes – rich orientals and boozy ambers and gourmands. It’s true that in winter, I reach for my heavier perfumes about 5 days out of 7. But at least once or twice a week, I’ll get a craving for something that’s not very wintery at all, and on “cheat days” my out-of-season perfumes feel like a special treat by contrast to the usual fare.
Below are ten of my favorite perfumes to wear when I feel like cheating on winter.
Clarins Par Amour Toujours – We usually associate citrus with summer, but December is actually peak grapefruit season! Par Amour Toujours looks cute and harmless in the bottle, and there is some pink rose in there, but more pronounced is the invigorating grapefruit, bolstered by a blackcurrant note so green it’s almost piney.
Pinrose Treehouse Royal – There’s nothing like blackcurrant to cut through the fog of winter. Its pungent sweetness serves as a kind of palate cleanser after too many days of heavy, smoky orientals. Treehouse Royal is a great find – similar to Byredo Pulp, but much more affordable, it’s a bright mix of currant and fig, with a clean drydown like musky soap.
Lolita Lempicka L’Eau Blanc – In my mind and probably yours, cool iris by rights belongs to spring. But this soft, powdery iris with a vanilla marshmallow backdrop is wintery in a simulacrum kind of way – like playing in artificial snow on a film set.
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise – I associate galbanum with transitional periods – tender green chypres in damp spring, golden-green Ralph Lauren Safari in fall. But this winter, I’ve been loving the gentle bite of Heure Exquise, which turns normally chilly, “blue” ingredients like iris and hyacinth into something warm and soft – almost a vanilla chypre. My husband fondly remembers that when he was a little boy, his mother would return home late from parties and give him a kiss goodnight in her lingering perfume and fur coat. Heure Exquise feels to me like that borrowed memory.
Donna Karan Gold – Here’s another spring floral (lily) that I love to wear in winter. What makes Gold such an amazing lily fragrance is that it’s not a pure soliflore like, say, Frédéric Malle Lys Mediterannée, which has a watery feel that makes it cooling. Instead, Gold unexpectedly pairs lily with a salty, deep golden amber.
Givenchy Amarige – There’s a certain kind of white floral I can’t abide that smells like wan bananas. I don’t particularly like bananas and don’t usually want them mucking up my white florals. But for whatever reason, I love Amarige, which has an intense bananas-foster-like sweetness on top of a fumey (like petrol) gardenia and tuberose accord. Dated, maybe, but makes me nostalgic for an era when I was too young to wear it.
Juicy Couture – For a minute, the original Juicy Couture feels a little too sharp, a little too sweet, a little too “mall perfume.” But it turns into such a pretty, soft tuberose with a vanillic woody drydown. It’s become one of my comfort scents.
Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette – A good, slightly raunchy jasmine is always a nice vacation for the nose in flowerless winter. Jasmin et Cigarette adapts nicely to cold weather thanks to all the chewy, gingerbread-esque tobacco.
Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma – Winter perfumes can get a bit brown, can’t they? Rossy de Palma reminds me of that gleaming Ford paint color, often found on Mustangs, called Candy Apple Red. Usually described as a dark rose (due to its patchouli), I find it incredibly bright and crisp, like those high notes without vibrato in the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute.
Tauerville Rose Flash – The top notes of Rose Flash always make me think of beer – at first I thought it was an idiosyncrasy of either my batch or my nose, but then I read a review on Fragrantica that compared the opening to “smelling fresh sticky beer dried on a bar”! Even so, this simple rose has really grown on me – it’s very jammy, but with a tart, verging-on-sour lemoniness very true to a living bloom.
How do you cheat winter? Or for those of you in the southern hemisphere, what perfumes are you wearing these days?
Photography by Bois de Jasmin (image 1) and by Elisa (image 2).