Fall is our opportunity to be expansive and more provocative in choosing a scent. Because the air is drier and temperatures drop, fall fragrances evaporate more rapidly from the skin. Whereas summer fragrances are commonly defined by bright ingredients that connote freshness, which combats high humidity and mixes well with sweat, fall is the time to break out heavier compositions.
The season upon us now is about natural color palettes, more insulating fabrics, and holidays to cook traditional recipes. Thus, fall fragrances often include woody elements, warmth, sweet and nutty spices, herbs, and winter fruit. Heavier accords that would be too cloying during the hot summer months—like amber, patchouli, and tonka—round out scents that breathe better in the fall.
Our picks for best artisanal, independent fall fragrances cover all the bases, and will carry you through the holiday season into 2018…
Follow by Kerosene
In a word: coffee.
If you love the smell of a fresh brew, consumed from a Thermos, paired with a sweet snack, under the canopy of red and white oaks, some dripping with ambery sap, then you’ll love Follow, the newest offering from Detroit perfumer Kerosene.
Read our Q&A with the line’s founder here. His fragrances all center around distinctive themes, like licorice (Black Vines) and campfire (Broken Theories).
Follow is available online now. $140 for 100ml.
Wanted by Diane Pernet
In a word: spice.
Diane Pernet, a goth goddess in her own category, created Wanted to recreate an oriental garden just on the verge of evening mist. It is an earthy, gourmand fragrance with comforting notes of leather and musk mixed in with clove, juniper, and nutmeg.
Perfect, perhaps, worn while sipping an Old Fashioned?
Wanted is available online now. $175 for 30ml.
Vanilla Marble by Agonist Parfums
In a word: cream.
Vanilla is actually not so sweet on its own. It’s often associated with sugar because it is used to flavor so many confections that are also very high in sugar. Vanilla Marble is smooth, sweet, and warm, thanks to the resinous benzoin and smoky tonka, a nod to Scandinavian fall desserts.
It also includes notes of almond, fig, amber, and patchouli. If you like a deep, complex sweet scent (not bubblegum!), this is for you.
Vanilla Marble is available online now. $195 for 50ml.
Black Afgano by Nasomatto
In a word: balsamic.
Nasomatto doesn’t release its ingredient notes, but the brand says Black Afgano aims to evoke the best quality of hashish, an extract of the cannabis plant containing psychoactive resins. Fragrantica describes it as highly balsamic (sweet, warm, resinous), smoky, with minor touches of oud, greenery, and woods.
Similar to the others, it is lightly sweet and smoky, but with a higher concentration of tree sap and herbal resin that makes it almost Oriental.
Like all of the Nasomatto line, it is distinctive and, as I learned living in Europe, best reserved for cooler months when it won’t envelop those in my close proximity. As an extrait de parfum, it’s even stronger than eau de parfum. Not to be spritzed with reckless abandon!
Black Afgano is available online now. $185 for 30ml.