Time can be a cruel character in the movie of Life. One minute you’re buying gauzy, bohemian blouses, bathing suits and straw bags, and the next you can’t walk a block without encountering a sweater-wearing Basic, PSL in hand, pretending to like football and hiking only because the cute guy she’s talking to wears a LOT of Patagonia.  

Yes, summer has come and gone. Get over it; embrace the chill in the air, new seasons of your favorite television show (ahem - Law & Order: SVU Season 20) and explore some new scents that scream hayrides,  bonfires and haypicking.

Just kidding - this isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting. This is me - weird, awkward me. I like my fall fragrances to be a little subversive, a tad heady and just a dash of, “I can’t tell whether she smells disgusting or divine.” Think Dirty Hippie Goes to Hollywood; a little earthy, a little glam and (kind of) unknown or perhaps  long-forgotten.

Allow me to introduce you to The Fragrance Commune - Fall 2018 Edition:

Image:  via Pinterest

Image: via Pinterest


Top note: Juniper Berries, Pomelo, Saffron

Middle note: Accord Cuir (leather), Black Violet, Cristal Rose

Base note: Blond Wood, Raspberry, Vetiver

If the documentary On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace had a scent, Byredo’s Black Saffron would be that fragrance. It was developed by Ben Gorham whose love for fragrance began as a child when visiting his mother’s homeland of India - the aromas of spices and incense lingering in the atmosphere were permanently ingrained in Gorham’s scent memory. Black Saffron is in the language of those earliest memories; the saffron scent hits first but is balanced by a floral effervescence as the Black Violet and Cristal Rose work their magic. The fragrance dries down to an earthy, warm scent that lazily meanders and subtly lingers in the air.

Image:  via Pinterest

Image: via Pinterest


Top note: Iris Root, Pink Pepper

Middle note: You

Base note: Ambrette, Ambrox, Musk

Last week I wore Glossier’s You and, while waiting at the crosswalk for the light to turn green, a woman began talking to me. She started the conversation with the always concerning, “Don’t think I’m a creep,” and followed it up with an awkward declaration that she’d followed me for the past block because I smelled so good. What was it, she implored?

It’s You, I said. But, I continued, it’s really me.

Why? Because the heart of Glossier’s You is…your own body’s chemistry. It smells a little different on everyone and, while not a single-note fragrance, it’s one that mixes with your own personal magic steadily throughout the day. And, when it’s good, it inspires other females to aimlessly follow you through the city’s streets. So, have you guessed the movie yet? Uh-huh, Single. White. Female. Hide your stilettos, ladies.






Scent Notes: Violet and Patchouli

I will forever love Mathilda Lando, a precocious 12 year-old assassin-in-training who charms her way into cleaner Léon Montana’s heart in the cult-classic film, The Professional (known as Léon in France or the United Kingdom). With her blunt bob, army jacket and Doc Martens, Mathilda’s razor sharp edge is merely a facade masking deep sorrow and loneliness. Upon meeting Léon, a strange friendship begins and is set to the blissful soundtrack of Bjork’s “Venus As a Boy.” What’s my point? It’s two-fold: if you haven’t, sit down and watch Luc Besson’s lovely little film and were Mathilda to have a signature scent, it would surely be DS & Durga’s Vio Volta. Like Mathilda, the scent is soft and sharp simultaneously; the violet note bitter and sweet, the patchouli dark, intense and musky.  Be warned: this fragrance is S-T-R-A-N-G-E and unlike anything you’ll find by the usual names in fragrance, which is why I absolutely love it.



Top note: Aldehydes, Pear Accord, Lily of the Valley Accord

Middle note: Iris Accord, Rose Absolue, Orange Flower Accord

Base note: White Musk Accord, Indonesian Patchouli Oil, Ambrette Seeds Absolute

Let’s face it, sometimes a fun rom-com is the way to go. As the weather cools, there’s nothing like spending a Sunday or two in bed with breakfast, coffee and Netflix. And, if you’re going to watch a mindless rom-com, why not watch one that’s visually stunning. When the mood strikes, I always turn to a Nancy Meyers-directed movie. Any one will do: Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, It’s Complicated or throw it WAY back to Baby Boom.  And if you yearn to smell like an autumn Sunday morning feels, look no further than Replica’s Lazy Sunday Morning. At first spritz the scent is clean and bright, stemming from the crisp pear note and the aldehydes (that’s just a fancy way to say something smells like a bar of soap, FYI). As the fragrance wears, floral notes bloom and the warmer accords of the White Musk and Ambrette Seeds Absolute settle. Suddenly you’re nourished, relaxed and all is right in the world….

If you missed the summer edition, you can read about my favorite scents here. You can wear whatever you want, whenever you want so don’t be afraid to get a little crazy!

Catherine Spinley is a sometimes-writer and photographer based in New York. When not stalking other people’s dogs or yelling at people who refuse to walk up the left side of the escalator, she works in the beauty industry and practices yoga. You can read more from her at