A Winter Walk with Serge and Mona: Scents of the Warm Woods
Sometimes I think of my fragrance collection as consisting of neighborhoods and this morning, I woke up yearning to take a walk in the neighborhood of spice and woods.
As I enter the quietude of the woods, my feet step upon the violets beneath, releasing the mild sweetness of the diminutive flower as it combines with the dark earth and rises among the trees. My journey starts with Serge Lutens’ Bois de Violette. Notes include a combination of cedarwood and violet leaves resulting in an experience of balance. Bois de Violette offers up a yin yang moment in time, without the need for incense, yoga poses, or a high ceilinged temple; it simply conjures up the zen.
Lest the neighborhood become too quiet, I spritz on another Serge Lutens creation. Dark earth seques into patchouli, which is the underpinning of Borneo 1834. Some patchouli fragrances are almost edible, I most have this impulse with Jalaine Patchouli, and Borneo 1834 has a similar effect on me. The overall impression is one of lush abundance, rich spiciness, and warm embrace. This patchouli has never been to Woodstock, but instead could have been worn by both Dr. Zhivago and his lover, Lara, as their heat melted the long Russian nights. The notes of cardamom and chocolate embellish the patchouli, woods and flowers so as to give this fragrance an air of civilized opulence that beats down the cold of winter.
The third fragrance for my walk in the neighborhood of woods is Mona di Orio’s Vanille from her Les Nombres D’Or series. Notes from Mona di Orio’s website are as follows: Bitter Orange from Brazil, Rhum Absolute, Petitgrain, Clove, Vanilla from Madagascar, Tolu, Gaiac Wood, Vetyver, Sandalwood, Ylang-Ylang, Tonka Bean, Leather, Musk, Amber.
That is quite a noseful of rich, sensual ingredients, and the resulting composition is one of my favorite vanilla scents. This is not an overly sweet, overly gourmand vanilla, but a rough, wild, elemental vanilla that comes across more like a force of nature. When I wear this fragrance, I must apply sparingly and I must brace myself for the ride. Vanille is better suited for occasions where you prefer your heart to rule rather than your head. It is a creature scent, and best worn when indulging in creature comforts.
Which scents do you reach for to ward off the winter cold? In my humble opinion, all three scents mentioned here can and should be worn by both men and women.
First three photos: Walking through central park in winter, Melting snow on skylight
Final Image: Between Earth and Heaven, by El Anatsul, 2006. Base metal recycled from liquor bottle caps. Metropolitan Museum of Art.