If there is one thing fragrance fanatics know, that’s to be seasonally appropriate when picking a perfume. As much as you may love the notes of summer, melon and strawberry have no place during the cold winter months. Think about the restaurant industry; chefs try their best to use seasonal produce to reflect the mood of the moment and so must we.
Winter is a time when you can easily switch to dramatic and impactful fragrances that you couldn’t have worn during the summer months because they are overwhelming in the heat and humidity. The winter air, which is drier, crisper and cooler, calls for headier scents. Notes that really have an impact during the winter season include; amber, patchouli, musk, ginger, fig, and woody notes like cedar, sandalwood, and vetiver.
Whether you are buying for someone else this Christmas or looking for something you can wear that reflects the festive mood and change of season, Master Perfumer John Stephen explains the how, what, and why of the summer to winter scent-swap.
The creative force behind Cotswold Perfumery, one of the UK’s most successful perfumeries, John Stephen makes fragrances for both niche brands and best-sellers for top international fragrance houses as well as the royal family: “Wintery perfumes tend to be spicier, heavier and more complex than summer fragrances, often classified in the industry as Oriental or chypre like Chanel No.5. I would say that changing your fragrance is similar to editing your wardrobe in some ways. You would not walk down the street in a summer dress and sandals in December, you switch to sheepskin boots and a woolly cardigan, and similarly, a strong sandalwood, cashmere wood, or black pepper scent is just the thing to complement this change of season.’’
When it is colder, we want our fragrance to bring warmth to the skin and have longevity—it needs to withstand blustery winds hitting your skin and layer upon layer of clothing you pile on and then peel off throughout the day, which can often take your favourite fragrance off in the process. If you can, invest in an eau de parfum, rather than an eau de toilette, which doesn’t always have the same staying power.
“Some of the most memorable and evocative of winter fragrances are those that remind us of specific experiences we may have had during the cosy winter months in front of a roaring fire, sipping mulled wine. The trick is to become aware of the fragrances around us, acknowledging at every point, those that are pleasant, new, and exciting, and putting a name to them. Being more fragrance-conscious and noting down what you like, will mean that you can choose your own individual perfume with all those ingredients that reignite thoughts of the festive season,” said Mr. Stephen.
If cinnamon, spice, and all things nice sound appealing to you, then check out some of these festive flavours to get you in the mood for some mistletoe and mulled wine:
Tom Ford Black Orchid Eau de Perfum (£43.20, $70) has become a modern classic, and its top note of black truffle is perfect for the cold, dark nights. It also gets a tick for its vetiver and patchouli notes—both of which are real winter warmers. This one’s luxury in a bottle and a mere spritz lasts a long, long time.
Prada L’Eau Ambree (£52, $76) is a sensual, feminine fragrance with (as the name suggests) warming amber notes. When layered with the body lotion it lasts much longer. Definitely one to show off on your dressing table.
Cotswold Perfumery’s Cymbelline by John Stephen (£25.95) is a best-selling chypre fragrance during this time of year with a glorious base of sandalwood and vetiver. This one’s perhaps the connoisseur’s choice, especially if you don’t want an easily identifiable fragrance. Great for those who like to embrace their individuality.
Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Cologne, (£38, $60 ) may not be the newest kid on the block but it certainly evokes the warmth and splendour of the season; sitting by a roaring fire, pepper, spicy woods and of course pomegranate will whisk you away. One word of warning; this fragrance is now available in plenty of home accessories such as oil diffusers and candles, etc., so be sure you don’t overdo it. Ever heard of too much of a good thing?
If you think you can do better than these, and want to give fragrance blending a shot yourself, give it a try. In his spare (!) time, John runs perfume courses for both individuals and larger groups for corporate and industry training. For more information, call The Cotswold Perfumery on +44 (0)1451 820 698 or log on to www.cotswold-perfumery.co.uk.
Love from London