Unexpected perfumes for winter

Fragrances that inspire dreams of spring, the sea or the tropics on a cold day

Any style rule stated too categorically is circumspect ­– don’t pair black and navy, avoid mixing prints or hide colognes away till the summer. The last one particularly makes no sense to me, because the beauty of fragrance is that it allows you the freedom to enhance your mood or your image. Wearing a gossamer summer dress on a freezing winter day may not be sensible, but why not don a perfume that evokes a sunny garden or a Frédéric Malle’s Lys Méditerranée (£155 for 100ml EDP). It blends the richness of Casablanca lily with bright citrus notes and salty accents. The combination is much more effervescent than one might expect from a traditional white floral, with a silky texture evoking cool petals. Hermès’ Epice Marine (£130 for 100ml EDT) is another unusual cologne, combining cardamom and roasted cumin with a dose of briny freshness. While many marine perfumes transport you to a 1990s-era shopping mall instead of the beach, Epice Marine’s destination is a rugged sea coast that smells of driftwood, wet sand and seaweed.


Somewhere lush and tropical is another fantasy I like indulging on an overcast morning. Vero Profumo’s Rubj (€180 for 7.5ml EDP, second picture) reminds me of Indian nights, indecently lush flowers, overripe fruit and salty skin. A rich potion, to be sure, but on some days there can’t be too much of a good thing. More understated but equally irresistible is Parfums de Nicolaï’s Juste Un Rêve (£89 for 100ml EDT), a tiaré blossom soaked in apricot nectar. True to its name, it’s a dream.  


Another way to make the cold months more bearable is to find aspects of winter to enjoy – the crisp scent of snow in the air, the pearly white light, the softness of cashmere scarves and the heady warmth of mulled wine. Winter erases many of the usual urban smells, leaving a blank canvas for subtle scents. For this reason, delicate perfumes can be surprisingly harmonious, even more so than the usual heavy orientals suggested for winterwear. Some of my favourites are irises and aldehydes (aromatic compounds reminiscent of freshly ironed linen): Chanel’s 28 La Pausa (£280 for 200ml EDT), an ethereal étude of iris and musk; Annick Goutal’s Duel (£50 for 50ml EDT, third picture), a violet green tea; or Balenciaga’s Le Dix, a bouquet of flowers dipped in champagne. A perfume won’t make a cold day seem warmer, but it will certainly add a dose of beauty. Often that’s more than enough.

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