Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver

So apparently I’m a Jean-Claude Ellena fangirl now? I’m not really sure how this happened. One minute I was all “Yes, yes, Jean-Claude, you are the world’s most minimalist one-trick pony”, and the next thing you know I’m buying bottles of Bois Farine and Ambre Narguile and setting up eBay alerts for Jardin en Mediterranee and Kelly Caleche. I just read Chandler Burr’s The Perfect Scent, which chronicles the creation of JCE’s first perfume as Hermes’ in-house perfumer, and now I can’t help thinking of Jean-Claude as the cryptic French uncle I never had. Sorry if this is getting weird, Jean-Claude.

In The Perfect Scent, Uncle JC explains that he created L’Eau d’Hiver by “intellectually reconceptualizing the great Guerlain classic Après l’Ondée”. Après l’Ondée is my second-favorite Guerlain fragrance (the first, of course, is L’Heure Bleue), so I knew that I had to try L’Eau d’Hiver. L’Eau d’Hiver is blessedly faithful to its inspiration. From the very first spritz, the similarity between the two perfumes is immediately apparent. The gentle heliotrope, the touch of anise- Ellena has skillfully captured the silhouette of Après l’Ondée in his L’Eau d’Hiver. However, I actually find L’Eau d’Hiver to be less intellectual than Après l’Ondée. It’s quite a bit sweeter, more of a comfort scent. It also lacks the watery notes that make Après l’Ondée so evocative.

Chandler Burr calls L’Eau d’Hiver “among the greatest [perfumes] ever created”. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not true. However, even though I don’t find L’Eau d’Hiver as special as Après l’Ondée, I believe that it will be a reasonably good substitute for Après l’Ondée once it’s finally discontinued in the U.S. We all know it’s going to happen, y’all. Oh, it’ll still be available in France, of course, but I’ll be shocked if we Americans will still be able to find Après l’Ondée in five years. When that dreadful day comes, I’ll switch over to L’Eau d’Hiver without much complaining. (That’s not true. I will complain forever. But I’ll still buy it.)

25 thoughts on “Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver

    1. I’ve always gotten the impression from interviews that SJP is a particularly classy and polite woman, especially for a celebrity. The book’s two stories are both so interesting- what an amazing job Chandler had!

  1. I can’t smell anything at all with L’eau d’Hiver. I get a faint whiff of honey and that’s all she wrote. What is it meant to smell like, as I must be missing something in my nose receptors? I love most of Jean Claude’s others as well.

      1. Yes Apres l’Ondee is a beautiful walk through a dew drenched flower field – I always think of bluebells even though I know it is a violet perfume. But it just smells so blue.

  2. L’Eau d’Hiver is one of my favorites…I’ve gone through a whole bottle even! Well, the travelers set…and I gave away the last 2ml in each vial to perfumistanewbies. But still, thats at least 25ml in less than a year, and I’m well into the second set. I love it’s etheral quality…that you can not smell it at all…and the turn and get that wonderful heliotrope. It’s really subtle and expertly done. I think i need anothr backup bottle. Did you know it comes in mondo size? 300ml. Seriously.

    Think I’ll pick up the book, now, too.

    1. Finishing ANY size bottle is a huge accomplishment for hardcore perfume lovers! It really is a very lovely perfume. And doing this review reminded me that there’s more to Frederic Malle than Musc Ravageur and Lipstick Rose! There’s still so much of the line that I haven’t tried yet!
      I don’t even want to know the price for the 300 ml! Do all the Malles come in that size, or just L’Eau d’Hiver?

      1. In the 300ml, I think Hiver, PortraitofaLady, and Bigarade maybe? My other fave Malle is Pink Lady… Errr. Pink Poudre. Its in my “pretty lady” category along with Kelly Caleche and L’Artisan iris pallida, and après l’ondee.

  3. Love Apres l’Ondee… haven’t smelled it since it’s been reformulated, though (I hear it’s now more irisy, less heliotropey, which doesn’t reassure me at ALL). And I have a sample of L’eau d’Hiver just waaaaaiting on me. Could crack it open today and see whether I can smell it or not. Off to try – and to get Gaze to his contacts fitting. Will report back later.

    1. Can’t wait for you to report back, Mals! And good luck to Gaze- contact fittings are actually way harder than people would think. You have to stick something into your own eye!!

      When was the reformulation supposed to have occurred? I got my bottle in 2010, and it still seems wonderful to me!

      1. Refo of Al’O in the past year I think.

        Okey-dokey: not getting any anise in L’E d’H. It is mostly almond milk with a hint of… jasmine? (I *think* jasmine, didn’t check a notes list) and some nice quiet musk. Very comforting indeed. Reminds me a bit of Infusion d’Iris but with milky notes. I like. Not shelling out for it when I’d much much rather have Iris Poudre first, but I’d sure wear it.

        Gaze’s blink reflex is *monumental,* y’all. Poor kid cannot get his eyelids held open to save his life… the technician sent us home with a bottle of eyedrops and the admonition to “practice” putting in a drop of saline as if he were attempting to insert the contact lens for about 10 minutes a day, before we reschedule the fitting.

  4. I just finished “The Perfect Scent”, I love Chandler Burr’s writing. And his rip on Hugo Boss was wickedly funny. And I must admit I am a fan of Uncle Jean-Claude.

  5. I find L’Eau d’Hiver to be a nice mimosa with a super delicate florals added it… but this is not my fave by any means, I like my mimosa greener to invoke the beginning of Spring (that’s the only time I wear my Mimosa which is already discontinued by the way!) But I think L’Eau d’Hiver is a very elegant fragrance. We want all the same things, in life and in perfume — love, joy, happiness, elegance, comfort, evocative quality… we just define it differently, every one of us! 🙂

    1. Beautifully put, Warum. I get a definite mimosa vibe from L’Eau d’Hiver, too. What is the name of your discontinued mimosa perfume?

  6. To answer the question above about Al’O’s reformulation, it happened in 2011, so if you’ve got a 2010 bottle you’re good. Way back when I first tumbled down the rabbit hole, I did a wrist-to-wrist of Après l’Ondée and l’Eau d’Hiver, and was fascinated to discover how the two would smell similar, then different 5 minutes later, then back to similar, then different…. it’s like the two were dancing with each other. I’ve never experienced two other fragrances that did that. For a long time I felt like I should choose between the two and just couldn’t make up my mind, until duh! got both.

    1. Ohh no, I’m so upset to hear this. I was hoping that my bottle was post-reformulation, and that I was perfectly content with the reformulated version.

      Your description of the dance between A l’O and l’Eau d’Hiver is just beautiful, Dionne. I think that you made the right choice! 😉

  7. I love L’Eau d’Hiver *and* Apres l’Ondee, and I love their similarities *and* their differences. Nice review! I may even spritz on some L’Ed’H for the afternoon.

    1. Thank you, Jessica! With all of these reformulation rumors, it sounds like I may have to learn to love L’Eau de’Hiver, too!

  8. Hi Ari! Reading old posts because my email account was messed up! I treated myself to a bottle of L’Eau d’Hiver because I went through a tiny sample and then a decant from Perfumed Court so I knew I had to go FB. I have spritzed some on every day for a week, It is my new favorite comfort scent! Love it but it doesn’t last on me! Don’t mind respritzing though!
    I read The Perfect Scent years ago and remember the SJP part but not the Ellena part. Will have to try Apres l’Ondee now based on your recommendation.(Even though I did not love L’Heure Bleue you sent me. Hangs head in shame!)

    1. Pick that head up, Barbara! You are under no obligation to like any particular perfume. Besides, I sent you the EDT- maybe you’d love the parfum! L’Eau d’Hiver strikes me as a perfect comfort scent.

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