By Aleta, Fragrance Contributor
Aleta is the associate editor of a national history magazine (World War II), and an unapologetic fragrance nerd. Growing up on a farm west of Portland, Oregon, she spent many summer nights attempting to make perfume by soaking flowers in cups of water (if only her mother had let her use the vodka). Her most prized possessions include a bottle of French cologne brought home by an American GI after World War II (L’Ardent Nuit by Cotay), a signed copy of Perfume: The Guide, and a handwritten “enjoy your purchase” note from perfumer Mandy Aftel. Other obsessions include lipstick, Pellegrino, Adirondack chairs, and yoga. You can find her at worldwarII.com.
Scents for the Holidays
My first college holiday season was…brief. November and December went by in a blur of studying, social events (okay dorm parties), and finals. My dad and I had to stop at the grocery store after he picked me up for winter break, and I realized that the campus bubble had utterly shielded me from the season–the music, the decorations, the food. Lesson learned: when you leave the nest, you either get yourself in the holiday spirit or it will pass you by.
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to fell merry and bright this time of year is to–you guessed it–surrounding myself with nostalgic, festive fragrances. Bonus: the fragrance notes we often associate with the winter holidays are ones that play nicely with big family meals and intimate social gatherings, times when everyone would rather smell the turkey, fresh-baked gingerbread, or their glass of Riesling rather than someone’s boldfaced eau. Here are some of my favorite fragrances for the season, most of which are available as dry skin-soothing lotions, pick-me-up cleansers, and candles:
Years of making orange pomanders has left me with a serious citrus fixation every December. My favorite is Fresh Hesperides ($32.00) it balances the effervescence of grapefruit peel with a dose of sugar. Aftelier Candide ($45.00) is also gorgeous, tempering its zesty orange notes with a kick of pepper. Pacifica Blood Orange ($22.00) is perfect for purists, plus the brand is widely available and an absolute steal .
Evergreens feature prominently in Western holiday traditions; Yankee Candles fill in for the Douglass firs I grew up with, particularly Christmas Tree. Holiday Bayberry smells like the fresh-from-the-attic decorations did when I was growing up. It’s a hard note to wear on the skin, but Pacifica’s Avalon Juniper ($22.00) is beautiful. The resinous juniper is perfectly balanced with juicy grapefruit, simultaneously warm and fresh. Those who grew up in warmer climates may resonate more closely with Chanel Sycomore ($110.00), it’s a gorgeous balance between sap and smoke–meant for men, I think, but gorgeous on anyone, anytime.
Vanilla and spice abound during winter, and there are too many fragrance iterations to count. Personally, I like something just a touch inedible, like Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleu ($71.00). It has recently been reformulated, but I never smelled its previous iteration, so I am unabashedly smitten with the bottle I purchased this November. If you grew up with anise and almond extract in your holiday cookies, this one’s for you–especially if you went through a rebellious stage involving countless sticks of Nag Champa ($71.00) incense. Many also love Guerlain’s Shalimar ($55.00) and its many vanilla-spice offspring, though it’s not one that grabs me. You also can’t go wrong with Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar ($5.00), a gorgeous vanilla bean tempered with Basmati rice water and cinnamon. Spice lovers: try Pacifica’s clove-laden Madagascar Spice ($22.00).
Sometimes the brightest holiday memories attach themselves to a non-holiday scent. For me, it’s Victor & Rolf Flowerbomb ($100.00). Each year my parents would skip the Macy’s line for Santa and take me to Nordstrom to see Father Christmas. And in my mind, nothing conjures Nordstrom like Flowerbomb.
What scents keep you warm during these darkest months of the year? And for those who grew up in a non-western culture, I’d love to hear about the scents that speak to you during November and December!
Guerlain Noir G de Guerlain Mascara
Guerlain’s NEW Noir G is the first mascara to combine the extravagant luxury of a jewel case with an extraordinary formula for perfectly defined eyes. This fabulous case jealously guards a unique, complete formula that combines the power of color, extreme intensity and the secret of beauty. The lush texture makes it easy to achieve an intense, dramatic lash look without any risk of smearing, smudging or clumping. Like a magic wand, the ground-breaking Noir G goes one step further with a refillable wand applicator, making it convenient and easy to switch to a new one as soon as you need it. Pull on the case and with a click, the hidden mirror is revealed. Add a quick twist and the brush appears for exceptional lash results.
- Formula complex delivers a perfect 3-dimensional look with volumizing, lengthening and curling benefits.
- Lashes are transformed: perfectly defined, denser and cloaked in a new intensity.
- Refillable design makes replacing more convenient.
- Ultra Black Pigments: these carbon black pigments offer an unprecedented level of intense black. The optimal size of these pigments allows for a better dispersion within the formula while a magnifying effect amplifies the intensity and depth of the black and the glossy finish. These are the purest black pigments that can be found in mascara.
- Volumizing, Lengthening, Curling formula: The formula plumps and thickens every lash, the stretch formula allows the mascara to lengthen even the smallest lashes and then the curling formula coats lashes in a protective film to maximise and set the curl.
- Artemia Salina: helps to regenerate lashes by stimulating keratin for fortification and lash growth.
- Polymer Film fixes the formula from daybreak to the end of the night, preventing the formula from smudging or flaking.
- In perfect osmosis with Noir G’s formula, the fiber brush is soft and supple for perfect, fast and even distribution over all the lashes. Narrow and extremely easy to handle, it glides everywhere, catching and wrapping around every lash above and below to reproduce the unprecedented effect of a blow-dry.
availability: Noir G is available January at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Bergdorf Goodman. It will retail for $49, refills for $26.