Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Tomorrow I’m going back to college for Homecoming and my 25th-year reunion!  Football and a parade, a tailgate picnic under what I hope is a blue October sky, and meeting up with old friends for drinks and dinner…that’s what’s on the agenda, and the inspiration for this post. In no particular order, here’s a list of my current, top-ten, favorite fall fragrances.

Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie. Fall, for me, has always been about leather, maybe because it’s got that back-to-school (new shoes!), back-to-business (new handbag!) association. This particular Montale scent is light on the oud; here it serves merely as an accent to the scent’s singular focus on supple, luxurious leather. It’s the most realistic leather scent I’ve ever smelled: wearing it is like reclining on a pricey leather sofa, never to leave again.

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel. In summer a relaxed dress code is not only forgivable, but understandable. Not so in fall. This men’s scent says, Straighten up and fly right!—and do it in style. Cool and slightly medicinal sage gets a lift from the oddly beautiful smell of Parma violets, before the whole thing is set down upon an oakmoss and sandalwood base. Grey Flannel somehow manages to smell classic and modern at the same time.

Natori (the new fragrance by Josie Natori). This scent reminds me of a pair of burgundy velvet pants my mother received one year as a gift from my father (he loved buying beautiful clothes for her, as well as for my sisters and me). It’s a plum scent with a lustrous olfactory nap, achieved by layering plum and rose petal notes over a velour-like mélange of white flowers, patchouli, amber and musk.

Montale Boisé Vanillé. Androgynous and elegant, this vanilla plays hide and seek in a forest of woods and resins. The way the vanilla honeys up to the other notes, without ever smelling gourmand, gives it a lusty air. Imagine a very debonair Big Bad Wolf meets a rather Lolita-like Red Riding Hood in a forest where the scent of Grandma’s cookies mixes with the autumn air, while the old lady herself goes forgotten.

Chanel Coromandel. My favorite amber-oriental scent because of its ethereal quality, its dry and airy nature. Coromandel’s sparkling top notes carry a whiff of bracing pine; its patchouli accord is suave and diffuse; and its amber-and-frankincense base is as light and swirling as fall leaves. I also wear this one in summer, but autumn and winter is when I really crave it. For reasons I can’t explain, this one loves the chill air!

Burberry London for Men. Like an old-fashioned gentleman’s club: tobacco-leather-sherry-and-wood goodness. Because it’s so inexpensive, wearing it is like sneaking into the club and partaking of the luxurious amenities for free (or almost free). London for Men is reminiscent of Hermes Ambre Narguilé, and I actually like it better than the pricier Hermes scent.

Hermes 24, Faubourg. Is there a better time of year to wear this big floral-oriental?  I think not. With its orange blossom-and-jasmine combo that reminds me of the golden light of autumn, and a warm and expansive base that recalls a layering of plush fall fabrics, this fragrance was made for cashmere sweaters, tailored tweed suits, and beaded-silk cocktail dresses.

Caron Tabac Blond. Cigarette smoke and leather held captive within a complex, full-on perfume. Tabac Blond says “Sod off!” to anyone who claims they don’t like those things, and then blows smoke rings into the fall air and leaves tire marks on the asphalt, while speeding off in what looks to be an antique roadster.

AmouageLyric Woman. When rose is a predominant note in a scent, it often makes for a linear fragrance—but here we have just the opposite. Lyric Woman is a rose fragrance as changing as fall leaves: green and piquant at the start, petal-like and creamy in the middle, and dry and resinous in its far drydown, where it combines with frankincense and reminds me of an expensive pomander or potpourri.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two. Smoky Lapsang Souchong tea with a touch of anise and ginger on a sweet creamy base. This scent reminds me of the Chai Lattes that our local coffeehouse serves up at the edge of the college campus in our town. It’s one of the few “cozy” scents that I enjoy—and I do like it best in autumn, when it matches the coziness of the season.

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My Top Ten List for Fall

October 9, 2009: