Among all the wonderful, Christmassy fragrances there are to choose from out there, this one has become the epitome or the season for me. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire – bottled.
Since its 2015 release by Maison Martin Margiela, By the Fireplace has become one of my absolute favourite fragrances, not only for the holiday season, but of all time, even though it’s most definitely better worn in fall and winter.
By the Fireplace is one of several fragrances from the Replica line, a series of fragrances designed to capture the memory of a specific historical place and time. The perfumer of this fragrance is Marie Salamagne, and the note are:
- cloves, pink pepper, orange blossom
- chestnut, guaiac wood, juniper
- vanilla, Peru balsam, cashmeran
By the Fireplace is an ideal fragrance to wear when you just want to get in from the cold and warm your toes by the fire, perhaps huddled in a comfy chair with a good book with a cup of chai or perhaps something stronger. This smells quite literally like warm wood smoke. You can almost hear the crackle of the fire through your nose.
On days when it is cold, dreary and damp, and I have absolutely no desire to venture outside, a few sprays of this gives me the courage to head out the door because it keeps my mind in such a delightfully warm and cozy headspace. It’s balsamic, nutty, woody, smoky, and sweet with a dash vanilla. It’s rich but not cloying, and even though I implied that it’s not a summer scent, I can see me wearing this on a canoe and camping trip back in Canada in the evening. There is almost a hickory, sausage-y vibe to it. And yet also a toasted, nutty sugar pie taste in the nose as well. With a few spices. It’s highly addictive. And I get leathery marshmallows in here, too.
Has it been over-hyped? Yes. Is it gimmicky? Yes. Is it my favourite from the Replica line. Yes. It’s amazing.
Much as this is a staple in my fragrance wardrobe, there are five potentially negative facets to this juice that might keep it out of yours. Or perhaps, like me, several of these attributes are what draw you to the fragrance:
1) This fragrance blurs line between perfume and aroma This does not smell perfume-y in the least. To me it’s very much a bottled memory, likely a memory that many of us have had and one of many of which that tend to be positive. It’s a communal, gather-around-the-campfire-pit-to-warm-up, strum-a-guitar-and-sing or share-stories type of fragrance. If you love the way this smells, but find it much too literal or realistic for your tastes, might I suggest spraying the cushions with this stuff and instead wearing another fragrance from the Replica line called Jazz Club. Jazz Club is much more wearable, more like a perfume, and yes, it is excellent.
2) By the Fireplace is a rather linear scent. This does not bother me personally in the least, but I lot of scentgourmands insist on some sort of development and progression with their perfumes. Well, I guess it is not completely linear. The smoke does fade, leaving you with a slightly spicy, chestnutty vanilla skin scent. But that is when I would reapply. Because I am totally here for the smoke.
3) The smoke in here isn’t a polite waft of sweet, refined incense: it’s dense, charcoal, thick and heavy smoke, the combined smell of a fire that’s just been put out with water and the meats that were smoked in it. So for many of you out there, this might smell a tad dirty and not particularly sophisticated. For me, that’s part of its appeal – it’s raw, it’s casual, and it’s delicious.
4) The perfume can be made beastly if you spray a lot, but it won’t last forever. You’ll probably want to take a decant out on the road.
5) Depending on your budget, I would say it’s a little on the pricy side. This bottle retails for about USD125, but here in Japan it tends to run quite a bit higher. If you are on a tighter budget you might consider a clone house. I’ve tried out a few clones already, and I am far from unimpressed.
If you’re a fan of the warm, crackly sweet burning vibe of this fragrance, and don’t mind its roughness, perhaps you might also consider Andy Tauer’s Lone Star Memories. That one is also full of fire but has a much earthier birch tar note to it that reminds me, oddly, of cross-country ski wax. I love it. I would also recommend CB I Hate Perfume’s Burning Leaves, though that one might be harder to get if you live far from New York and it probably costs a pretty penny. If you prefer to pinch your pennies, try out Demeter’s Bonfire. Nothing from Demeter performs particularly well, at least from what I have tried so far, but they have such a fanciful variety of affordable fragrances to choose from.
As for me, I think I might have to bring out my Mastercard to repurchase By the Fireplace, because this fragrance truly is a must-have for me. What about you? If you own it or have smelled it, what do you think of this fragrance? Comments are welcome!