Scents of Occasion: What Perfume Will You Wear This Season?

Your AUTUMN SCENT should be FEMININE and FIERCE, says beauty editor SARAH HALLIWELL

With scent, just as with clothes and make-up, it’s a question of balance: how to wear something that’s unique and sort of powerful, without overdoing it. To achieve this perfect dichotomy, we need the black tuxedo of scent – something classic with personality, which captures autumn’s mood of “going out-out”.

A friend of mine was wearing something so distractingly beautiful the other day I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying – woody and warm, soft yet strong, it turned out to be Coromandel, from Chanel’s Les Exclusifs: it smells exactly like stepping into Coco Chanel’s Paris apartment, with its lacquered wood screens. The next day, the ever-fragrant make-up artist Leonard Daly – who generally mixes Tom Ford Private Blends to great effect – was wearing YSL’s Le Vestiaire Tuxedo, and it smelled incredible. Both scents stopped me in my tracks; each suited the wearer perfectly – the ideal way to stand out with scent.

The trouble is, it can be hard to express what we’re looking for. “We don’t have a wide vocabulary of smells,” says Sadie Chowen of The Burren Perfumery. “While we’re taught music, writing, reading, we don’t really learn about smell. When I do perfume workshops, it’s as if a light comes on for people – it’s like giving a map to the perfumes.”

“Our sense of smell communicates more directly with the brain than any other sense,” notes Barney Shaw in his new book about scent and the science behind it, The Smell of Fresh Rain (Icon Books). “Smells have meanings. They are often charged with emotion, and full of nostalgia.” Read a few chapters and you’ll be breathing in more deeply and analysing what you smell, making it easier to identify what you want to wear.

Standing out with scent is not always a positive thing. To me, some of the sugary vanilla and pink fruit concoctions that dominate the market are so cloying I have to wash them straight off. I am very wary of perfumes that shout at me, Shaw tells me. Its as if the wearer were trying to warn us off … it is the natural smell of people that attracts, not the artificial. Yet strong is good, I think – you want to enjoy it yourself. Try these distinct notes for the profuse new season.

You can’t fail to stand out when wearing tuberose – though you don’t have to go the full Fracas (Robert Piguet’s huge tuberose launched in 1948). It’s very of the moment. “I believe that soft white floral/tuberose with a powdery dry down are the new touchstones of ‘popular’ perfume for the next few years,” says Fiona Cooke of The sultry white flower powers striking new fashion scents: Twilly d’HERMÈS, with ginger and sandalwood; Gabrielle CHANEL, alongside jasmine and orange flower, and GUCCI’s ultra-feminine Bloom, which is in tune with the label’s extravagant catwalk looks. Try CLOON KEEN’s fresh, bright Edition Tuberose, with mandarin and blackcurrant, and MEMO PARIS’ white-hot Marfa. SISLEY’s Tuberose candle makes us weak at the knees.


We’re seeing new takes on oud, a rich and resinous note that can be tricky to balance: TOM FORD’s new Oud Minérale mixes it with surf and sea to conjure images of burning flames and smoked wood. Earthy patchouli and saffron smooths MAISON FRANCIS KURKDIJAN’s Oud Satin Mood. Both at Harvey Nichols, Dundrum.


Utterly autumnal, JO MALONE LONDON English Oak & Hazlenut Cologne proves how striking and seductive woody scents can be. Other woody warmers (great on both men and women) include MAISON MARGIELA’s rich By the Fireplace and CREED Aventus.

Sarah Halliwell

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