Perfume as Costume : Top 10 Fall Favorites Halloween Edition

Do you ever think of perfume as a costume? If you were dressing up for Halloween, what character would you be and what perfume would you wear?

In the spirit of Halloween, I have decided to match some of my favorite fragrances with costumes. One does not need to be a child to play dress up, and with perfume, it is easy to assume a different guise.

To see another one of my top 10 fall favorites list (a bit more conventional one!), please take a look at my post from last year, Favorite Fall Perfumes.



 If the ballerina in question is a fiery Sevillana a la Kitri from Don Quixote, then she needs the hot spicy roses of Guerlain Rose Barbare. If she is an ethereal Giselle, then the gossamer and cool Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist would be more appropriate.


Little Red Riding Hood

 For this costume, I am imagining a coquettish and girly fragrance like the honeyed and spicy L de Lolita Lempicka or the shimmering Ormonde Jayne Sampaquita. Or just wear whatever might tempt your wolf!


Black Cat

 A black cat should definitely not be wearing Katy Perry Purr! My idea is animalic, seductive and rich a la Lancôme Magie Noire or spicy and dark like Frédéric Malle Noir Epices. NB: Apparently, there is a Black Cat perfume sold by the Kittylicious line, which promotes itself as a scent of “mystery and enchantment.”


Sexy Librarian/French Maid

 Both of these images are unapologetically sensual and provocative, yet there is a veneer of restraint about them. The smoky blossoms of Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette / Jasmin et Tabac, the voluptuous richness of Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose or the delicious darkness of Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison would suit the seductress who is trying to play it cool.



 L’Eau Serge Lutens or any other pretty much invisible perfume would be ideal for the ghosts.



 Annick Goutal Songes always make me feel special. This elegant jasmine wrapped in sandalwood and vanilla has a graceful, refined aura, but its character is strong enough to be noticed. Princesses are not wallflowers, after all!



 In Ukrainian folklore, mermaids are beautiful creatures that live in the lakes and spend their time tickling unwary people to death or otherwise dancing and making flower wreaths to decorate their long hair. The sensual and exotic image of these mythical beings would demand something that is simultaneously cool and smoldering, haunting and distant. My choices are Chanel Cristalle EDT, Christian Dior Eau Noire and Prada Infusion d’Iris.



 Mysterious, handsome and full of bravado. The fragrance that comes to my mind immediately is Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir; however, since it is one of the most overused fragrances, I do not feel like recommending it. For something more current and modern, I would suggest Tom Ford for Men Extreme, L’Artisan Eau du Navigateur and Serge Lutens Chergui.

Photograph: not exactly Halloween related, it depicts Venetian masks worn during the Carnevale preceding Lent. Nevertheless, its theme of changing one’s identity and trying on a different costume are appropriate for today’s post. Via Wikipedia.

To see other Top Ten of Fall lists, please visit: Grain de Musc :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Perfume Smellin’ Things.



  • Marla: For me, perfume is the best way to dress up, and I don’t just mean Halloween (gosh, it’s been years since I dressed up for Halloween!) Your post is so much fun, so I will play along too. I would dress up as a flapper! I would wear my beloved Jean Patou Vacances. Is there anyone else who loves this perfume? I’m so sad that it’s no longer made. October 31, 2011 at 9:54am Reply

  • Emma: I’ll wear vintage Lancome Magie Noire, 80s version, a great perfume for Halloween! October 31, 2011 at 10:07am Reply

  • [email protected]: I love this twist on the theme! I would dress as a black cat with a long swinging tail and I would wear FK Absolue pour le Soir. (It was my birthday yesterday so I treated myself to the Pour le Soir candle – my cat went beserk over the packaging which did smell fabulous!)
    Nicola October 31, 2011 at 10:17am Reply

  • Nikki: I would wear Samsara extrait (thanks to V for her great review some time ago!) and an Indian pink temple dancer outfit with lots of jewelry and pretend to be a dancer like in the Fritz Lang movie: The Tiger of Eschnapur, an orientalist fairytale on netflix. Such fun! October 31, 2011 at 11:22am Reply

  • Nikki: Great, V! You will like it. Fritz Lang lived in Udaipur for a while and got permission to film most of the shots entirely in the Lake Palace: it is absolutely gorgeous! The only movie beside Octopussy to be filmed there. There is a sequel: “The tomb” (netflix) which is the second part of the Indian epic series. The costumes, jewelry, colors, wide shots of the landscape, the interior of the Lake Palace and the architecture in general are just absolutely wonderful. It comes in the English or German restored version…I would recommend the German version with subtitles as some of the German/Swiss actors have wonderful voices. It was Lang’s last movie and was panned by the critics in German speaking countries and so Lang left again and died in California. Quite a story of exile and movies…I assume you watched Lang’s masterpiece “M, the story of a murderer” with Peter Lorre? October 31, 2011 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Nikki: I love L de LL, another Maurice Roucel fragrance….I bought it when it was on sale at TJ Maxx, it is still quite inexpensive on e-bay…I always get compliments when I wear that one and Vanille by Chantecaille. October 31, 2011 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Nikki: sorry, I mean Vanille by Laura Mercier October 31, 2011 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love Vacances too, and I am always glad to meet others who wear it. It is such a gem, but alas, nearly impossible to find.

    And I agree, perfume is essential for dressing up for me. Even if the dressing up is imaginary. 🙂 October 31, 2011 at 10:14am Reply

  • Victoria: Sounds perfect! I am wearing nothing yet (still have work to do,) but Magie Noire will be my choice later today. October 31, 2011 at 10:15am Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, Happy Birthday, Nicola! May all of your wishes come true and may you always be surrounded by the most wonderful scents.

    Last year, my ballet teacher made dressing up mandatory for Halloween ("you are the performers, you must use your imagination!) I found out about it way too late, so just before the class, I ran into Duane Reade and bought a pair of cat's ears and a tail. It was so much fun. October 31, 2011 at 10:29am Reply

  • Elisa: Ooh, L de LL is a good choice for Halloween, since it smells orange and dark. Maybe that will be my SOTD. October 31, 2011 at 11:26am Reply

  • Victoria: What fun! Samsara sounds like a perfect match too.
    How could I not have seen The Tiger of Eschnapur! Thank you very much for mentioning it. I checked it out on Netflix and read the reviews, and it is now in my queue. October 31, 2011 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: For my part, I am glad that I am not the only one who likes L de LL, because I hardly ever hear of it these days. It is such a well-crafted fragrance, with a coquettish, mischievous side. October 31, 2011 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: I have been reaching for it more and more often lately. For me, this is a very seasonal perfume. I wear it once the weather starts to cool down. October 31, 2011 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love Lang's cinematography in general, and his ability to use architectural elements is impressive. M, the story of a murderer is likewise new to me, so I've added it as well. I very much like Contempt, in which Lang even makes an appearance. As much as I like to hate Netflix, the site definitely gives me an opportunity to discover films I would not have seen otherwise. October 31, 2011 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Victoria: Ah, I thought that you were talking about Frangipane, which is very vanillic. Vanille by LM is a nice gourmand perfume. My best friend uses the body cream that is scented similarly. I think that LM markets it as Creme Brulee. It is too sweet for me personally, but she gets lots of compliments on it. October 31, 2011 at 1:19pm Reply

  • carmencanada: I’m smiling, because somehow it doesn’t surprise me that we both interpreted the Halloween theme as an excuse to talk about perfume-as-disguise! And also because any discussion that involves Fritz Lang, my friend Nicola’s birthday, black cat disguises and Songes is one where I want to hang out! October 31, 2011 at 1:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: D, I was smiling this morning when I turned on my blackberry and started reading. It does not surprise me in the slightest either, and I love reading your take on perfume as a mask/disguise/costume. For me too, any talk of dancers, fairies and other such things is the one that I want to join. And I will once I get home, because commenting on the blogger platform crashes my blackberry for some reason.

    I already spotted two Black Cats on the subway! It is a popular costume, it seems. My husband was complaining this morning that as a kid he never had a decent costume, because any costume had to accommodate the layers of warm clothing that would protect you against the chilly Canadian late fall. 🙂 October 31, 2011 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: I went to a Halloween Polka Party this past Thursday, dressed in the big pink 1860s hoopskirt dress I wore when I was a historical reenactor. I paired it with Frederic Malle Une Rose, and received many complements on both! 🙂 October 31, 2011 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Paeonia9: I forgo the sexy Halloween outfits because to me, it’s just no fun unless it’s scary. I just love to get a chance to experiment with theatrical make up, so I’m going as a zombie prom queen and wearing my sample of Tauer Verdant Pentachord. Many apologies to Mr. Tauer, (whose L’Air du desert marocain and Carillon pour un Ange I love)but that stuff smells exactly like I imagine a freshly disturbed grave would smell! October 31, 2011 at 6:05pm Reply

  • ScentScelf: M is really quite something. The angles of the mise en scene are relentless in the one — or at least so it seemed one late night viewing long ago. 🙂

    And since I’m inserting myself excitedly in the cinematic exchange, I’ll try to weave some of the original gist of the post back in: If I were dressing as the robot from Metropolis, I’d wear Calandre (that metallic element!) with perhaps a light layer of MAC Naked Honey over it (fake gold plate, dontchaknow). October 31, 2011 at 2:39pm Reply

  • ScentScelf: The original formula of TDC Rose Poivree struck me as having that “old flower vase water” element…plus a bit of naughty…and rose with the blush WAY off. Hence, I’ve always thought of it as the perfect Morticia Addams scent.

    This discussion, including D/CC’s contribution above, reminds me of the whole perfume to disguise vs. perfume to enhance/reflect discussion. I love that it can do either…and I have always enjoyed playing with that subtext in my costumes, too. (Is it me? Hyper me? Not me at all? The me you don’t know?) Of course, I used to think the best costumes were all about putting on things you weren’t…and now I think they are about putting on things you didn’t know you were… October 31, 2011 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Nikki: great idea, S! Calandre would be fitting…or Chanel 19. But M is deep, more like Mitsouko extrait in the golden twenties in Berlin. I love M, being a native German speaker, the nuances of speech and background are amazing, especially when he, M, gets to be interrogated by fellowe Berliners in the damp underground canals and caves… October 31, 2011 at 9:27pm Reply

  • Katie: I dressed up as a leopard today and wore Absolue pour le Soir– that animalic note was just right– raspy like a cat’s tongue! It was either that or Cartier’s Panthere… October 31, 2011 at 9:40pm Reply

  • hongkongmom: Love your Ghost choice….a great way to make a positive out of what normally would be a negative…
    Just popping in to say that I have been keeping up with reading and love your articles for the style, information, visuals and on and on. Just spending more time reading and less talking! Giselle and Iris Silver Mist put the final stamp on the fact that I will love ISM, even though I have not yet had the good fortune to try it. I used to pretend to dance Giselle when doing ballet as a kid! November 1, 2011 at 4:33am Reply

  • astrorainfall @ beauty box: I loved reading this post….You are so imaginative and the perfumes are very well chosen for each character!! November 1, 2011 at 6:54am Reply

  • Victoria: What a fun outfit! I love your perfume choice, because it is so animalic. November 1, 2011 at 8:34am Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, I cannot wait for it to arrive from Netflix! November 1, 2011 at 8:35am Reply

  • Victoria: I also think that Calandre sounds great to evoke the metallic, gray metropolis. And yes, Berlin in the 1920s–that is Mitsouko to me as well. Or Jean Patou Moment Supreme. November 1, 2011 at 8:36am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you! It was so much fun to write a favorites list this way. 🙂 November 1, 2011 at 8:37am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, always glad to see you!
    I think that every girl studying ballet dreams of dancing Giselle, so yes, I was like you too. 🙂 November 1, 2011 at 8:38am Reply

  • Victoria: I have not smelled Verdant Pentachord, but your descriptions intrigues me! November 1, 2011 at 8:39am Reply

  • Victoria: That’s a fantastic outfit! I would have loved to see it in person. I bet that you got lots of compliments, and your perfume… well, I cannot think of anything that would go better with this ensemble. November 1, 2011 at 8:40am Reply

  • Victoria: Some of it is subconscious too. You aim to be something, or you want to project an element of your personality. It is most interesting though, as you say, when it is not forced. November 1, 2011 at 8:41am Reply

  • Elisa: I agree, it’s so underrated! I wore it last night and enjoyed the hell out of it. Great for fall, but I actually love it in summer too, when the heat makes it just radiate off the skin and a suntan lotion vibe comes out. November 1, 2011 at 11:25am Reply

  • Victoria: It is that classical Maurice Roucel sweet orange blossom note! 🙂 I love it too. November 1, 2011 at 3:10pm Reply

  • Paeonia9: I would love to know your thoughts on this one. I’ve never smelled anything that has such an ability to attract and repel at the same time! As for my description, throw some dead smouldering leaves on top of that grave… November 3, 2011 at 10:37am Reply

  • Olga Bodnar Talyn: IF I were dressed as a mermaid I would try to find a bottle of Ondine. I loved it in the 60’s. November 8, 2011 at 4:21pm Reply

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