Top 10 Winter Fragrances 2016

Mikhail Vrubel, The Snow Maiden, detail

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

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Parfums Raffy

Top 10 Fall Fragrances 2015

yellow leaf

It’s mid-September, and I’ve been flipping through various beauty-and-fashion magazines to keep up with things. I’ve been particularly struck by all the “New Season, New Scent” headlines. I know, I know — this is how the fragrance business stays in existence, yet this autumn I’m craving comfort and familiarity far more than novelty.

Looking back five years (!), I’d still wear most of my picks from my Top Ten Fall Fragrances of 2010, but I’ve also made a few “new” favorites since then. Here are my very personal picks for the months ahead.

I’m looking forward to an off-season seashore getaway soon, and I’ll be packing Diptyque Florabellio

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Top 10 Summer Fragrances 2015

Japanese Garden, Portland

Instead of returning to my weary perfume cabinet for a rundown of summer favorites (I already hear longtime readers thinking, Is she going to bring up that blasted bottle of Jean Naté in her refrigerator again? Yawn), this year I got smart. I asked André Gooren from Portland’s fabled The Perfume House to share ten of his summer favorites.

André was up to the challenge. During a Saturday morning, between helping a bearded Australian opera singer (Caron Nocturnes, two bottles), a charming older woman (4711), a Romanian couple (Robert Piguet Jeunesse), and a booming-voiced regular (Pino Sylvestre and Comme des Garçons Avignon), he laid out ten sophisticated and sometimes quirky choices…

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Top 10 Spring Fragrances 2015

orange tulip

At last, spring! It’s taken long enough, and if your local weather has been anything like mine, you might be wondering if winter is not quite done playing games with you yet. Here are 10 perfumes (and another 10+ alternatives, because everyone needs choice, right?) to cover the full range of (crazy) spring weather, from boots to sandals and back again. As always, do add your own picks in the comments, or go read the lists at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Perfume Posse and The Non-Blonde.

Sonoma Scent Studio Forest Walk: When I reviewed Forest Walk, I said you could wear it year-round but that the outdoorsy blend of earthy notes and pine-y woods was perfect for chilly fall evenings. Turns out it suits a brisk spring night just as well…

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Top 10 Winter Fragrances 2015

winter is going away

While I am almost impervious to cold, I hate the inconvenience of winter. Imagine the shock-and-awe factor of a blizzard before the urban industrial era. People must have looked out into the eerie silence of a storm, a thick, blank curtain of white dampening even the wind’s whistle, and prayed to their higher being for safety and survival.1 Now, I get a snow alert on my phone and think: “Blast! If this causes me fifteen minutes of delay on the commute, I’m going to lose it!” I know, #ModernWorldProblems. In fact, after an ice storm that darkened Toronto into the new year for 2014, we’ve been lucky enough to avoid most of the chaos this winter. My condolences to Buffalo, Chicago, Boston and those on the East coast in Canada and the US.

The upside to darkness and inclement weather is the time I have inside to prepare an assault on two high peaks: the book pile and Mount Sample. Generally, I wear whatever fragrance I feel like at any time of year, but almost all perfumes conjure a particular season for me and the ones that evoke winter probably get less of my air time than most, merely for practical reasons. (Who will wear Guerlain Attrape-Coeur on a warm day in May? Not I.) My personal strategy for combating winter, then, is to dig out those under-loved warming, rich and sweet scents. But I do empathize with those who use the opposite approach, the denial method…

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