Early autumn is perhaps the finest time to smell nature at her deepest and fullest. The weather is typically rather warm, close and damp: the sort of low air pressure which seems to reveal every facet of the garden’s fragrance.
The grand finale of flowers, foliage and fallen fruit - everything just slightly and lusciously over-ripe - pumps out musky sweet scents on short but intensely golden afternoons. In the dim and spidery misty mornings the nose is teased by sharper sourer smells of scarlet and lemon dahlias and dusty mauve chrysanthemums. Blood-red or orange nasturtiums have a slightly nutty, vegetal fragrance accentuated by the dews and drizzle as they play a losing game of Russian roulette with the coming of the first frosts.
As with the garden, so with your autumn perfume choices. Here’s a chance to be really adventurous and explorative with your scents. Have yourself an olfactory treat and allow yourself to experiment with the full richness of fragrance.
For many of us, September and October can seem almost like New Year come early. Everyone is returning from their holidays, the schools go back, new wardrobes are planned and the first tentative moves are made in the direction of - whisper it softly - Christmas! Yes autumn is a whole new chapter: energised by briskness, high blue skies and new horizons. Full of nostalgia but also ripe with new opportunities and choices.
So, because our British weather so often features every season in one day, remember to be versatile with your scents. Most of us remember mini-heatwaves at Hallowe’en, picnics al fresco on November 5th, icy roads at Michaelmas and entire Septembers washed out by weeks of icy rain. So it makes sense to keep one or two perfumes by you that become your 'go to' standbys when you just can’t keep up with the bewildering changing temperatures.
We recommend something soft, nurturing, light but tenacious. A kind of olfactory equivalent of the beloved cashmere sweater, the twill silk scarf and pre-loved tweed. Relaxed, easy: not too heavy but effortlessly smart. Blond woods, leathers, suede, transparent musks, tobacco, honey and hay will complement the colours and changes you see and feel around you while wrapping you in stylish comfort. A touch of tonka, chilli, vanilla or ginger might be good to introduce a hint of heat and sensuality. Or try an ambered lavender: that’s to say, not the vigorous but cold blue and green shoots of spring but sun-kissed, powdery, dry and resinous. If the sun comes out full force you won’t be overpowered with scent; if it’s a little chilly these accords will afford a subtle warmth.
It’s essentially the same as with clothing: autumn conditions are best served by layering. Add or subtract layers of textiles or perfume as you feel comfortable and appropriate. You can intensify your personal aura by echoing the same fragrance with matching soap, deodorant, cream and hair mist. Alternatively you can wear two - or more - perfumes simultaneously. Either apply one atop the other or - as racy ladies did in Ancient Greece - anoint different portions of the anatomy with a different scent. Rather fun! And don’t neglect ankles and feet: warm scented air travels upwards to delight your vis-a-vis!
It’s traditional - and many perfume connoisseurs would still go along with this - to mark the start of autumn by laying aside sharp citrus bobby dazzlers, crisp green scents and white billowing florals. And that’s fine as far as it goes, but remember: you don’t have to do this. Do what suits you and your personal style. That rather cynical cliche “please yourself and then at least one person’s happy!” - well, there’s much truth in it. If you can carry a perfume off and if it makes you feel on top of the world then wear it. And this is true for all scent lovers of whatever age and gender.
Always remember that perfume is fun and we all owe ourselves a little of that: especially in the autumn of the year.4 ideal scents to transition into Autumn with...
Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle: a perfume to awaken a little sensual warmth on a cool damp day. Smooth, softly spicy, insinuating... sex dressed in its best and always with impeccable manners.
Virgile by Sylvaine Delacourte: a southern herb garden nourished by mellow autumn sunshine. The spicy piquant accords are softened and enriched with smooth leather and vanilla. A perfume to enfold and embrace you.