I always tell people my favorite season is summer. In truth, it’s autumn. I whisper this fact, because while autumn is heartrendingly beautiful with its crisp mornings and warm afternoons and a garden still full of dahlias and greens, autumn is also the harbinger of winter. Each delightful, knife-sharp afternoon is a reminder of the rainy days ahead. Each walk through a shuffle of parchment-red leaves portends months of dark, slushy cold. When I can forget all that and focus on the here and now, I love fall.
For courage, I queued up Ian Bostridge’s sad but glorious Schubert lieder and chose ten autumn situations and matching fragrances to write about for today's post:
Making the seasonal transition: All of the sudden, a morning feels colder than the rest. Instead of grabbing a cardigan, you ponder a light jacket. You’re almost ready to fire up the furnace for the first time this year, but not quite yet. A warmer fragrance seems fitting, but you’re not quite tempted to give yourself over to heavy gourmands and orientals. Ormonde Jayne Tolu works nicely now. Its green heart lightens its rich, oriental base. Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte is a good transitional fragrance, too. It is fresh, but offers the after-school treat of bread, jam, and chocolate.
Dark mornings: Quickly, mornings darken. Yet, afternoons are still clear and warm. L’Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille bridges the gap between warmth and chill, lending a delicious, skin heat to a crisp day without overwhelming it. Jean Patou Normandie, if you can get it, is spicy yet not as watery-cold as some spice-laden woody fragrances can be. Guerlain Mitsouko shows how a fruit-tinged chypre is the perfect match for a melancholic mix of sunrise and season.
Hunkering down at work: Now your boss is back from her holiday in Cabo, and she’s unlikely to have patience for your breezy attitude on the job. Bois 1920 Sutra Ylang is orange-wood warm, yet friendly and serious enough to boost you over your beach blues. Hermès Calèche suits when you finally decide to switch from toe-revealing sandals to elegant pumps and suits. Christian Dior Miss Dior is intellectual enough to divert your brain from trashy magazines to work, yet its green, animalic chypre aura isn’t quite full-on winter.
Cleaning out the garden: The zucchini is done. It’s time to put on gloves and clean up the garden. CB I Hate Perfume Black March reflects the mix of mud and rotting stems you’ll encounter as you yank old tomato bushes from the soil. L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses's plum-rose-patchouli is a good companion to the slurry of dirt, starling-pecked figs, and wet soil.
Football weekends: It’s been a while since I’ve lost a weekend to football, but I still remember the thrill of cheering for my team. For warmth yet personality, Serge Lutens Vitriol d’Oeillet is a good choice. Hermès Bel Ami's leather and cardamom will stand up to tailgaters’ hot dogs, cheap beer, and exhaust. Bond No. 9 New Haarlem’s coffee and patchouli will keep you awake as you sneak peeks at the Sunday newspaper between quarters.
Afternoon walk: Fall walks are one of the best parts of the season. The air is cool with hints of woodsmoke, leaf rot, and rain. Serge Lutens Chêne is a natural choice because of its fragrance of a hot fire. Bottega Veneta’s sweet leather is full and warm, too, and one of my favorite releases this year. Annick Goutal Duel is a crisp, tea-smoke fragrance, and if I had to name only one favorite autumn fragrance, Duel might well be it. Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles or Miller Harris L’Air de Rien with their dirty, animalic air would be good choices, especially if your fall ramblings are on horseback.
Thanksgiving (or other feasts at home): Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s none of the pressure of Christmas, just a hearty meal and lots of board games. Weil Zibéline, Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois, and Jovan Woman all lend a spiciness that go well with sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. The gingerbread-sandalwood warmth of Chanel Bois des Iles is especially marvelous when food mingles with fire and friendship.
Halloween: I can’t give a “best of” for every Halloween costume, but a number of you may be taking Sexy Nurse, Sexy Gypsy, Sexy Witch, Sexy Pirate, etc., for a spin. My first inclination is to encourage you to express your sensuality every day in little ways so you aren’t tempted to tramp it up too much tonight. But if you just can’t help it, try Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison. Its cartoonishly sultry amber-rose should scratch that itch nicely.
Evening by the fire: Speaking of fire, maybe, hopefully, some of your fireside occasions this autumn will be deliciously intimate. For these kind of gatherings, you might want a fragrance that is more complex, yet warm and inviting. The ambery seduction of McGraw by Tim McGraw or Guerlain Attrape Coeur would be good for a first date. Lanvin My Sin or Guerlain Shalimar (or Shalimar Ode à la Vanille) is best moved to the third or fourth date, when your honey is ready to be bewitched by a little more complexity but not overwhelmed by the heat of a full-blown winter perfume.
Evening on the town: The sophistication of Lanvin Arpège and Jean Patou 1000 have conquered chilly maîtres d’hôtel at nightspots for decades. For a more low-key autumn date, Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chyprée is sure to win hearts with its citrus-floral-wood body.
What are your fall favorites, and when do you like to wear them? Tell us, I'm listening!