After a dazzling Indian summer, I woke up this morning knowing that fall finally had arrived. It was still dark when the alarm went off, and I reached for my wool robe and fleece-lined slippers. The dog was curled up tight against the chill. Tonight the crickets are quiet, geese honk overhead, and I've put an extra blanket on the bed. It's time to switch to perfume that feels as warm as a cashmere sweater.
When I think of warm, soft, uncomplicated scents — scents warm and thick as cashmere — I think of amber, patchouli, and wood. Incense and leather can sometimes feel too cold or intellectual, depending on how they're treated. Scents loaded with coriander and other spices can be wonderful, but sometimes they feel cold to me, too, like iced tea or air-conditioned auto upholstery. Don't get me wrong, I love leather, incense, and spice in the winter, but when I want something fluffy and warm, I'm likely to reach past Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Chanel Cuir de Russie, and Yves Saint Laurent Nu for my decant of Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche. I smell its soft texture. It's warm. This isn't a hard and fast rule, though. Bond no. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory is an incense fragrance that reads warm to me, maybe thanks to its amber and the patchouli that lingers on my skin as it dries down.
Amber is one of the primary notes I'm drawn to when I'm cold. Besides Ambre Fétiche, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and the amber in the much maligned Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut take the chill off easily. The powder in Alamut boosts its warming power. It's easy to overdo amber, though, just like it's easy to eat too much dulce de leche. But a little amber on a cold morning is welcome.
Wood smells good to me, too, when I feel the chill. Not sharp, cedar wood, but wood that smells like it's ready to be tossed into the fire. For work, I like Shiseido Femininité du Bois for its blend of comfort and elegance. For any time, I love Serge Lutens Chêne. Chêne is the ultimate firewood scent. Smelling it is like stacking wood in the garage in the dog days of summer or sitting next to a clean, hot fireplace. L'Artisan Bois Farine is nice, too. It smells almost edible, like a pastry cream made of sawdust.
Patchouli is also warming to me when it's cold. Not all patchouli works that way, though. Some patchouli, like L'Artisan Voleur des Roses, feels cold and moody. Even L'Artisan Patchouli Patch can feel wet and cold, to me. Comme des Garçons Patchouli Luxe is warm with its edge of its curry-like spice, but its pepper and spice takes it out of the thoughtless comfort zone. For me, Montale Patchouli Leaves is an ideal patchouli "cashmere sweater" scent because it blends earthy, aged patchouli with vanilla and amber for an almost custard-like feel.
Powder can warm up a scent for me, too, as can tobacco and immortelle. Maybe it's because these accords are often blended with amber or patchouli, like Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque, Molinard Habanita, and Annick Goutal Duel are.
What are your "cashmere sweater" fragrances? What scents do you turn to for comfort and warmth? I'm taking notes. Winter is on the horizon.