Comforting Fragrances for Cold Winter Days

Warm scents, infused with edible ingredients like tea and rum, provide a respite from arctic temperatures.

When it’s dark and chilly in her hometown, Geneva, the fragrance entrepreneur Clara Molloy pours herself a cup of fresh hot chocolate, curls up with a book and applies a tonka-bean-laced fragrance. “It makes me feel warm,” she says of the wintry ritual. As the creative director and co-founder of a trio of stylish perfume brands — Memo Paris, Floraïku and Hermetica — Molloy finds herself gravitating toward cozy elixirs during the frigid months, fragrances that conjure the feeling of coming in from the cold, warming up by the fire and inhaling something delicious.

A handful of other perfumes, both new and old, bottle such forms of atmospheric escape. The French perfume creator Frédéric Malle, for example, crafted Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle ($225) as an antidote to the biting winters in Van Noten’s native Belgium. The blend of vanilla, nutmeg and sacrasol — a note that has a “sugary, buttery smell,” Malle says — recalls the aroma of speculoos biscuits, tea and Indian spices. Similarly refined dessert notes can be found in Louis Vuitton’s Attrape-Rêves ($250), which pairs rich cocoa with airy Turkish rose, and Bond No. 9’s New Bond Street ($280), a concoction layered with coffee beans, milky chestnut and vanilla.

For those who prefer calming tea tinctures, Molloy suggests Floraïku’s The Moon and I ($350), a perfume made from a concentrated essence of matcha, that’s “almost spiritual, as all very good green teas are.” Sophie Labbé, the perfumer behind the Paris-based brand, captured the stillness of the steam-filled moment with a “contrast between the bitter and creamy notes that you really feel when drinking a matcha.”

For food-infused scents, piping in the right background ingredients rounds out the formulas — so nothing feels too heavy-handed or literal: L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Venenum ($210) balances whiffs of masala chai tea with a hint of sandalwood. Storie Veneziane’s Gaggia Medio ($420) softens the sharpness of cardamom with smooth amber and Ojai Wild’s Chamomile Flowers ($110) perks up the mellow plant with grapefruit and cognac.

These warming edible scents needn’t be reserved for the bleakness of winter. The Stockholm-based fragrance creator Ben Gorham — whose Eleventh Hour ($165) involves a mix of Sichuan pepper, carrot seed, rum and wild fig — recommends wearing them year-round. “I think there is a common misconception about how to wear fragrance, the rights and wrongs,” he says. “I really encourage people to wear what they want, when they want.” Molloy, for her part, will be misting on her cozy scents whenever she needs a pick-me-up. One spray, she says, and “I see the clouds go by.”

By Kari Molvar, Dec. 19, 2018.