A nip in the air calls for the embracing warmth of winter fragrances.
Huddledin an alpine log cabin, with the best of Brahms piped in, and hot chocolate by the hearth — all one needs then is woody warmth permeating through a scintillating silage of amber and cedar to make the perfect snowy soiree.
The marriage of scent and psyche goes back a long way. As most fragrance ingredients are derived from, or made to replicate natural ingredients like wood, water, flowers and spices, they invariably harmonise with the surroundings.
As each fragrance has its own colour, texture, temperature, energy and flavour, they often closely correlate to the time of the day, season and climate.
Oud, do you do?
Like in clothing, there is often a tendency to choose darker shades during winters, and bright and jazzy ones for summers. There is a psychological connect with warm, woody, spicy, deep and dark fragrances during winters, while summers call for citrus, aromatic floral, green and aqua notes.
Experts believe that apart from being able to penetrate several layers of thick clothing through long-lasting, dense ingredients, strong base notes and a wide-spreading silage, perfumes with oud, cardamom, cinnamon, patchouli, oak, cedar, nutmeg, clove, musk, amber, tobacco and pine notes, to name a few, provide comfort and a feeling of being encompassed by warmth, while blending with one’s body temperature.
The top, heart and base notes of such perfumes also provide others around a person with much welcomed warmth, as the fragrance unfolds.
The ‘attar’ love story
Escaping the bone-chilling Delhi cold during a recent visit, I headed to Gulab Singh Johrimal, the legendary traditional perfumery in the city’s old quarter, upholding India’s ancient ‘attar’ tradition for the last 200 years. Mukul Gundhi, a seventh generation torchbearer and veteran perfumer brought alive my own winter composition with a bespoke blend of cardamom, cinnamon, amber, oud, tobacco and a dash of aqua, giving it a sense of refinement. Its rugged masculinity had me christen it “Godfather”, after the Sicilian Mafioso persona.
“It is believed that during winters, the indulgent nawabs would have lighter quilts stitched, with a smearing of ‘Hina’ inside the cotton layers. The pure, sandalwood-based fragrance would not only last for ages, but also provide the warmth of a heavier quilt, which they were too delicate to cover themselves with,” said Gundhi, with a smile.
Several exotic spices and herbs, he explained, are among Hina’s few hundred ingredients. While the pure ‘Attar Hina’ opens with a full-bodied spice-symphony rising form a sweet undertone, the Arabesque ‘Kashmiri Hina’ and ‘Hina Shahi’ are reminiscent of the medieval Medinas of the Levant.
Along with his audacious and seductive ‘Shamama’, having a floral base and spicy over notes, the dark and delicious ‘Mushk-e-Amber’, a nocturnal number with
a soothing mélange of spices, are among Gundhi’s other age-old winter signature creations.
In fragrance delicto
Agarwood or ‘Oud’, a tree extract native to the forests of India and other tropical Asian countries, is called the ‘King of Fragrances’, and an exotic winter ingredient. Although synonymous with the Arab World, Europe’s freezing climes inspired its perfumers to experiment with Oud.
“Our clients favour warm, spicy, earthy and embracing fragrances to escape cold and dark winter days. Preferred are oriental perfumes such as our ‘NO.19 Oud Weiss’,” explains Stefanie Hanssen, owner of Berlin’s celebrated Frau Tonis Parfums, and one of Europe’s leading noses. Indeed, oud combined with bergamot,
sandalwood and cedar, Oud Weiss breathes notes of tobacco and incense, and unfolds gently with amber, like the tender embrace of a loved one.
Meanwhile, as the explosive pink pepper and cinnamon opening, and sturdy oud heart of Ralph Lauren’s ‘Supreme Oud’, keep California-based
IT professional Harsh Doshi warm during the harsh San Francisco winters, dental surgeon Dr Vijay Ramchandani dares to differ. “I am a rebel! I prefer scents that evoke memories. If an aquamarine takes me back to college, I’d wear it round the year, even for an Arctic new year’s bash!” he says, with a grin.
Visit gulabsinghjohrimal.com; Hina, Shamama, Mushk-e-Amber Rs 4,000 for 10 ml, Hina Shahi Rs 320, Hina Kashmiri Rs 500 for 10 ml each. Visit frau-tonis-parfum.com;
NO.19 Oud Weiss 100 ml Eau de Parfum 135 Euro (approx. Rs 9,820). Visit ralphlauren.com and
shoppersstop.com; Ralph Lauren Supreme Oud 125 ml Eau de Parfum Rs 8,000.