Otherwise knows as: Sweets for the (person who hates) sweet(s).

It is generally known (mostly because I know I am obnoxiously vocal about such things) that I am not a lover of sweet or foodie or gourmand fragrances. I do not want to smell like a cake or a toffee or a tropical fruit salad, thankyouverymuch. Nor do I wish to smell of chocolates or coffee or a banana split. Most days, even the thought of such things causes me to suppress a shudder and gag quietly.

Most days.

Preferences aside, I am sure it has a lot to do with the fact that most days, temperatures where I live hover at around 90 degrees Farenheit or higher, and really, who wants to smell like a dessert table in that kind of heat? But on the rare, dazzling autumnal afternoon when there is a whisper of chill in the air, or perhaps on a damp, drizzly grey November morning, well, now, that’s a different story,and a sweet scent can be warm, comforting, and most welcome on these occasions.

There are three such fragrances that I reach for when the weather kindly permits.


Hermèssence Ambre Narguilé by Hermès, created by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, is a scent that blends the “honey of amber with a swirl of the Orient”. Says Ellena: “Amber, the Western expression of Eastern fragrances, has a warm, sensual, enveloping, almost carnal smell. I wanted to imbue this idea of amber with the memory of the East I love by recreating the ambiance of those lively places where tobacco – blended with the smells of fruit, honey and spices – is smoked in narguilés, or water pipes, and where swirls of smoke diffuse a sweet sense of intoxication.”

Ambre Narguilé gets a lot of apple pie references from perfume reviewers, but I don’t quite sense that myself. Pie filling, perhaps. Dried fruits–raisins and plums, stewed in honey and rum and spices, and left on the stove very nearly too long. It’s been cooked down to a syrupy essence of its former self, and if you hadn’t pulled it from the flame, the caramelized sugars might have started to smoke and burn. I don’t know if I smell the tobacco, but then again, many people think tobacco smells like raisins, so…

This is as sweet as it gets for me. It calls to mind a cozying up by firelight with a charmingly old timey book, while wearing an oversized sweater with thick cables and toggle buttons. If Ambre Narguilé is overly burdensome on your wallet, Fille En Aiguille from Serge Lutens is in a similar stewed fruit and spices vein, and can be found for much less.


Chanel’s Coromandel is a “spirited oriental fragrance that reveals itself by interrupting its amber vibrato with dry notes and finally settles into a long, restrained, voluptuous accord.” What are you even trying to say here? OK, marketing people. You’re drunk, go home.

Created by Christopher Sheldrake and Jacques Polge, Coromandel is part of the Exclusifs colletion and was inspired by the exotic Chinese lacquered screens, that, when Coco Chanel first observed their their “blend of opulence and austerity, of dark sheen and bright gold embellishments” (via), she proclaimed that she would “faint of happiness” and that she will live surrounded by them. Depending on where you get your information from (the Chanel site isn’t very helpful on this point) Coromandel is comprised of jasmine, patchouli, woody notes, amber, benzoin, frankincense and possibly citruses, bitter orange, neroli, rose, orris, incense, musk, and Tahitian vanilla. Oddly, I never see white chocolate listed, but it is what people seem to love most about it.

There is something nose-tickling and sharp, almost camphorous and earthy when the first spritz settles on your skin. Soon, a dark sprinkle of pepper atop a mug of palest milky cocoa, smooth and rich on the tongue, but tinged with that underlying musty bitterness. The strange interplay between those primordial notes and that velvety decadence does somewhat call to mind dueling impressions of opulence and austerity; imagine thoroughly enjoying a delectably elegant beverage…on the damp, cold floor of a limestone cave.


In Irish folklore the Dana O’Shee are a fae, elven people, eternally beautiful and eternally young. They are said to be vengeful and treacherous and possess a streak of mischievous malice, and offerings of milk, honey and sweet grains were made to placate these creatures. This is the basis of Dana O’Shee, the scent created by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

I won’t sugar-coat it–of my three sweetly scented choices, this one is the least complex/most linear among them. But, I think, there is much to be said for simplicity; what you smell initially is what you get for the duration, and if you’re in need of a comfort scent that is not too heavy or cloying, this is a good one to have in your collection. Reminiscent of rice pudding with a soft pour of cream on top, and/or perhaps a honeyed milk custard, and stir in some sugared marizpan… but imagine dreamy spoonfuls of all of this while a faint incense lingers in the air. Or, perhaps, envision a a stick of sugared milk custard incense! It sounds delicious, but don’t eat it! Tempted though ye may be.

*Bonus Sometimes (shhhh!) I actually wear Aquolina’s Pink Sugar which is admittedly teeth-achingly sweet at the onset, but if you give it some time, it dries down to a vaguely woodsy, lightly musky, and …okay… still very sweet scent…but it makes me think of a make-believe forest, with cotton candy trees and maybe you are having a secret rendez-vouz with a sexy marshmallow satyr. No doubt something I read in a saucy fairy tale a long time ago.

Are you a lover of sweet fragrances, or, like me, do you save your sugary scented treats for more tolerable climes? What are some of your favorites when you wish to live deliciously? Whisper your sweet nothings in the comments below!

A Year In Fragrance: A Tale Of Two Roses
A Year In Fragrance: Hateful ‘fumes
A Year In Fragrance: Scents For Sleep
A Year In Fragrance: “Inexpensive” Stuff
A Year In Fragrance: Youth Dew
A Year In Fragrance: a dude thinks on stinks
A Year In Fragrance: Witch’s Workbench
A Year In Fragrance: Willow & Water
A Year In Fragrance: Tea Rose

Allison says

I love this list! I was actually just posting about the fact that I'm on a chocolate perfumes kick right now: Cadavre Exquis, Olympic Orchids' California Chocolate, Orto Parisi’s Boccanera, BPAL's Centzon Totochtin, Arquiste's Anima Dulcis... I'm a big fan of Fille en Aiguilles, so I'll definitely have to seek out a decant of Ambre Narguilé.

RobyneElaine says

Lately I've been partial to Arcana's Poison Candy. I don't have Julia's original description but pulled this from another reviewer: "Ripe strawberries, rich cream, cinnamon, sugar, and honey". I don't get the strawberry so much, but the cinnamon is strong.

Jessica says

I most def save the sweet scents for Autumn and Winter. Such as BPALs Bliss or Miskatonic University. I received both of these flavors in the summer and found them to be mildly repulsive. But once the Southern climate cooled and the humidity waned, I was delighted to have a change of heart towards them. Yay!

tatiana says

wow, i want a bottle of coromandel.

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