Between summer and autumn
Summer wears on; what’s reportedly the hottest one to date. By August, no matter where you live, we all crave a reprieve from the sun. Soon we will have the autumn months; a quieter time, often more introspective, when we make a move indoors and shift our approach to nature. In summer, nature is harsh and we aim to mitigate it, yet in fall it entices gratitude and exploration. Summer days are flush with expected smells but in the autumnal shift unpredictable days of weather and habit prickle the senses. The days are shifty, the weather forecast dubious, we often find ourselves shedding layers by midday and wrapping up again at night. Choosing a fragrance this time of year can be tricky: your favorite summer floral might suddenly sour on your skin. But this in-between time owns a certain mystery, giving cause to explore and experiment. The following tries to conjure particular, often ignored, sensorial moods that occur in this liminal seasonal transition.
L’Ombre dans l’Eau by Diptyque
Solitude in nature; finding silence in the garden, in the forest, in a long walk. L’Ombre dans L’eau by Diptyque paints a picture of the end of summer. It evokes berry picking and sun warmed leaves, without becoming jammy or sweet. This scent is both delicate and full, it is gentle enough that it could be layered but strong enough to stand on its own, even from a brisk morning to a hot afternoon. The rose in it is special, so close one can almost feel the brush of leaves and petals. Citrus notes of bergamot and mandarin balance the fruity cassis, soft rose and ambergris. One would be inclined to wear this in the sun of the late afternoon and refresh it as it darkens on a chilly evening.
Kedu by Memo Paris
Things yet to come. Waiting, hoping, watching: for berries to darken, days to shorten, leaves to color. Graines Vagabondes is a botanical line by Memo Paris inspired by the potential of the seed. Kedu is a unique floral green unisex fragrance from the collection. What distinguishes Kedu from other scents (in the collection and in general) is its marked central note of creamy nutty sesame that manages to combine typical citrus and florals in the most complex way; what stuns is its ability to stay subtle. Instead of the olfactory qualities of the autumnal shift, this scent feels more like the emotional transition. From an opening of vigorous and spritely citrus, the show runner being an unsweet grapefruit, maté and moss notes find a way to relax the citrus and mellow the fragrance. A gentle through line of sesame, white musk, and freesia wind down Kedu into a warm toasted nuttiness complemented by green spice. This is not a loud scent, but one that grows the more you smell it; listen well and the complexity will emerge.
En Passant by Frederic Malle
The thing about ambivalence is opacity, wanting to see clearly but only being guided by feeling, unknowing is often ephemeral but it clouds the present. En Passant by Olivia Giacobetti for Frederic Malle is a beautiful and true lilac fragrance. A lilac scent may not be a go to autumn choice, in fact the maker calls it “Woman like a spring wind”, but the diaphanous clean quality of this scent is not elderly or effete and is suitable for much more. Take this scent out of its spring time context and its herbal aquatic undersurface matures; it’s riveting. Maybe the wispy unclear quality that calls it into the autumn months is its undeniable wheat note made earthy by white-musk and cedar. The character of this fragrance is dewy and clear, it will never not be fresh in the heat. It’s possible that this scent might be too powdery for some but the mercurial quality of (typically restricted) lilac warrants En Passant a September excursion.
Datura Noir by Serge Lutens
Acedia is an old concept, a feeling modern people often dwell in but don’t name, darkness at noon; in medieval times it was known as the midday demon. Serge Lutens’ Datura Noir is an unexpected perfume, strong and requiring some commitment; it is known as a capricious scent, to say the least. This “volatility” can be quite interesting. Especially sensitive to temperature, this fragrance can almost transform depending on the season. A quality enchanting and exciting though, maybe not for everyone. A spray in the heat may garner a sweet floral tropical scent but wearing it in winter you might expect a spiced bitter almond. This is the nature of the Noir of this fragrance. The noir you’d expect, of dark and promiscuous scents, is not what it describes. Here it means: the undersides of citron leaves, the shadow of a white tuberose flower, the bitterness that accompanies anything naturally sweet, and sundown on the coast. The apricot and osmanthus are the starring secrets in this scent. Wear it in the summer transition for its mystery and ever-changing idiosyncrasies.
Hacivat by Nishane
The sweetness and enjoyment of maturity and aging, it brings good harvest and completion: fruitfulness. Hacivat by Nishane is a classic evolved scent that has earned a spot on the shelf. Its soft chypre character practically asks to be worn in the autumn. Oakmoss at some of its most refined; crushed fallen leaves on the breeze are tamed, but not reduced, into something more sophisticated. The top notes of an aromatic bergamot and surprising pineapple blend in light and shiny, suffusing the fragrance with a gentle brightness like dappled sunlight. What stands out in Hacivat are sweet fruity pineapple accords accented with strands of jasmine that seem particularly tuned for summer heat. This is a vibrant and clean scent and an especially good choice in the search for something woodier in warm weather.
Scent invokes mood, memory, and identity. As the colder months come, nature changes around us. We can change with it and take part in the unexpected: oakmoss made light and vibrant, neglected but familiar sesame, lilac of no provenance; consider the unconventional.