The best fall fragrances are about more than the notes, and that’s especially true as the season sets it. Wearers can experiment with bolder compositions and audacious ideas without the heatwaves to worry about. Autumn is when scents focused on gourmand elements, spices, and powerhouse florals come to the fore, but this year it’s also allowed for great storytelling. The inspirations behind the newest releases range from the personal—a perfumer’s love letter to her poet father—to the historical, including tributes to queens, pirates, explorers, and courtesans.
The range of what is offered speaks to the creativity that goes into each bottle. Even fragrances that don’t nod to specific people have impressive backstories; with a single spritz, you can celebrate the joys of city life or trade the concrete jungle for a trip through the Amazon. One can also revisit the classics through new, eco-friendly incarnations of well-loved perfumes. Scroll through the best fall fragrances, below.
Lazarus Douvos The Love Note Collection
Nothing beats a romantic tale, and Lazarus Douvos has more than a few. The beauty legend’s ‘The Love Note’ collection recounts three moments of magic moving from the sensual—I Went Down on You in St. Tropez’s lush blackcurrant and fig—to the serene—We Met in Roma’s sparkling orange flower and geranium. Fittingly there’s even an outing to the city of lights with the flirtatious You Kissed Me in Paris, a marigold and mandarin treat laced with cardamom.
Ex Nihilo Santal Calling
Ease and sophistication go hand in hand in Ex Nihilo’s heady Santal Calling, perfumer Antoine Maisondieu’s exploration of sandalwood. The note’s warm, comforting aspects are amplified by adding gourmand elements like nutmeg, vanilla, and a milky accord akin to a spoonful of cream. Together the woodsy-meets-foodie combination is as chic and cozy as a cashmere sweater.
After years of referencing the poems of her father, the celebrated Thai writer Montri Umavijani, within her work, Dusita founder Pissara wanted to pay homage to the man himself. Her memories of Montri’s personality and his favorite olfactory notes serve as the foundation for his namesake fragrance, a spicy nutmeg, coriander, and cinnamon blend laced with petitgrain and Orris butter. The gourmand elements are paired with florals like ylang-ylang and Damask Rose to create an enveloping and intense experience.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian 724
The city never sleeps, but neither does Francis Kurkdjian’s muse. The master perfumer’s latest is an ode to the spirit of non-stop cities like Paris and New York. A jolt of Italian bergamot, Egyptian Jasmine, and sandalwood, 724 feels appropriately cosmopolitan—even when worn far from the concrete jungle.
Burberry Her Elixir
Anyone with a sweet tooth knows fall is the season for preserves, and if you adore the scent of jams, jellies, or fruit butter, Burberry’s latest is worth your attention. A remix of the brand’s ‘Her’ fragrance, it starts with an edible combo of strawberry and blackberry. Still, don’t expect to smell like a jar of Bonne Maman; the dry down’s sandalwood and amber keep things chic.
Summer Hours Le Weekend
Clean fragrance brand Summer Hours encourages its wearers to ignore their calendars. Seasons change, but summertime’s carefree vibe is worth revisiting year round, as is the fresh scent of honeysuckle and peony-filled Le Weekend. Created to celebrate the “pursuit of happiness,” it smells joyous. Cut grass, bergamot, and green woods combine for a verdant concoction that is refreshing and inviting in equal measure.
Matiere Premiere Parisian Musc
Matiere Premiere keeps it simple; each scent by founder Aurelien Guichard focuses on a single raw ingredient, then takes it to the next level using organic, ethically sourced materials. Parisian Musc is all about Peruvian ambrette seed, aka musk mallow, a plant in the hibiscus family used in place of traditional musk. Paired with cedar oil and ambroxan, the ingredient comes to the fore, its softness and woodsy qualities amplified.
Gucci Flora Gorgeous Jasmine
Alessandro Michele knows how to keep things interesting. Moments before the Gucci designer sent twins down his Spring 2023 runway, he debuted Gorgeous Jasmine, the sister scent to 2021’s popular Gorgeous Gardenia. Decked out in a vintage-inspired bottle bearing one of Gucci’s iconic flora prints, the fragrance instantly makes an impression, and the decorative packing corresponds with its notes. A garden’s worth of jasmine, magnolia, and rose, plus a touch of pink pepper, make for an extraordinary experience.
Hermes Hermessence Violette Volynka
If Hermes’s Violette Volynka were one of its famous handbags, it would be an understated Lindy bag, not the ubiquitous Birkin. Perfumer Christine Nagel’s blend of powdery violet and a Russian Volynka leather accord is masterful and entirely in line with the house’s aesthetic.
Marissa Zappas La Divina
Notable historic heroines were the starting point of Marissa Zappas’s Redmance collection, but the indie perfumer steered clear of the usual suspects. Her inspiration included daring figures like Chinese pirate Zheng Yi Sao aka Ching Shih, Queen Nzinga of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms, and Roman courtesan and Raphael muse Imperia Cognati. Zappas crafts olfactive portraits of each woman using ingredients sourced from their respective regions. The most autumnal of the bunch is the rose and cassis-laden La Divina, which has a sensual oak moss-centric dry down befitting Raphael’s favorite muse.
Costa Brazil Aroma
Costa Brazil’s Aroma is unlike anything else in your fragrance collection. Meant to conjure thoughts of the Amazon rainforest at dawn and the redolent resins native to its jungle, Aroma’s mix of smokey cedar wood, vetiver, and patchouli is transportive. Fashion designer Francisco Costa’s touch is evident in every aspect of the presentation, from the refillable white ash bottle made from sustainably sourced wood to the FSC-certified paper box that opens up like a present.
Amouage Overture Woman
Amouage’s aptly named Overture is a statement-making perfume. If you love a scent trail and strive to make an entrance, its luxurious blend of pyrogenic incense, rose centifolia, saffron, and leather will be right up your alley. Though the operatic nature of the juice leaves an impression, the notes blend so smoothly that they create perfect harmony.
Dior J’Adore Parfum D’Eau
Since its launch in 1999, Dior’s J’Adore has been a constant on the list of best-selling fragrances. Still, rather than rest on its laurels, the house constantly finds fresh ways to interpret the classic. The latest J’Adore d’Eau is a clean beauty lover’s dream; its alcohol-free composition and natural ingredients like jasmine sambac and neroli essential oil make it the purest version to date. Add in a sustainably designed refillable bottle.
Ormonde Jayne Gatsby 22
The 2020s may not be as decadent as the 1920s, but the jazz age’s look, sound, and spirit remain compelling. For Gatsby 22, Ormonde Jayne’s latest release perfumer Linda Pilkington looked to the era and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic hero. The crowd-pleasing cocktail filled with Sicilian lemon, osmanthus, orange blossom, and violet sparkles with the raucous energy of a West-Egg party.
A thoughtful blend of pear, white cedar, and matcha tea, Liis’s Studied is serene and soothing. While it’s ideal for an afternoon spent reading books and indulging in literary pursuits, Studied’s inviting notes of carrot seed and ambrette ensure it is versatile enough for any occasion.
Atelier Materi Iris Ebéne
Atelier Materi’s fragrances are tributes to handcraft. Founder Veronique Le Bihan’s focus on raw materials means that each composition is filled with the highest quality ingredients. In perfumer Marie Hugentobler’s Iris Ebene, the attention to detail comes through. Crafted from an iris absolute that takes six years to distill from the plant’s roots into its purest form, it captures all the richness of the powdery floral. The soft, familiar note is then given an edge thanks to allspice, Peru Balsam, and leather.
Penhaligon’s The Legacy of Petra
A bold combination of myrrh, licorice wood, and amber, The Legacy of Petra honors 20th-century archeologist and explorer Gertrude Bell and her travels—including a trip to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. A transportive experience ideal for crisp autumn days, its use of notes like fennel seed and green tea adds an irresistible herbaceous quality.
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic
Guerlain’s popular Aqua Allegoria line was updated this year when the French brand switched to organic ingredients, most notably sustainably-farmed beetroot alcohol. New additions to the collection, like the aromatic Mandarine Basilic, make the most of those changes. A step into a garden filled with ripening mandarin oranges and zesty herbs like basil, it captures the pleasures of the outdoors.