6 classic winter perfumes that capture a ‘scents’ of warmth, nostalgia, and travel

  • With technological innovations outdoing themselves almost every week, the mind boggles at how invention has not yet reached a point where we can capture smells remotely behind our black mirrors.
  • A loved one’s scent, baked goods or coffee from your favourite eatery, and the waft of cinema popcorn at the mall are mere active memories in their absence; especially during a pandemic of social distance and virtual commitments. 
  • Perfume is therefore the perfect filler; rousing nostalgia and feelings of warmth. 
  • We’ve picked six classic, warm fragrances to switch to this winter, including the likes of Gucci Bloom, Louis Vuitton Heures d’Absence, and Guaria Morada.

During 2020’s hard lockdown, I decided to take a fun Forest app quiz in search of what “flower I am” since we couldn’t exactly go outside to smell the roses.

It was one of many I had taken during the lockdown for my own amusement, but possibly the most wholesome and interactive. The day before, I had taken one to find out what my soul smells like

Lemons. My soul smells like lemons. 

“Your soul is young and exciting! It’s the smell of lemons on your hands after you make fresh lemonade on a hot summer evening. It’s the kiss of citrus on your lips and tongue and the ray of golden sunshine that crawls its way through the kitchen window and turns into a mirage of crystal on the tile. When people come in contact with your soul, they can’t help but smile,” read my gleaming results. 

And according to the Forest app quiz mentioned earlier, I’m a rose – a rather unremarkable result considering some people got more exciting results in the form of maple leaves, starburst bushes, and cat-tail willows. However, the rose fragrance is one of the most referenced and sought-after smells in music, literature, film, and of course, the fragrance field. 

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An article published by the University of Vermont Extension’s Department of Plant and Soil Science, reveals that “roses have been around and are documented longer than most of our garden plants. The earliest record of them seems to be rose leaves found in the Colorado Rockies, dating back 35 to 32 million years to the Paleolithic era. First mention of them, and their appearance in artistic motifs, was in Asia about 3000BC, with mention elsewhere about 2300 BC.” 

“Prior to the Victorian era of the late 1800’s, fragrance in flowers was used for functions such as medicinally or to hide odors. This period saw the use of flowers in gardens and homes merely for their pleasing fragrance. This era also saw the first attempts to define and classify scents,” it adds.  

Adding a fragrant touch to various parts of your home has therefore since become standard – even mandatory – in the form of scented candles, fragrance diffusers and incense.

We not only adorn our bodies with pricey mist infused with floral extracts, but we also feel it’s somewhat necessary to give our bedrooms and TV rooms a signature scent too. And since we couldn’t travel or enjoy local recreational activities for a very long time, a lot of us took to purchasing more scents that remind us of what was once ‘la vie est belle’.

READ MORE: L’Oréal online sales boom is a first glimpse into cosmetic life after global lockdowns

This is why London based candlemakers, Paul Firmin and Niko Dafkos, launched the project ‘Scents of Normality’ in 2020; a project which captures the smells of places we missed most (and couldn’t reach) during lockdown.  

Collaborating with Uncommon Creative Studio, they sealed the scents of spaces from cinemas to festivals:

The Festival – a bouquet of cut grass, burnt skin, and warm cider tied with a ribbon of sweet cannabis smoke. “We worked with scents like cut grass and hemp, mud and dirt to create a scent that felt like you were sat in a field drinking warm cider watching your favourite band,” say the London-based candlemakers.   

scents of normality
Image via PA Media 

The Cinema – A heady fusion of popcorn, foam bananas and the tang of adolescent boredom enveloped in recirculated air. “We worked with peach and lemon to create this soda pop feel, with vanilla and caramel,” explains Niko Dafkos of Earl of East. 

The Local – A potent blend of spilt beer and urinal block jostled against notes of roasted peanuts and cheap rosé, freckled with cigarette ash. “We paired this with Cade, which is a very smoky essential oil, so when you smell it, it almost brings the visual to life. It smells like a pub, so you buy The Local because you love your local [bar].”  

The tongue-in-cheek candles raised funds for Hospitality Action.   

Berdoues Collection Grands Crus

Similarly, French perfume brand Berdoues Collection Grands Crus, is premised entirely on ‘bottling’ the scents of major travel destinations around the world.

“Each Grand Cru expresses one world’s region and offers a unique interpretation of its olfactory identity,” their site explains. “The essence of a country [is captured] through the evocative power of a perfume that stirs the memory or kindles the imagination,” the unisex perfume brand adds. 

As such, their 2020 fragrance came at a time when our wanderlust unfortunately couldn’t be tended to, but if you’re seeking warmth this winter, you can still find it in this olfactory interpretation of Costa Rica’s exuberant beauty, boasting floral sweetness and fruity delicacy.

“Linking the past to the present, it is a symbol of luck and a source of good fortune,” is a reassuring description at a time when we’re (still) all plagued by so much uncertainty.  

winter perfume
Image supplied by Orleans Cosmetics 

And perhaps it’s such descriptions that fuel the habit of fragrance- and candle collectors such as myself; it’s the bottled optimism and the melting of memories that fills whatever room you’re in. 

Louis Vuitton

Another example is how the Louis Vuitton perfume launched last year, California Dream, “portrays the enchantment of a sunset, a moment that prolongs the happiness of a summer’s day.”

We may no longer be in our summer season, but aren’t these words a welcome glimmer of hope?  

why smells are important to us during lockdown
Image supplied by Louis Vuitton 

“California Dream cloaks the skin with all the emotion of a sunset. California Dream holds onto the moment, gently inflames the senses  and illuminates the last moments of daylight,” its perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, further divulges.  

READ MORE: Gert-Johan Coetzee just launched an Eau de Parfum and it genuinely smells like success 

Essentially, smells evoke emotions and memories – from my citrus soul that reminds one of the “smell of lemons on your hands after you make fresh lemonade”, to The Festival candle that captures the feeling of sitting in a “field drinking warm cider while watching your favourite band.” 

A journal article published in 2012 at the College of St. Benedict / St. John’s University, titled The Influence of Odour and Emotion on Memory, mentions how “past research has suggested that there is a special neural connectivity between the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus that is related to the connection between smell, emotion and memory.”  

According to Psychology Today, “a number of behavioral studies have demonstrated that smells trigger more vivid emotional memories and are better at inducing that feeling of ‘being brought back in time’ than images.”

This is the reason why you may be hit by a very lucid memory when you get a whiff of a particular scent. If ever I encounter someone wearing Elizabeth Arden Red Door; I’m a kid in the ’90s again, eagerly awaiting for her parents to return from church, where mom’s heels will clack on the wooden floor announcing her arrival while I run up to press my cheeks against her red Methodist Church Women’s Manyano blouse. 

It’s the reason when I smell burnt toast; I’m an undergrad student again, squandering time in the Fuller dining hall with a group of friends evading their own responsibilities for banter and laughter over cheese/chicken mayo sandwiches and fruit juice concentrate. 

It’s the reason the Zadig & Voltaire ‘This is Her’ fragrance (which I still buy and use today) reminds me of my days as an intern catching the MyCiti bus, and the reason the Madame Luna scented candles I bought last year will remind me of the apartment I lived in during 2020.

And it’s the reason hand sanitiser, homemade bread, dog breath, and your home fragrance diffusers will one day remind you of the humdrum of becoming well acquainted with your furniture, dressed in sweatpants and knits, setting up your (often) unreliable WiFi connection for another Zoom or Teams meeting that ends in echoed salutations right up until the last few seconds of “bye, later, bye, cheers, have a good one, bye everybody.”  

Because in the same way Oscar de la Renta says “… even after a woman has left the room, her fragrance should reveal she’s been there,” various smells (good and bad) remind us that we too, were once somewhere significant hours, months or years ago.   

READ MORE: A younger Boity wished for Heiress and now she sits on her own throne with her new Pink Sapphire EDP

So let’s take a look at 4 more classic perfumes to warm you up from the (sk)inside out this winter:  

Louis Vuitton

Another LV fragrance worth adding to your wishlist is Heures d’Absence. This is Louis Vuitton’s first-ever perfume and now it has been reborn – a historic moment for the Maison.  

In 1927, at the height of the Roaring Twenties in all their creative effervescence (the kind we wish to see post-Covid), the Maison Louis Vuitton launched its first perfume, Heures d’Absence, named after the country home the Vuitton family acquired in the Seine-et-Marne region in the 1920s.

The fragrance captured the spirit of the day and its design celebrated the new modes of transport that were then emerging: a triumphant airplane was engraved on the bottle, whose box was shaped like a kilometre marker. Behind this singular, memorable name, one divines a resolutely optimistic message, an invitation to travel that’s at once introspective and emotional. The chance to break free and let go, shake off the blues and seize the day.  

Heures d’Absence evokes great escapes, suspended moments of grace in which one plunges into daydreams and the body surrenders to a frisson of eternity. The name could hardly fall into oblivion: it was destined to be reborn, nearly a century later, to take on new life and prolong the dream. On the other hand, no one knows what the original perfume smelled like – the formula has long since been lost. This presented the Maison Louis Vuitton’s Master Perfumer with an ideal occasion to reinvent it according to a very personal vision, with complete freedom. 

Available from both the Louis Vuitton Sandton store and the Louis Vuitton V&A Waterfront store at an RSP of R4 000   

winter perfume
Image supplied on behalf of Louis Vuitton 

Yves Saint Laurent Beauté

Starring Dua Lipa – Global Fragrance Ambassador for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté – Libre Eau de Parfum Intense is a perfume of “an intense woman living her roaring freedom and following her instincts.” 


Libre, the French word for ‘free’, pays tribute to YSL’s most defining value; freedom. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom of choice. No compromise. Your own rules. The new Libre Eau de Parfum Intense are for the untamed ones, the ones who dare to turn up the heat and embrace freedom. It is a full-bodied grand floral fragrance boasting a burning-hot character with a deep sensuality.  

winter perfume
Image supplied on behalf of Yves Saint Laurent Beauté 


The signature notes of lavender essence from France and the orange blossom from Morocco are combined with a blazing orchid accord, pushing the perfume to its extreme for a long-lasting and unique twist on the floral fragrance.


The signature Libre bottle is designed to reflect the powerful character of the fragrance, just like the way Yves Saint Laurent designed the first tuxedo for women. More intense than ever, the bottle is set alight by the burning colour of the juice, a shade between fire and gold. Encased in the sharp bottle silhouette, the fragrance is embellished by the oversized YSL logo in gold tone hardware.  

winter perfume
winter perfume
Images supplied on behalf of Yves Saint Laurent Beauté 

YSL Libre Eau de Parfum Intense is available as of 21 June at Truworths, Edgars, Woolworths and Foschini.

YSL Libre EDP Intenese 30ml – R1280

YSL Libre EDP Intenese 50ml – R1890

YSL Libre EDP Intenese 100ml – R2490

Gucci Bloom

Blossoming into life, the new Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori debuts alongside a visionary campaign set in a garden of dreams where magic blooms. Flourishing from the creativity of Alessandro Michele, the innovative vision blurs the lines between two universes; a surrealist land that clashes with reality.

Featuring four contemporary women – director and actor Anjelica Huston, singer songwriter Florence Welch, actor and model Jodie Turner-Smith, and designer Susie Cave – the campaign reveals the true heart of Bloom, offering an exploration of imagination and identity mirrored by the radiant floral signature of Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori.   

Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori is once again expertly translated from Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s vision by Master Perfumer Alberto Morillas.

Staying true to the ingredients of Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum, the new fragrance heroes the fresh natural greenness, rich floral quality and creamy depth of Tuberose. Offering a radiant twist on the magnificent white floral signature of Bloom Eau de Parfum, Profumo di Fiori unleashes the addictive potential and magnetism of Tuberose Essence, blended with Jasmine Sambac Closed Buds and Jasmine Sambac Absolute for a more immediate and direct expression.

The accord of Bloom is enriched by the textured facets of Ylang Ylang and its warmth extended by a rich wave of Sandalwood and the smooth creaminess of Sun Drenched Woody notes. Driving an elegant and distinctive trail, the Orris Concrete is blended with the resinous warmth of the Benzoin and softened with a sensual cloud of Musky notes.

The Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori fragrance retails at Woolworths and Foschini:

30ml (R1180), 50ml (R1685) and 100ml (R 2275)

winter perfume
Image supplied on behalf of Gucci 

Chanel N°5

A true classic that needs no formal introduction, but we’ll give you one anyway.

From the start, N°5 threw habits and conventions to the wind. At the beginning of the 1920s, Gabrielle Chanel had already changed people’s views on fashion by suggesting a new allure.

Her first perfume is consistent with her pioneering designs, simple yet well thought through.

Revolutionary in its composition, N°5 is also the first perfume imagined by a woman for women. 

Why the number 5, though? 

Mademoiselle is said to have chosen N°5 because it was the scent in the fifth sample, the one she preferred.

Whether it be Marilyn Monroe turning it into a myth by confessing she only wore a few drops in bed, or Andy Warhol screen printing it as a pop art icon, over time N°5 has acquired the status of a global cultural phenomenon.

winter perfume
Image supplied by Chanel 

As the first perfume to be advertised on TV, it has inspired some of the greatest image masters – Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Ridley Scott, Jean-Paul Goude or Baz Luhrmann to name a few – and become a visual symbol that has never lost touch with the contemporary creative scene.  

Shop it and create your own memories: 

R2810 for 100ml; R1990 for 50ml at Woolworths  

classic winter perfume

Additional information: YSL Beauty, Louis Vuitton, Berdoues Grands Crus, Chanel and Press Association Media.

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