A Few of My Favorite Holiday-Season Scents

Christmas baubles

‘Tis the season! — and I’m trying not to get Grinch-y, as I often do at this time of year, when accumulated stresses and obligations (and NYC crowds) finally get to me. One way to stay calm, I find, is to turn to several scents that I associate specifically with the holiday season. I’ve worn them before, through holidays merry and not-quite-so-merry, and they remind me to stop and savor small, familiar pleasures at this all-too-often overstuffed time of year.

On one hand, Christmas is a time for tradition, and every year I reach for my treasured bottle of Caron Nuit de Noel Parfum on Christmas Eve. I find this fragrance wonderfully difficult to parse: it certainly includes oakmoss and some very dark rose, but I could also be convinced that it smells a bit like church incense, or roasted chestnuts, or a pine forest at night. In other words, it’s just abstract enough to lend itself to various fanciful interpretations…

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Parfums Raffy

Perfume: When Everything Old is New Again

Yves Saint Laurent Champagne advert

Every once in a while I open my perfume cabinet’s doors and am overwhelmed by the rows of bottles crammed shoulder to shoulder like glass soldiers. When it gets to be too much, I start giving bottles away. Rochas Tocade is an example. I bought it at an online discounter ages ago, but it was so sweet that it annoyed me. I swapped it away not long after. Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse is another example. I told myself that liked it a lot, but I rarely wore it. When I met someone who liked it better, I gave it away.

Earlier this week I found both Tocade and Yvresse (in its earlier incarnation, Champagne) at Goodwill and snapped them up. It had been so long since I’d smelled either one, and I as soon as I saw their bottles I missed them. Well, I won’t be giving them away again any time soon. Instead of cloying, Tocade smells almost golden on my skin and is just trashy enough to be fun. Champagne’s nectarine is so much juicier than I’d remembered, and its abundant moss is a deliciously fusty contrast.

Over the past six months, I’ve had a good time “shopping” in my own perfume collection and rediscovering fragrances I thought I knew…

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The human equivalent of crystal meth

It took a while for me to realise that I was no different. I found myself telling perfumer Alienor Massenet that what I loved about my husband was that his skin was the most sensual I'd ever come across, that it was a kind of red-gold caramelised copper with a tang of salty herbs to it and that I would follow it to the ends of the earth.

Quite apart from how embarrassing this is in general, I should have realised that he smells delicious because he usually wears Pour un Homme by Caron, a fragrance which, when blended with his skin, forms the human equivalent of crystal meth.

— Susan Irvine considers the smell of a man, in Perfect Chemistry at Vogue UK.