Weather is one of those conversation topics best saved for moments of pleasantry, like being in an elevator with a distant acquaintance; perhaps someone from your building or office block who you see too frequently to ignore but not frequent enough to engage in detailed conversation. ‘How is your day going? Are you enjoying this weather?’ These are usually my default questions. Just enough conversation to last the five floors of elevator travel before saying polite goodbyes.
Although I wouldn’t bore a close friend with my feelings on climate, I do enjoy the autumn season and it has definitely arrived in Sydney. From inside my air-conditioned building it looks like summer. The sky is blue and the sun is shining but outside the air is wonderfully crisp. You get the sensation of fine needles pricking your face when you step out from the warmth of your apartment into the autumn morning and suburban streets are lined with foliage that has turned from a spritely green into a colour palette of rich browns and buttery ochres.
It is at this point I start to look at my wardrobe. Am I prepared both from a practical and fashion perspective for the new season? It is a great excuse to go shopping. For perfume I usually dig into the box of samples I have accumulated over the warmer months to see if anything that was previously unsuitable, is now calling out to be purchased for the cooler months ahead.
This weekend I did just that, and below is my top-six-picks to perfume the Australian autumn.
Tom Ford’s Sahara Noir is filled with dark woods, spices and resins. It is a style that is becoming increasingly popular within niche and the upper echelons of broad access perfumery. Is frankincense the new oud? In the quiet of night, I can imagine the sound of sand falling between my toes as I walk across the cooling night sands of the Sahara, which during the day would be an unbearable temperature. Well that is one interpretation. I love this style of perfume that allows you to indulge in these decadent thoughts of travel to far-away, exotic places. On a more practical note, Sahara Noir is enriched with dry spices that create olfactory warmth. Perfect for pairing with a cashmere turtleneck and leather gloves on cool autumn mornings. Perfumer, Rodrigo Flores-Roux once again works olfactory wonders for the Tom Ford brand.
Lovers of woody fragrances will do well to discover Naomi Goodsir Parfums’ Bois d’Ascese. The Australian milliner who splits her time between Europe and Australia has a quirky style, which is also reflected in her taste for scent. Bois d’Ascese is authored by perfumer, Julien Rasquinet and smells of vintage oak furniture or polished parquetry floors. The phenolic tar note builds a pyre of campfire smoke around this woody harmony, making Bois d’Ascese a favourite of those who prefer their woods to be less sensual. There is an austerity to the way Bois d’Ascese plays out. Perhaps it is the lack of warm musks that mentally connect perfume to skin, which make this eau de parfum so aloof. But don’t girls (and some guys) love a man who is aloof and emotionally self sufficient? Bois d’Ascese must smell amazing on such a man.
Tabac Blond by Caron has long been a favourite amongst women who enjoy a perfume with a sense of androgyny. Created in 1919 during a time of increased awareness for the cause of women’s liberation, Tabac Blond fuses masculine codes with feminine ones. The result is a floral bouquet, which revolves around iris and spicy carnation, woody cedar notes and leather. I haven’t had the fortune of smelling vintage Tabac Blond but today’s version (this sample) works well as an autumn floral and visitors to Caron’s Parisian boutique on Avenue Montaigne have the luxury of choosing Tabac Blond in the brand’s masculine rectangular bottle or the classic feminine bottle. Personally, even for women, the rectangular bottle is a very stylish addition to any perfume collection.
In 2011, Christian Dior added Patchouli Imperial to the house’s Collection Privee, a line of fragrances available exclusively from selected Dior couture and pret-a-porter boutiques. House perfumer, Francois Demachy describes patchouli as ‘the most animal of all plant notes. It is refined, revealing unprecedented elegance.’ Dried patchouli leaves seem like an obvious choice for autumn fragrances and although their intense odour is hard to look beyond (Patchouli Imperial is no exception), behind Demachy’s oriental foliage you will find notes of coriander, cedar and sandalwood.
Odin 03 Century is a modern interpretation of the chypre family. The oak is turned down allowing for soft notes of amber and musk to prevail. Like most of my picks for this autumn post, 03 Century has a forest-like feel. Silver birch, cypress and mint create the foliage that grows over the sturdy woody notes of patchouli, vetiver and resinous myrrh. Odin’s third fragrance, like most of this collection, is easy to wear; great for relaxing weekends with good coffee and a good book.
Amouage’s Memoir Man is a modern fougere, with refreshing notes of cooling mint and spicy basil. Inspired by 19th century poet, Charles Baudelaire and his flanerie around the streets of Paris, Memoir Man is the perfect companion for an afternoon stroll around Sydney when the city streets become filled with autumn leaves. As the fragrance progresses and it warms up on skin, notes of lavender, vanilla and oakmoss reveal a more classic fougere structure, whilst absinth, guiac wood and tobacco give this fragrance a more modern edge.
For winter…..if perfume was snow, what would that smell like?