I'll be the first to say we shouldn't talk about fragrances like they're seasonal. You should wear whatever scent you like no matter what season it is, of course. But, if we were to discuss scents and seasons, then my favorite is winter.
I gravitate toward winter scents all year round—warm, spicy, sweet, leathery notes are the ones that resonate most with me. That's why once the weather starts to cool down, I have a blast reaching for scents to keep me warm.
Every winter brings an onslaught of new scents to the shelves in preparation for the holiday shopping boom. We've sifted through this season's latest scents and rounded up the best of the best for you below. Keep scrolling to discover them all.
Byredo Mumbai Noise
Byredo made this scent with me in mind—I am sure of it. It's everything I love about fragrance, turned up to 11. While all of their releases in the last 18 months have explored different parts of the fragrance family—from fruity to floral—Mumbai Noise is equal parts warm, woody, and gourmand in the best way.
At the top, you'll find davana, an herb with an earthy, woody aroma. The heart of the scent is where things get interesting. There is tonka bean, a note that is often similar to vanilla, just a bit mellower. This, paired with a coffee note, creates a warm, dark, sweet heart with a lot of depth. The base anchors the scent with labdanum, a resin that often calls to mind leather and amber, sandalwood, and agarwood.
Mumbai Noise is incredibly rich, warm, and has a lot of weight to it. It's perfect for the colder months, exactly what I reach for when I want to feel warm inside and out.
Valentino Voce Viva Intense
One of the biggest launches of 2020, Valentino Voce Viva, was followed up pretty quickly by its first flanker, Voce Viva Intense. When it comes to flankers, we're currently seeing a lot of "intense" versions rather than the original scent reinterpreted into something different.
For starters, I love the original. It's a floral that somehow reads warm, ambery, and a little spicy. It's lovely, comforting, and all-around exquisite. This Intense version is amplified by jasmine and moss, giving it a floral-forward, glassy, almost crystalized feel. It's a cool twist and adds a chilly pull to the otherwise warm fragrance, creating a nice balance throughout wear.
YSL Black Opium Extreme
Speaking of intense, YSL came through with an extreme version of Black Opium. Now, I know what you’re thinking...Wasn’t’ Black Opium intense enough already? At least, that’s what I was thinking. But I am so happy they put this out.
Black Opium intensified the coffee note and added cacao to add more depth. There is smooth jasmine and orange blossom at the heart, and they lock it down at the base with vanilla patchouli.
Coffee is a criminally underused note in fragrance, in my opinion. I love (almost) every scent based around coffee, and this one might be my favorite. It doesn’t smell literally like coffee, but it doesn’t make it a secret, either. It is warm, sweet, and has a lot of depth. However, it doesn’t wear overly heavy, as the name might lead you to believe.
Victoria’s Secret Tease Crème Cloud
Haven't you heard? Clouds are in. After the huge success of Cloud by Ariana Grande, we've seen a lot of cloud concepts in fragrances lately (from scent to aesthetic). Some are basically dupes of Cloud. This one is not, and it's lovely.
Tease Crème Cloud is lightweight, soft, and textural. It starts with vanilla meringue, santal flower from the sandalwood tree, and amber. It's simple, understated, and gives you "skin scent" vibes if skin scents were ever any fun. It feels like a t-shirt and light wash denim on a warm afternoon.
Ex Nihilo The Hedonist
The Hedonist is a dark, woody fragrance with a little bit of effervescent sweetness that pulls through during wear, thanks to the ginger and bergamot at the very top. The heart of the scent is very woody, and the base contains vetiver, moss, and tonka bean.
In my experience, all woody scents are a hit, sort of without fail, so The Hedonist is a crowd-pleaser for sure. It has tons of texture and personality, allowing it to provide satisfying, long-lasting wear.
This fragrance is a lovely, fresh, aquatic scent. It's bright and sweet, but in a way that feels dewy, not sugary. To me, this is the standout of Aesop's entire fragrance collection and was a delightful surprise.
It opens with the fresh, earthy notes of bergamot, juniper, and pink pepper, with rosemary, sage, and cumin (?!) in the middle, and a woody base of sandalwood, cedar, and vetiver.
It's one of those scents that feel like spring, but it's so good you want to wear it all year. It feels like I'm in the movie FernGully, or on the planet Pandora from Avatar. My pop culture references may be subpar, but this fragrance is top tier.
Burberry Hero is a cologne of the past, present, and future, all in one. It hits all the right notes of the stuff your grandpa used to wear but somehow does so in a lighter way.
The build is pretty simple. Up top, you’ve got bergamot. The middle gives you juniper and black pepper, with a base of three different kinds of cedar. It’s fresh, shiny, and almost minty at times. It has all of the woody depth you look for in a cologne called Hero. I’ve been wearing it all day, and it kept striking me as a rich, dark floral. Which it is not. But all that is to say, they turned the traditional cologne on its head with this one.
Kayali Invite Only Amber 23
If you're not aware of Kayali, you need to get familiar. Since launching in 2018, they've rolled out some really beautiful fragrances. Invite Only Amber 23 is one of the latest in their recent slew of hits.
A lot is happening in the scent, but it's balanced in a way that works. It opens with black cherry, hazelnut, tobacco leaf, and honey. The heart of the scent reveals citrus leaf and two types of rose for a rich, boozy (rose can get boozy, trust me) depth. At the base, you'll find amber, vanilla, sandalwood, musk, patchouli, benzoin (a resin reminiscent of incense), and cypriol (an oil with an intense woody scent).
After reading the scent profile, don't you wish you were wearing it right now? It is every bit as good as it sounds. Though it sounds sweet, it has a surprising amount of dark, leathery depth to it. It's worth checking out.
Louis Vuitton Spell On You
Louis Vuitton's last few fragrance launches have been conceptually interesting and cool. The mix of the understated yet gorgeous decanter-esque bottle, cool name, and great scent hit all of the right notes for me.
The brand will tell you Spell On You "conjures the ecstasy of love, blending sensuality and lightness," and I love any fragrance inspired by love because fragrance is so tied to emotion.
Spell on You is a young, bright take on a classic floral. At the top, you'll find iris and violet. There are notes of rose, jasmine, and more iris at the heart. The base is held down by peach, musk, and acacia.
If you like rose or jasmine, this is for you. It's familiar in a satisfying way, but the peach at the base shoots electricity through the whole scent. It's a floral fragrance presented in a new way.
Dior Vanilla Diorama
One of these days, we will have a conversation about vanilla being the best note. You may not be ready for that, but Dior is.
Vanilla Diorama is a vanilla scent done so well. It’s the kind of fragrance I want more of, the type of scent I want everyone to make. Vanilla Diorama is a spicy take on vanilla that makes you feel comforted, cozy, and sexy.
It opens with orange, pink pepper, and lemon. It works its way down to rum, cacao, and cardamom at its heart. The base offers bourbon vanilla, sandalwood, and patchouli. It’s a linear scent, meaning the wear is pretty consistent over time instead of evolving on your skin. All the notes come at you at once, in a big, warm gust of vanilla, spice, and soft woods.
KKW Fragrance Nude Soleil
People love Kim Kardashian's fragrances, and there's a good reason why. Plain and simple, her shit is good, and there's always something for everyone.
The Nude Collection is not full of "skin scents" (thank god) but soft, light scents that wear close to your body and, to me, are made to make you feel sensual.
Nude Soleil, meaning Sun in French, is the collection's standout. It is a warm, ambery scent that smells just as good in a swimsuit as it does under the covers. It opens with pink peppercorn, cardamom, and ambrette. It gives way to santal accord, rose absolute, and honeysuckle nectar. The fragrance locks itself down with skin musks, cashmere woods, and vetiver.
It smells like the heat of the sun on your skin at dusk. Like drinking milk tea with your wet hair wrapped up in a towel. It smells like a Siamese cat laying on an angora sweater. I don't believe in seasonality when it comes to fragrance, but this is a summery fragrance that will smell just as good in the dead of winter.
Kilian Apple Brandy
Kilian recently expanded their Liquors collection with two new scents inspired by spirits. Apple Brandy is exactly what it sounds like, in the best ways.
If you're familiar with brandy, you'll know it's a sweet, fragrant brown liquor that smells like a sweet perfume all on its own. There are many variations of brandy, like blackberry, peach, vanilla, and apple. This addition of the fruit makes it even sweeter, easy to sip on, and great to incorporate in a cocktail. And apparently, it's the perfect base for a scent.
I don't need to run you through the notes on this one because the scent is pretty literal. Take the way brandy smells, then elevate that, and you've got it. It has the warm, boozy sweetness of brandy, syrupy tartness of the apple, and the nuttiness, wood, and spice you look for in a scent like this.
I'm from Wisconsin, so brandy is a big part of the culture there, and I have to say Kilian nailed it with this one.
Lake & Skye Midnight 07
While most well known for their lightweight scent 11:11, Midnight 07 is the antithesis of that. The 07 in the name references the seven notes that create the fragrance: yuzu, vetiver, amber, rose, fig, vanilla, and patchouli. I thought it would be too much when I first read that, but it's doing it well.
If you like big scents, you're going to want to try this out. It takes floral, green, fruity, and herbaceous notes and puts them all together in a way that somehow makes them all work in perfect harmony. It's expertly balanced, delicious, and wears incredibly the whole day through. It's hedonistic in that it's just a lot of everything, but Lake & Skye proves that too much of a good thing can sometimes be just enough.