5 perfumes: incense fragrances for fall

incense sticks

In late July, I picked 5 great incense fragrances for summer wear. Now that we’ve got a decent chill in the air here on the East Coast, it’s time for the fall version. As always, do add your own picks in the comments!

L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu ~ A number of people mentioned Timbuktu in the comments to my summer incense post, and I know some people feel Timbuktu really blooms in the heat. Some other people (including me) find Timbuktu a bit much in hot and humid weather. Whatever season you prefer, it’s a distinctive fragrance that smells as much like dirt and old paper and spices (with a touch of sour mango) as it does like incense…

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5 perfumes: Great Moments in Top Notes

blood orange

As a Now Smell This reader, you likely view top notes differently from the average perfume consumer. A perfumista like you has learned to appreciate design in fragrance and to heap scorn on the scent that snares with a few fleeting bits of flash. You are shocked and dismayed when, mere moments after the sales assistant hands over a blotter, a time-crunched husband or brand-loyal shopaholic announces: “Wrap it up!” You would like to warn this impulsive stranger. You know this purchase can only end in heartache, a heartache wreathed in a pale floral laundry musk. You are a specialist, though, and you understand your message is complicated. Perhaps you should draw a fragrance pyramid on the back of this napkin you found in your pocket, or scribble down a quick glossary? Suddenly, you are assailed by the memory of that time a friend mentioned wearing Marc Jacob Daisy — “Is that a good perfume?” — and you forgot yourself somehow and ended up giving a short lecture on strawberry doll-head accords and the volatility of certain esters.1 (“I like the bottle,” your baffled friend replied.) Okay, so you’re probably not going to make much headway here.

The flip side of our suspicion of a great top note is… well, everyone likes a great top note. Many of us fragrance fans carry about atomizers or sample vials, so we can reapply and get that glorious hit of green/citrus/spice/fruit/skank again…

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5 perfumes: incense fragrances for summer

Incense sticks

It’s almost August…for many of us, the really hot summer weather is just around the corner. Citrus fragrances often carry me much of the way through the humid late summers typical of the East Coast of the US, but last month I looked at some spicy fragrances suitable for summer wear, and today I’ve got five incense fragrances that work well on steamy days when anything too heavy will make you wilt before lunch. Do add your own picks in the comments!

L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer ~ arguably the quintessential summer incense…

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5 perfumes: spicy fragrances for summer

Spices

For many of us, this is about the time of the year when we start to shuffle the contents of our perfume collection, moving the darker and heavier fragrances towards the back. It’s not at all unusual for me to reach for a light citrus or beachy fragrance in winter as a form of denial, but it’s sometimes harder to pull off the reverse, that is, to wear a spicy comfort scent in summer. Many of them are just too thick and rich and overwhelming to wear when it’s hot, or worse, hot and humid. Here are five sheer spices to try in summer when you’re missing your winter favorites.

Demeter Gingerale ~ a perfect rendition of gingerale, including the fizz…

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5 perfumes for: a Desert Sun-seeker

desert

Like many kids — including, currently, my daughter — in elementary school, I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. We lived in Steeltown, Central Canada, but my parents humored me by giving me books on whales and sharks. Then, when I was ten, we moved to the Pacific Northwest, to live within walking distance of the ocean, and my mother realized humoring me now was going to involve keeping tanks full of weird, wet, smelly sea things in our laundry room. She was a good sport about it. Eventually, I went away to do half my double major in biology as an undergraduate and in the meantime, my parents had moved to the other coast. I spent two university summers living with them, working for an Atlantic fish conservation agency, and those months spent in hip-waders, prying errant eels out of fish ladders and tagging traps, cured me of the childhood career dream. But my love affair with the ocean has not wavered.

For a while after I left home, then, I was suspicious of any vacation destination or employment opportunity that lacked access to saltwater. Once I was married, though, my husband coaxed me into moving to Alberta. After I got over the nosebleeds, I found I enjoyed the famed high blue skies of the west, and day-trips to the badlands to the north and in Montana suddenly appealed. Again, I started reading, desert stories like The English Patient and Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines, books about Mexico, Wilfred Thesiger, the Battle of the Little Bighorn and, oddly, Los Alamos. The reading led inevitably to vacation plans and traveling, trips to New Mexico, North Africa and to the arid edge of the South American altiplano…

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