Sunday 22 October 2017

The beauty panel: Eau so autumnal

It's time to switch your fragrance and get your signature perfume appropriate for this season

Pictured, from left, Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom Cologne; Giorgio Armani Code Satin; Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) l'eau; Lancome La Vie Est Belle Intense; YSL Paris Premieres Roses. Photo: Kip Carroll
Pictured, from left, Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom Cologne; Giorgio Armani Code Satin; Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) l'eau; Lancome La Vie Est Belle Intense; YSL Paris Premieres Roses. Photo: Kip Carroll

Sarah Caden

A bit like fake tan in the winter, there's something jarring about the smell of a specifically summery fragrance once autumn arrives. All around us, in the natural world, there's a creeping darkness and even a touch of rot, and then you get a whiff of some off-key perfume, with its suggestion of coconut oil, warm sunshine and sandy beaches. It's just all wrong. And even a bit upsetting.

Now that any chance of having a summer is past, we can allow ourselves to embrace the cold. Thoughts turn to winter coats, and what stores stock the best-value, machine-washable cashmere - and you can't go spraying summery scents on those. Looking for warmth is as appropriate to scent shopping as it is when you're looking for clothes. Often, this will come as vanilla, or a deep floral. How intense you like these is a matter of taste - and how much you want to announce your entrance into a room. Then, add a bit of spice and even some pepper, for a bit of lively energy and an antidote to all things floral. Ultimately, a lot of autumn scents come off like a gentle introduction to the idea of Christmas, with its cosy spiciness, but you didn't hear that word here.

Best Overall

Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom Cologne, €52, Brown Thomas

There is a delicious, subtle spiciness to this cologne, which makes it an easy introduction to autumn. The mimosa lends a honeyish hint, and there is the warmth of sandalwood, as well as some deep damask rose. The cardamom is gentle, so you need have no worries about smelling like a curry. A candle, hand and body creams are also available in the scent. "I tend to think of sharp freshness when I hear cologne mentioned, while this is bright, but warmly enveloping, too," said one panellist. "It also has decent staying power for a cologne."

Best Sleek Softness

Giorgio Armani Code Satin, €87, available nationwide

Smooth is certainly how we'd describe this scent, which might also explain the name. There have been other incarnations of the original 2006 fragrance for women, and this is a warm but zingy version, with pear and ginger as key components. That makes it sound more of a 'green' scent than it is - in fact, the ginger lends warm spice, while there is jasmine, cocoa and patchouli in there too. "This is a nicely spicy scent and warmly suitable for darker evenings," one panellist said. "It's a day or night option in autumn."

Best One Fits All

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) l'eau, €95, Brown Thomas Dublin

One for the boys, though really it's a unisex scent. If you're a woman who eschews every hint of floral and gets a headache from vanilla, give this a whirl. It's not a summery, Riviera cologne, but it has that cool wateriness of something you'd splash on your skin. On a yacht, preferably. It has citrus, mandarin and mint to lighten the mood, while incense brings some autumn weight and darkness. The bottle is undeniably cool, too. "I can't do the muskiness of most heavier winter scents, and I enjoy the one-for-all androgyny of this one," said one panellist.

Best Deeply Devoted

Lancome La Vie Est Belle Intense, €88, Lancome counters nationwide

Since its launch less than three years ago, La Vie Est Belle has become, in sales terms, one of the top five scents in the world and, including this Intense version, there are five variations. This is more than just a stronger scent, it's more darkly floral from tuberose, and there's no denying that the deeper accord of hazelnut is autumnal. "Rich, but not too heavy," said a panellist. "I loved the eau de toilette for summer as it's quite holiday-ish, but this is less frivolous."

Best Full Flowers

YSL Paris Premieres Roses, €46.50, YSL counters nationwide

This is a spring-launch fragrance, but we love it for autumn. It's one for those who love florals, but accept that they have to get serious once the summer-sun fun is over. The rose scent is deep and various, with layers of wild rose, damask and peonies, as well as the likes of neroli and white musk. Fundamentally, it's deeply rosy, but not wedding-bouquet or, worse, too mother-of-the-bride. "Floral can be headache-y," one panellist said, "but this is a heavy hitter that manages not to suffocate. It's deliciously dreamy."


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