fall perfumes: 8 posts

My Selection of 10 Fragrances for Fall

I always look to that moment when leaves start to fall; the air is filled with a mellow sweetness reminiscent of walnut shelves and faded leather. It makes me want to write poetry, find patterns in the intertwined bare branches, watch bittersweet Japanese films and contemplate the beauty of morning light. Such impulses tend to break against the shoals of my routine, but even so, I enjoy the autumnal moods and the element of fantasy.

I did, however, do some translations of Persian poetry, as I shared in my October Newsletter.

And indeed, fantasy and pleasure are the only criteria guiding my selection of perfumes for this fall. My list has room on it for different themes for different moods and for new favorites as well as beloved staples.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Mont de Narcisse

Some years ago, L’Artisan Parfumeur had a collection of so-called grand cru fragrances inspired by the best grades of orange blossom, iris and narcissus. Narcissus was the most intriguing, because smelling this note interpreted as a complete perfume, rather than an accent, made me realize how close narcissus is to leather and woods. The same theme returns this year with Mont de Narcisse. It’s signed by Anne Flipo, the same perfumer responsible for the long-vanished grand cru, but the idea is more complex. And more interesting, I should say. Narcissus is accented with cardamom and osmanthus, another floral note that inches close to leather, to make a multifaceted, elegant scent.

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Falling In, Falling Out : Autumn is for Rekindling Old Flames

Reunited and it feels so good… Elisa writes about revisiting old crushes. Perfume-related ones, of course. 

There seems to be some kind of law that says if you give or swap away a bottle of perfume, within five years you’ll want it again. This law applies in my perfume life, in any case; I keep finding myself missing scents I believed I didn’t need anymore.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia. Lately I’ve been fantasizing about Gap Crushed Peony—not a cult classic on the level of Grass or Dream, but it was my favorite of the Gap scents, and it came in an oil format that not only smelled great but made your skin glisten sexily. There has even been a day or two when I wished I could wear Ralph Lauren HOT, a very “mall” oriental and a relic from my early twenties that I eventually donated to a charity fundraiser. I can’t quite remember what either of these perfumes smelled like, but I’m sure they would comfort me.

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5 Ways to Transition Into Fall

In Europe the transition from summer to fall feels more acute, because people still take their August holidays and many stores are shuttered with the forlorn “Nous Sommes en Vacances” placards in their windows. I love having the city to myself, serene, calm, dusty. But little by little, it comes to life, as people return to resume their businesses, to start school or work. Now that half of September has passed I still can’t come to terms with the end of summer. So, I have my small solutions to make la rentrée, the official start of the school year in Belgium–and the official end of my vacation–more bearable.

Autumnal Resolutions

Some people make New Year resolutions, while I keep mine for fall. Instead of the end of vacation, let this period feel like a start of something positive. None of my resolutions are of a punishing nature; rather, they’re about things I keep meaning to do but keep putting off. For instance, this fall I decided to test my great-grandmother’s cake recipes that she wrote down during the wartime food shortages in order not to forget them. My second resolution is to finish the full cycle of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. My final resolution is to explore more of Brussels. During my first years here, I used to set aside time each weekend to discover something new about the city, and as a result, it quickly became my own. But as travel and work obligations piled up, I haven’t been venturing out as much. This fall I will go back to my wandering ways.

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Perfumes For Autumnal Moods and the Art of Japanese Garden

I came back from the south of France to a golden and grey Brussels and whatever summer memories that weren’t blown away by a mistral in Marseille faded into the damp fog of my Belgian city. I have a battery of perfumes evoking summer, but I wondered, what if I approached the theme of an autumnal perfume from a different angle? Instead of selecting a fragrance to fantasize about summer, why not let autumn be my guide? To do that, I relied on the principle of borrowed scenery, shakkei, from Japanese garden design. In my latest FT column, Autumn: The Scents of the Season, I explain how I do it and describe my choices: Serge Lutens Chypre Rouge, Bulgari Eau Parfumée Au Thé Rouge, Chanel Bel Respiro, Etro Messe de Minuit and others.

kyoto-garden-temple

One of the most interesting principles in Japanese garden design is the idea of borrowed scenery (shakkei). Using existing landscape elements – distant mountains, ponds and neighbouring structures – a creator plans the garden in such a way as to incorporate the surroundings into her composition and create her personal vision of nature. Perfumery is generally more about artifice and fantasy, but as summer fades, I too become inspired to borrow autumnal scenery for my fragrant accompaniment. My perfume choices become led by the scents of fall. To continue reading, please click here.

If you were to match autumn, its scents or its moods, to a perfume, what would you select?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Kyoto

10 Fall Perfumes With a Retro Accent

Retro, vintage, old-fashioned. These terms, with various nuances, suggest fragrances that smell of another time. Elisa explores some of her favorite perfume examples.  What’s dated to one person is a retro classic to another.

What smells old-fashioned or,  more positively, “classic” or “retro” to any given nose is bound to change over time. In the near future, I suspect, the berry-and-peony fruity-florals and fruitchoulis that were ubiquitous in the late ‘90s and aughts will smell nostalgically old-fashioned to some, dated to others. Hillary Clinton reportedly wears Angel, and I recently heard a young YouTube star describe Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle as her most “mature” smelling perfume!

gingko

The perfumes I’ve been reaching for most this fall aren’t the all-time classics – the Shalimars, the Mitsoukos, the Chanel No. 5’s. But these scents, mostly born in the ‘70s and ‘80s, remind me of the grande dames of my youth, who weren’t in the least intimidated by unforgivingly sharp green chypres, loud and complicated florals, or deeply powdery orientals, all with massive sillage. To me, these are the new retro classics.

Chanel Coco 

When I first encountered Coco on a perfume counter many years ago, I found it confusing. What exactly was this mess, which couldn’t decide whether to be sweet or not? But now it smells complex and incredibly luxurious, especially in the parfum – all spicy, rosy florals and amber with a dry, animalic leather note cutting through. I’ve come to think of Coco as the quintessential, night-at-the-opera floriental.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Sylvia in On the Spice Route: Less sweet and mire subtle sounds good. Thank you Klaas! January 26, 2020 at 5:07pm

  • Sylvia in On the Spice Route: That sounds interesting Gelia. Thank you for your reply! January 26, 2020 at 5:04pm

  • Lily in On the Spice Route: I am so glad you still enjoy it!!! Of all my “fall/winter” scents it is the MOST cold-season, I just really cannot wear it without a nip in the air.… January 26, 2020 at 9:05am

  • Christine Funt in Postcard from Bulgaria : Ice: Thank you for sharing this beautiful image–one to meditate on. January 25, 2020 at 2:41pm

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