Top Ten of Fall

Yep, it’s that time again — Fall’s Top 10.   As usual we’re going to cheat it.  Here are some of the ways to welcome fall–

Skanky – you knew we’d start here, didn’t you?  If you’ve been holding back because of the warmer weather, now’s the time to break out your favorite cumin-rich, musk-ridden, armpit-redolent scents.  We recommend: Vivienne Westwood Boudoir, Party in Manhattan, CB I Hate Perfume Musk Absolute (just the best smut in a bottle), Muscs Koublai Khan (which, to Lee’s nose, is increasingly delicate with each subsequent sniff), and Patty has to have Amouage Lyric for women.

Smoky –  what is fall without smoke?  Whether it’s bonfire, fireplace, or pipe tobacco, now is the time for a good smoke.  We recommend:  CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves, Serge Lutens Chergui, Guerlain Bois d’Armenie, and the smoke king Le Labo Patchouli 24.

Gourmand — cold and rainy?   Break out those comfort scents!  We Recommend: Lolita Lempicka au Masculin for licorice woodiness, Ambre Narguile to make March and Patty scream and run for cover, Safran Troublant to feel like you’re a middle Eastern rice pudding, KenzoAmour for milky-woody goodness, and anything vanilla.

Woody — everyone needs a little wood, especially as the nights turn frosty. Try the terrifically tumescent Tumulte pour Homme at the bargain end, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc, or Chene if your penchant is more man oak than cedar pencil. 

Schpicy — and if you’ve got wood, why not throw in some spice to make it really sizzle (pomander provisos from previous posts temporarily foregone). Santal de Mysore is always Lee’s default choice, or there’s Arabie.  March votes for Malle’s Noir Epices. Patty sits this one out, unless you just want to go big on peppery carnation and load up with Caron’s Poivre.  Don’t overapply or you’ll be sorry.

Weird — there’s something about cooler weather that can really bring out your inner perfume adventurer.  Try something outside your usual comfort zone.  Expand your horizons.   We recommend:  something from the weirder Comme des Garcons series (leaves, synthetic), CdG White or 2, Versace Dreamer, the violets in the mushroom patch oddity that is Dans tes Bras. It’s the safest way to get your freak on.   

Melancholy —  seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness, on quiet days, have the almost pleasurable sadness of a year saying goodbye. Emphasise the sorrow with Iris Silver Mist, l’Eau d’Hiver. Perhaps best of all, the iris incense quietude of the wonderful Dzongkha.

Gender-bending.  If you’re a man, go for it — splash on something super femme and work it.  If you’re a fan of girly (or womanly) fragrances, why not try something uber-male?  We recommend: (femme scents for men) – Piguet Fracas, Serge Lutens A La Nuit, any Ormonde Jayne.  For girls who want to smell like men:  YSL Kouros (March triple-dog-dares you) or Caron Yatagan.

Over The Top — admit it.  A true perfumista often harbors a lust, public or private, for some ball-busting, room-clearing fragrance.  You know it’s wrong.   You love it anyway.  We recommend:  Christian Dior Poison or Hypnotic Poison or Mugler’s ubiquitous Angel.

The vintage — what better time of year to wear your hoarded collection with abandonment? It’s time to roll out your Youth Dew, Tabu, or 50 year old Mitsy parfum, baby, and spray as though recession ain’t today’s obsession.

For other Top Ten lists, check out these blogs:  Now Smell This, Perfume-Smellin’ ThingsScentzilla and Bois de Jasmin. Now, what would you slip into each category?

  • Katie says:

    Gah! I can’t do Arabie EXCEPT in summer or on really hot days! In the fall and winter it just smells really synthetic and like some weird cleaning solution. It’s like some weird voodoo curse where the sweet spiciness only smells good when it can smell hot and sticky, too. Or I am just a freak. Hmm. It’s probably just freaky.

    CdG 2 and CdG Man 2 are both great fall options. They’re both sort of odd, woody and spicy without being offputting. I tend to prefer Man 2, but I like that goofy typewriter-ribbon note in it too much to wear the women’s 2. The typewriter-ribbon note makes it feel vaguely literary, I guess.

    For “Over The Top” I’d almost pick Mugler’s Alien over Angel nowadays. Angel is nearly prosaic in terms of the sheer ubiquity and popular use. Alien, on the other hand, I think was too harshly judged by some when it came out, because it’s not about complexity, it’s about sheer volume. Sometimes you wind up listening to heavy metal music just because you want to hear music that considers “loud” as an actual aesthetic quality. Alien is the olfactory equivalent of headbanging. It’s kind of over the top just for the sake of going over the top. A little mindless, but… fun 😉 Heh.

    Yatagan is such a nice choice for anyone male or female – any time of the year 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Funny how Arabie does that to you – I love it in summer too! But it always smells great to me. And you are literary enough to do more than typewriter ribbons, I reckon.

      Like you, I love mindless fun…:d/

  • luv_bug says:

    For skanky, I’ve still got my small roll-on of Ava Luxe Madame X. You only need a few drops!

    For gender-bending, Prada Infusion d’Homme is perfect right now–soap, incense, and powder.

    And I have to say that you’re very right about suddenly wanting a Perfume Monster. All of a sudden, I’ve got a craving for Angel that won’t go away.

  • E says:

    For gender-bending, I’m a big fan of the (sadly discontinued) Cacharel Nemo. It’s a man’s scent, but I’m female and find it delicious to wear in cold weather.

    I love Chergui, but get no smoke from it at all. It’s quite sweet on me.

  • Shelley says:

    I have, and I found it nice (uh-oh, that’s an either direction kind of meaningless adjective)…am still deciding how much I like…happy to wear my sample for now, and it is to fall what her Violets & Rainwater is to spring…but I’m searching for leaf piles burning with a hint of the wood fire (or vice-versa); this one, at least on first wearing, is a somewhat different direction.

  • Shelley says:

    March can triple dog dare all she wants, I ain’t sticking my tongue to that lamp post. Yatagan smells great on her, and I grand bow in her general direction. If I want to “smell like a boy,” and don’t want to cheat with a Caron (both Third Man and pour Homme are nice on me), I think I’ll go with Eau de Guerlain. (Oh! Cheating again. Well, forget it. I don’t do big power florientals, and I guess I don’t do whatever is is that is manscent.)

    Yet. I know, yet.

    Meanwhile, wood is Bois des Isles for now, or combine wood/spice and use YSL Nu. I’ve been on an L’Heure Bleu kick this week, and guess that could be gourmand/vintage, which has a hint of melancholy for me, as well. I’m trying to find a violet+smoke combo that works this autumn for me…that would be smoke/weird/melancholy.

    What’s missing…over the top? Maybe Poeme or Songes; haven’t even thought of those until now. Gotta shout out to Chergui, and I’m skipping weird, ’cause I already talked about how some that you called “skank” are nice to me, and others send me into fits of hysterical cackling over whose trying to gaslight me into thinking I’ll pay for a scent I can get for free, thank you very much.

    All done. For now.

    • Musette says:

      “For free”…..I’m assuming you mean that ladylike ‘glow’ we can call up at the first sight of moderate-to-hard manual labor?:-?

      For violet and smoke, have you tried Liz Zorn’s Purple Love Smoke? I don’t know if she samped it at the Event but I was on her site a few days ago and the description fits what you say you’re looking for….


    • Lee says:

      And I’m not so keen on wearing ladylike stuff myself…[-(

  • Elena says:

    Oh I would DIE if I smelled a man wearing Fracas.

    Die of lust that is, there’s no perfume on this earth more brazenly girly, but only when you’re close.
    It would be like having a boyfriend and a gay boyfriend in one!

    • Musette says:


      Weird as this sounds, it actually amplifies the manliness of a man. Neil Morris suggested I try this on a guy – and I did. And it was indescribably fabulous. Get the biggest, butchest guy you can (I would like to try this on The Rock, but that’s just me;) and spritz this on him. Watch the women lose their minds. It’s especially wonderful when you get them all duded up in a suit, etc, though I am thinking if I spritzed this on The Rock I would probably prefer to have him as scantily clothed as possible, so as to have as much skin-acreage for sniffage…….all in the name of Olfactory Science, don’tchaknow


      • Lee says:

        I’m so impressed that you’d be prepared to sublimate your desires in the spirit of olfactory science…:d

  • Billy D says:

    I think I’m sticking with Ambre Narguile and Straight to Heaven this Fall, maybe with some Vetiver Tonka and Tubereuse Criminelle when I’m feeling fey.

  • Elle says:

    Great list! And can’t believe I haven’t taken out Burning Leaves yet this year. Maybe that’s what I’ll wear when the little monsters come around tonight. I’m mainlining the classics these days. Can simply not get enough of the Guerlains for some reason. Oh, and Chanel Cuir de Russie. Forget water and canned food – this is what I feel I should have vats of in reserve for hard times.

  • Francesca says:

    I’m with Meliscents; Idole is my fall fave. I’ve also been enjoying SDV, Ambre Narguile, Hinoki, Avignon, Annayake Miyako. My perfume guru just turned me on to Tea for Two which is a little bit of smoky heaven. Oh, and Jubilation XXV, too.

    Skanks! I never thought I’d like them but The Party in Manhattan makes me (though hardly anyone else of my acquaintance) happy, and after a space of many years, I’ve fallen in love all over again with Bal à Versailles. And Lyric is skanky? I’m surprised. But I love that, too.I haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s comments yet, but I’m looking forward to it. (Note to RPK:Instapaper!)

  • Meliscents says:

    Now that it’s finally cooling off here in the south, I’ve dug out the Youth Dew in full force! Last night I layered lotion, powder & cologne. My poor neighbors could probably smell me, but I slept well. And for the skank/whip me effect, I’m thinking a spray of Bandit. This morning I headed off to work wearing Idole and I’m still in that warm spicy cloud.

  • violetnoir says:

    Dang, Lee, this is so weird. I feel like I have landed on another planet, because I hardly have any of these fragrances, save for vintage Mitzy, Patch 24, Fracas, Angel and Noir Epices, and I adore Fall/Winter fragrances.

    How about YSL Nu? Not exactly new (sorry for the pun), but way ahead of its time.


    • Lee says:

      Well, we mention 40 scents. I only have 13 of those, though most of the rest in samples somewhere. Don’t feel too weird – it’s an odd list!

      Nu is definitely an adventure.

  • Disteza says:

    For Halloween, to be scary >:) , I decided to break out one of the perfumes that truly gets down and dirty on me–Histoires de Perfumes 1740–that’s right, the Marquis de Sade! It’s Sin in a bottle, and so perfect for being a little evil. My heavy hitters this fall have been Profumum’s Olibanum (finally got the FB!), Miller Harris L’air de Rien (still don’t get the skunk on this, maybe I’ll try it in July?), Aftelier’s Cepes and Tuberose, L’Artisan’s Tea for Two, NM Dark Season, and Parfumerie Generale’s Pshychotrope (or, as I call it, the psycho-trollop, for the ridiculous amount of leather and odd candied flower notes floating just on top). My SO loves the psycho-trollop dearly, so much so that a FB appeared magically last week on the shelf, and he’s the one telling me I have too many already! ;))

    • Debbie says:

      I love Histoire’s 1969; obviously I should try the Marquise scent too! Sounds great!

      Dark Season is a beautiful gem. Everyone should at least experience it (if not absolutely love it)!

    • Shelley says:

      “psycho-trollop” ;)) Psychotrope will never be the same…love it.

  • MarkDavid says:

    Adding my praise for Bois d’Armenie. (hoarding the drops I have left in my sample vial)
    And I agree with Debbie on Charogne – I wore it to bed last night. Love it!

    I seem to get a lot of wear out of SL Chene, Czech and Speake Frankincense and Myrrh, Neil Morris Gotham, TDC Bois d’Iris, Guerlain Vol de Nuit, L’Artisan Timbuktu, Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, Le Labo Rose, Ambrette, and Iris, and Chanel Bois des Iles and 28 La Pausa (!) and Guerlain Rose Barbare.

    Although today, I doused myself in L’Artisan Jacinthe des Bois before realizing it was Halloween. Here I am smelling like a giant Easter flower on Halloween. That’ll keep the spirits away, for sure.


    • Debbie says:

      Another Charogne lover! Fantastic! I feel sad, tho. I actually swapped mine away…and now I am longing for it again. Why do so many perfumista’s make the same mistake? (And why don’t I learn from theirs first?)

    • Lee says:

      I bought a bottle of Bois d’Armenie because I couldn’t manage wqith just a decant – it’s truly one of those…

      I owe you an email long time passing. Bad boy. Forgive me? We have plans to make for New Year’s!

      • MarkDavid says:


        Yes we do have plans to make.

        Bois d’Armenie is high on my wishlist. I have Rose Barbare. Its lonely, it needs its Arts et Matieres brother.

        Im slowly crossing things off of my wishlist. This week: White Aoud – check.

  • Debbie says:

    Great suggestions! If anyone sends me a sample of Kuoros, I’ll wear it at least once. I accept the dare. :d

    For my list:

    Smoke: NM Burnt Amber, SSS Fireside Intense or SL Fumerie Turque. (I like smoke.)

    Gourmand: Frapin 1270
    Wood: CJ Scents Boozywood
    Spice: Montale Aoud Oeillet d’Inde
    Weird: Etat’s Charogne
    Melancholoy: Apres L’Ondee
    Gender x…ing: Yatagan
    Over the Top: There is no such thing.
    Vintage: (sniffle) I have never tried any.

    • Debbie says:

      !! I forgot my skank nominee. It would have to be Boudoir or NM’s Midnight Tryst.

      • Lee says:

        Midnight Tryst is such a sweet little thing on me… Really!

        • Debbie says:

          Oh, how Midnight Tryst blooms on me. Most skankalicious things are just “nice” on me, but this one and Bal a Versailles parfum…. oh squared.

          Thanks for the sweet compliment, Lee. The love is right back atcha. And your dog. xxoo

    • Lee says:

      Burnt Amber. I wore that incessantly last week and should’ve thought to include it. D’oh.

      I like you’re no such thing attitude. You rock!

  • Dane says:

    What a great post! I’m all excited to dig through my wardrobe now and see what’ll fit.

    And why have I not tried CB Musk yet??? Shame on me.

  • Musette says:

    What?! No skankalicious Bal? No Femme? I wore Bal yesterday and felt all 1950s Park Avenue, even though I was wearing fleece. Oooh, maybe some Kingdom! That would just cheer a gal right up, now wouldn’t it?

    I have difficulties with anything gourmand. My vaunted Attrape-Coeur was fine on the initial spritz but about 3 hours later, when the chocolate(?) came out it was enough to make me queasy. I don’t stray too far into the land of G, never having been able to handle those (odd, since I bake like a fiend). Luckily L’Heure Bleu doesn’t turn gourmandish on me or I might have to kill myself! Like Louise, I would definitely put that in the Melancholy column. Beautiful Melancholy.

    My Over the Top is always Fracas. Let’s face it, if you are wearing Fracas, you’d better work it, baby! With Fracas, I always wear a dress (or a gown) and gloves. Somehow she demands it.

    I think I will bust out the Dzongkha today. Why not? I’ve been in a rather boring rotation-rut! Thanks, Lee (lovely post, btw, as always. Loveto Gracie)!

    xo >-)

    • Lee says:

      I personally prefer my gourmands with a touch of toxic (Borneo). And why isn’t Bal there is too good a question to ignore…

      (and this is where I need the whistling guy emoticon)

    • Shelley says:

      Hey, I wondered about Attrape-Coeur on you. I can see it becoming…well, on this day of trick or treaters and the inevitable rumbly tummy casualty….@-)

      Being one not as distressed by the Guerlinade-down, I am happily wearing L’Heure Bleu today. Nice saleslady gave me a heaping samp; guess who’s going to see me come back for purchase???

      • Musette says:

        Yeah, it really is heartbreaking. Of course, other people seem to lurrrve the drydown on me, as I’m turning faintly :-&… I usually just wear it at home, so I can enjoy the early bits and then scrub it off!

        Your weirdo>-)

    • mollypenny74 says:

      Newbie here, which Bal is “Bal”? I have to try some but don’t know what I’m looking for!

  • Kim says:

    great list – as usual it gives me a few to try. Believe it or not, for skanky I turn to Chanel No 5 parfum strength – the jasmine is really strong and me and almost underarm-like! For gourmand, Guerlain L’Heure Bleue. But both of these are now tied for my number 1 spot and I wear them year round. This fall, I am loving Lutens Chene for a woody/smoky combo Comme des Garcons 8 88 for a weird/spicy combo. And fall always means break out the Yatagan!

  • Robin says:

    Great list, all around. Now I’ve got to go bathe in Kouros.

  • Marina says:

    Skanky! You can’t do inoffensive little Theo Fennell :d So don’t tell me you like skanky.:-@ Seriously though, I so many favorites on your lists and we have one match in Lyric.

    • Lee says:

      Well, I can’t talk never having sniffed TF. But I’m not king of skank.

      (and really, all I’m currently wearing is Borneo on top of Borneo, and that didn’t even make the list).

  • Mary says:

    I see things I need to try! I am new here and some of this is greek to me, but I do know I love scents! I just received some El Attaraine and oh…it smells so perfect for fall!

    Your writing style cracks me up! Have a great day!

    • Lee says:

      Welcome Mary. This is a joint bit of writing, so suitably Frankenstein in style for Hallowe’en. I’m in love with el Attarine too and will be buying a bottle by the end of the year.

      • Mary says:

        I bought an ounce… it was so worth it!

        I now only need to get a passport and go to Paris for a full bottle!

        Thank You!

  • Shelley says:

    Since I have duties to attend to [-( , I gonna have to give the list attention later today.

    But what is wrong with me?!?!?! Some “skanks” are quite lovely to me (Boudoir, Lyric) and other I just want to scream NOT PERFUME at (Kingdom…@-) ). How does this happen? “Cumin” gets blamed in all, and yet…can one be situationally anosmic??

    • Lee says:

      I think the level of cumin seriously affects the interpretation. I was cooking a cumin laden curry a few weeks back, had sweated onions and garlic and just added the cumin motherload. Matt told me I’d made the kitchen smell of BO. And he has no sense of smell worth talking about…

    • Debbie says:

      Lyric is skank? I am SO immune to this stuff. I just smelled spicy rose in a base that I liked but absolutely didn’t say skank to me. Sigh.

      I’d love to have some of this.

      • Lee says:

        I didn’t get much of the skank either.

        • Debbie says:

          So…what’s up with us? Why do supposedly skanky scents just smell nice to/on us? Any theories? (Yeah, I can just imagine the barbs that could come with these answers, but I have to ask anyway.)

          • Lee says:

            I think we’re drawn to the slightly taboo in scents, and once we’re past the initiation rites where we like things just cuz they’re nice, full-on skank feels like an adventure, a journey into slightly dangerous territory. Like the strange terror/pleasure we get from a good scary film.

          • Debbie says:

            But, but….I’m so *average*! I would protest more, but here I am loving all that stuff and, and (whispers) scary movies. I am a full-on zombie freak. Lee, I am afraid you have seen past the exterior and have tagged me. :d

            Thanks for the insight.

          • Lee says:

            You’d love a tv series that’s been running all week in the UK – google Dead Set and E4….

          • Debbie says:

            Will do! Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get it here on BBCA.

  • MattS says:

    My penchant for man oak is year round.>:)

    Last night while plundering through my mom’s perfume cabinet, I found an unopened mini of Boudoir. I’ll be swiping that for a sniff; Mama has no need for a scent called Boudoir, I, of course, do.

    I’ve been in love with Onda this fall. Perfection.

  • Louise says:

    Why am I not surpised that Skank heads your list /:)?

    I have to agree with Party in Manhattan as a wearable Stink-um; just marvelous. I have the same issue with the CB Musk and MKK-too gentle for me!

    To your list I’d suggest (though you didn’t ask :”> :

    Smoke: CB Bonfire accord, I like it more than Burning Leaves
    Gourmand: Sushi Imperiale, yum
    Wood: V’Tae Sacred Fire (all sandalwood for me)
    Spice: CdG Original
    Weird: Bulgari Black (I love rubber)
    Melancholoy: the obvious L’Heure Bleue
    Gender x…ing: Cumming
    Over the Top: er, Amarige Mariage 8-|
    Vintage: Femme in parfum


    • rosarita says:

      Louise, my friend, as I’ve said before, we are at least scent cousins! 😉 CdG is my favorite spice fest, but the close second is Parfums de Nicolai New York. Can’t get enough this time of year. And for over the top, I want to bathe in Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant right now (thanks, March!) but for the sake of household harmony will try to keep it down to a spritz or two.
      😡 all the choices!

    • Debbie says:

      Yup, I love ’em too.

    • Lee says:

      Ooh – good choices. I need to wear Cumming more – got a half-price bottle last year and never seem to put it on much (though when I put it on, boy do I put it on…)

  • tmp00 says:

    CB I Hate Perfume Musk Absolute? There’s and Absolute? You mean more distilled than what I have? Who do I have to (contact) to get this? :((

    • March says:

      Horning (horndogging?) in here briefly to say no, my friend, I believe that’s its complete technically proper name — CB I Hate Perfume Musk Absolute. IIRC, the “absolutes” are the ones undiluted in the smaller bottles, as opposed to the water-based sprays. Of course I keep mine in its original canister to prevent it from escaping. But alas there is no stronger concentration… you kinky boy.

    • Lee says:

      You stinky boy!

  • Flora says:

    Ooh, I like the way you all think! Some of my very favorites and others I need to try very soon. Love the girls-wearing-Yatagan-and-Kouros thing a lot, I do that! :d

    For Smoky, I would nominate Tauer Perfumes Lonestar Memories (aka The Balrog) to the top of my list. Nothing could be more masculine but I love wearing it. Of course, I might wear Fracas the very next day. 8-}