Where I live, it is the first day of autumn, and this year, September is the new August: after a wet and confusingly mild vacation season1, we look likely to celebrate a glorious Indian Summer. I have always loved the early fall, so I'm tempted, each time I select the autumnal Top 10 at Now Smell This, to stack it with all my favorite chypres, floral ambers and woody orientals. This time, to avoid boring you with repetition, I've chosen fragrances released in the last two to three years. I can't promise there will be any less oakmoss than usual, but I do think I'm fruitier and more craft distilled today.
4160Tuesdays Up the Apples & Pears: North Americans are generally suspicious of any slang phrase that starts with "up", but "apples and pears" is just Cockney for "stairs". We're talking about a second floor pub, because besides the eponymous fruits, this scent includes hops, gin, whiskey, bread and woody accords. It is indeed a boozy fragrance, but it's crisper than those notes might indicate, with a yeasty, close-wearing dry down, perfect for those of you with My Little Pony's Applejack as your spirit animal.2 Sweet and lightly musky, Montale Wild Pears is a similar pleasure for our season of mist and mellow fruitfulness.
SP Parfums Violet Moss: Sven Pritzkoleit's German indie line is my favorite find of the last year. Violet Moss is a big, beautiful, descriptively named balance of airy green violet and bitter moss. Pritzkoleit uses apothecary-style bottles to reference his pharmacy training and the "good old times"; the scents inside recall those bygone days when nobody messed with your Balmain Jolie Madame.
Masque Milano Times Square: Ignore the title on this one. On Frédéric Malle's website, perfumer Bruno Jovanovic has a bio where Kant is paraphrased with "beauty is universal and has no concept". But the perfume lover is forced to wade through quite a bit of concept in the Masque Milano marketing here: the glossy lipstick accord evoking the bachelorette parties and peep shows of pre-Giuliani NYC, styrax to cue pleather and cheap gas, a mystifying reference to the luridness of street food and a strong blast of hazelnut, bringing to mind, uh, hazelnuts, the junked excess hazelnut harvest that clogged the urban gutters and garbage bins in that heady era. Still, this is a strange, fun and coherent fragrance.
Vero Profumo Naja: Inspired by the cobra-like Nāga of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, Vero Kern's Naja is a shape-shifter: Kevin found it dominated by blond tobacco in his review, while Luca Turin called it "mostly a colossal vetiver" in the accompanying comments. I rather thought it was a honeyed, powdery linden perfume, more syrupy and funky than the standard summer tisane of lime blossom. In any case... nice for fall.
Zoologist Bat: With a cave atmosphere conveyed through soil tincture, tropical fruit notes, leather and musks, Bat might be the perfect Halloween fragrance. Banana-friendly souls may also enjoy dearly departed Lush Ladyboy, and should share some with me if they find a bottle.
Galop d'Hermès: What is a quince fruit? I always confuse it with a kumquat and then I am taken aback by pictures of the great, lumpy yellow apples that quinces really are. Galop is a very accurate olfactory representation of the russet-colored leather and Pantone Marsala sand of its print advertisements. It's as spicy, grained and Spanish as a slice of quince cheese.
Rubini Fundamental: With just two green florals over as many years, perfumer (and former pharmaceutical chemist) Cristiano Canali has turned me into a gushing fan. In addition to Masque Milano's beautiful Romanza, Canali has created this apparent tribute to Italian fruits of the vine, with its bold opening of bitter grape and a nutty, golden-green background that holograms olive oil. These odd bookends are centered by a powdery, retro heart of Florentine iris. Fundamental reminds me in spirit of vintage Diorella: they both share that overripe chic that says "if smelling so novel is wrong, I don't want to be right."
Hendley Perfumes Mown: Having swanned around lately in Hans Hendley's glamorous, musky Gia, an indoor scent if ever I smelled one, I was curious to see how the Brooklyn perfumer would conjure a harvest moon and sun-ripened fields in Mown. On first sniff, it materialized: Fig Newtons! Surprise! I suppose hay bales do smell vaguely of Fig Newtons, now that he points it out. After the initial fiber-filled moments are past, this is a very, very quiet, grassy fougère.
Cartier L'Envol: Just when you thought it was impossible, a feather-light honey and patchouli fragrance.
Dusita Le Sillage Blanc: Perfumer Pissara Umavijani's fifth fragrance is a comically misnamed update on green leather. To mangle Dostoyevsky, in this genre, we all come out from Germaine Cellier's trenchcoat.3 Like Robert Piguet Bandit, Le Sillage Blanc is a dry, elegant leather with smoky and herbal accents. Maybe it was decided that 'Le Cuir Chartreuse' would trip up Anglophones?
1. Not that I'm complaining that it has been cooler, damper late summer for me; with hurricanes tearing up the east and west in the United States and the Caribbean, I've been grateful to be a landlocked central Canadian.
2. Everybody tells me I am Twilight Sparkle. As a Sparkler, I can't believe it just dawned on me how weird it is that Hasbro named a child's toy and cartoon after an American colonial cocktail.
3. Ed. note: Dostoyevsky reportedly said "We all come out of Gogol's 'Overcoat'.