If you had told me a decade ago that Autumn and Winter would, respectively, become my favourite seasons I would have glared my S.A.D. lamp directly into your eyes and told you not to be so ridiculous. But people change and the shorter days suit me more now than the endless light of July.
This time of year has always been the one I look forward to in respect to scent though. My love of nurturing and darkly sparkling orientals is best suited to the colder months, where the warmth they provide is not soured by the sun.
My current Top 5 Scents for Winter Solstice 2015, then, are a mix of the very old, the cherished and the new. If you haven’t already tried some of these and are desperate to find some olfactory reassurance to keep you protected before the clocks go back, then seek them out – you may even find there’s more to life than the long, hot summers!
Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense: Kyoto
Kyoto remains my favourite in the Comme des Garçons compelling and influential Incense series that was launched in 2002. Of the five cities that the scents are named after, the smell of Kyoto is the friendliest.
It lacks the severe, dry temperament of Avignon and the pine needle tingle of Zagorsk and is instead sweeter and rich with a close to the skin smokiness. The incense here is calming with a warm subtle coffee note and if you’re the type that likes compliments based on your scent choice then I guarantee that most will want to know what you’re wearing.
If Kyoto is the chicest pick then my next choice is certainly the most divisive.
Commes des Garçon Series 3 Incense: Kyoto, £60 for 50ml
Hermès: Eau d’Hermès
Eau d’Hermès is the oldest of my current favourites (originally launched in 1951) and also the most potentially offensive with little sign of mellowing with age. Of course what’s appalling to some is catnip to another and Eau d’Hermès’ note-terrible of cumin will not leave you sitting on the fence.
This unisex scent opens with a radiant and refreshing bergamot which is almost immediately swallowed up by a dirty and domineering sweaty, spicy accord. The very photorealistic cumin stays strong for around three hours and I adore it. It’s not for everyone and eventually the soft leather that has been in hiding is allowed to peek through and show-off over the gentle dry down.
Eau d’Hermès smells nothing like any other fragrance produced by a major fashion house this year or in the previous 10 – they wouldn’t have the nerve. It is both a mature (not old fashioned) and shocking subversion of the classic cologne that still manages to be luminous and airy.
Eau d’Hermès by Hermès, £71 for 100ml
4160 Tuesdays: Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers
You must Google the conceptual story that influenced the creation of my next choice: 4160 Tuesdays’ Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers. It is quite bonkers and rather typical of this brilliant British perfume company helmed by expert nose Sarah McCartney.
The only gourmand here, Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers opens with a lightly scorched powdered chocolate accord that has retained the metallic tang of the spoon that has stirred it – this is the effect at least.
This chrome hit doesn’t last long and the soft chocolate remains until the end with an even softer orangey haze apparent on some sniffings. It’s brilliantly odd, it’s nowhere near as sweet as it sounds and is deeply comforting.
Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers by 4160 Tuesdays £40 for 30ml, £60 for 50ml and £90 for 100ml
Aesop: Marrakech Intense
Essential oils associated with the practice of aromatherapy seem to play a major influence in Aesop’s Marrakech Intense.
This eau de toilette smells like an expert blend of high quality oils which include clove, cinnamon, cedar, sandalwood and rose. It has little projection and is not complex but is meditative and grounding and has a quiet beauty.
It’s a scent that’s been created for you privately and not for others. To add curves, creaminess and some longevity I sometimes layer this with the original Agent Provocateur perfume (another rose) – they compliment each other very well.
Marrakech Intense by Aesop £53 for 50ml
Jo Loves: Pomelo
A bright citrus on a dull and cold day can be a tremendous tonic. Pomelo by Jo Loves is a tenacious and well crafted mix of sharp grapefruit juice and green vetiver. This could very well become the hit for Jo Malone that her Lime, Basil and Mandarin was for the company that she set up and then left almost a decade ago.
I’m never keen on this genre of fragrance, citrus colognes leave me oddly cold, but Pomelo (a fruit derived from is South-East Asia, sort of a cross between an orange and a grapefruit) opens on a tantalising cloud of refreshing and tart fruit and slowly winds down into a very elegant, woodsy vetiver.
My favourite from the range, Jo Malone is subtly redefining her signature with Pomelo by Jo Loves.
Jo Loves Pomelo by Jo Malone £55 for 50ml and £95 for 100ml