I am a night walker. Much to the dismay of family and friends, I have always loved tramping alone through the dark. Autumn has been my favorite season since I began school at four and few things have ever invigorated me like a solitary stroll on a gusty October night. Perfect fall days have a straightforward, blue-skied radiance about them that seems to call for something crisp and handsome — Leonard Pour Homme, CB I Hate Perfume Violet Empire, MDCI Invasion Barbare, and L'Artisan Timbuktu spring to mind. But what to wear after hours, when the wind sweeps up plastic bags and dandelion filaments to haunt the air, when echoes ring in the quiet and the singed smell of dried leaves weaves about you?
1. Ormonde Jayne Ormonde: In Angela Carter's "The Company of Wolves", the Big Baddie is a handsome werewolf and Little Miss Hood cleverly seduces him, offering up her red cloak, her innocence and her humanity to save her skin. I bet this Red would favor the spices, green sheen and dark, velvety woods of Ormonde.
2. Alexander McQueen Kingdom: Many will consider this more trick than treat, and I can't deny the uncompromising sweatiness of Kingdom's cumin and pepper, the potency of sour rose at its heart or the surprisingly sweet and molten finish. But if you want to go wild, there's no half-way.
3. Comme des Garçons Avignon: Etro's Messe de Minuit ('Midnight Mass') is frequently cited as the ultimate Gothic fragrance, but with an orange pomander opening and the damp of its middle, I've always found the Etro to be an indoor scent, one that conjures the close mustiness of a basement or attic. For me, the incense fragrance that calls for the cold touch of moonlight is the stony and somber Avignon.
4. Kenzo Flower Oriental: Far from the banana-popsicle pastel of the original Flower, this flanker is all about black powder and smoked woods. Sheer and yet richly resinous in the drydown, there is something about Flower Oriental that evokes the spirit of darker classics, like Guerlain's Vol de Nuit.
5. Serge Lutens Borneo 1834: When I first tried this, it reminded me of one of those chalky, highly flavored and yet suspiciously earthy anti-diarrhetic "chocolates". A year later, I still find it horrifying, but there is something deeply compelling about it, too.
Note: image via Images de Parfums.