Every autumn brings a fleet of new perfume releases and a state of indecision – which fragrance to pick from the numerous offerings? Eschewing the typical seasonal recommendations of heavy ambers and gourmand vanillas, I have selected five fragrances in different genres. My criteria were based only on the originality and polish of the scent and don’t exclude whimsy and surprise, since a good perfume is above all enjoyable and memorable.
One of my top choices among the new season launches is Twilly d’Hermès (£70 for 50ml EDP), a new women’s perfume inspired by the house’s famous silk scarves – the idea being to create a lighthearted, vivid composition as versatile as the iconic accessory. The core of the fragrance is composed of ginger, tuberose and sandalwood – notes that together create a colourful, exuberant effect. The floral accord is abstract and luminous, but it has a creamy sweetness that’s the trademark of white flowers like tuberose. Twilly is charming and elegant, a fragrance that can confront a day at the office as well as be the life of the party.
The marine vignette of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Un Air de Bretagne (£109 for 100ml EDP) is a fragrance for those (men and women) who are reluctant to let go of summer and the memories of seaside vacations. The note of algae absolute redolent of driftwood, seaweed and wet sand is a leitmotif with a wistful character, evoking walks on the beach and days filled with sweet indolence.
Similarly languid is Diptyque’s Vetyverio. The original eau de toilette has been in Diptyque’s collection for several years, but this autumn sees it released in a new eau de parfum (£105 for 75ml) concentration. In contrast to the crisp and fruity first version, the eau de parfum is warm and velvety, enriched with the sweetness of rose and the earthy darkness of patchouli. Vetiver, a material that smells of green salty woods, remains at its heart, but the effect is more saturated, suave and lingering.
Out of my five choices, the unisex Jardin Nocturne (from $500 for 50ml EDP) created for New York-based fashion designer Shalini is the most sumptuous. Perfumer Maurice Roucel has woven an unusually large dose of jasmine into a plush perfume inspired by the night air of Dubai. The night-blooming jasmine heart is supported by the creamy warmth of sandalwood and oud, and lit up by a touch of saffron – which on its own has a medicinal, leathery character but in Jardin Nocturne becomes the bright moonlight that casts a soft glow onto the flowers.
Should your fantasy be a Sicilian ballroom rather than an evening garden, Antonio Alessandria’s Gattopardo (£132 for 50ml EDP) for men and women may present the right key. Alessandria runs a cult perfume boutique in Catania, and his newest fragrance, Gattopardo, takes the theme of The Leopard, a novel written by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Alessandria aimed to capture the scents and impressions of Sicily, a land that was occupied by many and conquered by few, and his composition is built on a series of contrasts. The green freshness of the opening is succeeded by the softness of iris, the bitterness of cocoa powder and the gourmand sweetness of hazelnuts. The amber and beeswax give a rich patina to the drydown that calls to mind baroque palaces, burning candles and the rustling of silks.
Victoria Frolova has been writing her perfume blog boisdejasmin.com since 2005. Her explorations of fragrance touch upon all elements that make this subject rich and complex: science, art, literature, history and culture. Frolova is a recipient of three prestigious Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards for Editorial Excellence and, since receiving her professional perfumery training, has also been working as a fragrance consultant and researcher.