I’ve always loved autumn, even as a child. Of course, a child loves most things anyway, but even if the arrival of autumn meant the end of summer holiday’s freedom and the beginning of a new school term, I still loved autumn. The colours drove me wild with excitement. I used to spend hours collecting the most beautiful fallen leaves for the collage projects we always had going in the art class during autumn months. I loved the smells too, the smoke of burnt dead leaves, the damp scent of foggy mornings, the tangy sweet aroma of soft fruit fermenting on the ground, the huge yellow and white chrysanthemums from my grandma’s garden, and that dark, mossy forest smell of autumn soil slowly warming up in the gentle, pallid glow of October sun.
There’s nothing like the bittersweet melancholy of the Autumn season, the contemplative yet sensuous mood it’s embedded in my DNA codes, and since I’ve discovered the wonderful world of perfume there’s an added dimension to the already bountiful sensorial gifts of the season. I have so many beautiful perfumes in my Fall arsenal that I thought of sharing some of my choices with you.
So without further ado the first one is the latest addition to my collection, Lady Mitsouko of Guerlain, this grand dame of perfumery, one of the most famous Chypres in the history of fragrance. She came to me rather late, I guess it took all these years, about 4 or 5 until I was able to truly appreciate the ripe, juicy sensuality behind the stern, citric-mossy layers. She’s perfect for the season, even color wise with her warm orange, sweet, peach glow ensconced between dark green velvet layers mimicking the view outside the window, but especially when it comes to mood, that fascinating and dare I say erotic, crepuscular glamour Mitsouko is famous for. I adore her complexity, the way she slowly unveils her friendly, sensual side with overripe peach, musks, a touch of powder, and a kind of shimmering amber aura. Yet despite this tasteful peep show she remains a tad aloof at all times. No matter how close you get to her, there’ll always be that maddening, addictive sensation that you’ll never uncover all of her mysteries. She’s perfect for fancy evenings at the theatre, or any other elegant occasion. I suppose I don’t do Mitsouko justice wearing it with jeans and hair piled up in a scruffy bun but if I were to wait for the right time, we’d both end up waiting forever.
A perennial autumn choice is Cuir de Lancôme, a very elegant soft floral leather, that I heretically prefer to Chanel Cuir de Russie, which unfortunately despite its beauty, with delightful animalic inflections, it’s ridiculously fleeting on me and perhaps also a touch too aldehydic for my taste. Whereas Cuir de Lancome mercifully avoids any chanelesque aldehydic sheen, in favour of a delicately smoky presence and the buttery softness of saffron sprinkled suede. There’s also this subdued floral element with Iris and Hawthorn, that again have a delicate, melancholic feeling that suits grey mornings and walks through park alleys blanketed in the rustling browned yellow of fallen leaves. It’s a day perfume as far as I’m concerned and perfect for any work environment, as it’s very well balanced and dosed, without being excessively leathery or smoky, just easy to wear, sophisticated refinement. One of my best blind buys ever and as far as I remember one of the cheapest ones too.
Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Khôl de Bahreïn it’s a recent discovery, of which I only have a little decant, but I’ve enjoyed wearing it this autumn. It’s a gourmand Iris, in fact it reminds me of a more polished version of Angel, I can bet there’s Patchouli and ethylmaltol in this, but I couldn’t know for sure as there’s no mentioning of them in the notes list. Anyway there’s a strong caramelised, resinous vibe with a dry, dusty cocoa feel and maybe a bit of incense. There’s powdery, silky Iris too of course, but it’s cocooned in layers of sweet, sticky brown stuff and it’s absolutely scrumptious. Delicious and it’s a great scent for a hot date in a cozy café, sheltered from the autumn rain, watching the world go by and sharing a chocolate filled crêpe and a hazelnut latte with a beautiful stranger about to become a lot more.
And for the debauched night which that hot date will most invariably lead to, please wear Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue pour le soir, this incense-civet-honey sex bomb that will bring the scorching summer heat back into the cool autumn evenings. This is not a pensive perfume, on the contrary. It demands action of a very specific kind, but the grandiose, epic scale on which it takes place makes it regal and impressive. This is not some low budget porno movie, with unvarnished pine furniture and a floral cotton bedspread, Absolue pour Le soir is a gods’orgy, among golden colonnades, light as air silks and the softest, most luxurious furs. AND it’s shot in 3D. So no matter how chilly some autumn days and nights will be, you can always count on this sexy fireball which doesn’t burn, but keeps you warm. Really warm. And for the bonus part: it’s equally devastating on both sexes.
And to stay in the realm of sexy, (why leave when it feels so good?), we can turn towards Papillon Perfumery Anubis, a hot, smoky floral leather if there ever was one. It is like the amped up, rock’n’roll version of Cuir de Lancôme, keeping a saffron sueded floral leather core, but adding loads of smoky incense, a lot more indolic Jasmine, and an animalic, ambery glow all over. There’s a medicinal vibe to it too, especially in the beginning, when it almost smells like gasoline and mothballs. I love it! Makes me wanna jump in my leather leggings and on top of a motorbike, but then I remember that I’m shortsighted and clumsy and a danger to myself and others even on a bicycle never mind with a couple of horsepower under my arse. So I spritz more badass Anubis and dream about disappearing into the autumn sunset leaving just a trail of smoke and a disturbed tumble of brown leaves behind.
Now it’s time for a bit of calming down, and Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit fits the bill nicely. This is one of those scents that truly and fully encapsulates that autumn feel. It’s sensuous but also sort of sad. It breaks my heart a little every time I wear it. It makes me think about endings, past times and it simply fills me with nostalgia. Good nostalgia, though. You know, the kind when things don’t hurt anymore and instead you have this bittersweet pleasure of reminiscing. What makes this Rose so special are the layers of waxy musks, and touch of apricot fuzz and soft leather. They give it a retro vibe and muffle the bright, incandescent red shrill of damascones into a throaty, voluptuous whisper. I’ve stated once that Rose de Nuit is the olfactory equivalent of Lana del Rey’s voice and music. It has this bluesy, timeless feel and when I have it on I wish for dusk and a lit cigarette.
No autumn would be complete without something that feels as soft and comforting as a cashmere sweater and that spot in my collection is occupied by Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, the coziest naughty perfume ever. Every single time I take that heavy black cap off the bottle and give myself a spritz, I smile. It’s so flashy and vulgar, all that vanilla mixed through with fat blobs of plastic doll head smelling musks and urinous civet, that I can’t help being put in a good mood. A sprinkle of cinnamon, a sharp aromatic touch of lavender and loads of amber in the base and I’m a happy girl, grinning like an idiot all day. It might sound lurid, and to a certain extent, that’s exactly what it is but the saving grace is the lightness of hand with which the composition is handled. Perfect, and the best impulse buy I’ve made. Funnily enough I bought it in the height of summer, on the 10th of July as a birthday gift to myself.
Whenever I feel autumn melancholy is starting to get the best of me it’s time for Vero Profumo Onda Voile d’extrait or Molinard Habanita ( the modern EdP). They’re both different faces of the same coin, and they both act as spine strengthening, armour building perfumes. Especially Onda, which is Habanita‘s more austere and smokier sister. Yet basically, as astutely observed by my colleague Claire, they share the same vetiver-honey-leather-woods splashed with citric elements structure. Habanita has a load of other stuff going too, with more powder, more florals and more vanillic sweetness, but sisters they are nevertheless and both somewhat difficult to wear. They make me feel strong, composed and a lot more interesting than I actually am. AMEN to that!
Finally, for a trip down the memory lane I’d pick Serge Lutens De Profundis with its subtle damp greenness and a lovely, heart wrenching chrysanthemum note. It has a delicacy that is very hard to render into words, and it reminds me strongly of entering my grandmother’s garden some quiet late autumn afternoon, the path leading to the house lined with gigantic white and yellow crysanths, their thousand petals heads still dewy with the morning’s fog, and smoke from the first woodfires in the hearth slowly permeating the cool air.
That’s it peeps, my little autumn marathon through some of my favorite seasonal fragrances. I’d love to hear back from you, sharing some of yours. Much love to you all!