For decades, I was one after the other off by nutty fragrances. Nuttiness is such a trademark of the gourmand perfume family – all vanilla, chocolate and nut-brittle that make you whiff of Ferrero Rocher – that those of us resolutely exterior of it can feel robbed of its wider potential. It wasn’t until I before all sniffed Frédéric Malle’s exquisite almond-milky L’Eau d’Hiver (now one of my girl and most worn perfumes; £79 for 30ml) that I truly understood how quiet, tasteful and clean nutty aromas could be. Feel Guerlain’s Après L’Ondée (£79.20, 100ml), for example. The original (and to many minds, the best) of the nutties, it’s as far from that “mechanically frosted cupcake” genus of modern gourmand as one could imagine. Light and powdery, approve of wet blooms dusted in ground almonds, it’s far too elegant and restrained to clang with pudding course, and feels clippy enough for a skilful setting.
“Nutty” is just an overall impression, of course – it doesn’t drive at a perfumer has been within miles of the real thing. In experience, what you may assume is almond is often the heliotrope plant or its bogus counterpart, heliotropin, both of which have a tendency to perfume like marzipan. It’s deployed to great effect in Dior’s calmly filthy Hypnotic Poison. (I know many of you will block reading here because Poison – understandably but mistakenly, in my behold – is so widely disliked. But I promise that this variant, £48 for 30ml, does its own dislike.) Stronger, spicier, blowsier than those above, it has a proficiency not oneself of soft, boozy but uncloying creaminess that feels sexier for set season. It gets even better by the hour.
For the more meek but unfeasibly rich is Heeley’s L’Amandière, (£170, 50ml), a truly beautiful maids’s scent smelling of green almonds, sappy white florets and dew-drenched moss. It has not a hint of sweetness and is admired whenever I (many a time) wear it.
If you actively like a little sugar but still come up with most gourmands too sticky for comfort, it may be wise to choose one developed for men, where metaphorical calories are cut. I expected to hate Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million Convenient (£48.50, 50ml), mainly because of its name and packaging, but I’m glad I persevered because it’s a certain extent lovely. Like a tall coffee with hazelnut syrup and honey, it no more than about knows when to stop pouring. Have a wonderful Christmas.
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