It's joint-list-making time again. On this occasion, it's Barney's turn to choose our theme and he's drawn inspiration from that touch of dampness in the air... the plunging temperatures... the sight of bare branches. In short, he's decided we should present our top picks for autumn 2012. I confess, I rarely view perfumes in relation to the seasons, but this particular exercise turned out to be far more thought-provoking than I'd expected it to be, not least because I found myself having very strong opinions about which scents are not autumnal. But anyway, without further ado, here are my recommendations for that very particular time of year when you start feeling the urge to turn up your collar.
La Pluie from Miller Harris
Let's start with a reference to rain. Although this scent from Lynn Harris is essentially a white floral (jasmine and ylang feature prominently in its heart) it manages to veer away from cliche country by placing a strange wet note (achieved by mosses... or woods... or herbs?) next to the core accord. The result really is... well, rainy, but without the faintest suggestion of gloom. I just wish it lasted a tiny bit longer... unlike November downpours.
Mito from Vero Profumo
Autumn was made for chypres, and one of the finest examples we've had for a while is Vero Kern's Mito. A bewitching blend of hyacinths, magnolia and jasmine (on the requisite mossy base) it fills its wearer with a palpable sense of the power of nature. You could argue that all four seasons are represented here, but autumn is probably Mito's favourite time of year: a period when transience is at its most painfully poetic.
L'Ambre Des Merveilles from Hermès
The original Eau Des Merveilles and its flankers are generally praised for their unusual structure (think: traditional notes pyramid turned on its head) and now Jean Claude-Ellena maintains continuity with this latest iteration. The weirdly compelling salty/animalic note is intact, but this time it's been linked with a translucent amber accord, not unlike the one JCE used in Ambre Narguile. A friend said it ought to have been called Chambre De Merveilles, and although he was joking, I think he may have been on to something. After all, LADM doesn't smell very different from a boudoir whose windows have been opened to a humid October breeze.
Exhale from Gorilla Perfume
For those not in the know, Exhale is half of Gorilla Perfume's much-praised Breath Of God (the other being Inhale). Currently available only in oil form, it is a fiery, overwhelming mix of vetivert, cedar and incense notes that simultaneously appear to be at one with both the earth and the skies. People often tell me that they can't face trying Lush's perfume range because they don't want to do battle with the scent of the bath bombs. My response is that they're missing out, not least because of intriguing creations like this one.
Babylon from Angela Flanders
This intoxicating brew from the perfume empress of Columbia Road somehow manages to combine gigantic wood notes in a way that doesn't turn the whole into a characterless soup. As its name suggests, there is something distinctly Biblical at play here: a meditation on resins, balsams, spices and herbs, with a touch of booziness to suggest impassioned carnality. A must-try.
Hommage À L'Homme from Lalique
Despite my tendency not to categorise fragrances in climatic terms, I've always thought of Fahrenheit as the quintessential autumn scent, which is why Lalique's latest masculine popped into my mind whilst I was compiling this list. It is essentially a sweeter version of the Dior, complete with the strident violet leaf note and the woody/floral facet. Each time I've worn it, I've been showered with tons of compliments, so I guess it must be doing something right.
Interlude Man from Amouage
I still can't get enough of this stuff. Pierre Negrin's ingenious presentation of the concept of peace within chaos starts with a perplexing juxtaposition of tar and plastic before turning into one of the hottest, most absorbing smoke-based fragrances I have ever had the pleasure to wear. My sample's almost empty, and although Amouage's price tags aren't exactly wallet-friendly, I confess I am sorely tempted to part with my pennies. I just need to find a way to justify the purchase to myself. I suppose I could delay turning on the central heating by a month. The perfume would probably do just as good a job of keeping me warm!
Vierges Et Toreros from Etat Libre D'Orange
You can always rely on ELDO for oddness and VET certainly doesn't disappoint on that front. A bizarre tuberose - underscored by a bestial, metallic base - it manages to reach out into the world whilst enveloping its wearer with a veil of strange impenetrability... which is just what you need as you don your gloves and wrap a scarf around your neck.
Don't forget to check out Eyeliner On A Cat, Olfactoria's Travels and Fragrant Moments for more lists.