Kenzo Winter Flowers ~ perfume review

Hellebore rose

Someone made the assertion in the comments recently that flankers are never an improvement on the original fragrance*. I'm sure there are a few exceptions (although I can't think of one offhand; if you can, please comment!), but I'd agree with the rule in theory. Still, there are certainly flankers that I'd rather wear than the original, even if they aren't "better". Kenzo's Flower Oriental (2005) is one example. I wouldn't argue that it's "better" than Kenzo Flower (2000), but Kenzo Flower, brilliant though the composition may be, wears like a mess of sweet girl-powder on me. I'd just as soon admire it from afar. Flower Oriental added a dash of spice to the mix, and floated the whole thing over a darker, drier base, thereby rendering it wearable for those of us who found the original a tad too ironic for everyday use.

Winter Flowers is Kenzo's latest flanker for the Flower fragrance:

An ancient precious winter flower is the star of Kenzo’s new, limited edition eau de parfum, FLOWERBYKENZO WINTER FLOWERS. This powdery, floral scent is inspired by Hellebore rose, which is known for its startling blossoms and fragile beauty against the stark winter landscape. Unlike the original FLOWERBYKENZO, WINTER FLOWERS incorporates a sparkling top note of mandarin, floral middle note of hellebore rose, and powdery base note of absolute vanilla.

Native to the mountains of central Europe, Hellebore rose, also called Christmas rose, is a true winter flower that blooms in December. Despite its name and similarity in appearance to wild roses, hellebore rose is actually a member of buttercup family. In the wild, this sweetly scented flower has been treasured for millennia for its medicinal, magical powers. (via press release)

Can I just say, as an aside, that I've started to sit up and take notice when I read ad copy that doesn't make me roll my eyes and/or burst out laughing? Apparently it is possible to make a fragrance sound attractive to consumers without descending into absurdity.

Kenzo Winter Flowers perfume

In addition to the mandarin, hellebore and vanilla mentioned above, Winter Flowers also has notes of violet leaf, mimosa, camellia and patchouli. The opening is not radically different from that of the original Flower scent (they both smell equally citrus-y to me), but as it dries down, it does have a somewhat stronger floral character. I am not familiar with the scent of hellebore rose, but the mimosa is evident, and the base, while nowhere near as dark as that of Flower Oriental, is marginally warmer and darker than that of the original Flower. Likewise, the vanilla smells slightly warmer, almost caramelized, in the Winter Flowers.

If you loved Flower to begin with, Winter Flowers will make a nice alternative for cooler weather. If you didn't love Flower, I'm not sure Winter Flowers will sway you, but it's worth a try. For my part, this is nicely done but I'm sticking with Flower Oriental.

Kenzo Winter Flowers is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, and the lasting power is very good. It is a limited edition, although do note that Kenzo Flower Oriental was also introduced as a limited edition, and it is still quite easily found.

*I'm sorry but I can't remember who said it, or even which post the comment appeared under. Please stand up and take credit if it was your comment!

Note: image is Hellebore by code poet at flickr; some rights reserved.

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51 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    In answer to your question: Organza Indecence!
    But again, that's probably a claim about my taste, rather than the inherent quality of either perfume… Interesting to think about what wouldn't be, though, R. Doesn't that get us into the murky waters of objective vs. subjective evaluations?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Must agree. OI is very special.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good one — I'd agree on Organza Indecence.

    I suppose the waters are frequently murky, yes, but in the case of Flower, I'd say it's widely accepted as an iconic scent — Flower Oriental, no.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good then, that makes 3 of us :-)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Huh. I've never noticed any fragrance from my hellebores, neither out in the garden nor when brought indoors. There is a species called Helleborus odorus that is fragrant, but not very, I think; and Helleborus foetidus that has a particular smell to it, but it's not a floral smell and some people find it downright unpleasant. Helleborus niger, the species that is called Christmas Rose is not fragrant.
    Nice concept, though – I suppose that hellebore rose note must be inspired by the flower rather than having anything to do with how they actually smell (or don't, as the case is).

  6. Anonymous says:

    It isn't a plant I know much about, so I'll be no help on that subject.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I'd rather wear Hypnotic Poison than the regular any day!

    Winter Flowers *is* kind of fluffy, but then, so is Flower, no? The base here isn't as warm as I'd have wanted it, but if you want less patch than Flower Oriental, you might love this one.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Great article, R. Better-than flankers: the Harvest flankers — 2007 Jasmine, 2006 Rose Centifolia, et al — to the original Givenchy Organza, Amarige and Very Irresistible. I continue to be surprised that these get so little attention.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Didn't know those existed. Hmmm.

  10. Anonymous says:
  11. Anonymous says:

    IMHO a couple of flankers which could be considered on a par with the original: Miss Dior Cherie, Coco Mademoiselle, Youth Dew Amber Nude, Kelly Caleche, Lolita Lempicka Fleur Defendue. These at least seems distinctive enough to stand up on their own….

  12. Anonymous says:

    Without a doubt, Organza Indecence – I'm wearing it right now in fact! And I would agree with Hypnotic Poison as well.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I'd love to try this one but I adore Kenzo Flower Oriental, incense wins!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Coco Mademoiselle in particular is probably better known than the original, I'd say.

  15. Anonymous says:

    If you already love KFO, I'm guessing this one won't appeal to you as much.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I don't love Flower, simply because I cannot smell it…at all :-) But this one is a different story, I was very surprised to a) smell it and b) liek what I am smelling. :-)

  17. Anonymous says:

    Being able to smell it is a definite improvement, M!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hmm. I have to try this. I like the original flower, and love the Oriental Flower, this sounds interesting. I will go look for it. I am happy to see that the Oriental is still on the shelves here. My bottle is more than half gone and I would like to replace it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I third that about OI. Yummy!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I love Hypnotic but the original Poison is fab too. This was very popular in the 80s and with a light hand, I still enjoy smelling this on other people. I need a bottle I think.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Smelt this today and loved it! Am also a fan of the original Flowerbykenzo. I don't usually like the summer flankers because they invariably smell like floral water, but this winter one actually has a lovely depth to it. Plus, the packaging and illustration on the bottle is gorgeous, as usual.

  22. Anonymous says:

    That's interesting…I don't think I've ever smelled the original, but I love coco mademoiselle. It's probably going to be my next full bottle purchase, but I always make myself wait until I'm absolutely sure I'll use the whole bottle. Poor college student syndrome. :) It is a beautiful fragrance, though.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I actually love KenzoAmour Indian Holi much better than the original Amour.

  24. Anonymous says:

    It actually seems easier to find now than when it launched…assume that means it did well and they kept making it (?)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Yes, that could be true too. I think that's what Kenzo Flower Le Parfum was supposed to be, but that one is a little different.

  26. Anonymous says:

    It's a shame how hard it is to find Chanel at discount. Beautyencounter does have a few CM testers at the moment.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I like it better than I used to, myself, but not yet at the “need a bottle” level :-)

  28. Anonymous says:

    I liked the bottle better! But the Amour “regular” juice :-)

    Hope the gold Amour is out soon, dying to try it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I can't get a straight answer about this, and I have tried! I think maybe they were or are unsure about if they are keeping it long term.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Gold Amour? The name alone sounds great! Do you know any details about the notes, R?

    I share your preference for the original Amour.

  31. Anonymous says:

    i live in the sf bay area, and used to visit the UC Berkeley botanical gardens quite regularly.  they have a large area planted with hellebores, and they are extraordinarily fragrant when the blooms first open up in the winter, especially when it is very foggy and the humidity helps the scent carry.  the blooms do last for months and months, yet they are only fragrant for a few days after they open up, so it's very common to smell the open flower and get no scent.  but when they first bloom, the scent is overwhelming.  the only other flower scent i could compare it to would maybe be kind of daphne with some jasmine or gardenia, but not really……i'm a bust at describing scents.  definitely that all-enveloping feel, but not extra heavy or waxy.  they remind me a little bit of night-blooming cereus in the way the scent just carries everywhere, while you're looking for the source – some shy, drooping bells held a few inches above the soil, their colors and substance not all that distinct from those of the leaves. 

    anyway, hellebores do have a scent and i will be interested to try this perfume to see how they have captured and interepreted it.

  32. Anonymous says:

    It's supposed to be deeper & woodier. The name is really Kenzo Amour Le Parfum, I just called it Gold Amour because it's in a gold bottle:

    http://www.nstperfume.com/blog/_archives/2008/9/16/3887461.html

  33. Anonymous says:

    It's never easy to find out if something is LE! It is still on the Kenzo USA website, at any rate.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, R! How did I miss that? The notes do sound fab!

    And now for the I-could-kick-myself moment: today, yes, TODAY, while I was browsing in the perfume shop I asked one of the SAs if they had the new Winter Flower and she kept pointing at one of the Amour bottles saying that's the latest Kenzo they got. Of course the big-headed me was convinced that said novice SA obviously needs more training. Only now do I realize that the bottle was GOLD! :)

  35. Anonymous says:

    Me too! I looked for Winter Flowers everywhere in London this week, but to no avail. No Flowers Oriental either, though I did try the Summer one, which was pretty in that girly way you always expect of mimosa!

  36. Anonymous says:

    I mean I also prefer Indian Holi to regular Amour, I mean – my comment landed lower down.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I like Angel Rose better than the original Angel.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I think I liked all of that series better than the original. Not sure they're better though — Angel is a masterpiece, love it or hate it.

  39. Anonymous says:

    It was me who posted the comment about flankers generally not being better than their predecessors. I have thought about it more since I posted it and concede that some are quite nice. Dior and Chanel have done ok, but I really can't see the point of 3 versions of Estee Lauder's Pleasures. It feels like most celebrity fragrances are followed by a flanker within months of their release. Britney, SJP, J-Lo are all culprits (are they all by Coty?)

    As for KWF, I'm interested to try it, if only to see if it doesn't make me nauseous like the original. All I could ever smell was sickly-sweet powder and no flower.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Good, sorry for not giving you credit, my memory is horrid.

    No, not all Coty — Britney is Elizabeth Arden.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I don't really like Kenzo Flower and in general are more the oriental-goth kind, but I just wanted to like Winter Flowers when I read your review, Robin!

    Two reasons: I really love the scent of mimosa! My mum has a flat near lake como, and there are lots of mimosa trees in that region. They bloom only for a very short period, just about one week each spring, but during that time, the air is just filled with their perfume. Absolutely amazing!

    Second: I didn't realize that Christmas roses had any smell, but my granny had one small bush planted on my great-grandparent's grave. It usually looked totally rotten, but my granny would care for it all the same, and was rewarded every Christmas, when that small weak bush started to bloom in the midst of the winter snow. It originates from my family's farm and must now be at least 60 years old, but it still blooms every Christmas, although granny has died several years ago.

    so, you see, I just have to like this ;-)! went to check it out during lunch break, and probably will be back after work to give it a try on skin. Thanks for the review, anyway!

    Oh, and I do like beyond paradise blue better than beyond paradise, less sweet, totally easy-going summer scent.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Somehow doubt you're going to like it — it's so similar to Flower in feel, and it's far from oriental-goth. But who knows?

  43. Anonymous says:

    Definitely REALLY far from oriental goth! LOL! have been smelling a scent strip all afternoon now…

    I will give it at try on skin, tough, because sometimes it's just soooo nice to wear something simple-easy-fluffy-pink-vanilla, right? (saying this, my preferred comfort scent is Avignon…)

  44. Anonymous says:

    Hey R, I tried KA Le Parfum today! Strangely, it opens like the regular Flower or perhaps the Oriental (incense), and stays like that for the first half hour, powdery musky violet. It is only 30 minutes in that I recognize the skeleton and contours of Kenzo Amour, after which the benzoin kicks in. This is pretty much a benzoin-heavy scent, in a good way though, and if you're a fan of benzoin, you won't be disappointed. Le Parfum is considerably calmer and darker than the regular KA. It is also sweeter, but its sweetness is of the burnt amber/benzoin variety, so much so that at one point it reminded me of Ambre Sultan! Also, its deep dry down isn't nearly as musky as the original (which can sometimes get a bit screechy). Sorry to report that I could make out the incense only on the strip, where the perfume is comparatively sharper and more benzoin-y. Hope you get more of it! :)

    And um, sorry for being so long-winded…

  45. Anonymous says:

    Hey, you could layer it w/ Avignon too, I'd bet. And do agree everyone needs an easy fluffly scent!

  46. Anonymous says:

    But I thank you for being so long-winded — great description. Was happy until you said it was sweeter, and reminded you of AS. Now I can't decide. I'll just have to go smell it, won't I?

  47. Anonymous says:

    R, do bear in mind that I have sweetifying skin and that Le Parfum was not as sweet on the strip. Another thing is that it isn't a sillage-monster as the regular but it isn't exactly soft since the benzoin does have some smoky sharpness to it. Six hours in and it's quiet and comforting, but I still get no incense :( FWIW, it's beautifully done. I'm now very curious to hear your impressions!

  48. Anonymous says:

    I'll have to see if I can find it this weekend. Kenzo reliably does a nice job, don't they? I like Kenzo.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Funny you should say that as I was just thinking the same thing: honestly, I don't know that they have released a single dud, feminine or masculine. I'm sure I've smelled most of their lineup and though some perfumes were not exactly my cup of tea (Flower, Kenzo PH), they've all been consistently very, very good! I adore Jungle PH and am now wondering what is it that's been stopping me from buying a bottle all these (10!) years. Weird, I know.

    Happy hunting over the w/e! :)

  50. Anonymous says:

    I think I found the worst flanker ever — Mustang Blue. Reviewed on my blog, my first fragrance review! http://criticize-everything.blogspot.com/

  51. Anonymous says:

    Ouch, that sounds like a real scrubber….

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