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October 26, 2007

Top Ten Fall Fragrances : Seasonal Selection


I already began to crave fall, my favourite season, in August. By the time November rolled around—delivering little, if any fall, my longing for the autumnal rites became quite intense. I wanted to see the city filled with the chilly golden light, to wear my new red satin trench, to be delighted by the ochre maple leaves scattered on the wet sidewalk, to read Nabokov’s Speak, Memory in front of the fireplace (is there a better book suited for such a setting?)… If I could not have my autumn, I would have to conjure it. The list below (in no particular order) includes some of my favourite scents that usually bring on the autumnal mood. If you have any of your own favourites, please share them with me. ...

1. Vetiver and Iris

If there are scents that have an inherently autumnal quality to me, they must be vetiver and iris. The former reminds of fallen leaves drenched in rain, wet soil and ripe hazelnuts. Etro Vetiver is the most transparent vetiver rendition, focused on its milky hazelnut aspect. Frédéric Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire is the darkest, vetiver to the power of ten. Hermessence Vetiver Tonka is my choice if I want a glimpse of a fall orchard—golden leaves and late apples touched with frost.

Iris, the essence derived from the roots, is the embodiment of the misty fall mornings. At the same time, I find that its ethereal quality captures as much the chill of spring as it does of fall. This season, it is easy to indulge in iris: Prada Infusion d’Iris, Chanel 28 La Pausa, Guerlain Iris Ganache, Parfums d’Empire Equistrius, L’Occitane Iris…

2. Guerlain Vol de Nuit

A gem of Guerlain’s classical collection, Vol de Nuit is a miniature universe. Smelling it, I am transported to a wood-paneled library. The gilded leather bound books, the honeyed scent of beeswax candles and the warmth of the fire float up in my mind as conjoined images. The baroque oriental base of Vol de Nuit cradles a luminous orange blossom and narcissus. It is heartbreakingly beautiful.

3. Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin

Many of Serge Lutens’s compositions are perfect for fall/winter, but Mandarine Mandarin creates an especially poignant impression. Rich and sonorous, it captures the moment when waking up in the morning, I discover that all leaves on our birch tree have turned to gold.

4. Chanel No 19

Leather gloves, vetiver, white roses… This sounds like a line from one of Anna Akhmatova’s poems. Indeed, Chanel No 19 is pure poetry, a remarkable fragrance that layers its sensuality with melancholy—a perfectly autumnal genre.

5. Narciso Rodriguez for Him

Given the popularity of fresh fruity fougères for masculine fragrances, it is a pleasant surprise to discover a dark variant in Narciso Rodriguez for Him. Its accords of damp woods and mosses are bound by a delectable note that oscillates between honey and flowers.

6. Frédéric Malle Une Rose

Late roses of fall are the blossoms of Frédéric Malle Une Rose. Dark like red wine, earthy and voluptuous, these roses are ready to drop all of their petals, revealing their bare woody stalks.

7. Annick Goutal Ambre Candle

The balsamic, vanillic fragrance of a classical amber accord calls to mind the gold of dancing candle flames, of full-bodied cognac, of lush chrysanthemums. One of the best examples is an amber-scented candle from Annick Goutal. Nuanced even in the wax medium, the fragrance spells comfort and tenderness.

8. Caron Narcisse Noir

The fin de siecle elegance and grandeur of Caron fragrances set them apart from other classics. They are the scents of Edwardian crinolines, of swan down powder puffs, of satin slippers and of roses pressed into love letters. To wear them is to be plunged into the whirlwind of the bittersweet reflection, which autumn always engenders for me. In this light, Narcisse Noir is perhaps the most representative. Its dark blend of orange blossom and woods is slathered with a rich layer of animalic notes, which add a ravishing twist to the refined beauty of the composition.

9. Hermés 24, Faubourg and Equipage

While 24, Faubourg and Equipage are rather different from the olfactive standpoint—one is a luminous orange blossom chypre, while the other is a smoky fougère--I tend to associate them with fall, particularly its evanescent and melancholy beauty. 24, Faubourg is a warm, refine presence—Catherine Deneuve as Séverine in Belle de Jour. Equipage is Burt Lancaster as Prince of Salina in The Leopard.

10. Chanel Egoiste

Egoiste with its black plums and sandalwood is perfect for days when the air begins to turn chilly. Its masculinity is rendered in an understated manner—in contrast with the aforementioned Narciso Rodriguez for Him, by way of example. The man that Egoiste embodies for me is a romantic, who would not be averse to reading Nabokov by the fireplace.

As you can see, I cannot abide by the rules—above, there are far more than 10 fragrances. For more Top 10 of Fall lists please see the following: Aromascope :: Bois de Jasmin ::Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Perfume-Smellin' Things :: Scentzilla

Image is courtesy of Katie at Scentzilla.



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