I am on record, here and elsewhere, as hating winter. The forecast for this weekend — snow, snow, and then more snow — just adds insult to injury. I've mostly managed to avoid the winter rotation in our seasonal Top 10 lists, but I did get stuck with it back in 2011, and reviewing that list, yes, I could easily go through the winter with just those 10 (and I am convinced I could make it through any winter with just Fendi Theorema, if I had to).
To avoid repetition with my 2011 list and the winter lists we've done since, I decided to come up with a cold-weather wardrobe based solely on newer fragrances...and then once I'd decided on my 10, I realized, too late, that this post is essentially an abridged and annotated version of the Best of 2015. So much for good intentions. If you have some new ideas for winter, do comment! And do check out the lists at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc and The Non-Blonde.
Traditionally, winter fragrances are all about spices and woods and incense and amber: warm, relatively heavy notes that might help to ward off the chill. The bulk of my selections are from that category, because hey, it works.
Aftelier Vanilla Smoke ~ Angie pegged Vanilla Smoke as perfect for November, but I promise it will carry you straight through February. Brew up a nice cup of lapsang souchong and settle in, spring is bound to get here eventually.
Tauerville Incense Flash ~ a dry herbal leathery incense that could be the winter version of Tauer Incense extrême. Bonus: if you've been brushing up on your perfumista math, you probably already know that Incense Flash is basically free.
Kerosene Broken Theories ~ bold, dark, smoky and spicy, and the perfect thing to wear while reading by the fire. If, like me, you don't have a fireplace, pour yourself a nice glass of something, put on Broken Theories, sit right next to the radiator and dream. If you don't have a radiator either — modern life is so hard! — get out your iPad and pull up Nick Offerman's Yule Log.
Aedes de Venustas Palissandre d’Or ~ while it's one of the quieter Aedes fragrances, Palissandre d’Or still packs plenty of woody and spicy goodness, and the hint of smoky incense gives it a contemplative air that's perfect for pondering life's big questions, like why winter?
John Varvatos Dark Rebel ~ Kevin questioned the need for Dark Rebel given that Hermès Bel Ami is still in production, but did point out that if you wanted a milder version, Dark Rebel might suit. I'll just add that yes, some of us do indeed appreciate a milder version, and as a bonus, Dark Rebel layers beautifully: try it with a tiny dash of Tauerville Rose Flash. (The bottle is pretty spiffy, too, and it's already at the discounters. You can find a big bottle for even less than the already-basically-free Incense Flash.)
Remember the joy of a snow day when you were young? The freedom, the hot chocolate, playing in the snow for hours! For many of us, that joy has been replaced with the drudgery of shoveling snow and being cooped up the house, sometimes for days on end, with dwindling food supplies and cranky cabinmates. Worst case scenario: your internet is out as well, and somebody in the household is coming down with a cold.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Noir Exquis ~ you need a decent winter comfort scent, preferably one with at least a little foody sweetness, in your arsenal for days like these, and Noir Exquis might just fit the bill. If it doesn't, do look at the comments on that review — there are tons of great suggestions for alternatives.
Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses ~ Kevin calls Elephant & Roses the daytime / summer version of Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khan, and perhaps it is, for some of you. For those of us for whom Muscs Koublaï Khan is essentially out of the question, day or night, in any season, Elephant & Roses is a perfect animalic musk for sissies, and there's no better time to wear it than a snow day — you're not going anywhere anyway. Plus, somebody else will have to do the shoveling, because you can't very well have your coat smelling like elephant, can you?
I'm tired of winter before it begins, and eventually, I'm tired of winter-y orientals too. Then it's time for a little escape, perfume-wise. I already did a post on citrus fragrances for cold weather, or you can try one of the two escapist alternatives listed below.
Bvlgari Omnia Paraiba ~ for a quick tropical getaway, turn the heat way up, shed a few winter layers and find yourself the happiest fruity floral you can. Byredo Pulp is another good option, and so is Diptyque Oyedo.
L'Occitane Pamplemousse Rhubarbe ~ more good cheer to counter grey winter days, plus there's just enough spice to keep the rhubarb and grapefruit from floating away during the worst of January.
Many of us put away our pretty florals until spring rolls round again, but of course that's crazy: you need pretty now more than ever.
Diptyque Essences Insensées 2015 ~ a (gorgeous!) jasmine that's full-bodied enough that it might work better in chilly weather anyway. Wit from Parfums DelRae is another alternative, and when all else fails, there's always Fracas.
Note: top image shows detail from Mikhail Vrubel's The Snow Maiden, a sketch for the opera.