L’Eau D’Hiver by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle 2003


Guest Post by Dionne


Hello frag heads!

It’s been my plan for a while now to write a review of the fabulous Frederic Malle scent L’Eau d’Hiver, created by Jean-Claude Ellena. Part of my trifecta of season-less scents, which also includes Lumière Blanche and Art Collection #08 by Jacomo, this is one of the few perfumes I can wear year-round, no matter what the season.
“No matter what the season.” I’ll admit to a knowing chuckle as I type out that phrase, because March is the craziest month of the entire year where I live. Here in southern Alberta just west of the Canadian Rockies, spring doesn’t really arrive until late April, but it doesn’t feel like winter anymore either. Which is strange to say because we get more snow in March than any other month; it’s just that we also regularly get an interesting phenomenon called a Chinook, a warm wind that blows from the west and can raise temperatures 30 degrees in a matter of hours. So you never quite know what you’re going to get.

CanadianRockies HolidayVelvetPhoto Stolen HolidayVelvet

What does this all have to do with L’Eau d’Hiver? It’s that no matter what the day is like, it’s been a great fit. I’ve worn it a lot this last month, when it’s plus 15, clear blues skies and I’m lifting my face to the sun while my little ones happily jump in all the puddles and rivers that are everywhere. It’s the perfect accompaniment for a sunny, joyful day. It’s also worked when it’s minus 20, there’s been a 25cm snow dump and whiteout conditions and I can barely get out of my driveway without getting stuck. Since staying home and declaring a snow day isn’t going to happen, (Albertans just lace up the Sorels and dig ourselves out, we’re kinda Boss that way) spraying L’Eau d’Hiver and enjoying its snuggly comfort while Getting Stuff Done is an enjoyable second option.

Back and forth, back and forth, that’s what March is like. How Jean-Claude Ellena managed to create a perfume that works on such different days, I’m not quite sure. All I know is that I’m impressed.

L’Eau D’Hiver by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle 2003

Picture 308Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Notes according to Fragrantica:
Bergamot, heliotrope, jasmine, iris, honey, angelica, white musk.

L’Eau d’Hiver is JCE’s tribute to Après l’Ondée, and I tried them both shortly after falling down the rabbit hole. For some strange reason, I had this idea in my head at the time that I needed to choose which one to own, as if there was some sort of contest. Fortunately I eventually realized how silly that was, and now have both.

If you ever want to try a fascinating experiment, do a wrist-to-wrist of the two and see what happens – just make sure the Al’O is the pre-2011 formulation. I love doing wrist-to-wrist comparisons as it helps me get better at this whole smelling thing, and in the three years I’ve done comparisons, I’ve never encountered anything quite as interesting as these two together. They seem to dance around each other, smelling alike for a moment, than different 5 minutes later, than alike again ten minutes later, then different again, back and forth, back and forth. To expand that particular image, it’s like a dance couple where the male, L’Eau d’Hiver, moves within a tight circle and the female, Après l’Ondée, twirls and leaps and runs off all pointy-toes before flitting back and smiling and then twirling off again. This is a very fancy way of saying that JCE has made L’Eau d’Hiver streamlined and modern, the essence of heliotrope, and its beauty lies in that simplicity.

AlmondMilk AmazonPhoto Stolen Amazon

It’s a frothy almond milk with a sprinkling of sugar on top. If that sounds really gourmand to you, surprisingly, it’s not; the iris in here adds a cool, elegant vibe that keeps L’Eau d’Hiver from getting cutesy. The perfume is full of these kinds of contrasts: warm and cool, cuddly and elegant, close to the skin but distinctive, straightforward but with a lot to say.

Further reading WhatMenShouldSmellLike or Olfactoria’sTravels
MeccaCosmetica has 50ml for $195 in Australia
FredericMalle has 50ml for $150 in the USA
SurrenderToChance start at $6/ml

I’m in the mood for a dance. L’Eau d’Hiver, shall we?

Dionne xx

20 comments on “L’Eau D’Hiver by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle 2003

  1. Annina says:

    I’ve been meaning to try this, it sounds so lovely. I’m a big fan of A L’O, so probably would like it. I can identify a bit with your weather descriptions – I’m in Minnesota! Won’t really be spring here for another couple weeks, though it was 70 degrees in March last year. Winter is hanging on this year!

    • Dionne says:

      If you enjoy Al’O, definitely give this a try, Annina, and try the wrist-to-wrist if you can. Après l’Ondée has more of a spring-life feel to it than L’Eau d’Hiver because of the violets and touch of greenery, and I’m looking forward to wearing it again soon. (C’mon Spring, you can do it!)

  2. This sounds like my cup of tea Dionne. I went through a sample of it very quickly when I first found out about decanting, sample stores but have no recollection of it.
    It’s probably time to try it again,
    My mind is telling me that maybe….. I think I’ll go look….
    Portia xx

    • Dionne says:

      I think this is a good one to have around just to keep as a reference for heliotrope; I did a major exploration of the note a while ago and discovered that L’Eau d’Hiver sat right in the middle of the heliotrope continuum, which ranges from maraschino cherry at one end through the almond-y milk to marshmallow fluffiness at the other.

      Let me know if you uncover a sample, I’d be interested in what you think.

      • I started looking and got distracted. OMG! I have some incredible samples of fragrances. Things that haven’t yet had skin time. Things I forgot I bought.
        The shame of a greedy frag glutton.
        Portia xx

      • Dionne says:

        LOL! I’ve got my parents coming over today and am trying to get this place looking great. On the Unrealistic List of Things I Could Accomplish in Time if There Were Three of Me was organizing samples. They are aaaall over my dresser. I predict a mad stuff-in-a-drawer very soon. Someday they’ll be organized……

  3. Vanessa says:

    Hi Dionne,

    I never know who is going to turn up on which blog these days – there seems to be guest posting going on left and right at the moment! Anyway, it is lovely to see you here and you do L’Eau d’Hiver justice in your evocative review. It is streamlined and modern, and frothy and cosy and all the things you say. And I love the linkage with your home turf of The Rockies. I was fortunate to drive from Sparwood BC all the way to Fort McMurray in the course of one memorable Easter weekend, and the snowy peaks were just like your photo!

    • Dionne says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the review, Vanessa.

      Sparwood to Fort McMurray in a weekend? That’s an impressive drive, and a great way to see my province; especially if you were able to travel some of the more scenic routes like the Cowboy Trail or the Icefields Parkway. Sometimes I feel like I’m in an out-of-the-way place compared to most of the perfume world, and then I remember people come here from all over the world to get a glimpse of what I see everyday.

      • Vanessa says:

        I went the Icefields Parkway route! The best drive of my life, and I so envy you having access to such breathtaking scenery year round.

      • Dionne says:

        Niiiiiice, that drive is a one-of-a-kind. My favorite place in the province for jaw-dropping scenery is one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets: Waterton National Park. It’s tucked away in the Southwest corner, far from major centers or highways, so none of the commercialization or crowds of Banff, and our family camps there every year.

  4. brie says:

    Hi Dionne!
    i like this “chinook”- both the word itself and the fact that it is a warm wind! Have wanted to try this fragrance for ever so long and after reading this review and the notes will have to seek out at sample!

  5. Dionne says:

    Chinook IS a great word, isn’t it? (Pronounced shi-nook, in case you’re wondering.) If you like that, you might be interested to know what we call the local mountain region outside of Banff National Park: it’s Kananaskis, or ka-nuh-nas-kiss. There are some pretty great Native names here which just roll off the tongue.

    • brie says:

      That’s interesting…the small town I live in has a Native name as well and everyone either mispronounces it or makes me spell it whenever I say it 🙂 !!

      • Dionne says:

        My town has a native name as well, and I remember having to repeat the spelling three times to my grandma when we first moved here and she wanted my new address. She finally exclaimed in exasperation, “What a weird name, they should change that!”

  6. lucasai says:

    I think it’s my favourite from Frederic Malle

  7. Undina says:

    Hi Dionne!

    It’s nice to see you here again! And I agree with Vanessa: it’s impossible to guess who’ll appear on which blog nowadays 🙂

    I just realized recently that somehow I missed this one in my testing of the line. I will rectify it soon: your inspiring review isn’t the first good thing I heard about this perfume recently.

    • Dionne says:

      In my case, Portia has asked me to do a post once a month here, so I’ll pop up from time to time. (Sorry about the delay in answering, as I don’t get notifications when people comment – probably should see if that can be changed.)

      I’m glad you liked the review. With so much to sample, sometimes the hardest part is choosing. Even after three years down the rabbit hole, I still find myself thinking, “How is it I still haven’t tried that?”

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