Top 10 Winter Fragrances 2014

Hill and Ploughed Field near Dresden

There are almost 200 perfumes on my “want-to-sniff” list. The majority of them were released in the last four years and a large percentage of them never were sold in the U.S. (Ever seen Trussardi My Land, Mäurer & Wirtz Pink Pepper & Grapefruit, Molinard Habanita L’Esprit or Charriol Royal White at your favorite American fragrance counter?) There’s just too much ‘product’ out there!

So, how can I write about the “top 10 winter fragrances” with any authority? I can’t. My “top 10″ is comprised of perfumes I’ve recently encountered, worn, enjoyed, and that fit my mood of the moment. I’m not including fragrances I’ve reviewed in the past. I’m not including lots of classic/rich “winter” fragrances because, frankly, by mid-January in Seattle, I’m sick of cold, wet weather and dark heavy perfumes. I need some sparkle in my life…some light, citrus and flowers. And let’s not forget it is SUMMER in the southern hemisphere — this post is dedicated to readers in that part of the world; I wish I could visit you all, from Argentina and Brazil on over to South Africa and Australia and the balmy lands of Asia and the South Pacific.

Ava Lux Honey presents the warm scents of hot summertime, with its floral, nutty (almond) aromas…

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5 perfumes for: Foodies

Ice cream cones, Jordi Roca

Recently, I re-watched El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, Gereon Wetzel’s very scrupulous, very German 2011 documentary about one of the final years at the restaurant many food followers believe to have been the most influential of the last two decades: elBulli, brainchild of rumpled Catalan genius Ferran Adrià. Besides falling in love again with both the mad scientist menu and Adrià’s right-hand man, dashing chef de cuisine Oriol Castro, the thing I really noticed on this viewing was how familiar the scenes might seem to our readers. Adrià and sommelier David Seijas discuss what families scents fall into and how to emphasize notes from individual ingredients with other ingredients. Adrià, Castro and Eduard Xatruch go to the market, and are frustrated by the variable qualities and availability of the raw materials they need. In the lab and kitchen, there are endless “mods”, sampling and editing sessions and passionate discussions about the time-lapsed impressions a product gives. Everyone sniffs, and then stares thoughtfully off into space.

Of course, if you’ve been following perfume in the news, none of this will be a surprise. Chefs and perfumers have long recognized their mutual interests. Cooks have used essentials oils in recipes since the thirteenth century, and medieval cuisine included dishes like ambergris pudding, rose and almond milk pottage, candied calamus root and marigold (calendula, or “pot marigold”) stew. Perfumers, meanwhile, have always sought to make their creations mouth-watering, and a few contemporary ones, like Christophe Laudamiel, started on the flavorings side of the trade. It certainly seems, though, that both fragrance and food industry spokespeople have recently become more vocal about publicizing collaborations, particularly on the luxury ends of the markets…

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