Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat? Top Autumn Fragrances for Any Mood

Which mood is more you? The playful trickster, barefoot and hell-bent on playing mischief to placate the evil Halloween spirits or the mellow pacifist stuffing the mouth with calorific indulgences and the contended smile of "all's good"? Or you can be both, depending on how your day is going. Fragrances can be like that too, you know!
There are scents which are comforting, snuggly like an old favourite jumper when the sky is uninviting, first thing in the morning, and the temperatures are plummeting; a fragrance which smiles at you from within its heavy glass with the sweetness of a kid on a Hallmark card. And there are scents which are devilishly playing tricks on you, requiring that you have either the right attitude or the right weather conditions or the just right outfit (and possibly makeup and jewellery too!) in order to bring out their best; if they want to! But oh, when they do...The latter category might seem like they're ultimately a pain in the butt to have around (what if you look at them in a certain way and they crack from side to side?), but so often they form some of the most satisfying fragrances we possess in our wardrobe. The former... well, they are our fall-back-upon scents and in times like this, this is kinda precious too, don't you agree?
So here is our small selection of "Tricksters and Treaters". Feel free to add yours in the comments!


À Travers le Miroir by Thierry Mugler
A strange tuberose, half-way between carnivorous mentholated flower with bitter touches (reminiscent of a herbal autumn garden) and decaying sweet flesh; yet rather light, if you can imagine that! If you're a man and always wanted to own a tuberose fragrance but found them too Fracas-shouting femme, then this is your bet. Alexis Dadier must be a brave perfumer since he shed tuberose of its black lingerie & berry lipstick to reveal its muscled up (hold the baby oil!) facets. A tuberose of the Tubéreuse Criminelle school of thought!

La Myrrhe by Serge Lutens
Myrrh gum is part of ecclesiastical incense alongside frankincense for millenia. You would expect an oriental, full of resinous mystery, going by the name, right? Lutens goes one better and infuses the bitter ambience of myrrh with candied mandarin rind and citrusy aldehydes which bring this on the upper plane of an airy aldehydic. Somehow it wears lightly but solemnly too and it resembles nothing else on the market. Cool autumn days bring La Myrrhe's attibutes to the fore and it remains amongst my most precious possessions.

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique
It's hard to picture autumn without the imagery of a forest in full regalia, evergreens gaining inches day by day, sepia foliage being trampled underfoot and the promise of fairies in the wings; sorry, behind the mighty oaks, I meant to say... The enchanted forest scentscape of Bernand Chant's masterpiece is among the most challenging, but also among the most complimented and revered, fragrances in the world. If you find difficult to tame this patchouli, rose & oakmoss Godzilla accord in the pure parfum spray, tone it down opting for the Eau de Toilette or Velvet Sheer formulation within the range. Review of Aromatics Elixir on this page and smell-alike on that one.

No.18 by Chanel Les Exclusifs
If you're lucky enough to have this ambrette and rose blend sing on your skin, you're very fortunate. I wish it did on mine and in my memory banks as well. It's probably among the most individual things to come out in the last 10 years and it's quite unique (Although Musc Nomade isn't too far removed in its concept, but the Chanel is more of a subtle perfume than an invisible human aura like the Goutal). Review of No.18 here.

Les Larmes Sacrées de Thèbes by Baccarat
If only because this discontinued limited edition Egyptian beauty will have you scouring the Internet for it but end up paying through the nose (Masochists, please take note! I actually managed to bypass this at a Baccarat boutique when it was available commercially). Somnombulent balsams speek of Egyptian rituals which transport you to a warmer, southern meridian. (Read reviews of all three Baccarat scents for the occasion on this link)


Doblis by Hermès
Doblis is an anomaly: Such a refined composition, the best leather fragrance in the world (and the rarest) just can't be classified in the treaters, where sweet ambers and indulgent gourmands should populate the premises, could it? And yet, Doblis is so silken, so restrained, so smooth, fanning precious flowers onto the most buttery suede, that it transcends into the beatific ecstacy reserved for true excellence. Review of Doblis on this page.

Like This by Etat Libre d'Orange
And the anomalies continue: What is an Etat Libre scent doing in this side of the list? But its welcoming spicy notes of immortelle and ginger and its succulent pumpkin and mandarin heart, set nevertheless in an interesting diorama where one supercedes the other, Like This reads like wise verse by Rumi instead of a Dear Abby column as one would expect; and on top of that it is fronted by the most interesting celebrity to front a fragrance in the last -oh- twenty years...Tilda Swinton! More info on this link.

Shalimar Ode à la Vanille by Guerlain
The smoothness and delicacy of vanilla pods, air-spun here and with a prolonged and rather linear, easy projection of citrus and familiar core. Impossible not to like, impossible to misbehave. More info on this article.

Bois et Musc by Serge Lutens
Autumn can't be autumn without the evocation of woods and this small gem in the Palais Royal Parisian exclusive line by Lutens fulfills the bill admirably, because it highlights both the woody panel of cedar and the skinscent idea of a humane-smelling musk. Simple but very effective and drop-dead sexy. Review of Bois et Musc here.

Coromandel by Chanel Les Exclusifs
Dusty cocoa and refined patchouli to the point that it reads as devoré velvet in shades of deep maroon. Justifiably it's the best-seller in the newer Les Exclusifs (alongside less character-driven, more camel coat & low pumps scent of Beige). Review of Coromandel here.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Comforting scents for when the Going Gets Tough, Falling in Love: Scents & Treats for Fall

Photography by Fred Boissonas in early 20th century Greece: a) Edessa 1908 and b) Kastoria Kleisoura manor 1911.


  1. Thank you very much for such a "tasty" post! I want them all already! =))

  2. Anonymous19:38

    Loved your description of A Travers, where is this to be found? a Google search doesn't reveal much, haha, as usual, what can one expect, anyway, gorgeous selection, very classy as usual. Need to mail you sometime and ask you about that other fragrance which you told me about from Bulgaria, can't recall the name, lol.


  3. So glad you included "Coromandel" on your list. The first patchouli-based fragrance I found subtle and luxurious enough to enjoy. I mean, really enjoy; it's perfect. And isn't it great that the Les Exclusifs line has several absolute top-notch members? Sycomore, too -- what a winner.

    Question, Helg: Do you know where the new smaller bottles of the Exclusifs line are available? 200ml is just too unmanageable -- 50ml or 100ml is what I've been waiting for. We'll see what the Munich Chanel store has on offer next week...

    Take care,

  4. This is such a great idea for a post. :)
    I would never have thought No 18 is a trickster because it behaves superbly when we are together (and I absolutely love it). I had no idea it doesn't want to play with everyone. A shame really.

  5. I am not much of a chanel gal but I do like Coromandel and I think this scent would be lovely in Autumn.

    Spring here so I am in Champs Elysee ( I know, many hate this scent :) )

  6. Anonymous02:23

    Happy to see you include La Myrrhe, one of my favorites...it is great in the fall, but I love it year around. There IS nothing else like it!


  7. Mitchin,

    thank you and most welcome!
    Glad you enjoyed the post, Halloween inspires both some good and some "wicked" thoughts, doesn't it? So, one might want to have some to fit both moods.

  8. Thanks Aline.

    Well, you might want to find the Mugler series looking for the Miroir Miroir (=mirror, mirror) collection.
    Here they are all:
    On the official Mugler site

    Do mail me and I will do what I can to help. :-)

  9. Hi Michael and thank you!

    I completely agree that Coromandel is very luxurious and very smooth, truly refined. Sycomore I love even more, it's absolutely masterful (so nice that the vetiver takes on a cocoa tinge): but I love it for summer mainly (hence the exclusion here)! I did include it in my Top 10 Masculine Memorables though! ;-)

    To answer your question, yes, Chanel took heed and they're offering a happy medium: 75ml bottles. They're on the official US page and curiously enough not in Europe yet. Follow this link and see the drop down menu for size selection under each fragrance. Only four are presented in that size at the moment though, as we had announced. Maybe the rest will follow at some point...

  10. Ines,

    glad you liked the idea for the post. I wanted to bring on this subject of some frags being more well-behaved (and a little less temperamental?) and some more headstrong and capricious. So Halloween with its tricks fitted the idea well! ;-)

    As I said, you're lucky. I wish No.18 didn't misbehave on me, due to both association and possibly skin chemistry. It's a unique, very ground-breaking rose-musk scent.

  11. M,

    hi there, honey, how are you? Family all right?

    Yup, I know you're more of a Guerlain gal :-) Coromandel feels like a Lutens, more than Chanel, since it has Sheldrake's handprint writ all over, it's gorgeous and yes, fine for autumn.
    Spring....ah...just when you are starting to throw out the pantyhose, we begin to embrace it in earnest. (and how icky it is! LOL)

  12. skrzypce,

    excellent choice!! It stands apart, doesn't it? Very unusual.
    It can be worn year round I guess, because it's quite light and smooth. Not a heavy note in sight, yet persistent. Sublime!
    Wear in good health!! :-)

  13. Fabulous list E! I must try Shalimar Ode à la Vanille soon.


  14. Rappleyea15:50

    Very interesting list, E. I keep seeing La Myhrre mentioned lately - it's "haunting" me and I must try it! I have a decant of the new Shalimar Ode on its way so I'm looking forward to that. Neither am I a Chanel girl, but I do enjoy Coromandel as well as Cuir de Russie.

    Happy Halloween!

  15. Mahora and already any Incense fragrance . I am also hooked on Cuir Amethyste .

  16. Trish,

    thank you!

    The OaLV is not too different, just right: smooth vanilla, the familiar core and a citrusy start.

  17. D,

    thanks honey! Hope you had a good Halloween!

    Yup, great choices on your part. Exquisite! La Myrrhe should probably be to your liking, it's sweet but not too sweet and it's truly unique.

  18. Angela,

    I'm always fascinated by Mahora wearers! You must wear it very well, then!! Incense I find contemplative (many do, apparently, LOL), but cozy, soft, inviting... CA is also a good one.

  19. Late for the occasion, but tricks and treats never completely go out of style, right? :)

    This was such fun, E, thank you. I enjoyed finding Like This among the treats...I, too, am rather enamored of it, and find it amusing that ELd'O brings us to both sides of the fence. You could perhaps say that Secretions Magnifique is an ELd'O "d'oh!," while Like This is an "ohhh."

    I did not know that Coromandel was the bestseller among the LE's. Makes the slow gatherer in me feel good that I started with others...maybe that one will still be there by the time I am ready to get it...

  20. S,

    LOL, those "oh" moments you mentioned are so very spot-on!! Thanks for the belly laugh!
    And glad you enjoyed the post, of course.

    I think your reasoning and pace were excellent for Coromandel: They are now offering a honkerette bottle of just 75ml instead for the humongous 200ml. Can't beat that...

    PS.I have been such a bad correspondent and mailer these days. I still haven't mailed your decant of Teatro but will do it within this week, promise!!! (There, it's now on public record, I can't retract it)

  21. Rappleyea22:15

    Okay, E., I have to ask - why do Mahora wearers fascinate you? It is one of the few (only?) tropical flower fragrances that I wear regularly. Don't get me wrong, I love the smell of white flowers (I exclude jasmine here as it's in many, many perfumes), but they usually overwhelm me and become cloying.

  22. D,

    all right, I will admit to my fascination because this scent so very overwhelming on me!! Like a beautiful aria sung at the highest volume point on the stereo, engulfing me to the point I can't hear my own thoughts in my head (same happens to me with Angel which I like but can't adjust the dosage, unless I wear the excellent body cream which projects just enough).
    Mahora wearers are a breed apart, therefore to my thinking, steel fingers applying it just right, apparently: do you apply to a Q-tip and wave it in front of you to graft some sillage? *mischievous smile*

  23. LOL! There, I am LOL'ing publicly, too! :) No worries...I'll enjoy my time on stage whenever the Teatro arrives...

  24. Shalimar is still my favourite, but alas, I don't know anything about Ode a la Vanille.

    I like Mahora by Guerlain, I think this is the name. It's very sensual.

    I love perfumes that scent wood and not only flowers, fruits.. so I like tabac blog, I love Eau d'Epices, I miss Nuits Indiennes, very much!

    I still am thinking of getting Habanita because it's a scent that brings me a perfect mood. Since I am always trying to discover new scents I have to add here one I tested a few days ago, Perle di Bianca, for a great night.
    I am forgetting others here.

    And I love this name for a perfume, Les Larmes Sacrees de Thebes. I enjoy your posts.


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