Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver and Paul & Joe Blanc : Perfume Reviews



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The icicles, which seemed to have been deliberately hung in different lengths from all the eaves, were incredibly beautiful and looked like waterfalls of crystal,” writes Sei Shonagon in The Pillow Book, a beguiling example of the classical Japanese prose from the 10th century. The silvery glitter of ice, the sparkling expanse of whiteness with an occasional glimpse of bare black branches, the metallic taste of snow on the lips–winter instills serenity and melancholy in the scenes that ordinarily would strike one as quotidian. The chill of winter in fragrances is usually expressed through the usage of the icy notes of iris, the white musk accords marked by the radiant metallic freshness as well the touches of ozonic elements to create the crisp effect of cold air.

Jean-Claude Ellena’s Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver (2003) and Paul & Joe Blanc (2003) are often compared, however while there are similarities, the fragrances are sufficiently different that a predilection for one would not necessarily mean liking for another. Yet, they both share the white powdery accord woven into the arrangement. Jean-Claude Ellena cites Après l’Ondée as his inspiration for L’Eau d’Hiver, which took the classical structure of the Guerlain classic, refined it to the essential features and added a scintillating hesperidic top. …

While Après l’Ondée is a composition layering spicy carnation, violet and iris over a baroque Guerlinade base shrouded in the powdery heliotrope, L’Eau d’Hiver is an elegantly minimalist core. A few lines and the image comes to life—luminous chilly iris folded into the white softness of almond and heliotrope, creating a scent that is moves beyond a floral bouquet.

L’Eau d’Hiver is a scent skin attains after a handful of snow melts in the warm palm, dripping as cold water through the fingers. The sweetness of bergamot sparkles like snowflakes on eyelashes before vanishing, replaced by the woody iris and the green almond powderiness. A swirl of iced flower petals falls gently into the creaminess of the luxurious musky base, adding a soft touch to the chilly outlines of the composition. Like falling snow blurs the lines of the landscape, the elegant powdery quality of the drydown lends a warm, hazy effect. While L’Eau d’Hiver is constructed out of the olfactory opposites, cold and warm, the effect is delicate and graceful like the dance of snowflakes in the air.

Paul & Joe Blanc (see my review of Paul & Joe Bleu) is conceptually very successful, since it conjures the whiteness of a glass of cold milk. Powdered almonds touched by the green accent have a dry quality at first, however the composition soon sweetens as the floral notes bloom in the heart. Panoramic and transparent, Blanc explores the softness of flower petals resting upon a milky base comprised of musk. It bears a relation to L’Eau d’Hiver in so far as both have a powdery quality that is between almonds and vanilla, however Blanc is simpler, sweeter and thinner, with less tenacity on the skin. The floral touches give Blanc a transparent quality, which L’Eau d’Hiver does not exhibit to the same extent, retaining opaqueness of the rich musk lacing its base and the woody facets that are minimal in Blanc.

L’Eau d’Hiver includes white heliotrope, bergamot, angelica, iris, hawthorn, jasmine, carnation, caramel, musk, and honey. Blanc contains hawthorn, angelica, almond, sweet pea, freesia, rose, musk, heliotrope, cloud of milk.

Editions de Parfums fragrances are available from Frédéric Malle boutiques, Barneys New York and Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums website. Bergdorf Goodman in New York carries the Paul & Joe fragrances. Online, the fragrances are available from the UK-based websites, Hqhair and In France, the fragrances are available from Le Printemps.

Please see other Frédéric Malle reviews:

Carnal Flower
En Passant
Iris Poudré
Le Parfum de Thérèse
Lipstick Rose
Musc Ravageur
Noir Epices
Une Rose

Photo: by Tom’s Gallery.



  • Sisonne: Dear V, thank you for another wonderful review 🙂 You made me so curious about the Paul & Joe fragrances! I emailed them to see if I can order directly from them (shipping from Le Printemps is rather steep), but didn´t get an answer…
    I do like FM Eau d´Hiver, but not enough to buy it. Perhaps it wasn´t sweet enough for me (though I´m not into sweet fragrances in general), but somehow I found it rather masculine on my skin. Perhaps P&J Blanc would suit me better since you wrote it´s sweeter than L´Eau D´Hiver.
    If I could only test them *big sigh* January 10, 2006 at 6:38am Reply

  • Sisonne: V, I forgot to ask: Do you find any similarities between Blanc & Dior´s Cologne Blanche? January 10, 2006 at 6:40am Reply

  • Christina H.: I also love L’eau d’Hiver too!It was a treat to read about a fragrance that in my opinion doesn’t get enough recognition.You have perfectly described why I like this scent and find it necessary to have in my collection. January 10, 2006 at 8:10am Reply

  • Judith: Such a lovely review! I do like Hiver, but for some reason, I have not been moved to wear it in a long time. Your evocative writing will give me the impetus! January 10, 2006 at 9:46am Reply

  • Håkan Nellmar: Lovely reviews. L’Eau d’Hiver is to me frosted flowers dipped in honey on a clean musky base. It can be too sweet on me, especially if I’m feeling warm, but I love to wear it occasionally. But I really prefer Aprés L’Ondée. January 10, 2006 at 10:15am Reply

  • Marcello: L’Eau d’Hiver is one of my favorite recent discoveries. It’s the perfect olfactory rendition of the French adjective ‘candide’ (think Voltaire).

    Thanks for the lovely review! January 10, 2006 at 6:48am Reply

  • julien: L’eau d’hiver is really beautiful.
    Unfortunately,on my skin it smells like odd old flowers.It even surprised the saleswomen at the FM corner.


    I never tried Blanc by P&J but i guess it is a very sweet fragrance as l’eau d’hiver.

    Après l’ondée is a true marvel…i am just too sad i never had the chance to smell the extrait de parfum.
    You could also name l’eau du ciel Of Annick Goutal wich also is very similar to Après l’ondée.

    What is your favorite one in between all of them?
    The guerlain?The malle or p&j?

    Thanks for the review.
    j. January 10, 2006 at 12:10pm Reply

  • marchlion: I wear Apres l’Ondee fairly regularly and am also heartbroken never to have smelled anything stronger than the EDT. A bottle of parfum auctioned recently on eBay for close to $400, I think… the L’Eau d’Hiver is delicious out of the bottle but unfortunately takes a very strong turn on me, like basil, which is strange for something with such initial warmth and sweetness. Thanks for such an interesting comparison. January 10, 2006 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Liz smellslikeleaves: Your L’eau d’Hiver review is amongst my favorite of your reviews, with such evocative poetic imagery. It’s an intriguing fragrance, soft and seemingly subtle but obviously expertly crafted. I fell very hard for this fragrance on the first try, particularly since the caramel note was prominent on me, but then lost interest soon afterward. However, I just sprayed my sample on my wrist, and it’s beautiful…so maybe I’m falling in love with it again. 🙂 I haven’t tried any of the Paul & Joe fragrances, but now I’m intrigued…will have to try those too. January 10, 2006 at 12:44pm Reply

  • linda: Such a lovely review, V! I didn’t like Blanc at all but now I want to sample L’Eau d’Hiver. Do you think I might still like it? January 10, 2006 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Laura: This is why intelligently written reviews are so important, whether the topic at hand is a painting, a piece of music, or a perfume. With your discussion of Eau d’Hiver, I can analyse my reaction to it and can detect and appreciate aspects of the scent that I would have glossed right over before. So, thank you for this and all of your reviews. I’m wearing Eau d’Hiver today and envisioning almond, heliotrope and musky arabesques traced in the air around me. January 10, 2006 at 8:00am Reply

  • Robin: Love Hiver, still trying to decide if I need to own Blanc as well. Which was your favorite, the Blanc or yesterday’s Bleu? January 10, 2006 at 1:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, you are welcome! 🙂 I would be curious to hear what you think when you try Blanc and Bleu. Both are very lovely fragrances, and the price is more than reasonable. What about ordering from Hqhair? They ship abroad. January 10, 2006 at 1:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I would say that Cologne Blanche is more citrusy than Blanc, slightly sharper, woodsier. Blanc is more feminine and sweeter. January 10, 2006 at 1:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marcello, your bringing up of “candide” immediately made me think of a pile of papers on realist theories of International Relations that I have to read. Indeed, Voltaire’s conclusion that the aim of man is not happiness but survival fueled quite a few of the political theory bodies of scholarship. January 10, 2006 at 1:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I am very glad to hear that you enjoyed the review and that it was helpful as well. Of course, it helps if the topic of study is beautiful! “Almond, heliotrope and musky arabesques traced in the air around me” sounds splendid. January 10, 2006 at 1:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, I do not hear L’Eau d’Hiver mentioned often, but I think that it is a beautiful example of JCE work. Like you, I find it necessary to have in my collection. January 10, 2006 at 1:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I am glad that I gave you the impetus to revisit it. I think that it is very special. January 10, 2006 at 1:58pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you. I am sure that there are plenty of other fragrances that find love in your home. 🙂 January 10, 2006 at 2:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Håkan, your description is very beautiful! I loved comparing it to Aprés L’Ondée side by side to understand what JCE did to render the Guerlain streamlined. It is really a fascinating composition. January 10, 2006 at 2:03pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: V, I would love to hear your thoughts. It is less sweet than the notes might indicate, but you might like it, especially if you like iris. January 10, 2006 at 2:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, oh, that is too bad. However, at least you have Après l’ondée to enjoy. I am also sad that the parfum is no longer made, however it is because some ingredients are now considered toxic.

    The one I wear most right now is L’Eau d’Hiver, because I like the modern transparency it executes beautifully. Moreover, I much prefer Après l’ondée in the parfum, which I do not have anymore. However, Après l’ondée will never be supplanted in my affections, if only because it was the first Guerlain fragrance I bought for myself. Paul & Joe fragrances are interesting, in that Bleu could be called a relative of Shalimar, while Blanc is a distant relative of Après l’ondée. January 10, 2006 at 2:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, L’Eau d’Hiver is definitely woodier than Après l’ondée, which is warmer and much more floral. I like the EDT, but perhaps since I have been wearing the parfum for a long time (run out recently, much to my dismay), I find it a little too pale. I still enjoy it, but not as much as the parfum. January 10, 2006 at 2:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, thank you for such a nice compliment. I like how JCE manages to create delicate and subtle compositions without compromising their depth or making them linear. Paul & Joe fragrances are very nice, and if you have a chance, do try them. January 10, 2006 at 2:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, they are sufficiently different, so I would recommend trying L’Eau d’Hiver nevertheless, even if you do not like Blanc. January 10, 2006 at 2:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I have decided that I do not need Blanc as well, because I would not wear it as often. It is nice, but it pales in comparison to L’Eau d’Hiver. I think that between Blanc and Bleu, I definitely prefer Bleu. It is much more interesting, given my tastes. January 10, 2006 at 2:12pm Reply

  • Marina: Neither of the three scents you mentioned work for me (including Apres L’Ondee), but I wanted to say that this is a lovely review! January 10, 2006 at 9:53am Reply

  • Victoria O: Now you have me wondering if I have tried L’Eau d’Hiver. I thought I had tried all the FMs, but I really don’t remember this one and I like the sound of those notes.

    I will have to make a point to retest. :O) January 10, 2006 at 11:41am Reply

  • julien: Thanks for your answer.
    I agree with you,Après l’Ondée has something very special,it is sweet melancholy,like an impressionist paint.
    Wonderful…and about the Goutal,did you try it?

    Kisses,j. January 10, 2006 at 6:25pm Reply

  • Cait: An informative review of one of my faves. I was interested in the way Ellena said he thought he’d improved Apres l’ondee. Hubris, maybe, but I can’t help but agree.
    And March, I know what you mean about basil. I smell it as caraway. Are the “vibrations” the same?
    I like the description of snowmelt through the fingers. January 10, 2006 at 2:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, thank you. I recall reading in Chandler Burr’s article that JCE was inspired by Apres L’Ondee and wanted to pay a homage to it, although he never said that he improved it (not in that article at least). Yet, like you, I very much enjoy this homage. January 10, 2006 at 9:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I hear that you can fill out the questionnaire and the store might send you samples. I have never done it, since I already have the tester kit with all of the fragrances. I love the line so much, I have a hard time selecting a favourite.

    Your post on POL is very thoughtful and wonderful. Thank you. I am very happy knowing that my writing is helpful to someone as well as interesting. January 10, 2006 at 9:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, AG Eau de Ciel is lovely, but I find something about it to be off. I am not sure what it is exactly. Perhaps, I should revisit and try to figure it out. January 10, 2006 at 9:53pm Reply

  • portlandia: Well, by now it is obvious; I must have ALL of the Frederic Malle fragrances. If they release any new ones in the near future I shall be ruined indeed. Thank you for making me part with my hard-earned money…. 😉 January 10, 2006 at 10:04pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Dear V.
    It’s unfair. If people ask FM for samples by mail, they seem to get them. I haven’t scored a single one at the boutique, despite long and fascinating conversations with the very knowledgeable SAs… I might have to spring for l’Eau d’Hiver: I find it delicate and hypnotic, with a perfect balance of iris (a great big whiff at first) and the controlled sweetness of almond (with a slightly bitter undertone which I find I crave more and more).
    On another note, I was moved to write quite a long post on a thread about perfume blogs on POL. This is the link: January 10, 2006 at 5:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I feel the same way, so I can understand what you mean. 🙂 I was wearing Carnal Flower tonight and reflecting on how beautiful it is and how impressive Malle’s efforts have been in creating such a great collection. January 11, 2006 at 12:03am Reply

  • Christine: I haven’t tried either one of these but I just have to say that I love your reviews. January 11, 2006 at 1:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christine, thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed them. January 11, 2006 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Tara: I am wearing L’Eau d’Hiver today and it is just like your review – so lovely. I keep it in the fridge and love the cold spritz of “winter water.” I look forward to retesting Bleu in Paris next week. Blanc was not nearly as nice as L’Eau d’Hiver on me.

    As for Apres L’Ondee, I was extremely fortunate to aquire a full 1oz bottle of parfum extrait last month, for which I paid a small fortune but it is so worth it. January 11, 2006 at 3:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, I also was not as enchanted by Blanc as I was by L’Eau d’Hiver. It has a coolness and fragility about it that I love, yet it is not completely icy. Some warmth is present and it is very interesting.

    Congratulations on your Apres L’Ondee extrait de parfum purchase! It is very rare nowadays, and I am very happy for you. January 11, 2006 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Suzy Queue: Thank you!! Such a beautiful review! I particularly enjoy it because it took me quite a long while to fully appreciate both L’Eau d’Hiver and Apres l’Ondee. Heliotrope is a note that I used to dislike intensely. I have come to love and crave it now. It intrigues me that both fragrances are so light & transparent (especially with my chemistry–definitely “close-to-the-skin” scents on me), yet so powerfully evocative. Easy on the sillage, but loads of mood! These little fragrances can paint vivid emotional pictures in your mind’s eye. How amazing! I admit that until reading your review, I did not know that the Guerlain fragrance had inspired JCE. January 14, 2006 at 10:29am Reply

  • savagebeautiful: Your writing is elegant and sensual. I like the fact that you attempt the impossible: to describe the sense of smell in words. What you show us is the temporality and spatiality of smell, in your case, in the form of perfume. I have been fascinated by your blog and have never felt moved to write until you wrote about l’eau d’hiver which is my favorite (I am rather monogamous when it comes to perfume, although I do change from period to period. If a perfume is like a lover, than I have had four lovers, and my current lover is l’eau d’hiver). Thank you for your writing. January 14, 2006 at 7:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Suzy, thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed it. Like you, I am fascinated by the interplay of complexity and transparency in JCE’s compositions. It is quite rare to discover this, and I never fail to be amazed by his ability to weave notes together in a complex, yet airy composition. January 15, 2006 at 2:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Savagebeautiful, thank you for such a wonderful compliment. The smell is fascinating. Its ability to conjure images even when nothing tangible exists is simply amazing. I can smell a walk through the garden even if at the moment I am inside a cement building in the middle of the city. The only thing creating the image is a tiny vial in my hand. Writing about beautiful things such as L’Eau d’Hiver is an effortless endeavour. The more I wear it, the more I fall in love with it. January 15, 2006 at 2:19pm Reply

  • Joytika: That was a beautiful review. I never tried L’Eau d’Hiver, but I looked up the Paul & Joe Blanc and found this review. I just found the Blanc at Anthropologie. Its not available at their online store, and its the only store I’ve ever seen it at.
    The only thing I didn’t like about the Blanc is that the bottle is very small…it comes in the 1 ounce size, whereas I saw L’Eau d’Hiver online in a 3.4 oz size. February 12, 2006 at 7:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you for your nice words. I am glad that you enjoyed the review. I must say that I really prefer L’Eau d’Hiver, but Blanc is nice too. You are right about the size. Its bottle is quite small. February 13, 2006 at 2:10am Reply

  • joytika: I became a bit desperate to smell L’Eau D’Hiver and I ordered a sample size from E-Bay. I plan on purchasing it if I like the scent… February 19, 2006 at 8:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Please let me know how you like it. I find it gorgeous! February 20, 2006 at 3:40pm Reply

  • Preya: I just received samples of L’Eau D’Hiver, Angeliques Sous La Pluie, and Lys Mediterranee from Frederic Malle! I don’t know what many of the notes you perfume people (grin) talk about actually smell like (angelica?), but I think this smells a lot like baby toiletries, though more complex and therefore more mature and wearable. Because it dries down to a white musky smell, I actually find it pleasant, but would have to test drive it for a day; I don’t usually like wearing powdery/musky scents, although I think they smell great on other people! February 23, 2006 at 9:03pm Reply

  • Preya: Just sprayed it on myself again and this time got a very clear marine/seaweedy note to begin with, along with a junipery note and something like licorice/anise–could those two things be the angelica? February 23, 2006 at 9:38pm Reply

  • Joytika: I got my L’Eau D’Hiver two days ago, its lovely! At first, I thought it was light and I couldn’t smell any musk notes at all…on me it smells fresh, cool, and (to use Preya’s description), marine. It reminds me of lemons, but it doesn’t smell anything like a lemon. There is something sweet and old-fashioned about it. Definetely have to buy the large bottle. February 24, 2006 at 6:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Preya, angelica should smell green and musky. I actually agree with your description of L’Eau d’Hiver as transparent. I love the powdery aspect of it. Of course, it is best to try it a few times. February 25, 2006 at 12:42am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Joytika, your description of it as sweet and old-fashioned is very apt. I would even say that it is somewhat nostalgic, and that is such a nice quality. February 25, 2006 at 12:43am Reply

  • Joytika: Nostalgic, thats the right word!
    I emailed Frederic Malle to help me select a fragance based on my tastes, and they said that L’Eau D’Hiver would be very suitable. March 12, 2006 at 6:01pm Reply

  • JKH: This is a lovely scent – smelling the sample bottle, it smelled like a fresh, cold winter’s day. very delicate, yet precise. I loved the sample I ordered from Les Senteurs in London. Unfortunately, my body chemistry causes it to go through a brief period where it smells like rubber. Hopefully, this only will happen to me. Definitely worth a try January 22, 2007 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Kloé: I have never really given much thought o scents, much less perfumes. I stumbled across your site, and started casually reading your article on (if my memory serves me right) Fleurs d’oranger. I became enchanted with your writing and your ability to transport me into a magical new world with each perfume you describe.

    After spending hours on your site (it really felt like minutes), I decided that I must go out and smell sample L’eau d’Hiver.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful world. March 21, 2014 at 5:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Kloé, thank you so much! It makes me so happy to hear that you’re enjoying it here. L’Eau d’Hiver is a beautiful perfume, and if you have a chance, do try Guerlain Apres L’Ondee. It inspired L’Eau d’Hiver, and it’s a fascinating perfume too. March 22, 2014 at 4:40pm Reply

What do you think?

Latest Comments

  • Maggiecat in Recommend Me a Perfume: May 2024: Seconding the Fragonard perfume museum and stores. Very nice scents at reasonable prices. May 27, 2024 at 4:18pm

  • Karina_NL in Recommend Me a Perfume: May 2024: …and I suggest not to miss Goutal’s (prev. Annick Goutal) stores. Enjoy Paris! May 27, 2024 at 3:03pm

  • John Luna in Recommend Me a Perfume: May 2024: according to the all-knowing consensus of Fragrantica readers, possible substitutes for the Kors include Gucci Bloom, Kim Kardashian(!), and Nasomatto Narcotic Venus (also deserving an exclamation mark for the title… May 27, 2024 at 2:49pm

  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume: May 2024: Hi Andrew: Seconding Jovoy, you’ll find several interesting brands there and adding le musée du parfum Fragonard. Also enter the discount parfumerie Marionnaud, there are several boutiques. May 27, 2024 at 2:40pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2024 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy