Autumnal Perfumes : Top Favorite Fall Fragrances


Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, given the melancholic connotations in the early dusks and fallen leaves. It is a time when I fully give in to nostalgia, imagining the cherry trees in the garden of my childhood turning russet, the first frost on the shaggy bushes of chrysanthemums near the wooden gate, and the plaintive cry of cranes crossing the overcast sky above the terracotta roof of our house. Thinking of these familiar images, I reach out for a compilation of Turgenev and gaze out of my window at the rows of slender maple trees dropping their crimson leaves into the puddles.

I notice that my fragrance choices for autumn fall into the nostalgic realm: classical ambers, animalic chypres, spicy orientals and dark roses. However, since the choices themselves depend on my mood and the weather, I decided to organize my list in this manner: a set of fragrances for each autumnal mood.

Indian Summer

The days of Indian summer are among the loveliest. Cool mornings give way to a languorous sunshine, which seems to melt into the puddles of gold on the sidewalks. The leaves are starting to take on vivid shades from lemon yellow to sienna red. I find that my hand reaches for scents that echo this serene and crisp ambiance. I find it in the brilliance of Parfum d’Empire Yuzu Fou with its zesty, citrusy mélange; the leathery apricots and jasmine of The Different Company Osmanthus; the stunning white floral bouquet of Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage. My most recent discovery has been Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile, a tribute to magnolia accented with bergamot, jasmine, sandalwood and vetiver. Airy and yet voluptuous, it is perfect for the last few warm days of autumn.

Foggy Morning

It is a morning when I can hardly wake up, when darkness creeps into every corner, and the mind simply refuses to believe that it is 5:30am already. It finally brightens outside, and despite the fact that the sunshine is lost in the velvety rolls of fog, the opalescent light more than makes up for the heavy darkness of early morning. I enjoy the familiar streets acquiring a nebulous aura, the saturated colors of autumnal foliage suddenly looking like pastel watercolors, and most of all, I love the scent of wet leaves, grass and earth. The soil covered red roses of L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses remind me of these days, while the stunning Annick Goutal Heure Exquise presents a more elegant vision of cold roots, leaves and bitter flowers. Finally, when I need an extra jolt, Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose and Ormonde Jayne Frangipani can make me feel like a flamboyant 1960s Italian movie star, even if the reality is far from it.

Rainy Day

Only in the fall can the rain feel so interminable—the great splashes of water cutting through the last of the leaves on the branches, the puddles becoming small lakes, the mood dropping lower and lower… If I am at home with a cup of hot tea and a good book, I have to admit that the monotonous beat of the rain can be a soothing sound, but obviously I am not all that fond of rain when I have to get to work, school or my dance classes. One of my favorite uplifting fragrances is Chloé, a candy colored, beautifully rendered confection of roses. It is like wearing a bright pink coat, and it gets noticed. Alternatively, I love the sensual warmth of Annick Goutal Musc Nomade, a marvelous animalic musk composition. Iris scents with their chilly, damp earth character have a particular affinity with rainy weather. Thus, I enjoy the iris imbued leather of Chanel Cuir de Russie, the striking fragility of Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist as well as the regal elegance of Chanel No 19.

Russet Twilight

When the leaves begin to change color, the whole world acquires a vivid glow. The jewel tones of maple leaves, the delicate yellow of birch trees, the variegated green of poplars… And of course, the incomparable smell of autumnal leaves: of black walnuts, wet leather, sour apples and wilting chrysanthemums. Allaying colors and scents, I find that Chanel Bois des Iles captures olfactively the stunning spectrum of autumnal foliage with its beautiful woody accord, anchored with amber and rose. Both Guerlain Nahema and L’Heure Bleue, while very different in character, possess a brilliantly rich palette. Finally, one of my favorite brightly hued fragrances is Robert Piguet Fracas, a striking flower that smells of warm skin.

Snowflakes on Fallen Leaves

Late fall bordering on winter is a different season from the languorously sunny early autumn. When the mornings dawn is bedecked in fragile frosts, one can almost smell the winter snows. Although Guerlain Mitsouko is often seen as the most autumnal of fragrances, I find that its chypre warmth reminiscent of warm furs lands it in the wintery category. It is the time when I love the smell of incense, whether it is a classical incense of Armani Privé Bois d’Encens, the refined minimalism of Andy Tauer Incense Extrême, or the seductive embrace of Amouage Jubilation XXV for Men. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of my favorite home scents that helps me cope with the cold—Costes, a memorable fragrance of incense, rose and sandalwood.

For more Top 10 of Fall lists, check out Grain de Musc :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Perfume Smellin’ Things.



  • Zazie: i love autumn and I loved the way you divided your list: indian summer, Rainy day… it sums up the variety of colours and moods of fall!
    And I see you mention the Yet-to-be-launched OJ Tiaré!
    I am SOOO curious about it!!
    Could you tell me something more?
    You tickled my curiosity and made my Lemming reach monstruos proportion with your “make me feel like a flamboyant 1960s Italian movie star”… October 23, 2009 at 6:09am Reply

  • Zazie: So, we just have to wait for Tiaré to be released!
    I also happen to enjoy very much Frangipani, along with Tai’f it is my favorite OJ scent (I wore it to my own wedding!).
    That is why I’m so curious about their new fragrance… I love tropical white flowers so much, epecially when they are rendered in a sophisticated and original way (which is the way I expect OJ to take).
    (BTW, I love the picture!) October 23, 2009 at 10:36am Reply

  • Marina: Loved the description of all the moods, but especially the Foggy Morning one, and the choice of scents is perfect. Made me nostalgic for Voleur de Roses. October 23, 2009 at 6:49am Reply

  • violetnoir: V, this is such an evocative post. I love the way you put it together and wrote it.

    Best wishes to you and P! I visited Delhi this summer. I can’t quite shake the memories of her wonderful people, sights, colors, jammed traffic, and smells (yes, smells!). I look forward to returning to India in the very near future.

    Hugs! October 23, 2009 at 12:53pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Zazie, thank you, I love fall for all of its many moods.
    About Tiare, I am simply dying to smell it, because it sounds so wonderful (and I love OJ collection.) However, in my excitement, I made a mistake–I meant Frangipani, which is another ravishing OJ floral. October 23, 2009 at 8:59am Reply

  • sweetlife: Ahhhhh…what a treat to find this beautiful full length meditation on the moods of fall from you! I’m so glad you made time for your readers in your busy schedule.

    I have been craving both iris and galbanum for cool, wet days. Neither of them are part of my usual palette, but when I want them nothing else will do.

    You make me want to try Different Company’s Osmanthus again, too. I wore it a lot this summer, but I can see how the cooler weather would bring out it’s leathery aspect. It’s such a joyful scent! October 23, 2009 at 9:19am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: M, like you, I am sure, I do not have specific scents that I wear only in the fall, but there some that suit perfectly certain moods. 🙂 It was fun to think about it this way and to capture my favorites like this. October 23, 2009 at 9:21am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Dear A, thank you, I am so glad that you enjoyed it. I love autumn, even on grey and rainy days, because the transformation of nature never fails to move me somehow, year after year. Moreover, it is so inspiring in terms of scents, colors and textures. I can definitely see why you crave iris and galbanum. The earthy, wet, intensely green effect of galbanum is the smell of fall for me too. Which is why I keep a bottle of No 19 on my table all the time these days. October 23, 2009 at 9:31am Reply

  • March: I always love the way you categorize things, and I know you are going to be very busy but I hope you keep us updated on your wedding via the blog, reading your thoughts and plans as they develop would be wonderful.

    I’m surprised and happy to see several AGs on your list, and you’ve reminded me that I need to get ahold of another Costes decant, although I think I recall hearing that the formulation had changed somewhat due to the sandalwood? October 23, 2009 at 10:46am Reply

  • Robin: What a great list, V, and you have so many of my favorites there! October 23, 2009 at 5:07pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Victoria, your upcoming wedding seems to make you turn towards a lot of spring or summer-like scents — magnolia, frangipani, osmanthus, tuberose, orange blossom… Somehow I also associate iris with spring too, because it is so often matched with green. I struggled to include a Goutal in my own list (I love Isabelle’s work so) but couldn’t come up with something I’m wearing currently. I hope you’ll find time to give us your impressions of the new Cartiers soon. Mathilde Laurent is up to very interesting things! October 23, 2009 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Enjoyed your post V! Autumn is my favorite season too. I loved your description of a foggy morning.
    I like Andy’s Incense extreme in summer, rather than in the winter, though- it is so bare and cool that it sort of provides a respite from the heat. This fall I’ve been craving heady incensey/oudhy roses. You’ve reminded me that I need to get another decant of Bois de Iles – it is perfect for fall/winter.

    Ooh- the D-day is approaching!! Can’t wait to hear more about your wedding prep etc. All the best! October 23, 2009 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Sveta: Vi, I love your list! So elegantly organized and so interesting! I already picked out a few new fragrances to try based on it. Magnolia Nobile is one of them. October 24, 2009 at 2:20pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Zazie, Tiaré does sound wonderful, and I am looking forward to sampling it.
    I was actually thinking about Ta’if for the wedding. Somehow, red roses and weddings (esp. Indian) go hand in hand for me. 🙂 October 25, 2009 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: March, thank you! I will try to write about wedding and scents soon, although to be honest, with so many things to figure out, fragrance has been on the back burner for the time being. Plus, it may not be a Sophie’s choice after all–with so many days of wedding activities, I can pretty much wear all of my favorites! 🙂
    As for Costes, I have an old bottle, so the sandalwood is still a creamy, complex note. I am curious to see and compare to the newer stock. October 25, 2009 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R (violetnoir), I was in Delhi only once, and it was in July. The worst time to go, since it was the end of the hot season and the beginning of monsoon. In other words, it was hellishly hot and Finnish sauna-like humid. But I fell in love nonetheless! October 25, 2009 at 12:05pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: D, those are my favorite scents summer or winter, so I am just being consistent. 🙂 Then again, I wear citrus in the winter and amber in the summer, because as much as I love writing these seasonal posts, I do not think of fragrance in this way. To me, the choice of perfume is very much about the mood.
    I am wearing Un Matin d’Orange pretty much all the time. That and Songes are among my ideal fragrances. October 25, 2009 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R, it is fun to reflect on favorites! Thank you for organizing, as always. October 25, 2009 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Lavanya, you know, I wore Serge Noire all summer long for this same reason. And I can see how Andy’s incense would work to cool and refresh in the same manner. I have to review it soon. A beautiful, refined incense. October 25, 2009 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Sveta, I really liked Magnolia Nobile. I am curious to hear your thoughts. October 25, 2009 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Andrea D: Can I express my complete jealousy that you’re doing two things I want to do: attend perfume school and get married in India? November 16, 2009 at 4:21pm Reply

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