Christmas is just round the corner. I mean it people, the 25th of December is just up the street, lurking down a dark alley with criminal intent and an evil glint in its eye. By now one should have completed the super-fun/awful task of Christmas shopping (I have and yes I’m smug about it) and will now be putting the final touches to the Christmas plans that one is so looking forward to.
With all of the traditions and festivities it is unsurprising that Christmas is an incredibly fragrant time of year. The abundance of yuletide food, church masses and changes in the season make for an incredible wealth of smells associated solely with the one celebration, and each year one looks forward to reliving those odours that make the season so darn ‘Christmassy’.
As I’m a lover of both scent and Christmas I thought it would be fun to put together some of my favourite yuletide smells alongside perfumes that manage to capture the essence of these odours. Here you’ll find smells of the season and fragrances that are evocative of such wonderful treats as gingerbread and mulled wine. Christmas smells (really good in fact) and on The Candy Perfume Boy this winter, it has never smelled better!
If you’re popping to a Christmas market this year (I’ve just got back from the glorious markets in Belfast, FYI) you’ll no doubt come across that wonderful yuletide staple of mulled wine. Using festive winter spices of clove, cinnamon, anise and vanilla, the intense richness of red wine is warmed up to a thicker and more tart affair that serves as an appropriate antidote to the winter chill.
Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir is a perfume that captures the warmth and tartness of mulled wine with a drinkable mix of raspberry, pomegranate, patchouli and spices. It may be slightly thinner and lighter than the real thing but Pomegranate Noir (one of the finest scents in the Jo Malone stable) manages to recreate both the spicy odour and the sense of warmth found in a big cup o’ mulled wine.
I have never been one for mince pies, sausage rolls or Christmas puddings – in fact, I actively dislike these three most festive of foods – but give me some gingerbread and I’m a happy boy. After all, what’s not to like about something that tastes so darn good and is easily fashioned into the shape of men, women and elaborate houses? Plus, there’s pretty much nothing more satisfying (and sadistic) than shamelessly biting off the head of a freshly decorated and unsuspecting gingerbread man.
Serge Lutens has two perfumes in his line of heady orientals, gluttonous gourmands and fatal flowers that fit the bill as decent gingerbread scents. The first – ‘Five o’clock au Gingembre‘ – is the zesty, chewiness of fresh stem ginger, whereas the second – ‘Santal Majascule‘ – hits the bready, biscuit base perfectly on the head thanks to a gently spiced sandalwood. Put the two together and you have instant gingerbread. Just don’t try to eat them…
When I was a kid we had two Christmas trees in our household; one for my parents – the main and painstakingly decorated tree – and one for my siblings and me – a poor, unfortunate tree in full drag with decorations using the ‘just throw everything on’ principal. My favourite tree adornment was always the tinsel, I adored the itchy feel of its soft glittery spines and the vast array of colours we would splash on to our tree.
Most joyful however, was the smell – a synthetic, metallic and slightly green melange that smells like absolutely nothing else on earth. Interestingly, tinsel is a smell that gets better with age and years of sitting in dusty cardboard boxes only serves to intensify and enrich one of the worlds weirdest and most instantly recognisable smells.
Byredo’s wonderfully weird M/Mink was designed to capture the smell of a block of black ink, and it does so to a certain extent, but to my nose it is better suited as a perfect olfactory representation of the fabulous fuzzy stuff that adorns Christmas trees across the world. It has spiky aldehydic tones, incense and some wonderful molecules that capture the smell of hot dust off a lightbulb, all adding up to the most magical of things – tinsel in a bottle.
A slightly less literal and infinitely more wearable interpretation of tinsel is Comme des Garçons’ brilliant 8 88, a perfume that uses the milky sharpness of saffron to evoke the golden gleam of buffed metal, and presents the odour of tinsel in a cosy, avant garde and even glamorous way.
Snow is a hard odour to capture, after all it doesn’t really have much of a smell and despite the fact that many have tried to piece together a perfume similar to the ‘white stuff’, nobody has really managed to create something spot on (scents such as the baby powder found in Lorenzo Villoresi’s Teint de Neige especially miss the mark). Perhaps we just don’t seen enough snow at Christmas!
The debut fragrance from luxe perfume brand Puredistance – Puredistance I – is a contemporary take on blankets of cold snow, and it’s perhaps one of very few fragrances that is evocative of ‘swans-a-melting’*, without intending to do so. With its abstract blend of flowers and musk, I emanates a blindingly white light that is instantly reminiscent of sunlight reflecting off the glitter and crunch of freshly fallen snow. It is the stuff of magic.
A Christmas stocking wouldn’t be a Christmas stocking without a satsuma lurking somewhere at the bottom. A stocking also wouldn’t be a stocking without little presents and chocolate money too, but the satsuma is much more important than these because it is an important tradition – well, it is in my family anyway.
As far as satsuma scents go, one cannot beat The Body Shop’s Satsuma, a perfume that is zesty, sweet, juicy and wonderfully delicious. It’s also as much of a staple as the fruit itself and has been used in Body Shop lotions and potions for many years. I would define it as the best satsuma scent around and at £8.50 a pop, it makes a decent stocking filler for those wanting to start their own tradition.
Join the Discussion!
How will you be celebrating Christmas? What are your favourite Christmas smells? Which perfumes capture these odours?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below!
*Stolen from Kate Bush’s ’50 Words for Snow’. Image 1 via earlsorganic.com, madmary.e1.store.com, raredelights.com & endlesssimmer.com. Image 2 via endlesssimmer.com & parfumgefleuster.de. Image 3 via raredelights.com & prixparfum.com. Image 4 via madmary.e1.store.com & barneys.com. Image 5 via mattwyles.wordpress.com & designhouse.am. Image 6 via earlsorganic.com & amazon.com.