Perfumed Letters

Reading the scent trail of fragrance and words

Fragrant Adaptation: L’Eau d’hiver by Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle

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Photo©Cheryl Quimby

A good film adaptation pays homage to the soul of its source, avoiding rote imitation or parody, and allowing a new voice to break through. Jean-Claude Ellena’s L’Eau d’hiver—an homage to the ethereal Après l’ondée—is a brilliant adaptation, revealing equal parts inspiration and innovation. Nostalgia is implicit in the desire to pay tribute to Après l’ondée, but Ellena does not make a literal olfactory translation of this melancholy emotion in his own blend. Instead, sweet, almondy heliotrope takes the lead role, with a supporting cast of angelica and iris root creating a soft, wet backdrop reminiscent of the sky, alive but calm, just as the first, plump snow flakes begin to fall.


L’Eau d’hiver is a long-lasting skin scent with the gentlest of sillage. When I inhaled it in one of the Paris boutique’s scent columns, it seemed barely there; but the arm that I sprayed over twelve hours ago still radiates, intimately but unmistakably, l’Eau d’hiver. Gorgeous.

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