L’Eau d’Hiver is one of my oldest perfume favorites, beloved and cherished over the years, and trusted whenever I need something to wear that is comfortable, light but still recognizably different.
In my mind I link every perfume I smell with some descriptor that helps me to place it, like dark vanilla, or woody incense. It can also be more of an insider description that has only significance for me, like funny blackmail (don’t ask!).
But curiously L’Eau d’Hiver has eluded its descriptor from the beginning.
Normally I don’t have to think much about it, it suggests itself pretty instantly, but not with this perfume. That is the reason it was very hard for me to write about it. I just didn’t know where to start, was struggling to find an angle.
So what do I know then? Facts first:
L’Eau d’Hiver was composed by one of my favorite noses Jean-Claude Ellena for Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle in 2003, notes include bergamot, angelica, iris, hawthorn, jasmine, honey, carnation, heliotrope, caramel and musk. The perfumer calls it an Eau Chaude (“warm water”, to emphasize the opposite to the Eau Fraiche).
It is a very elegant, understated and muted perfume, one that never screams at you, but isn’t easily silenced either, it keeps close to the skin but is persistent and has a wear time of about five to six hours on my skin.
I racked my brain to describe what it smells like: it is so well blended nothing stands out, there is no one clear note I can make out, it smells round and smooth like a snowball. It is not cold, but not hot either, it has warmth, but not overwhelmingly so, it is flowery and sweet and fresh, everything in moderation and everything perfectly balanced. You see my dilemma?
But one phrase sticks: like a snowball. That could be my inner descriptor. Cool, smooth, round, white. But with the sun shining on it, starting it to melt just a little, warming it and immersing it in golden light.
My friend S., whose favorite perfume this is, looks a little like Snow White, and it fits her like a glove.
Not a perfect description, but as close as I can get.
To end with an incredibly unhelpful phrase (but one that is undeniably true):
It smells just lovely.
This post was first published in December of 2010 (to a rather smaller audience). I am wearing L’Eau d’Hiver a lot this spring, so I wanted to post this review again – its essence still holds true for me: it smells just lovely.