When you were a kid, did you ever flip through the Montgomery Ward catalog in late summer and plot your persona for the next school year? I loved it. I studied the catalog models and chose the outfits I thought would dazzle other seventh graders, even though I’d be lucky to rate a sack of hand-me-downs and shoes from Kmart.
These days, new clothes don’t hold a lot of allure for me, but I adore perusing the new fall fragrances. I’m in Paris right now, and I've been lucky to sniff some of the latest releases. Even though the heat is sweltering, warm fragrances and dreams of fall beckon. Here are a few I’d love to take home that I’d never find at Montgomery Ward:
Les Absolus d’Annick Goutal 1001 Ouds
Yikes, another oud! But look at what Annick Goutal does with it. Instead of a tangy, metallic, overwhelming oud, 1001 Ouds wears like a cashmere sweater. It’s actually ladylike. 1001 Ouds' notes include rose, papyrus, myrrh, oud, gaiac wood, birch and a hint of pepper.
I understand that perfume houses need to market oud to appeal to the Middle Eastern market. I understand that oud might be a fun material to work with. But until I sampled 1001 Ouds, I was tired of its muscular, boring presentation. (Hey, it rhymes with “rude” for a reason, right?) With 1001 Ouds, Annick Goutal gives the note elegance I haven’t smelled before. 1001 Ouds is linear, soft and ambered, and what you smell after five minutes on skin is close to what you smell three hours later.
Annick Goutal 1001 Ouds is part of the Les Absolus collection, which officially launches in October. It was developed by perfumer Isabelle Doyen, and can be found now at Harrods, in 75 ml Eau de Parfum for £166.
With Arquiste's upcoming Nanban, perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux created a cozy blanket of earthy-yet-delicious leather that packs in all the notes that to me symbolize fall. Those notes include Malabar pepper, Persian saffron, black tea, osmanthus, coffee absolute, Spanish leather, myrrh, frankincense, styrax, sandalwood, copaiba balsam and cedar.
Nanban is smoky, leathery, sweet, woody and spicy. It’s a big, enveloping fragrance, but it’s also as soft as a kitten’s belly. A wisp of cumin — or could it be the cedar? — keeps Nanban interesting, but to me its chief allure is how easy and welcoming it is. You don’t have to have a “mood” to want to wear Nanban. All you have to want is warmth and deliciousness. This is the kind of perfume a girl needs when she’s cranky.
Arquiste Nanban is due to launch in September, and will be available in 55 ml Eau de Parfum.
Serge Lutens Renard Constrictor
"The memory is but fleeting, it refuses to remain in my conscience. Like a timid furry creature, it retracts at a caress. It is a fear that stifles the hero.” What does this mean? I’ll leave greater minds to suss out Uncle Serge’s description of Renard Constrictor, and I’ll get busy with its name. When I hear “Renard Constrictor,” I see a fox fur stole squeezing the shoulders of its elegant wearer.
Imagine it: a woman wears an expensive floral perfume, but her fragrance is slowly overtaken by the warm fur of her fox stole. And that’s how it smells. At Renard Constrictor’s heart is a grand floral perfume replete with roses, jasmine, fruity tuberose, and barely tinged with woods. But instead of being crisp and cold, a furry, leathery warmth muffles the fragrance, so it seems to be smelled from somewhere faraway — from a sepia-toned photograph, or from a portrait painted in the 1930s. As the fragrance wears, the warmth builds, and its green and floral notes peel away to reveal its warm woody base. Unfortunately, Renard Constrictor only lasts a few hours on my skin. They’re glorious hours, though.
Serge Lutens Renard Constrictor is part of the Section d'Or collection, and is available in 50 ml Extrait de Parfum.
What about you? Are there any new fragrances you’re looking forward to wearing this fall?