Top 10 Fall Fragrances 2016

Acer saccharum - Sugar Maple fall leaves

To give you a thoughtful top ten for fall, I went to the experts: Tracy and André at Fumerie. Both of them used to work at Portland’s Perfume House and amassed years of experience with the classics. Then, seven months ago, Tracy opened Fumerie to focus on niche fragrances, and André joined her.

To give you an idea of their tastes in fragrance, Tracy has a tattoo on her forearm of her favorite perfume notes: patchouli, hay, tobacco, cocoa, and leather. When she thinks of fall, she thinks of comforting scents that remind her of riding her horse as a teenager through the leaves, and the smells of Oregon’s crisp autumn air, sweet alfalfa, saddle leather, grain and the horse itself.

André loves vintage fragrances and has a nose for classically constructed perfumes…

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Top 10 Summer Fragrances 2016

I didn’t realize how much I missed summer bugs (animals, not diseases) till I left Virginia as a teenager. Living on Manhattan, then Los Angeles and now Seattle doesn’t compare to the South when it comes to insect life. My childhood summers were filled with the sounds of crickets and cicadas. Butterflies put on a non-stop show in the flower gardens. Nighttime was when my grandmother and I would sit on the front porch (swatting mosquitoes, one bug I do NOT love) and watch the fireflies as we took in the heady scent of gardenias — whose white blossoms also lit up the darkness. I’d love to see a grasshopper or praying mantis, a big black-and-yellow garden spider shimmering in the sun, or a dragonfly flitting about my yard.

Here in Seattle I do get to see some beautiful moths, living their brief moments on earth holding fast to my deck screens or circling a light bulb. Tiny spiders are everywhere, inside and out, and I would never think to kill one — they work so long and hard to live and make a living. Right now in Seattle it’s the season for ten-lined June beetles (a type of scarab beetle); my cats (to my chagrin) love to chase, torment and kill June beetles, who, as they fight for their lives, raise up their antlers (yes, antlers) and make puffing sounds to ward off attacks. Here’s to bugs! (AND summer perfumes!)

Coqui Coqui Rosas Secas ~ This wonderful rose perfume smells of dried rosebuds mixing with a fresh rose bouquet; there’s also a pinch of tobacco leaf. Rosas Secas is a great rose perfume for men…

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Top 10 Spring Fragrances 2016

tulip in snow

I am vocal about disliking spring. Where I live, there are always a few days in late February that feel like an elaborate set-up from Punk’d. Like newborn babes, they come: the office mates, friendly neighbors, the recently retired. They peer up into the warming blue and wonder aloud, trying to remember which way a hapless groundhog waddled weeks ago. Please don’t take spring’s bait. This year it snowed in April in the colder areas of Europe and North America and fans and news writers seemed to blame poor departed Prince. Let’s face it, in Minneapolis anyway, it usually snows in April. And snow can be the least of our worries. I am a fan of heterogeneity — I like mixed drinks and mixed company, for example — but few phrases freeze the heart faster than that euphemism “mixed precipitation”. Spring also brings wind, rain, seasonal allergies and skies the color of dead fish. Yes, the vernal months provoke a rare ire in me.

And yet, looking over my April 2011 Top 10 and Robin’s post from last year on pretty spring florals, I’ve realized I have little cause to be so sour while wearing some of my favorite fragrances. Clutching roots and branches may grow from stony rubbish, as Eliot wrote, but I have hyacinth, lily-of-the-valley, magnolia, violets and iris to console me until mid-May…

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Top 10 Winter Fragrances 2016

Mikhail Vrubel, The Snow Maiden, detail

I am on record, here and elsewhere, as hating winter. The forecast for this weekend — snow, snow, and then more snow — just adds insult to injury. I’ve mostly managed to avoid the winter rotation in our seasonal Top 10 lists, but I did get stuck with it back in 2011, and reviewing that list, yes, I could easily go through the winter with just those 10 (and I am convinced I could make it through any winter with just Fendi Theorema, if I had to).

To avoid repetition with my 2011 list and the winter lists we’ve done since, I decided to come up with a cold-weather wardrobe based solely on newer fragrances…and then once I’d decided on my 10, I realized, too late, that this post is essentially an abridged and annotated version of the Best of 2015. So much for good intentions. If you have some new ideas for winter, do comment! And do check out the lists at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc and The Non-Blonde

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Top 10 Fall Fragrances 2015

yellow leaf

It’s mid-September, and I’ve been flipping through various beauty-and-fashion magazines to keep up with things. I’ve been particularly struck by all the “New Season, New Scent” headlines. I know, I know — this is how the fragrance business stays in existence, yet this autumn I’m craving comfort and familiarity far more than novelty.

Looking back five years (!), I’d still wear most of my picks from my Top Ten Fall Fragrances of 2010, but I’ve also made a few “new” favorites since then. Here are my very personal picks for the months ahead.

I’m looking forward to an off-season seashore getaway soon, and I’ll be packing Diptyque Florabellio

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