I said in Friday’s Perfume Chat Room that I would write today about Van Cleef & Arpels’ Automne, and then I realized I already had, a few years back!
What special fragrances return again and again to your seasonal rotations?
Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.
Today is Friday, September 25, and the weather has suddenly become more like fall, at least where I live. That seems to be the case in other parts of this hemisphere too, because I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts and comments elsewhere about people putting away their more summery fragrances and taking out fragrances they enjoy in autumn.
One of mine is the aptly named Automne, by Van Cleef & Arpels. Fragrantica calls it a “floral-woody-musk.” One thing I like about it is that the dominant notes are lily and sandalwood. I’ll write more about it for “Scent Sample Sunday” this weekend!
Are you having autumnal weather where you are? Or some other change of season with the equinox? What fragrances do you prefer in autumn?
Featured image by Jessica Potila.
Ah, fall. I love autumn. It kicks off with my birthday and showcases my favorite trees, the gorgeous Japanese maples in all their color and variety. I’ve always loved school, and fall is the season of new beginnings in school. The anticipation of a new school year, with new classmates and possibilities … Come to think of it, fall really is the season of anticipation for me. It leads us into Advent, another season I love, and the series of holidays I cherish in America: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. Anticipation also rises as I plant bulbs in the fall; they produce many of my favorite flowers, often fragrant, and each bulb is like a small gift wrapped in brown paper.
This fall, I am enjoying Van Cleef & Arpels’ Automne, from their series Les Saisons. The perfumer behind it is none other than Francis Kurkdjian, of MFK fame. According to Fragrantica:
Every perfume from the series is dedicated to a certain season of the year: the symbol of the series is a tree that changes, but stays the same. Automne is the scent of the fall; the scent of yellow leaves and moist branches; the scent of a golden autumn forest. Woody fragrance with mild spicy and floral notes warms you like a wool scarf. The composition opens with fresh notes of Italian lemon, black currant and red berries, developing into the heart of white sandalwood, lily and almond. The base is filled with heliotrope, cedar wood and musk.
One of the aspects I am enjoying most about Automne is that it differs from many “fall” fragrances in that it retains a predominantly floral aura while still offering the spicy and woody notes many of us want in an autumnal perfume. Other fragrances I enjoy in the fall are more boozy, more spicy, but I love this one because it reminds me that flowers are still blooming in autumn. My own garden still has a few late roses; my azaleas are throwing off some unseasonal blooms; the sasanqua camellias are blossoming in shades of pink and white. The lily notes in Automne remind me of the fragrance I anticipate from the bulbs I plant in this season, while the delicate warmth and wood notes evoke both the Japanese maples I love and the papery covering of spring bulbs.
The classic Easter lily, lilium longiflorum, is also native to Japan, as is Lilium auratum, the legendary “golden-rayed lily”.
I do not grow the golden-rayed lily, but I have a number of Easter lilies in my garden, usually planted out after I have bought them in bud for Easter adornment.
Automne opens with a refreshing citrus accord, dominated by Italian lemon but including also black currant and red berries. It feels fresh and lively, not sweet. The scent quickly moves into a combination of floral and woody notes, specifically lily and sandalwood. The creamy almond note is present but it seems to function mostly as a way to soften the edges of the sandalwood and bridge that woody note to the softer floral note of the lily. This stage lasts a while, though nothing about this scent lasts very long.
As it dries down, Automne gently fades into softer and softer floral notes (heliotrope) underlaid by cedar and some mild spices. In fact, the spice note smells like allspice to me: gentle but very much present. I don’t really notice the musk base note, which is fine. After about an hour, Automne is really a skin scent with little sillage, but I enjoy that. It is an excellent fragrance to wear to office, church, library, etc., as it won’t affront anyone’s nose and stays close to its wearer. I also like it because you can’t really overspray it. Its longevity improves if applied over moisturized skin; I’m looking forward to trying it over a light body oil, for example, SheaMoisture’s baby oil that contains traces of frankincense and myrrh. That seems like a very nice way to anticipate the arrival of Advent in this autumnal season of anticipation.
What do you like or dislike about this season? What are some favorite fall fragrances?
Some years ago, Van Cleef & Arpels, a French company best known for its high-luxe jewels, released a collection of six fragrances called the Collection Extraordinaire. One of them was the lovely Muguet Blanc. I believe it has been discontinued, sadly, because it is beautiful. The nose behind it is Antoine Maisondieu. The notes are lily of the valley, peony, neroli, green notes and white cedar. The reviews of it at its launch which I have read are fascinating: mostly positive, some absolute raves — like this by Patty at Perfume Posse. Now Smell This had a mixed response, recognizing Muguet Blanc’s beauty and quality, finding it gorgeous but too clean. And yes, it is reminiscent of the cool diamonds and emeralds in the lovely pin shown above.
I love it. Continue reading