Winter: 87 posts

Fragrances I enjoy wearing in winter

5 Winter Pleasures

Winter has a certain beauty in its austere color palette and the way it slows down life to a bare simmer. Yet, weeks of overcast skies and cold weather can leave one listless and longing for warmth and sunshine. The Belgian winter is almost uniformly grey and damp, with hardly any snow days to remind me of the season’s more exquisite aspects. And yet I wouldn’t trade these three months for any other. Winter’s pleasures more than make up for the late sunrises and heavy layers of clothes.

Big Books

I’m not intimidated by big books. They hold many hours of reading enjoyment. They tempt me with their promise of new facts to learn and new experiences to discover. Such books aren’t satisfying to read on Kindle. I love the heft of a thick volume as I ensconce myself in my favorite bean bag chair. I seem to have more time for reading during the winter, which is why one of my seasonal pleasures is to go through all of the thick volumes that I’ve set my sights on. For instance, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Iryna Vilde’s Sisters Richynski, Charles Dickens’s The Bleak House, Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia, and the letters exchanged by Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. Finishing Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, In Search of Lost Time, is my plan for this winter.

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Golden Mandarins of Winter

If I had to pick only one perfume to wear throughout winter, it would be neither a smoky incense nor a warm amber. I could even survive the cold days without sumptuous white florals or dark spices. I couldn’t, however, go through winter without a citrus cologne. More precisely, my ideal winter fragrance is based around the zesty, bright note of mandarin. In my recent FT column, Mandarin Scents, I describe why I enjoy this ingredient, what makes it different from other citruses and which perfumes one should try.

Take, for example, Prada Infusion Mandarine. Its philosophy is to keep mandarin simple, and that refined minimalism is rewarding. The top notes combine all of the best elements of a citrus cologne – the green vibrancy of mandarin leaves, the sweetness of mandarin zest and the warmth of orange flowers. You notice the delicious bitterness of the peel and then the sweetness of pulp, and the contrast remains vivid into the drydown. To continue reading, please click here.

If you have favorite citrus perfumes for winter, please let me know.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Best of 2018 : 12 Perfumes To Bring into The New Year

Every year when I sit down to summarize the best of the launches, I look at perfumes I’ve reviewed and check my notes for whether I’ve changed my mind about the ratings. Although one could complain about too many launches, too much sameness in the market, too little creativity, the truth is that some fragrances always stand out and demonstrate that it’s possible to be original and interesting even when it seems that all of the possibilities have been exhausted.

I never intend my best of 2018 lists to be definitive, as they’re highly personal. This year I reflected back on what I wore and selected 12 perfumes I’m planning to keep in 2019. They’re not simply well-crafted and memorable; they also spoke to me and helped me create my own fantasies. This year has been a difficult one, but certain pleasures like books, art, music and perfume could make a big difference on even the worst day.

As always, please share your lists. I look forward to them every time. I wish you lots of happiness and good fortune in the new year. 2018 hasn’t been easy for many of us, but it’s my fervent hope that 2019 will be better in all respects. I thank all of you for visiting these pages, sharing your thoughts with me and being the best readers a writer could possibly wish for.

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Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread

For anyone interested in perfumery, blending a gingerbread spice mixture can be a useful exercise. You can learn to create top, heart and base notes and to understand how spices interplay to create an aroma greater than the simple sum of their parts. Most European countries have their own gingerbread recipe and a combination of spices that gives each regional variation its distinctive flavor. My great-grandmother’s Ukrainian version was scented with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, star anise and a hint of saffron. When I blended it myself following her proportions, I realized that it was similar to the “gingerbread perfume” accord I learnt how to make as a perfumery student, although my liquid version didn’t have the voluptuous richness of saffron.

In FT magazine column Mouthwatering Scents of Gingerbread, I write about spices, pastries and perfumes, including my four favorite fragrances with a gingerbread accord. To read the full article, please click here.

More on gingerbread: Ukrainian Honeycakes with Cinnamon :: Gingerbread Spice Blends :: Belgian Gingerbread (Speculoos) :: Dutch Cinnamon Cookies (Jan Hagel).

I’d love your opinion on other gingerbread redolent perfumes. Also, if anyone has a favorite recipe for the dark, moist, soft gingerbread or honeycake, I’d be most grateful.  

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, to make the printed gingerbread, I used the dough recipe for speculoos.

4 Flamboyant White Florals Against Winter Blues

With the holidays behind us and still too many winter days ahead, it’s important to find ways to add a splash of color to cold, grey mornings. I reach for my brightest dresses and scarves and add swirls of saffron and paprika to my food, evoking sunshine and warmth. Or I rely on white floral perfumes to create a vivid ambiance. White flowers may call to mind bridal veils, but there is nothing prim and pastel about the scent of tropical blossoms like tiaré, frangipani, ylang-ylang, tuberose or jasmine. They have a voluptuous aroma reminiscent of warm skin, coconut milk and petals sticky with nectar. The synesthetes among perfumers swear that white flowers smell purple and pink, rich and saturated, and it’s true that wearing a white floral perfume makes me feel as if the day is brighter.

These opulent, flamboyant scents are the topic of my FT column, Four white floral scents to brighten grey days. You will find the full article here.

How do you cure yourself of winter blues? What flowers among the white floral family are your favorites?

Image via FT

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Gabriela in 5 Winter Pleasures: Resign no, reading… January 19, 2019 at 8:44am

  • Sariah in 5 Winter Pleasures: Yes! I live in Washington DC and that’s one of the things l love best about it. January 19, 2019 at 8:16am

  • Sariah in 5 Winter Pleasures: Love reading these comments in part because it’s reminding me of some favorite books that l haven’t thought of in ages, like Middlemarch. I tried mulled wine for the first… January 19, 2019 at 8:15am

  • Gabriela in 5 Winter Pleasures: Just added this book to my resign list, thanks! I love the smell of mandarin in Barcelona in winter. Also enjoy reading, baking almond cookies, the smell of grapefruit oil… January 19, 2019 at 6:29am

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