The Transitional Perfume

ChrysanthemumEvery year fall rolls around and every year I lose step with everyone else in the perfume world. It seems as though the majority of people like to check their cool weather wardrobes and plan ahead happily for the ambers, orientals, gourmands, and woody scents they will shortly be dabbing and spritzing. There is a rush to find the Bois des Isles, the Ambre Sultans and for the bolder sexier sorts, their animalics and leathers. You get a sense of busy bustle as folks find their old friends again, and then there’s always a flood of new releases hoping to gain a little traction in the scent market before the holidays. In short, there is a lot to choose from, probably more than at any other time of the year.

Not here. Nope. I mosey* over to the cabinet and the refrigerator to peer inside and consider what might possibly do for fall. Well, there are always some samples, but mostly I give these away. After long thought I usually find my bottles of Tabac Blond and Farnesiana and Pois de Senteur and this year also Nuit de Noel (all Caron) and pull them for wear. Um… OK I guess that’s me done. If I were rich I might have Krigler’s Established Cognac and if I had been faster off the draw, I might have had the good sense to buy Neil Morris’ Izmir or Aftelier’s Sepia. But I didn’t get around to any of those tasks.

fall foliageThese are things I do in Fall: Get September Vogue. Not buy anything in September Vogue. Sew two things I really want instead. Decide I am too fat. Go on a Nori diet with the cat (Jersey Girl) and realize I don’t like fall perfumes and don’t own any except for a mini Jean Patou Que Sais Je? ( apricots, nuts, and vanilla wrapped up in a bit of peach leather).

The trouble really is that although I enjoy a gourmand here or there I seldom wear any for long, don’t like ambers much, wear wood notes in the summer already, and really wish there were such a thing as a fall floral. But there isn’t. I do odd things to satisfy this perceived gap in the market. I mix Chris Brosius’ Gathering Apples with L’Origan. (No really it’s a stunning combination, and is almost a fall floral.) But neither one of those perfumes lasts very long so you get stunning for an hour and then a whimper of departing perfume defeated by time, and atmosphere, and my no doubt inhospitable skin.

I consider my options and alternatives. The nice people at Hermes gave me a sample of Osmanthe Yunnan, and I like that fine, but it’s a cologne and gone in 35 minutes on me. I love tobacco perfumes but let’s face it I already know what I love best (Tabac Blond and Established Cognac) and what I want is a nice fall scent that smells like hay and wine and sunny rocks and flowers and possibly opoponax, departing summer leaving a trail of warmth behind. But nobody makes such a perfume and the nearest I can come to it is Farnesiana which smells like autumn sunlight. Then there’s Pois de Senteur which is a sweet pea perfume that smells nothing like sweet peas except for the first fifteen minutes. Then it smells like grass and hyacinths and wood and amber (and is not particularly fall appropriate but is mellow).

Bois BlondI’ve tried an endless number of scents to find this non existent perfume and the nearest approximation to it was Parfumerie Generales’s Bois Blond, but like Osmanthe Yunnan, the fragrance was weak and didn’t stick around for long.

Oh well, there’s always winter and I fill that with roses and pepper and En Avion and Le Troisieme Homme. I guess everyone has to have an awkward season. Fall is mine.

* To Mosey is a form of locomotion perceived as pointless by those born below the Mason Dixon Line but necessary; the Southern version of the shuffle but more aimless.

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15 thoughts on “The Transitional Perfume

  1. Oh my.

    I love fall, can’t wait for it to come around so I can get out the Tabac Aurea and the vintage Magie Noire and the Chypre… Cuir de Lancome is often Too Much for summer, but once the daytime temps come back down to 75F it’s perfect… I’m not much of a vanilla/woods fan, but Organza Indecence and Smell Bent One come out to play in Autumn too. No. 19 (vintage EdT, whereas the rosier EdP is nicer in summer), Centennial, and Le Temps d’une Fete* are back in rotation too. Memoir Woman gets added to the list once the temperatures are under 70F.

    * I only occasionally wear LTdF in summer, and then only the refo version (the older one would overpower). I love it best – oh, and I do love it so much – in spring and fall, the seasons of green and gold.

    • You’re my opposite in the seasonal selection!

      I don’t like fall (in the States unless I’m on Cape Cod or something) I like spring. And winter and summer- but fall is a dead zone for me fumically. Do Australians have the same problem?

      Anyway you certainly go to town in fall, all the Cuir de Lancome, and Smell Bent One sounds like something to look into. Meanwhile…Tabac Blond it is for me!

      • *I* don’t like summer. Bleargh. Fruity florals make it more bearable, though.

        The CEO and I have been toying with the idea of, when the kids are all out of the house, and when he’s decided he’s no longer interested in farming (we’re pretty sure the kids won’t want to), buying a vacation home in New Zealand. He did his master’s degree there and enjoyed it, and I loved it during the three weeks I spent there a few years ago. Trouble is, *he* wants to avoid January-March here, and *I* would rather skip July and August…

        • You have got a problem there. I can see how summer in VA can get hot n’humid pretty fast. We were never home in August in MD.

          I don’t honestly know what would be ideal seasonally in North America, maybe Montreal from May to September and Charleston from October until April? That doesn’t even get antipodal. Has he considered Portland?

  2. Even though temperature doesn’t fluctuate that dramatically where I live, I try to follow the general season pattern wearing more florals and lighter perfumes in summer and slowly moving towards ambers, woods and such in Fall. I love our Fall-Winter season and those perfumes that feel more appropriate for that time of the year are partially responsible for that feeling.

    • I think I’d love the weather in your part of the world too. I ‘ve heard it said that it’s a bit like Italy, and maybe that’s why I have trouble with the Northeastern fall. I expect mists and rain and the wine harvest instead of which we get…pumpkins.

      It’s a great season for all the kinds of perfume you mention, i just don’t wear a lot of them. But on the hopeful side I have been loving Nuit de Noel, which was a nearly blind buy. It’s a beautiful version of Bois des Isles- sandalwood heaven!

  3. Hmmm … I do see your dilemma. The autumn-friendly florals I can think of – Chamade for instance – are really just spring fragrances that you can wear again because they are too heavy for summer. It’s tricky if you don’t like ambers. L’Ambre des Merveilles? I love it in the autumn and the amber is very light. Ginestet Botrytis often strikes people as suitable for autumn because it has a slightly sad, wine-y golden glow to it, but it’s not a floral. I suppose you must have tried Arpege? 24 Faubourg? I admit that these are probably suitable for autumn but not really suggestive of the season. There is a distinction, as you say. Like This? I’ve not tried it, but I hear it’s all about pumpkins! :)

    • I do like ambers but strangely on other people and like all the J C Ellena ambers in particular-even the non-amber amber, Ambre Narguile!

      Actually your suggestion of floral aldehydes is the line I have been thinking on myself. Maybe something that’s a little out of the way these days would work? I will do some poking about and I do think I’ll try Ginestet Botrytis- thanks for the idea :- )

  4. Arpege, yes, that’s lovely, and except for family history i’d wear it- but too many ladies in my family wore Arpege and did not wear it well. So I have to leave Arpege to you other gals.
    Meanwhile I think I’m going to try Fleurs de Rocaille again. Oh and maybe Anisia Bella.

  5. I am all over the map, to be honest – but then so is our weather. After a cold and wet August, we appear to be having a bit of an Indian summer. Perfume choices will therefore vary wildly…

  6. Perhaps this is what floral aldehydes and floral chypres were made for-uncertain weather and environments that change rapidly in a day.

    I mean you can always wear No 5 or Arpege (unless you had a grandmother who wore nothing else) or Le Dix. I find new aldehydes do very well for everyday. Aldehydes make everything so lovely and abstract, like instrumental jazz.
    I tend to wear more of them these days. Right now Mate Heliotrope & patchouli and Intimate Lily (Neil Morris again!) Please note I’m far too delicate to refer to these scents as FA’s!

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