Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter Breezes by Camille

I am extremely pleased to announce my first contributing writer!! I present to you my fragrance friend and Arizona neighbor Camille, a university professor with no credentials for perfume blogging other than a love of fragrance, a passion for learning, and a desire to communicate with others scent obsessed. She is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people I have met when it comes to fragrance. And she has been so gracious to write "Winter Breezes" to appear during one of my most arduous weeks of the year. Enjoy and thank you Camille!

I love the glorious excess of the holiday season. It’s a time of culturally-sanctioned overindulgence: I eat and drink too much. I shop and spend too much. I stay out or up too late with friends and family. My normal restraint with decorative “frou frou” flies up the chimney and I lavish every available flat surface and door and wall with greenery and trinkets and twinkly lights. And I pull out my richest and warmest scents in celebration of the season: Even in south-central Arizona, where we never see snow and it’s rarely seriously cold, I can finally feel free to revel in the likes of Fumerie Turque, Organza Indecence, and Coco, scents that seem like “too much” at most times of the year but fit the exuberance of late November and all of December perfectly.

Come January 2, however, all that excess seems once again like “too much.” Salads and fruit sound better than any heavy dinner or rich dessert. I pay the bills and eye the budget with new resolve. A routine complete with exercise and regular sleep hours feels good. And I invariably can’t wait to get the boxes out and pack up all of the decorations that somehow have lost their sparkle. Once bare of the holiday finery, the house seems fresher, cleaner, and brighter—it’s like the cold weather version of that first spring day when we open the windows and the breeze blows through the rooms.

This year—when we took the tree down later than usual and I was getting really antsy and unsettled by the delay—I got to thinking about this period and what scents I wear that capture that post-holiday feeling: spare, clean, restrained, perhaps even a bit cool and melancholy. The fragrances that I turn to when I don’t want “too much,” when excess irritates rather than pleases me. There are, of course, too many options and this is purely subjective, but my top choices in this category include:

1. Après L’Ondee (Guerlain)

Admittedly this fragrance suits more moods than my post-holiday period, but I love Après for its cool and fresh take on iris and violet. It is spare and dry and classic, and wearing it makes me feel more restrained and elegant than I am (or ever will be).

2. L’Eau d’Hiver (Frederic Malle)

A cliché, perhaps, but L’Eau d’Hiver perfectly captures that feeling of a clear winter day and winter water in all its forms: glistening on trees, frozen in puddles, dusting the ground. Ellena’s hawthorne/iris/musk creation is a little cool, a little melancholy, and all lovely.

3. Passage d’Enfer (l’Artisan)

The name suggests fire, but the fragrance is all cool flowers and damp church walls on my skin. There is something a little peppery in the opening that captures the slight melancholy of the post-holiday season, and the sheer lily and incense drydown satisfies my desire for austere freshness.

4. Iris Silver Mist (Serge Lutens)

Rich damp earth clinging to cold roots with a metallic tang—chilly, clear and more than a little quirky, ISM is right for only the hottest of summer days and the chilliest of January days. But when it is right, it is perfect.

5. 10 Corso Como

I love sandalwood, but I generally favor the nuttier, more rounded versions—l’Artisan’s Bois Farine, for example, is a staple that I reach for often all year round. 10CC, perhaps because on my skin it is peppery and incensey and only a little woodsy, seems more suited to January than does Bois Farine or my other softer sandalwoods.

6. Andree Putman Preparation Parfumee

Pepper, driftwood, and water—how could this not fit in this category? This is gray and cool and clean and subtle.

7. Philosykos (Diptyque)

This is my surprise January scent. Philosykos is one of my desert island fragrances, one of the few fragrances in my too-large collection that I have replaced more than once. It is without any doubt my favorite summer spritz, an absolute staple during Arizona summers. But it’s also perfect in January: It is dry, fresh, and resolutely green. When I tire of iris and pepper and frozen water but am still in my January phase, this is the bottle I grab.

You know, as I look over this list, I am struck by how many of these fragrances would also be included on my "dog days of summer” list. Perhaps it’s because I long then for some of that bare and cool freshness that this list so accurately captures for me now. Huh. Clearly I’ll need to revisit this list when it’s 110 degrees!


Do you have any fragrances or fragrance categories that fit your post-holiday mood? We’d love to hear about them!


Marina said...

That is a great list of minimalist, cool, melancholy scents. Lately, I like to wear Skarb, when I am in a mood like that.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting theme and a wonderful list of post-excess scents; some are not my thing (eau d'hiver, iris silver mist)but I must admit they make a nice pack.
Any suggestion for a very cold January in foggy northern Italy?
(I've been wearing Paestum Rose every single day since new year's day).

Camille said...

Hi, Marina. Thanks for another fragrance to investigate--Skarb is one that I am not familiar with. It's nothing new for me to get ideas from you, though, as I regularly read and enjoy your blog. I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!

Camille said...

Hmm, Edwardian, I wish that I had great recs for you, but all I can think about in reference to your location is my current love: Antica Farmacista's new home fragrance diffuser in Fico Verde. Don't know why I am associating figs with northern Italy in January, but that's where my brain is going today. Perhaps it would make you feel warmer to sniff something green and leafy? (Yeah, I know I'm reaching....)

Have you tried Le Labo's Rose 31? It's a brisk, spicy rose that might fit the bill when you wish a switch from your Paestum; I've been loving it the past few days. It's just cozy enough that it might be warming.

I hope you have a lovely (warmer and drier?) weekend!

Anonymous said...

Camille, thanks for the advice; I haven't found yet a fig perfume that I really love, but this only means I'll have to try more, and if
it's green and leafy it suits my taste.
Le Labo Rose 31 is somethig I want to smell badly, but the line is not available the way, I really love Guerlain Nahema, are they similar?

IrisLA said...

When I want something crisp and minimalist, I reach for Chanel No. 19, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Thé Vert or Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert Extreme. In general, though, I wear dense, full-bodied scents during the coldest days of winter. My current rotation includes Le Labo Patchouli, Mitsouko, Chanel Coromandel and Theorema.

ForTheLoveOfPerfume said...

Hello Iris,

Great choices. I too am a fan of green tea and reach for it when I need something crisp. Chanel Coromondel is such a gorgeous scent - full-bodies is a perfect word - for winter! Camille's choices are fantastic as well!