Spooktacular Scents of Fall

 Happy Halloween to all of our ghoulishly lovely Posse peeps! It’s that time of year where we conjure our favorite (or most frightening, as the case may be) scents of the season and share them with you. So here goes …

From Ann

After the long, hot summer  we’ve had, I was really revving my broom in anticipation of cool-weather scents. So here’s what’s rattling my chain this season:

Its incense, juniper, pine and bergamot make Byredo’s Gypsy Water mysterious and intriguing, yet still easy to wear;  Le Labo’s Vanille 44 falls in the same vein, but with less mystery and more cozy comfort. And from my newly acquired fondness for  leather (not to worry, folks, no leather pants here),  I’ve got Bottega Veneta and Cuir de Lancome in as heavy a rotation as my samples will allow. P.S. Just got my sample of Serge Lutens’ Profundis — I’m kinda grooving on its earthy floral vibe with just a hint of  greeny-dark goodness. Maybe I’ll unearth this one for the trick-or-treating to come tonight …

From Anita/Musette

I’m crawling out of my Grant Application Grave (bwaaahaha -oh, forget it)  just long enough to tell you what scents scare me…and what scents I use to scare others! bwaaahahahaha <ack!>

What Scares Me:

Angel.  Try as I might, I cannot get closer to Angel than 3′.  I was in SFA a few months ago and a woman came in, liberally marinated in the jus.  She wanted to chat and couldn’t understand why I kept backing away!  Finally I asked what she was wearing and she said ‘Angel.  My signature scent’.  All I can say is Voldemort, have I got a gal for youuu!

Opium.  Fear Factor 10.  On my way to the Malle Candle Thingy (yeah, that long ago and it’s STILL seared into my memory).  Got a teeny little dab on my fingertip.  Two trips to the bathroom and a trip to the Clinique counter for some Number 4 Toner Love….and that damn thing STILL clung to me, scattering the hoards right and left as I blazed a trail up Boul Mich to meet M. Frederic. The Opium preceded my entrance by a good 5 feet.   It’s a wonder he didn’t throw a bucket of Carnal Flower on me!

Aromatics Elixir.  In my entire life I have only had two things run me out of my house.  One was a bug bomb I intentionally set off (you know, set it and run like hell, slamming the door behind you)…and the other is Aromatics Elixir, when I spilled it on a leather chair.  It’s not that it’s not gorgeous.  It is.  But so are cobras.  Three days on the porch, that chair.

My Own Skary Ones:

Contemporary (current) Mitsouko.  For sheer, wet-your-pants Terror, nothing says “I will bite your head clean off” like current Mitsouko, with that elegant gasoline punch to the nose.  I wear it when I have to advocate for my dad or remind a Neanderthal site crew that I Am Their Boss.  Something about it really tends to frighten people.  Or maybe it’s just me?

Bandit.  It’s got a mean streak that I just LOVE! but beautiful in its capacity to terrorize.  Like a vampire created by FX artist Rick Baker.  You know it can’t hurt you…..right?  You’re sure about that?

Jolie Madame.  Booooya (with the emphasis on ‘boo’!).  Another one of those to give you pause.  Dark night, dark street.  Gorgeous woman in a fur coat and stilettos slinking down the fog-shrouded sidewalk.  Uh, that is a fur coat…..isn’t it?

From March

I could aim for the cheap seats with something like Etro Messe de Minuit, which I put on the other day and got an extra dose of crypt from (although it smells like incense-roses on a friend, go figure.)  But instead I think I’ll run with:

Aquolina Pink Sugar.  Parents around here go different routes with the whole Leftover Halloween Candy issue, including doling out two pieces a night for three months, or letting the Great Pumpkin take it all away after a three days.  Our approach has always been: have at it.  I’m pretty sure at least two of my four kids have gorged on their candy until they (literally) puked, and there’s no way I could come up with a better lesson about moderation than that.  Bringing me around to Pink Sugar, a fragrance sweet enough to conjure the evil spirits of five pounds of candy corn, and which nauseates me in pretty much the same way.

When I think about trick or treating as a kid, what is the strongest memory besides the candy?  It’s the smell of the evening, out there in the dark for what seemed like hours of bliss, tromping around with friends in our cheesy home-made costumes up and down sidewalks, and around (and through) endless raked piles of leaves.  The smell of fall is still defined for me by that indescribable leaf pile aroma, which is why I was so thrilled the first time I smelled CB I Hate Perfumes’ Burning Leaves and realized he’d gotten it perfectly.  I’m old enough to remember the excitement when we and all the neighbors used to burn those leaves curbside (something I assume folks outside the city still do).  As great as the fragrance is when you first put it on, my favorite part is the drydown — when the “burning” fades away and I’m left with the smell of fallen leaves and a hint of autumn chill.

From Tom —

Well, fall in Los Angeles can’t decide from one hour to the next whether it will be chilly with a marine layer or  having hot Santa Ana winds, so choosing a scent can be an adventure in itself.  That spritz of Fumerie Turque that seemed so appropriate at 8 a.m. when it was 57 degrees  can become a little, well, challenging when it starts to hit the mid-80s at noon.

So I am keeping the Sables, with its immortelle-bomb aspect until it stays cool. I’m enjoying the comfort of ELdO Like This and Le Labo Musk (which you can all sample this November if there’s a Le Labo near you).

For other lists, please visit:  Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This and Perfume-Smellin- Things.

Share your favorites for fall, what scent you’ll be wearing for tonight, or if you’ve got something special planned for Halloween.

pumpkin image: there are a ton of fun carved pumpkins, including plenty of NSFW images.  Since this pumpkin image appears on several sites, I don’t know which one to credit. — March

  • Mike says:


    I’m not surprised to hear you mention Mitsouko scares people, I’ve read this quite a few times before. In your experience, how exactly do people react to it?

    I’d also love to know what version of Mitsouko to buy to get that gasoline punch-in-the-face smell. I smelled the EDT around 2005/2006 and it was just as you described. However, recently I ordered the extrait, and find it too soft for my liking…..


  • Ann says:

    Hi, Victoria. I think you’re right about the trick-or-treaters; it being a school night I think parents get them out there just before, or right at, dark, whisk them around and try to get them back in before too late. And your Magie Noire does sound delightful. Haven’t worn it in years and years, so must remedy that.

  • Victoria says:

    Last night I wore Magie Noire, which felt so perfect… My husband and I went for a walk (not dressed up, unless my parka counts as a dress-up,) and we were surprised not to encounter a single trick or treater. Maybe, these things are organized by parents earlier in the evening, or maybe there are few kids in our development, but it was strange.

  • Love reading all the selections – always a trigger to rummage through my samples and smell what you’re all smelling. Today I’m wearing By Kilian Incense Oud. Am I the only one who gets roasted weenies out of Burning Leaves? And for that matter, I get beef jerky out of XIIIeme Heure. Where there’s smoke, there’s pork, apparently.

    • Ann says:

      Katie, you are too funny! So cool to have you here on the Posse — have always enjoyed your site and reviews. Me likey that BK Incense Oud as well (way more incense than oud, at least on this gal’s skin, and that’s fine and dandy by me).

  • AnnieA says:

    Ran out of the house this morning, so am wearing my Emergency Backup Perfume: Bois de Filao. Inhabitants of the Non-Perfume World find the concept of an EBP amusing. We know better.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Annie — I love it! Guess those would be the 4 or 5 loose vials rolling around in the bottom of my purse; glad to know they now have a name :)

  • Julie says:

    Favorites for fall – SL Chene, CBIHP Burning Leaves, Organza Indecence and Guerlain SDV. Hoping we get some trick or treaters tonight since I bought a big bag of candy!

    • Ann says:

      A big yum to your favorites there, Julie! You’re the umpteenth person to mention the Burning Leaves, so I’ve REALLY gotta get me some now. Here’s hoping you have some cute “visitors” tonight.

  • Kym says:

    That pumpkin is genius!

  • Joanna says:

    I took advantage of a special TPC was running earlier this month and got 50% off a BPAL Halloween sampler pack. I chose: Dia De Los Muertos, Calaveras, Carlin, Michtecacihuatl and also The Death Of Autumn. All of them are really well crafted and interesting but I can’t get enough of Michtecacihuatl or The Death Of Autumn! And although there is something reminiscent of funeral parlors with Michtecacihuatl, (Holy crap that’s a bitch to type!) I just adore it! It’s described as; copal, precious woods, South American spices, agave nectar, cigar tobacco and roses. I like how it opens heavy on the incense, (Which is gorgeous!) and becomes sweet and floral, but not too floral. This is not a rabid rose scent. It’s really beautiful. For the record I’m not normally a morbid person and wouldn’t necessarily seek out scents that are reminiscent of funeral parlors, (Although I do also love Lorenzo Villoresi Garofano.)

  • No Halloween here in Paris either!
    Musette, you just made me chuckle with your skeery frags: Angel and Opium are both Kryptonite to me, as is L’Eau d’Issey (I think basically most blockbusters end up sitting uneasily on my stomach). I can absolutely get that Bandit and Jolie Madame could turn anyone into a tough cookie, but I’ll never quite understand how you get that vibe from Mitsouko. But whatever works, right?

    I love smoky scents (lucky me, I’ve been researching oud for an article) and though I don’t own Burning Leaves, I’d love to fall back on La XIIIème heure or Patchouli 24 if I could dig out my decants.

    • Musette says:

      Hi, sweetie! Happy non-Halloween to you!

      Here’s a (~~) in case you’re missing it!

      I only get the skeery from the current Mitsouko. The vintage is a thing of beauty.

      I wish I got ‘smoky’ from XIIIeme heure. All I got was ash. Cold ash.

      xo >-)

  • Sherri M. says:

    Trick: Vitriol d’Oiellet sprayed from the bottle…Sulphuric Carnation, indeed (don’t worry I’ve saved it for the swap…lol)

    Treat: All the Marie-Antoinette stuff aside, I like this new Black Jade stuff pretty well: nice spicy floral for this time of year…

    Thanks so much for this post! I had forgotten Jolie Madame, and I LOVE that one, and Mitsouko, and I so need a Burning Leaves decant!

    Have a fun tonight, everyone! :-)

    • Ann says:

      Hi Sherri, haven’t tried the Black Jade, but am liking the Vitriol a lot (of course, I only have a dab sample — can’t weigh in on how it is spritzed). The lovely Mals sent me a Jolie Madame sample a while back and I really like it as well.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Trick: Fracas – i tried a teeny titchy bit and nearly passed out. My husband asked if it had corpse flower in it. Enough said!
    Treat: Tonight will be either CBIHP Burning Leaves ( home in a bottle- I miss new England) or Aroma Sanctum Fire of Isis ( which I first bought and had customised many years ago at her shop in Salem Ma).
    Last night was Black which went very well with my steampunk witch costume.

    Blessed Samhain and Happy Halloween to all!

    • Maureen says:

      I saw a lot of books in the window of a lovely little New Hope,PA bookstore about Steampunk (The Steampunk Encyclopedia I think was front & center.) Well, I had never even heard of it, and then yesterday on Sunday Morning on Channel 10, they had a whole piece on it, with a convention of followers featured. I bet a steampunk witch is a really cool costume. Lots of witches in New Hope!!!!

      Blessed Samhain & Happy Halloween to you, too.

      • Musette says:

        There’s a guy in my little burg who does steampunk-type carvings, sculptures and signage – he has a weird 5′-high 20,000 Leagues/Artemis Gordon robot-thingy in his side garden that is just gorgeous! haffnersigns.com (totally not affiliated but think it’s cool stuff).

        Fabulosity in the cornfields!

        xo >-)

    • Ann says:

      I know you looked very cool in your witch costume. You’re one of several other folks who like the Burning Leaves — gotta get me some of that stat!

  • maggiecat says:

    I’m working late tonight myself – in class till 10 PM or whenever I have mercy on them. DH decided not to handle the costumed hordes without me and will be keeping the lights off and the blinds down. So I guess we’re a bit halloween -Scrooge-y ourselves. I’m wearing Jicky edt today – was going for something witch-er (Ormonde Jayne Woman was a contender) but a long stressful day seemed to call for a relaxing scent, and I’ve been craving lavender lately. So Jicky it is. Happy Reformation Day all! (Lutherans are more apt to get this than most…)

    • KirstenMarie says:

      Hehehe….love the Ormonde Jayne witchy comment! OJW is my signature fall scent, and it’s enough to whip the heads of the guys at work around. NOT because they are having flashbacks of their chem warfare training, but because it’s so unusual. Not the floraluity regular-mass-market-what-passes-for-“perfume”-crud. :)

    • Ann says:

      Yes, ladies, today’s a good day for OJW. Gotta dig up my little dab of it …

  • Claudia says:

    We turn off the lights and watch TV in the dark on Halloween. Our porch light is broken and I want to discourage visitations. I’m going to test-drive a Smell Bent scent today. Can’t remember the name tho, and I’m too lazy to go upstairs and get it. Today is the last day of my lovely week off, so I am indulging my lazy side.

    LOVE that pumpkin! I think that’s the best I’ve ever seen!

    • Ann says:

      Claudia, the older I get, the better that sounds. But with a fifth-grader, won’t be happening anytime soon. That is a way-cool pumpkin, isn’t it? March found that …

  • Musette says:

    Tonight is the Official Candy Beg in our little town. We are usually NOT ON THE LIST! I dunno why….the dogs? me? I turn the light on, I have a (~~) – okay, one of those gorgeous squashes) on the front porch. For naught. Well…we bought little Snickers bars just in case. I don’t like Snickers. So that’s a good thing.

    I’m test-driving Jube XXV today. Wore it last night but am fighting a nasty chill for the last few days so it was hot tea and sleep. We’ll see how it fares in today’s chilly weather.

    Have a lovely Hallowe’en, all you (~~) – lovin’ >:):(|)s !

    xo >-)

    • Austenfan says:

      I know you are secretly wishing that Malle had poured a bucketful of Carnal Flower over your head. We don’t do Halloween in Holland, but having candy bars that one does not like are definitely an excellent idea!

  • Olfacta says:

    I’ve been a Halloween Scrooge this year. By that I don’t mean disregard for the holiday and it’s pagan roots, but weeks of encountering otherwise rational grown-ups dressed in costumes at stores, offices, the gym, etc, has made me say “enough already!” for the first time. We went to a great Halloween Parade followed by a party last week; this week ditched all invitations and went to a movie — “Midnight in Paris.” Tonight? I may work late. Baaaah, humbug. I’m thinking I’ll wear Mitsouko (vintage) today.

    • Ann says:

      Not to worry, I know what you mean. If I didn’t have a child, I doubt I’d be doing much either. Enjoy that vintage Mitsy, dear!

  • Francesca says:

    We had our big office Halloween party on Friday. I didn’t wear a costume, though I did wear my typical black outfit along with a coral necklace for the H’ween color combo. Wore Avignon. The party was a crazy scene, and I didn’t even visit the main room, which apparently was a 70’s disco.

    Not doing anything Halloweeny today–having dinner with a friend who’s about to depart for Paris. He likes rose scents so maybe MPeG George Sand.

    Wishing the children of those as got ’em will have a lovely, safe, and profitable Halloween.

    And Blessed Samhain to those who celebrate.

    • Ann says:

      Mmmm, Avignon, great choice for today, Francesca. It’s kinda nice that your office has a Halloween party (or any party, for that matter). At my previous job (17 years), in the last 5 years, they gave up the annual holiday party for budget cuts. Such is life. Hope you have enjoy dinner with your friend.

  • Sharon C. says:

    TRICK: Madame Fracas in all her dominatrix tuberose glory. No matter how subservient and respectful I am, She Who Cannot Be Tamed (by me, anyway) scares me every time…

    TREAT: Neil Morris’ October. The perfect scent for autumn, late October and Hallowe’en festivities, this smells like northern Pennsylvania, where I grew up.

    Happy Hallowe’en to all!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Sharon. I’m with you on Madame Fracas; she’s waaay too much for me. (I’m sure Musette will weigh in on this — grin). That October sounds lovely; will have to give it a whirl.