One of the reasons that I enjoy living in Connecticut is the four seasons. There are precisely four and none of them is rushed or hurried past ( perhaps Spring comes too quickly or slowly for my taste) but otherwise there are four, and there are smells that go with each one.
Perhaps I should explain my recent musings on winter scents. Yesterday I spent five hours in the car driving home through the remains of winter storm Helena and that was an experience. We must have driven through just about every permutation of snow precipitation. Fluffy snow, the three dimensional crystalline kind, then broad white flat flakes that look beautiful under magnification, then melting one directional sleet that freezes on your windscreen, and even the whirling snow dust that imitates sand, drifting in spiraling, glittering sheets, fine as the sub Saharan fesh- fesh. You begin to understand how some indigenous people have so many suffixes on their snow vocabulary.
Still, ice and snow rarely translate into the vocabulary of scent. All these winter forms of precip do have detectable odors. There’s that ozone on the cold air we are all so familiar with, “It smells like snow,” some folk say. You know what they mean. Myself I don’t wish to smell that scent in July, but understand why the fragrance Industry might want to reproduce it. That would be the much searched for air conditioning in a bottle.
Chanel No 5 is of course, the most famous snow inspired scent on the market. Said to have been partially inspired by Ernest Beaux’s stint in Siberia where the fragrance rising from the frozen lakes charmed him.
To my mind though the master of this sort of reproduction is Christopher Brosius. If you have been interested in the perfume scene anytime in the last ten years, you must be aware of him and his work, first for Demeter, and then for his own business CBIHATEPERFUME. The point of which is that he does not create perfumes according to recipes or conventions, but strictly to replicate the smells and the experiences we all have had at one point or another.
Two of his relate to snow, one is Winter 1972, and the other is Walking on Air. I’ve smelled both and they do recreate those fragrances in the uncanny way that Brosius scents have. Marvelous as they are, these are mostly atmospheric perfumes, in fact Walking on Air is a home scent. That’s the way it should be, as skin may be a less practical place for ice than atmospheres.
Otherwise I’m not certain how many fragrances are really for winter. I love the packaging of Aromatics in White, but the fragrance while nice is your basic woody musk and not very striking and not wintry at all.
I suppose that for the evocation of winter I’m in favor of newer aldehydes, like ELDO’s Vraie Blonde, or Krigler’s Sparkling Diamond. They have that ice cube rattling, nose stinging quality, that is similar to cold air’s, and work quite well, but only in the short run. VB soon becomes an incense scent, and SP runs to strawberries and coconuts when the aldehydes wear off.
That’s the trouble. Snow is such a temporary thing. It always melts in the end.
Have a particular scent for winter of your own?