winter scents: 6 posts

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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Top 10 Winter Iris Perfumes

I often hear iris described as a scent incompatible with winter because it echoes its chill too much. But since scents depend more on one’s mood and fantasy, rather than meteorological conditions, I don’t see why iris should be forgotten during these months. While I love iris all year around, its cool, violet toned color palette enhances the cold days for me. Against the whirlwind of the holidays and the new anxieties of the new year, it’s a kind of contemplative, soft scent that helps me carve time for myself and put the world on pause, temporarily.

Iris as a perfume note is half way between florals and woods (the natural essence is extracted from the roots of Iris Pallida). It can assume different characters, depending on how it’s used and what other materials it’s paired with, but the character of iris is strong enough to lend its cool touch to many different accords.

Honoré des Prés I Love Les Carottes

Iris roots and carrots share a number of aromatics in common , which is why I Love Les Carottes is such a clever blend. The carrot lends its apricot-like sweetness and musky warmth to iris, while vanilla and orange play up the teasing gourmand association.

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Top 10 Perfumes for Reading by Candlelight

If you need something comforting, then please join Elisa as she explores her favorite winter perfumes.

In my twenties, I loved to sleep late on the weekends – till 11 was ideal. I’d luxuriate in the feeling of stirring every hour or so as the sun began to light the room, then rolling over and going right back to sleep.

These days, I consider time to be more of a luxury than sleep, and I’d much rather wake up early and spend a few quiet hours reading on the couch and drinking coffee. And more nights than not, you’ll find me in the same place after dinner, with a glass of wine in place of the coffee. I especially love curling up with a book in winter, when I can pile on the blankets and light a candle for maximum coziness.

This year’s winter list includes some of my favorite cozy, comforting scents to wear during my favorite activity. (Incidentally, a few candles I’ve enjoyed recently: Thymes Frasier Fir and Nest Birchwood Pine, both excellent “Christmas tree” scents; Trader Joe’s Cedar Balsam, an absolute steal at $3.99; and Rewined Pinot Noir, a fruity scent with a ton of throw, even unlit.)

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Winter Lists : 5 Books and 2 Perfumes

There is nothing especially winter-like about my list of books (and perfumes). It’s mainly about enjoyment, with a dose of something high-spirited. Some may call it escapism, but I see it as a way to recharge and tune out the world long enough for me to find my balance and plunge back into the routine. Moreover, high-spirited, entertaining and fun, whether in literature, art or perfume, can assume many different forms. Here is my take.

winter-list

Jeffrey Steingarten The Man Who Ate Everything

“Whenever I have nothing better to do, I roast a chicken,” writes Jeffrey Steingarten. The food critic at Vogue magazine since 1989, Steingarten is also the author of two of my favorite books about cooking and eating, The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must’ve Been Something I Ate. Steingarten is witty, irreverent and passionate, an irresistible combination. His essays are full of interesting tidbits and recipes, but the main reason I enjoy them is because of Steingarten’s dry sense of humor. I don’t know how many times I’ve read “Kyoto Cuisine,” but the scene in which he tries to pry off the lid from a bowl of soup leaves me laughing out loud every single time. In the same essay, he also describes the exquisite flavors of Japanese cuisine, reminding his reader that as a bumbling tourist he may have missed many nuances. With Steingarten you can visit the Nishikidori market in Kyoto, run a scientific test of ketchups, grill sardines with Marcella Hazan in Venice, perfect fries, or try cooking from the back of the box.

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10 Perfumes for Cheating Winter

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.

bird cherry

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. Continue reading →

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