Autumn Leaves

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Following that earlier walk down the autumn garden path, here are 10 super scents to gladden your hearts on crisp frosty mornings and gloomy damp evenings. Scents with uplift, comfort and a whole heap of style; perfumes that make a nod to the season but are not governed by it. Nor is this selection made with any reference to gender. All of the following fragrances are great for both men and women, though some seem angled somewhat by their names; and one or two may work better on those of riper years. But that’s something I’d love you readers to comment on: so please, as ever, do write in. Meanwhile: enjoy, taste and try:

1. Vetiver Fatal by Atelier Cologne

B9-VF 200ml Packshot

Vetiver grass has been used in perfumery for millennia: it has a rather rough male reputation but women love the scent so here’s a perfume to suit everyone: sophisticated, easy-going, clean but with a touch of winter comfort. Oud emphasises vetiver’s greenery; cedar and violet leaf bring out the earthiness. Effortlessly charming.

2. Monsieur by Huitieme Art

8 eme art noir_Monsieur

Rocks, streams, stones, trees – the forests of the Auvergne or Wordsworth’s Lakes. Aromatic and woody – full of patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, poplar, dry papyrus and smoky incense. All the invigorating freshness of cool damp forest air but also comforting, warm and perfectly poised.

3. Bois Du Portugal by Creed

Bois du Portugal flacon75ml + etui

An old personal favourite which never palls: an unjustly forgotten Creed scent but still one of the best. Like sinking into a huge green velvet armchair inhaling lavender, mosses, bark, scented woods and memories of hot summer suns.

4. Oud Cashmere Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

MFK-OUD cashemere mood WEB

I adore the loudness, the flamboyance and blatancy of oud. This cracker is wildly animalic, faintly rude, always animalic with sweet oils of labdanum, vanilla and benzoin. A fabulous contrast to the delicate cashmere fibres of Musc Ravageur – see below.

5. Musc Ravageur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

musc ravageur 100ml

This is a beautifully dressed continental gentleman wearing soft supple tweeds and the finest, lightest cashmere scarf smelling subtly and deliciously of lavender, bitter orange, spices, woods….and clouds of warm sexy musks.

6. Tobacco Rose by Papillon

Tobacco Rose

The last rose of summer; the one still blooming in the sere garden on Christmas Day. Deep, dark, pourri’d and arousing; full of wonderful non-floral notes such as aromatic beeswax, musk, ambergris as well as the lushness of spicy Bulgarian rose oil.

7. Intoxicated By Kilian

Intoxicated_bottle 50ml_HDWEB

To give you courage on dark cold wet mornings; to stimulate you at night. A gorgeous warm spicy coffee fragrance laced with rose, cinnamon, nutmeg and green cardamom. Exciting, addictive, satisfying. Can’t live without it.

8. Vanille by Mona di Orio

vanille_bottleSQUARE

Beautiful fantasies of the South Seas and the Caribbean: a spangled veil thrown across the sky to catch diamond stars. Natural oil of vanilla laced with leather, gaiac wood, vetiver and a hint of rum. A landmark vanilla fragrance: exotic, never ersatz; modest but unconsciously overwhelming

9. Gardenia Sotto La Luna by Andy Tauer

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Tropical splendour from your own hot houses, brought to table with the forced peaches and melons. A boutonniere or bouquet for the winter balls and galas: massed creamy gardenias & white roses with incredible depth and almost vegetal richness. For me, currently Best in Show at Les Senteurs.

10. Sienne L’Hiver by Eau d’Italie

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The city of Siena in dead of winter: stone cold without, sumptuously heated and indulgent within. This little-known fragrance plays with colours, recreating the rich earthy tones of Siena’s architecture with truffle, frankincense, golden hay, labdanum, violet and geranium. A classic jewel!

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Gentlemen’s Scents For Discerning Ladies.

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Of course one of the whole points of Les Senteurs is to encourage our customers to wear whichever fragrance appeals to them: we do not sell by gender. Increasingly the niche perfume industry has followed us here: a perfume is sold as a beautiful scent aimed at the sensibility, psychology and emotions of the individual; its attraction is not confined to a specific sex.

Yet, nonetheless, certain fragrances whether by name or by the use of certain ingredients do carry connotations of being specifically male.

Ladies! I’m going to ask you to be bold,set aside your prejudices and preconceptions and have another look, another smell of the following scents.

We’ll start with 5 exemplars: that will be enough for most noses. If you find you like the idea, I’ll prepare you another batch. So do let us know. Thank you.

Vetiver Extraordinaire
By
Frederic Malle – Editions de Parfums

vetiver extraordinaire at Les Senteurs

We often hear ladies complaining – and with reason- that modern commercial fragrances are too sweet, overly laced with vanilla, tonka and liqueur accords. Here is the perfect antidote. Spraying VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE is like diving into a cool jade-green lake or showering under a forest waterfall.

It’s curious: most women adore the chthonic earthy smell
of vetiver grass (perfumers tend to work with the root) but when the oil is worked for women’s scents (sic) all the tangy edgy sharpness is usually ironed out. Here Dominique Ropion uses an egregiously high concentration of smoky Haitian vetiver and emphasises the bitterness with pink pepper, oak moss and – most dramatically – with slightly acrid biting myrrh.

On a girl’s skin this can be absolutely divine if you are looking for a crisp, super-elegant, immaculate chypre. A scent to wear with your most expensive tailoring, with your best shoes, a £200 hair makeover. Don’t be put off by my stressing the severity of VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE: as with all the perfumes described here, remember that the chemistry of a woman’s skin will in most cases naturally soften even the most extreme of austere scents.

Try Vetiver Extraordinaire.

Original Santal
By
Creed

Original Santal from Creed at Les Senteurs

Creed offer many opulent florals but it has to be said that the true glory of the range lies in the masculine lines. Creed has the perceived character of being fundamentally a House for men. So get in on the act, girls, and pinch one or two boys’ fragrances for yourselves.

I recall that when ORIGINAL SANTAL came out a decade ago the first consignment, which arrived in mid-winter, was almost exclusively snapped up by ladies for their own use. Now why? Well – there’s the glorious fiery bottle for a start. Now I know that in the final analysis the container is irrelevant – as with an oyster it’s what inside that counts. But, a fun flacon IS important and the graduated reds of SANTAL grab the attention as startlingly as Bette Davis’s scarlet ballgown in ‘Jezebel’.

And it becomes the contents perfectly: sweet, yes, but most winningly so and also woody, warm & generous-hearted. The tonka bean lusciousness is balanced with sandalwood, ginger, bitter orange, coriander, cinnamon and Creed’s famous juniper. A party scent, a scent that picks you up and makes you smile; you could never feel depressed in ORIGINAL SANTAL. How great is that?

Try Original Santal

Bois du Portugal
By
Creed

Bois du Portugal from Creed at Les Senteurs

Another cross-over act and my own favourite of the entire Creed range.
BOIS DU PORTUGAL goes back some 30 years and is one of those delicious scents of which it is hard to be sure of the ingredients. Undoubtedly I am not alone in finding this an added attraction: we all love a little enigma in a perfume.

BOIS DU PORTUGAL is deep and soft, dark and green: but of a quality quite unlike VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE. This is velvety, embracing, lulling, warm and enveloping. The smell of summer forests in Portugal filled with fragrant woods, lavender, oak moss and touches of lemon and citrus. Maybe a little leather, rose and a hint of lily of the valley underfoot The base is sandal and cedarwood bolstered & enriched with Creed’s signature ambergris.

Ladies who love Mitsouko, Eau du Soir and Femme should try this. It’s simultaneously chic and confident, sexy and assured. Like every good scent it should smell as though it is part of the wearer, as though exuded by the pores not by an atomiser.

Try Bois du Portugal

Pour Un Homme
By
Caron

Pour un Homme de Caron at Les Senteurs

The name and the plain square no-fuss bottle are uncompromisingly masculine. The fragrance is something else, a scent for everyone and anyone. Launched in 1934 this is in one sense the perfume that started all the His & Hers trouble: Caron claims it was the first fragrance marketed for men. It has been one of the world’s most iconic creations ever since.

Even if you think lavender is not for you, give POUR UN HOMME a go: this is sexy amorous seductive lavender, not a tired drawer freshener or faded cologne. PUH is the most luxuriously simple blending of complementary lavender oils with a discreet heart of rose absolue on a swooning base of expertly deployed vanilla and tonka which soften and enhance rather than sweeten. They also prolong tenacity as do the precious woods which hold them: PUH lingers leisurely on the skin.

This little masterpiece is one of a great quartet of lavender scents which includes the eccentric Jicky, the surreal beauty of Cologne Pour Le Matin and the blue afternoon of Reverie Au Jardin. Viva lavender, vive Caron!

Try Pour un Homme

Geranium Pour Monsieur
By
Frederic Malle – Editions de Parfums

geranium pour Monsieur from Editions de Parfum at Les Senteurs

The late great Mona di Orio used to reflect nostalgically on the scent of garden geraniums, gratefully watered on a hot dusty summer evening. Colette, too, wrote about this spicy green aroma. Now we can all wear it in
the setting of Dominique Ropion’s glorious green jewel.

GERANIUM is initially cool, even cold, a symphony of all the mints and peppermints. It’s bracing, sparkling, alive, tingling – there’s a slight mentholated quality to it, a morning wake up call. Because of this you may find it a perfect scent for daytime, for the workplace. This is the fragrance for a tall Hitchcock blonde, sure of herself and her frosty magnetism. Like her, GERANIUM melts and warms upon acquaintance, as your skin transforms it into a lightly musky creaminess, with touches of cinnamon and incense resins. Ingrid Bergman would have done it justice. So would Grace Kelly.

Try Geranium Pour Monsieur

Please have a try: in some ways this is maybe the most superficially masculine of my five choices but it is so unusual, unique and, frankly, gloriously unpredictable that I urge you to try it.
You may find the results sensational.

“Would you like us to lay on a turkey?”

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“Its almost here again!” as the sherry adverts used to say so reassuringly. And in the great stores the lovers of tradition are queuing up to keep Christmas with their annual purchase of Royal Secret, Nuit de Noel and Cinnabar. A great glowing gaudy perfume adds much to the sense of occasion and lays down every year in an scented album of memories: for myself I cherish thoughts of Decembers past spent with Fahrenheit, Lancome’s lost pearl Climat, Miss Dior, Creed’s Bois du Portugal, Coty’s Rose and Knize Ten. Arden’s Red Door was a real cracker: amazingly florid, exuberantly exaggerated – redder than Santa’s robe, bursting with a bumper harvest of scarlet roses, jasmine and vanilla. If ever a perfume was Queen of the Music Halls, this is it: spangled tights, plumes and earsplitting high notes.

Party perfumes, fragrances as brilliant and expressive as emerald and violet tinsel, golden ribbon and foil wrappings: a new flacon to open on Christmas Eve and polish off before Twelfth Night, keeping company with the sloe gin and the coruscating iced cake. But Shalimar is the flower of the flock, the non pareil. Worn on an endless rattling train into the dripping Fens for a New Years Lunch in ’94 it won me the ultimate accolade, the penetrating voice from further down the carriage: “There’s a wonderful smell in here…!”

In movie metaphor Shalimar is like Dorothy Lamour wrapped in a silver lame sarong or Maria Montez beneath a veiled turban. Shalimar is a glittering Edwardian pantomime at the Gaiety or the Alhambra with 100 gas footlights flickering blue and green and white to illuminate “Chu Chin Chow” or “Aladdin”, an exaggerated Western erotic fantasy of the Orient. A crazy intoxicating musical spectacle designed by Bakst in hues of orange, bronze, crimson and indigo – shimmering in the limelight with huge citric sequins of bergamot and lemon, turning to a rosy pink as luscious as the Principal Boy’s lips and as ample as her thighs and bust; as sexually ambiguous too as her courtship of Princesss Balroubador. Not for nothing do we see Diana Dors at her most incandescently platinum shot sharing a luminous close up with Shalimar in “Yield To the Night”. Those bizarre top notes like a burnt offering of perfumed woods, pop off like fireworks before simmering down into opoponax, tonka and a madly exaggerated creme brulee of vanillin. A spicy powderiness as from the No 1 dressing room dusts the wearer like the fragrant ashes of a fiery nimbus, or the immolation of a phoenix. And the bottle, the original fluted amphora with its stopper like an Egyptian fan or palm, must be the best ever – what might not happen if you rub it? Only one way to find out…

Image from chexydecimal.com