We’re already a few days into Fall and it’s probably time to share some thoughts on fragrances that are best suited to the cooler days and nights to come.
Of course, everyone seems to have their own opinions about what they feel constitutes their fragrance preferences or “Top-10 List”, if you will. I won’t pander to limiting to a list of Top-10′s, nor will I make this all about either high-end/niche or bargain-basement chic. For me, a good fall fragrance is something the captures the warmth, depth, and essence of the season; in our list, you’ll find that described with some background as to why we’ve chosen each, and we won’t put a specific order on them from 10 to 1 because that sort of rating and ranking doesn’t work for everyone.
Rather, we’d prefer to provide a list that you can take and explore without much hesitation, and I’ll explore both ends of the spectrum — the niche end of the market and the more mass-appeal segment. So in one category, you’ll find some very high-quality scents in the $200 and above range. Should you not want to reach that price-point, we’ve provided other options that are in the $135 and under range, some well under $100 for a 100ml sizing.
Without further ado:
Niche fragrances for Fall: Let’s face it, the niche fragrances are here because they’re just that good and of very high quality. And with the gradual turning away from citrus-laden aquatics — a welcome change for this writer — this is prime season to be looking at some of the better niche products that are perfectly suited for autumn wear.
Creed Spice & Wood: Provided you can find this, because it’s not widely available outside of either the Creed Boutique or specialty ordering. If you have it, consider this the quintessential harvest-time scent.
Apple, clove, wood, and warm spices augment a series of sandalwoods and other aromatics to form a wonderful eau de parfum that has great sillage and very good projection, as well as longevity.
Le Labo Santal 33: For anyone looking for a really unique and enrapturing sandalwood perfume, look no further.
The base is the smoldering of a variety of woods, sandalwood the heart of them, with some wonderful spice, greenery, amber and musk thrown into the mix to make it brighter.
(100ml $220, available Barneys New York or Le labo.com).
Tom Ford Private Blend Amber Absolute: Amber is generally a great cool weather element, and in this variant, Ford has augmented the blend with African incenses to create something both warm and aromatic.
This is purely one preference, there are any number of less adulterated Ambers available (Kiehls, for instance, makes a wonderful Amber essence oil in a roll-on tube for $28).
(50ml $195, 100ml $270, available at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue).
Bond No 9 New York Oud: For this piece, I cold have chosen any one of a dozen Oud-based fragrances, ranging from Byredo to Dior to Tom Ford with Creed and others in between. So why choose the Bond over any of them?
Foremost, this is a pure-perfume concentration (strong, amazing longevity, a warmness with not too much sillage), and this is a little more than just a simple Oud and incense laden fragrance. Bond takes this a couple steps further and introduces florals, rose, and a wide array of other elements into the mix.
This is unlike any other Oud on the market and definitely worthy of sampling.
(100ml $310, available at Bondno9.com and Saks Fifth Avenue).
Creed Original Santal: Not exactly new, but also the type of fragrance that goes well with those other three seasons of the year where the weather is cooler and you’d rather not be suffocated by one scent. On the other hand, few people have ever called most Creeds suffocating or cloying.
This is a nice slice of sandalwood, led by coriander, juniper and cinnamon, then later accompanied by mandarin orange, ginger, rosemary and lavender for a slightly more gourmand feel, then the continual base of sandalwood is augmented by tonka bean and a very natural vanilla. Whereas most sandal fragrances tend toward a sawdust note, this balances nicely.
Despite what Bond has described as an emphasis on lime and lime blossom in the fragrance, deep beneath the green tea/mate combination and sheer musk, combined with the green notes reveal an entirely different experience. Not often stated is the soft woody aspect to it that adds a different degree of freshness to it. All of it somehow works far better than the olfactory pyramid suggests.
This is a fragrance one must smell to be appreciated.
When I was considering this, I also considered New Haarlem, and I would also recommend giving this a try as it has a warm, gourmand type of feel of vanilla, coffee, amber and cedar wood combination. It’s warm, rich, and frankly delicious with a very comforting feel to it. Smooth is the best adjective I suggest best describes this. Both scents are great options.
Mass Market Fragrances for Fall: Ok, not everyone wants the highest price point on the chart, nor would we recommend every fragrance for everyone. There are more than enough cases where the right fragrance — perhaps in an eau de toilette strength — is the perfect selection.. Here are a few examples I think are worthwhile for the season, in no particular order.
The leather/patchouli/vetiver base, along with an amber/cacao heart and sage and bergamot opening make this a very warm and sensual powerhouse of a fragrance.
As mass-market fragrances go, this was one that was composed with thought given to the combination of ingredients, and a good three-season wearer that is generally available in a 100ml for under $100.
L’Artisans de Parfums L’eau du Navigateur: From the L’Artisans collection, I could have selected a number of fragrances, including Tea for Two and their Oudh, or one of their better known selections. Why Navigateur?
This is the warm and slightly more resinous, deeper scent that speaks to our desire for warmth. Coffee, rum, tobacco, leather, spices, florals, woods and leather are all uniquely combined and represented here.
This is by no means a sharp fragrance but rather a warm and soothing one. If you wanted to combine scents, I’d suggest layering it with a top of Dzing (adds a layer of musk, white woods and saffron to the mix for some lightness).
(Available at various outlets, 100ml EDT @ $135).
See our previous article on the reviews and specific notes, but Heritage is a uniquely rich scent in an EDT strength that sacrifices nothing as a result of price.
It’s generally available for sample at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and other locations, as well as online (100ml $94 at Neiman Marcus, cheaper elsewhere).
Equipage represents that sense of a crisp autumn day, wrapped in pine, rosewood and vetiver. Some floral, jasmine, patchouli and tonka along with an opening burst of bergamot makes a very bold statement and fits the season well.
Do not let the eau de toilette strength mislead you, as it projects exceptionally well and maintains incredible longevity through the day. It’s rugged, masculine, and timeless.
(100ml edt $120)
Gucci Pour Homme (2003): Please trust me when I say that this is not only one of the few fall fragrances I would recommend on a blind buy (it’s still available online at various outlets, and usually is available at Sephora stores), it’s the only Gucci fragrance I’d consider worthy at all of recommendation.
This is every bit the capturing of a fall day as one could imagine. After a lead off of white pepper, pink bay and ginger, it transforms into papyrus wood and Orris, followed by amber, leather, olibanum and vetiver. It is crisp, it’s warm, and the dry down is heavenly.
Herein lies a case for Gucci to have never tweaked this bottle of sheer brilliance, but alas. If you can find it, you will have a classic fall scent that will remain enduring, and a buy you won’t soon regret.
I’ve provided a host of ideas here for trial. Remember that this is not an ordered list, nor a comprehensive one, but certainly all represent what I believe to be solid picks for wearing from autumn into winter, and none are completely out of place to season. Treat yourself and enjoy!