Paris-Édimbourg is the latest addition to Les Eaux de Chanel, the house’s portfolio of scents inspired by Gabrielle Chanel’s journeys across Europe. Its blend of smoke and woody cypress and cedar make for a comforting wintry wear, and evoke the mountainous highlands of Scotland the scent is named for. It’s a cologne, a category I normally reserve for summer wear as its ephemerality and lightness are well-suited to hot weather. But when worn in winter, this quality reads as a bracing, almost icy freshness that feels wholly seasonal.
There’s something incredibly comforting about a scent that has existed for over a century. Everything about Mitsouko feels like a glimpse into another era: the powdery chypre (oakmoss, sweetened by peaches, jasmine, and roses) is resolutely a creation of its time and its chiselled art nouveau bottle has barely changed since it was first designed. But it’s still a perfume that can be worn, and worn well, in the twenty-first century. Indisputably refined, I reach for it on cold days when I want a dose of velvety warmth, as well as to feel elegant.
Portrait of a Lady bears many of the hallmarks of a classic winter scent (patchouli, musk, sandalwood, and incense all feature) but takes things deeper and richer than the others mentioned. Of the three, it’s the scent best suited to evening wear: far from being a subtle spritz, it commands attention with its boldness and lingering silage that attracts its fair share of compliments. It’s not for the faint-hearted – if you tend to side-step heady opulent fragrances, you won’t enjoy – but it’s widely recognised as a modern masterpiece for good reason.
Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Holding shot of Carmen dell’Orefice by Richard Avedon 1957