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Fall is my favorite seasons and one of the chief reasons for that is the way it smells. I love the first whiffs of woodsmoke on chilly clear nights, the smell of leaves, and cold rain on the asphalt. Warm apple cider, and cinnamon, and all the scents of baking that fall seems to encourage.
In the fall I adore cozy perfume. Don’t get me wrong, you can wear perfume all year (and I do), but there are some perfumes that just smell like fall to me. This time of year they’re a warm fuzzy blanket, a comforting hug. My spirituality has always been deeply embodied, so it’s no surprise to me that my senses play such a powerful role in my life.
The smell of incense, the sound of an organ, the ringing of a gong, the beauty of light falling across my altar, the flickering light of candles. These are all things that draw me into holy moments, that consecrate space for me. But in the everyday moments of my life I find that my sense of smell adds a touch of the holy anytime, anywhere. I wear perfume because it is an olfactory painting I can carry with me wherever I go.
My Favorite Cozy Perfume
Fall scents to me are about cozy, warm vanillas, spices, and rich scents to warm up the cool air. Fall is traditionally harvest time, and scents that evoke the rich bounty of harvest seem perfect this time of year. They help align our hearts and souls toward reaping our own harvests (spiritual or literal) and preparing for the long rest of winter.
So here are my favorite fall scents for setting the mood and keeping me in mind of what matters. I’d love to hear what scents you crave this time of year.
Hermès Ambre Narguile
So let’s get this out of the way right off the bat, this perfume is stupidly expensive. And I mean the stupidly part. I own a tiny little travel spray from eBay because a full bottle of the stuff is
more than my car payment. But. I’ll gladly make that wee bottle last, because this stuff is fall. Imagine eating an apple pie on a crips fall day with leaves blowing around your picnic table and the last of the warm sun on your face. That’s Ambre Narguile and it is heaven. It’s all there, the apple, the cinnamon, the vanilla. It warm and inviting and an incredible treat. And it’s stupidly expensive. Le sigh.
Dior Hypnotic Poison (eau de toilet)
OK, from the stupidly expensive to the delightfully accessible. Hypnotic poison isn’t cheap, but it’s easy to find and under a $100 for a bottle that will last you a nice long time. And the scent.This is a creamy, warm hug on a cold day. The scent is light, and gentle (not like the Poison of my youth) but it lingers and lingers, wafting around you like the traces of a warm nutty pastry. There’s plenty of yummy sweet vanilla, lots of nutty flour (not flower), and even a hint of coconut to complete your baking dreams. Hypnotic Poison is easy to wear, like a well loved sweater. I find it perfect for fall.
Chanel Coco Eau De Parfum
Why hang out in fall when we can jump straight into the holidays? Chanel Coco to me smells like Christmas. It’s spicy, but never harsh. The spices here are gentle, simmering away with some wine, mixed into incredible food, lingering in the house days after the baking is done. It’s a grown up scent, confident and unapologetic. There’s no blushing flowers here, no soft happy vanilla. Coco is one of those power scents you put on to go out and do battle. Need a perfume to change the world? Coco is for you. Well I think so at least. And yet, at the same time she’s climbing mountains and storming boardrooms Coco is also a warm cozy cashmere sweater in front of the fireplace. Perfection.
Les Exclusifs de Chanel Coromandel
My signature and single most favorite perfume. This version of the scent has been discontinued, sadly, but relaunched as an eau de parfum which I have not tried. But let me lay it out this way. Coromandel is patchouli, incense, white chocolate, and creamy vanilla. So basically, heaven. I thought I didn’t like patchouli in fragrance before I tried Coromandel, now I know I just hadn’t smelled good patchouli. Coromandel is a warm hug. She is confidence and elegance in a bottle. She’s stunning, and an immediate mood booster. It’s like putting on a lovely silk shirt and a cashmere sweater, and your most comfortable skinny jeans. Warm, cozy, luxurious, and you know that you look (or smell) amazing. But, the les exclusifs line is Chanel’s most expensive perfume line. So this is a treat. But I love this perfume so much that were I required to own only one perfume for the rest of my life I would pick up my bottle of Coromandel and walk away a happy woman. Worth it.
Hermès Elixir Des Merveilles
Hang around me long enough and you’ll notice that I have almost every perfume from the Des Merveilles line by Hermès. The very first perfume in this line was launched as a summer scent
that was supposed to smell the way fireworks look, and they managed it. Bright, fresh, effervescent and delightful. Elixir is the fall or winter equivalent. The scent is still cascading sparks of colored light, but now we watch them all cozied up with mulled cider and warm spices. A far more affordable perfume (which can be found fairly easily for less than $100) Elixir is cozy, pretty, and supremely easy to wear. It’s just as at home at the office or out with your sweetheart and that’s a gift. No need to get dressed up for this friend, she’ll just dress up anything you’ve thrown on and make you feel fresh and beautiful.
Fath de Fath by Jaques Fath
Here at last we come to the perfect fall perfume if you want cheap, long lasting, and heady. Fath de Fath is a wonderful throwback scent. It was launched in 1953 and it smells totally appropriate to a far more joyful, exuberant time. The scent is thick, complicated, and heady. You could get drunk on Fath de Fath if you weren’t careful, and you’ll need a light hand with this one or you’ll have folks running for the hills. But oh the trail of heady flowers and rich dripping fruit you will leave behind you. Plum, peach and vanilla all drenched in rich white flowers and gooey amber. You could be on a veranda in Greece instead of a drizzly bus stop in Chicago, and the folks around you might just thank you for that little olfactory vacation. I love Fath, I love her retro feel and reckless exuberance. She never fails, no matter the weather. Fath goes just as well in the summer as in the cold, despite her thick and powerful scent!)
Scents of the Season
Our sense of smell is more deeply tied to our memories than any of our other senses. Years after I became an adult I stumbled across an old bottle of perfume and one sniff told me without a doubt it was the perfume my mother had worn when I was a child, a few questions confirmed it. Even she had forgotten the name and the look, but the scent? Neither of us could forget that and the memories that went with it.
I have worn many perfumes, burned lots of scented candles, and often walked into the kitchen a day later to remember the spices of last night’s dinner. Scent memory is a wonderful gift. What about you? Does scent play a role in your seasonal life? Are there particular odors that mean fall to you, or that make you smile no matter what else is happening? Share them down below and maybe go get one out, and enjoy.