If you've followed me on Instagram for any amount of time, you've probably noticed I'm a total perfume junkie. I give you exhibit A. And exhibit B. And exhibit C. Jane Daly, oh Perfume Whisperer, I blame you! (side note: go follow her, she’s amazing) My little collection pales in comparison to Jane’s, but I adore each and every one of my 30 or so full-sized bottles, and I can’t tell you how many rollerballs and minis I have. Lots.
Of the five senses, our sense of smell is considered most closely linked to memory. Seems about right, eh? That’s why a whiff of fresh grass can transport you back to playing soccer when you were nine, and I still can’t stand anything made with sesame oil because a former roommate cooked with it constantly and stunk up the house (good on her for trying at least, I mostly got by on corn flakes and gummy bears at that point).
I love collecting perfumes when I travel because they can so strongly evoke a sense of place (wandering the streets of London in the rain) but also because they can perfectly capture a season or mood. Ever noticed that the light and airy scents you reach for in the summertime seem strangely out of place when the temperature drops? I love the summery, fruity bottles in my collection but come fall and winter, I push them to the back of my cabinet. Because when it’s cold outside I want the fragrance equivalent of a cashmere sweater or the coziest blanket. Something I can wrap myself up in, you know?
1. tom ford velvet orchid $130/50ml
Oh Tom Ford. I know you’re not for everyone but in my eyes you can do no wrong. Plenty of women reach for Black Orchid (and with good reason, it’s spicy and gorgeous) but I prefer this softer, creamier version. Velvet Orchid is a rich, floral oriental with notes of orange blossom, hyacinth, black orchid, suede accord, and vanilla. Personally I don’t pick up much of the orange blossom or hyacinth, but I get plenty of orchid, suede (smells like patchouli to my nose but not in a hippy sort of way), and the creamiest vanilla. This scent makes me want to curl up by a roaring fire with my honey. Available at Nordstrom, Sephora, and The Bay.
2. chanel coco noir, $112/50ml
This was my first Chanel fragrance just a few months ago, and I’ve already picked up another, oops. Chanel Coco Noir is heady, nostalgic, and makes me think of my hubby’s glamourous grandma (who’s still gorgeous to this day), bundling up in furs for a night on the town in her native Montreal. I wanna be like her when I grow up, she’s amazing. This concoction is a blend of grapefruit, bergamot, rose, jasmine, patchouli and sandalwood, making it sophisticated, warm, and frankly kinda hard to put your finger on. Even though it was created in 2012, it smells like a classic. Available at Nordstrom, Sephora (in-store only), Shoppers Drug Mart/Beauty Boutique (in-store only), and Hudson’s Bay. Prices have creeped up to $129/50ml at The Bay and Sephora, so stick with Shoppers and Nordstrom if you can.
3. nest midnight fleur, $68/50ml
I first discovered NEST Fragrances several years ago at Ottawa’s now-defunct Murale boutique (RIP) and fell head over heels for this on in particular. Midnight Fleur blends exotic wood, patchouli, and black amber with sensual (and slightly sweet) notes of night-blooming jasmine and vanilla orchid, and years later I still can’t get enough of it. I keep a roller ball in my purse, a mini in my travel bag, and the biggest bottle they make in my perfume cabinet. If you want a scent that’s subtly sweet but won't make you smell like a cupcake, this is it: gourmand, grown up, and lovely. Editor’s note: you should also buy every NEST candle you can find. They’re divine.
4. ysl black opium, $85/50ml
This one is a recent addition to my collection, a Christmas gift from my mamma. I doubt many perfume junkies would suggest this new blend has anything in common with YSL’s 1977 original, but I always found that fragrance too heady for my taste anyway. So I was super excited to try this one! YSL Black Opium is a big ka-pow of coffee, vanilla, orange blossom, cedarwood, and patchouli. Ain’t nothing subtle about it and that’s the way I likes it. The coffee note is unique and blends beautifully with the vanilla and patchouli. I get compliments every time I wear this one and I bet you will too. Widely available at Shoppers Drug Mart/Beauty Boutique, Sephora, The Bay, and Nordstrom. Best price is at Shoppers and you can even save a few dollars more by grabbing it in their fragrance sampler kit for $80.
5. lush lust perfume, $40/30ml
This is a hubba hubba perfume. Lust is packed to the brim with jasmine, so much so that this little bottle pretty much guarantees sexy times. Lush co-founder and master perfumer Mark Constantine (whom I had dinner with back in 2006) has been obsessed with jasmine for years. Jasmine can be a finicky note that smells downright awful to some folks, so Mark spent ages perfecting this no-holds-barred sexy scent. Lust’s heady jasmine is blended perfectly with ylang ylang, rose, vanilla, and sandalwood, and it’s exquisite. And affordable. The packaging has undergone a facelift since I bought the ENTIRE line in it’s original black bottles back in 2010, but the scent remains unchanged. Go get some and don’t hold me responsible for what happens next. Available exclusively at Lush Cosmetics.
6. tom ford noir pour femme, $130/50ml
I know, I know: two Tom Fords in my list but I can’t help myself. While everyone else was swooning over his stunning Black Orchid, I was obsessing over (the dare I say underrated) Noir Pour Femme. It’s warm, soft, and sexy with just a hint of ginger to spice things up. Think notes of mandarin, bitter orange, jasmine, amber, and a smidge of vanilla and sandalwood. If you’re headed out for date night, here’s what to do: black dress, black eyeliner, and a few spritzes of Noir Pour Femme. Resistance will be futile. Available at Nordstrom, Sephora, and The Bay.
7. elizabeth & james nirvana black, $96/50ml
Man, Mary-Kate and Ashley sure have turned into a couple of regular business moguls. Elizabeth & James is one of their two fashion lines (named after their siblings), and in 2013 they launched their Nirvana Black and Nirvana white fragrances under that same label. Nirvana Black is a woody fragrance that even leans a bit masculine. The only notes the Olsen twins will admit to are violet, sandalwood, and vanilla, but I think there’s a heckuva lot of musk in there too. And maybe resin? Whatever it is, it’s sensual and pairs equally well with an LBD or your favourite sweater. AND it’s available in a dry shampoo! I’m not kidding, I have it. This scent is exclusively available at Sephora.
So there you have it: a whole bunch of spicy, sexy, perfumey goodness to keep you warm all winter. What are your favourite scents for this time of year? Let me know below in the comments!