Monday, October 8, 2007

Perfume for the Occasion : Winter Holiday Scents

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Eve ... All sorts of Winter Holidays are fast approaching, and even though it is still early, the beauty world is already busy, with companies like Givenchy already releasing this year’s holiday limited edition products. Alright, I’ll admit, it is a tad early to start contemplating winter holidays, but when TMH of For the Love of Perfume and I started discussing this month’s Perfume for the Occasion feature, we were both taken by the idea of writing about it anyway! And after all, the long, cold winters do seem to gain pace and become bearable when we have the holidays to look forward to! Now, I chose to concentrate on Christmas Holidays and not spread this feature’s focus to the rest of the winter holidays for several reasons. For starters, I have been daydreaming about Christmas for a while now. As the weather gets cold and dreary, planning my yearly Christmas-time trip definitely keeps me going. I can’t wait to see my family and old friends again! Secondly, I felt it would be presumptuous of me to write about Hanukkah or Thanksgiving when these are holidays I’ve never experienced myself and whose atmosphere eludes me. There are few things I know about either of these holidays, and even though I am utterly crazy about apricot filled Sufganiyot, this hardly qualifies me as an expert. So, rather than offend with my lack of knowledge, I found it preferable to write about something I know instead. As for Halloween, I found it hard to get further than typical apple-centered perfumes like Be Delicious and the new Nina – which I happen to hate. I would have loved to have a pumpkin fragrance to suggest, ever since I fell head over heels in love with the scent of last year’s limited edition L’Occitane pumpkin candles, but so far I have been unable to find one. Do you have a pumpkin scented suggestion for me? Please do share if that is the case!

  • The One:
    If I were forced to limit my suggestions to only one perfume for the Christmas Holidays, Lolita by Lolita Lempicka would definitely be the one. With notes such as anis, heliotrope, vanilla, licorice and tonka, this beautiful gourmand-oriental scent has no trouble bringing to mind Christmas candy canes and lovely confectionary delights suited to the holidays. This scrumptious scent manages to be at once sweet and deeply sexy, without being sickly. And even though it definitely has a lot of presence, it stops short from being as oppressing as its Angel cousins. It is not just its gourmand qualities that make this perfect for Christmas though: Lolita’s character is exuberant, happy, full of confidence, making it a perfect choice for the season in which all the unlikely, attention grabbing, festive outfits have their day. Even the ornamental flacon seems to match the bauble-studded season, making application a primer for the parties that are sure to follow.

  • Family Lunches:
    Be it is ham, game or turkey that is on the menu, many, if not most, families follow the tradition of coming together for a Christmas Day lunch. And even those not bound by family obligations on the day are often invited to festal lunches organized by their close friends. Whether you are the guest or the host in this occasion, the choice of perfume is a delicate one in this instance. The spread on offer is likely to be elaborate and the cook will have labored long and hard in the kitchen to make sure everything goes according to plan. The focus is meant to be the warm atmosphere, the interpersonal relations and the delicious meal prepared for this special event. It is not the time to draw attention to oneself with an heavy, intricate sillage monster. The often-overlooked Fleurs de Citronnier by Serge Lutens is perfect for the occasion. Artfully moving and at the same time subtle, Fleurs de Citronnier opens with a very realistic rendition of a lemon tree with focus on the beautiful scent of the blossoms. In the drydown, this gorgeous fragrance turns into a beautiful skin-scent, softly reminiscent of creamy lemon-cookies, icing sugar and powder. It truly is a wonderful creation that will perfectly accompany a meal from starter to desert.

  • Christmas Shopping:
    No, no, no, I am not talking about hideously rushed, last-minute Christmas shopping. This is not about shopping with a list, or with a definite purpose. This is about going downtown, visiting the beautifully decorated shops during the holiday season. This is about indulgent, leisurely shopping, when every moment is savored and enjoyed. Don’t you just love seeing the city streets filled with well-dressed men and women enjoying the holiday spirits? Do you also love seeing everyone’s happiness reflected in their faces? Isn’t the hustle and bustle of the shops exciting in that time of the year? Isn’t it easy to picture, even now, how everyone quickly rushes into warmly lit cafes for an indulgent cup of chocolate viennoise as it gets dark? I dare you to forget about how tiring Christmas shopping can be this year. Do it early, then use the holiday shopping excursions for much more leisurely pursuits. Yes, go out there, see and be seen! Wear your winter city-best, wrap yourself in a luxurious cashmere pashmina stole and exchange your flats for heels. The perfume that fits the occasion best? It has to be Shalimar, true queen of luxury when it comes to ambery orientals. Its vanillic, slightly animalic amber character will keep you warm and safe, protected from the cold winds. You will be in your own bubble of comfort while at once exuding charm and sophistication. I love opoponax in wintry weather and Guerlain’s Shalimar makes wonderful use of this delightful note. I know it is a difficult perfume, but even those who can’t love it will surely agree, there’s no other like it for the occasion. Allow yourself to be a lady of leisure even for a day and I know Shalimar will hug you for it.

  • The Office Party:
    This is one occasion where you are required to be festive and controlled at the same time. Choosing an outfit is hard enough already and most women fall back to the safety provided by their favorite Little Black Dress. The equivalent of “festive yet controlled” perfume-wise for me is Burberry Classic, which is at once spicy, effervescent and joyful without compromising maturity and sobriety. It is as safe, as versatile and also as sexy as a Little Black Dress. It is a skin scent with unique appeal. It will be good enough for the office party and it will be great for an evening in front of the fireplace too. It will do for coffee or tea with friends in a little cafe whose windows are misted over and it will do great for informal seasonal visits to family and friends. It will set you apart, but it will not draw unwanted attention. In other words, it is perfect. You can read a full review of Burberry Classic here.

  • New Year’s Eve:
    Giving a definite pick for this one night would be unfair. New Year’s Eve is already riddled with enough too-high expectations and oftentimes subsequent disappointments to risk wearing a perfume you are not entirely sure about. So even though you might be tempted to bring out everything that’s new out on that night, including your scent, my advice is to stick with your one of your established, dearest, most treasured perfumes. Ideally, you have a number of those! If so, choose the one that sparkles, the one that makes you feel confident and optimistic, and of course, sexy. Lasting power is of great importance too, as you will likely be busy until very late. A last piece of advice: Don’t be afraid of big scents for this special evening. Go all out, indulge, make your heart be glad with whatever it desires!

  • Home Scent:
    If you are lucky enough to be a domestic goddess who will spend a lot of time baking wonderful goodies and regularly throwing orange and mandarin peels in the fireplace, there is no need to read this section! Your house will already smell delicious due to your efforts, you admirable creature! For those of us who are more...domestically challenged (or, aherm...lazy...) though, some solution has to be found to make the house smell Christmassy. I swear by Marks & Spencer’s yearly limited edition Frankincense & Myrrh burner oil. The smell is gorgeous – everyone who steps into the house immediately exclaims how wonderful the house smells. The scent is spicy, with orange-glazed cinnamon and cloves overtones, which give the house a beautiful, warm atmosphere. I love this so much, I stockpile during the holidays just so that I can use it throughout winter.

Images Courtesy of: and


tmp00 said...

I am thinking Lutens Mandarine-Mandarin is a great holiday scent.

I was in Neimans Saturday and they already have the Christmas trees up! Geesh people, it wasn't even Columbus Day yet!

Linda said...

Dear Divina,
Thank you so much: you will not know how much you've cheered me up today with this superb review: the weather is grey and a bit sticky and I have lots of work to do. Now I can dream about exciting things to come and shopping trips maybe next week... Guess what? Shalimar is one of my all time favourites, and I've been wearing it for a couple of weeks now. I love the way it develops, and leaves a gentle sillage wherever I go. The vanilla reminds me of those little biscuits you can buy at Christmas time, and it's just - well - elegant! I'm going to try Lolita as soon as possible: I know I'll succumb.... Thank you for lifting my mood,
Warmest wishes,

TMH256 said...

Fantastic Divina! I love your list and your ideas. :-)

The non-blonde said...

Such a wonderful, inspiring post!
I'm probably a horrible buh-humbuging Scrooge when it comes to holiday food. A vegetarian, I don't cook or eat turkey and ham, being way too fond of my figure I stopped making sufganyot and latkes years ago (not to mention they both make the house smell of deep frying for days. It even lingers in the cats' hair). I do make excellent pumpkin pie and pumpkin/chocolate bread, both from scratch and rich with cinnamon and spice. These count for something, right? I'd wear Rousse as my spicy autumn holiday scent.

I'm with you on Shalimar. It's a wonderful scent to wear for a chilly NYC night, watching the glitz and decorations on 5th avenue.

Divina said...

Tom you are so right about Mandarin Mandarin! I could not remember how it smelled like so I am sampling it right now and it is *perfect* for the holidays. Also, I think I'll go mad if I don't manage to figure out one of the very familiar spices that I smell in it right now...

*sigh* it is beautiful.. Look what you did!

Divina said...

Linda dearest, I am so glad this post cheered you up!
You've summed up Shalimar excellently - it is just that: Elegant!

Divina said...

T, I loved your list too! JPG classique is such a good choice for a party!

Divina said...

I'll have to admit that I am also guilty of figure watching :P I can actually be a little obsessive at times. I'd kill for a Sufganyot though - I haven't had one for many, many years. Wonder if guilt would stop me after a few bites?
I'd love to try pumpkin pie once.. (although evil carbs lurk there too!) I don't think pumpkin pie is made here in Europe - at least I've never seen it anywhere. And every time Thanksgiving rolls around and recipes of pumpkin pie crop up everywhere I get SO curious about how it might taste! I love the spices that go in it so I think it'd prolly be right up my street.

helg said...

I wouldn't have pegged you as a Thanksgiving or Halloween type, D, bien entendu but your choices were very entertaining.
I hope you have a lovely time!

For a cheap alternative to home scents, you can make a pomander yourself (no need to throw it in the fireplace, just placing some in a bowl along with winter fruit is enough) or use the winter burner oil Branded Apple by The Body Shop.
For more expensive, I do love L'artisan's and Goutal's Noel candles :-)

Divina said...

Helg, you'd be surprised - I've done my share of apple-bobbing and pumpkin carving at school! Thank you for the suggestions - I do like oil burners better than candles though. A favorite burner oil is eucaliptus, but definitely not for the winter holidays!

Anonymous said...

What I love the most about Shalimar is the instant recognition from men, young and old. "That's Shalimar, isn't it? My mother/grandmother/aunt wore it and it's the only perfume I recognize." I'm not looking for another man in my life, but I adore a perfume that evokes such lovely memories for so many men.

Kris Russell said...

I was actually trying to decide what perfume to wear to my boyfriend's office holiday party tonight.

It appears we have similar opinions, I was actually thinking of going with my Burberry, as I would feel sexy, but not too vixen-like. It is an office party after all.

You completely reaffirmed by thoughts. Thanks!

Divina said...

Kris, that's so wonderful to hear! Have a great time!

happy said...

I have made my perfumes for women list, but your perfume-event idea is just amazing!