Intense and emotional, scent memory transports us to a time, place or feeling, but fragrance choice is more than a whim. To help select fabulous fall fragrances, Theresa Cangialosi, owner of SoBotanical in Hampden and Federal Hill, and Lydia Mesekale, fragrance specialist at Nordstrom at Towson Town Center, share some thoughts on scents for the coming season.
“Some folks have a signature fragrance they keep all year or as long as the bottle lasts,” says Mesekale. “But fragrance enthusiasts switch it up seasonally.”
When seasonal temperature changes occur, fragrance can greatly impact our feelings.
“Scent and smell represent different things for each individual, similar to how we differ in tastes for food and wine,” explains Cangialosi. “In fall, people are attracted to warmer scents that comfort. My experience blending in the last 35 years has shown me people love the smell of spice, apple, light musk, smoke, leather, tobacco and the orange family of citruses. People start asking for scents that are infused in fall coffee drinks: cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin and chai.”
“Fall and winter are a fragrance fanatic’s favorite,” says Mesekale, “with nostalgic aromas like spices, woods, smoke, sweets and resins. Collectors might go for deeper and more complex scents, which cold weather supports well. Gourmands are fragrances that smell like food—apple pie, chocolate, almonds, coffee and nutmeg. Oriental and Middle Eastern fragrances feature a variety of woods, spices, incense smoke, honey, berries, nuts and resins like frankincense, myrrh, benzoin and styrax, as well as animalic notes like musks, leather, milk and ambergris.”
Mesekale confirms that oud, a fragrance with notes of agarwood and rose, has seen a resurgence in popularity. This aged tree resin can be pungent but gives depth of fragrance. Another distinct earthy note is the longtime staple patchouli. The most commercially available fragrances combine aroma oils and alcohol, Mesekale explains. Eau fraiche has the lowest percentage of oil, then eau de cologne, eau de toilette and eau de parfum.
The highest concentration is found in parfum. Pure perfume oils, usually reserved for wholesalers, and perfumed body oils, cosmetic-grade oils with pure perfume oils in them, tend to be more concentrated and last longer than sprayed fragrances. Oils work well for people who have a hard time getting fragrance to stick to their skin.
“Some perfumes we make have over 40 combined ingredients. Spices love citrus and fruit. Musky loves floral. Vanilla loves everything,” says Cangialosi. Body creams and lotions can be created with softer versions of these oils. Try combinations like vanilla, blood orange and cedarwood, or cardamom, vanilla and tangerine, or vetiver, lemon and vanilla. “When we use alcohol to make perfumes, we generally use more base notes which contain earthy, resinous tones to hold the scent together with both middle and top notes.”
“Natural perfumes are definitely trending,” says Cangialosi. “Skin care products for fall include pumpkin enzyme serums, vanilla sugar scrubs, therapeutic spice and herbal essential oil synergies. Musky and earthy oils like patchouli, vetiver, jasmine, sandalwood, benzoin and tobacco are desirable, as are blood orange, sweet orange, tangerine and mandarin. Some of our most popular fall synergy blends at SoBotanical are Fall, Harvest, Hygge, Halcyon, Komorebi, Ward and Snuggery.”
Mesekale says that layerable fragrances are in style, and some manufacturers simplify note lists to allow for pairing.
“Jo Malone is known for that. Tom Ford, although more complex, has official pair recommendations,” she says. She also suggests trying Oud Wood with Ombré Leather or Lost Cherry with Tobacco Vanille.
Byredo offers many of its fragrances in an oil. “Replica’s popular ‘By the Fireplace’ fragrance smells like roasted marshmallows and chestnuts,” she adds. “The resulting nutty vanilla haze is intensely woody and smoky—perfect for fall!”