Winter is my favorite time to wear perfume. Something about heavy, textured clothing, dinners by the fireplace with friends, and the stark lines of trees and rainy streets against the warm light coming from homes goes well with some of my favorite perfumes. Trimming the list to just ten scents was brutal (sorry Caron Nuit de Noël and Guerlain Mitsouko!), but here they are:
Caron Tabac Blond: Tabac Blond is my default cold weather scent, and a few mls of the Parfum are always in my purse. Its thick leather and smoked cigarette smell give Tabac Blond personality, but the tonka-laden Caron base gives it warmth and approachability. I love it enough to sometimes wonder if I could make a cocktail out of it. Maybe a spritz of Tabac Blond on a shot of bourbon?
Serge Lutens Chêne: I was sitting next to the fire at a friend’s house the other night, and I could smell the heat of the burning hardwood, but no smoke (her chimney draws well). Riding the heat was a suggestion of cumin and the feeling that a sip of scotch leaves as it goes down, just like in Chêne. To me, Chêne smells like winter warmth. I adore it.
Christian Dior Diorling: Sometimes I pull out a pair of high-heeled boots made with shiny nappa leather and a 1950s coat with a Balenciaga-esque design. I need a scent that is sophisticated, engrossing, and womanly. I want to be fearsome, and that’s when I choose Diorling. The combination of the leather top with a complex floral heart and chypré-ed base is just the ticket.
L’Artisan Dzing!: I probably get more compliments on Dzing! than on any other scent. Dzing! is a wacky perfume that smells like motor oil, caramel, and leather. On me it has a musky dry down that’s not in any other fragrance I own. Since Dzing! is so definitely a modern scent, it makes a nice balance with a vintage dress.
Fendi Theorema / Caron Alpona: What is it about orange that goes so well with winter? It must be the pyramids of Seville oranges and clementines stacked in the grocery stores this time of year. Theorema is a creamy orange scent, loaded with comfort. Alpona is almost a Victorian orange scent, reminding me of houses with lots of small, dark rooms and stuffed crows under glass domes. I like to wear Theorema during the day, then, as it fades, top it with a few dabs of Alpona Parfum.
Jean Patou Joy: Where I live it rains a lot in the winter. Most often the rain is soft enough that you don’t have to carry an umbrella, but you can smell the damp dirt and wet tree bark. Cool, rainy days are the perfect backdrop for the floral lushness and generosity of Joy Parfum (I’d save the brighter Eau de Toilette for spring).
Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman: Ormonde Woman is another fragrance that goes well with dampness. Ormonde Woman smells grassy and loamy, almost like it was infused with truffles. Unlike Joy, it has little hint of flowers. Instead, Ormonde Woman makes you feel like you’re hiking through a landscape from the Lord of the Rings. I don’t know anything else that smells like it.
Rochas Femme: To me, Femme is the ultimate bombshell fragrance. It is a peachy, spicy, intimate chypre that screams Sweater Girl and demands a bear rug in front of the fireplace. I like to dab the Parfum strength of Femme because it’s softer than the Eau de Parfum and the cumin is a little gentler, too. But save Femme for winter. Wearing too much when it’s hot might qualify as assault with a deadly weapon.
Fabergé Tigress: When I was ten I used to dream of having a bedroom like the bottle in I Dream of Jeannie. If I could have had it decorated like the gold and orange, tiger-striped packaging for Tigress, I would have been in heaven. Tigress is a deliciously warm vanilla and amber fragrance with a floral heart. My kitschy vintage bottle — labeled “cologne extraordinaire” — makes me happy every time I splash some on. Plus, when people ask what I’m wearing, I can say, “Tigress!”
Guerlain Chamade: Finally the time comes in winter when daffodils start to puncture the dirt and camellias bloom. It’s still cold, but you know that spring is coming. That’s when I reach for Chamade. Chamade is otherworldly in its hyacinth and cassis gorgeousness. It’s fresh and gentle and haunting but still has enough body to stand up to a late winter rainstorm. The kicker? It’s supposedly Phyllis Diller’s signature scent.