Keats said it best about autumn being the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. His point is perfectly valid but modern fruities don’t seem to satisfy me, they are too flat and there is nothing fruitful or fecund about them. it’s difficult to fake that in a retort. Take Ralph Lauren’s Tender Romance. It’s rather pretty, quite modern. and on the whole banal I’m afraid. What I seem to want is dried fruit, and raisins, and liquor the sort of thing that Frapin did rather well, only I like my perfume very classical and that means complex.
This takes me right back to the basics: Jean Patou. The very best of all the fruit perfumes I ever came across was the vintage Que Sais Je? from 1925. I even include By Killian’s Back to Black in this blanket statement, although that is a good version of the contemporary fruit infused perfume.
One problem with fruity perfumes is that the notes are almost always synthetic and given the tendency these days to spend your spare change on perfume formulas and the big money on the box, you get lovely packaging and peach Glade in about that order. Sadly, most of us have to sit with the perfume longer than with the box, and so I am compelled to go back to this perfume.
To get over the rough spot first, let me say that Que Sais Je? is rather like Mitsouko. I am currently wearing both of them and can report that Mitsuoko is darker, heavier, and much more woody than Que which is lighter,has a larger fruit note that smells more like apricots than peach, and a drier dry down with more discernible oakmoss than Mitsouko. Mitsouko is very slow to unwind and is rather like listening to Vivaldi, whereas Que Sais is more like ragtime lighter but with a complexity of its own.
.The other choice here is the more recent New York which I like in the intense strength. That does contain a very noticeable cumin section, and if you hate cumin will be on your list of no go perfumes. I find it very cheerful and easy to wear and in that sense also closer to Que which has a more jaunty vibe than Mitsouko.
Which one of these to choose? I choose both New York and Que which strikes me as one of the best done of the early fruit chypres-outside of Coty Chypre itself. The fact is though that I have always been a chypre wearer by preference and if you are a die hard orientalist, or else someone who always wears florals no matter what, then these will not be choices that suit you.
Autumn is the season for chypres though, and the heavy old fruit ones are very well suited by October and November, come December I will have broken out the Christmas roses, but for now dried apricots, a little wood and something faintly boozy satifsy the soul.
What’s you autumnal craving?