What does autumn smell like exactly? Soggy rotting leaves if you leave it up to mother nature. Thankfully the perfumers of the world have united, and they’ve got a very different idea of the whiffs they want to define this season.
“Men’s fragrances are closer to wood than ever before,” says Steven O’Neill, founding partner of The Grooming Clinic. “Deeper, darker and peppered with notes of spice and leather, autumn and winter scents this year are heavy and laced with power.”
With that in mind, we’ve picked 10 fragrances to keep your nose on during the months ahead. Just remember, with great scent comes great responsibility, so don’t go bathing in the stuff.
Acqua Di Parma Colonia Sandalo
There’s something in the water over in Parma. Aside from being famed for architecture, music, art and prosciutto (what more could a man want?) the Italian city is also the birthplace of one of the great perfumers in scent history.
For autumn/winter 2018, Acqua Di Parma has launched a characteristically regal update of its iconic cologne that has stood the test of time since 1916. Colonia Sandalo retains the zingy, citrus notes of the original fragrance, punched up with notes of cardamom, lavender and, for the final flourish, a base of creamy sandalwood.
The result is an earthy scent that literally waltzes through the nostrils, all packaged in a plush velvet-lined box. Certainly one for the sophisticated aristocrat – and not just because of the price tag – go on, treat yo self.
Tom Ford Ombré Leather
He’s arguably the most elegant man in the world, so of course, Tom Ford would only put out a scent that befits his name and reputation.
The designer’s new unisex fragrance, Ombré Leather, is undo-the-top-three-buttons-of-your-shirt sexy. It’s rock-up-to-the-club-smizing-through-a-billow-of-purple-smoke sexy. Did we mention it’s sexy?
Categorised as a ‘sensual’ fragrance, it picks up where the discontinued Private Blend scent of the same name left off, going big on ‘dirty’ leather (think a vintage biker jacket), flanked by sweet jasmine, earthy moss and woody patchouli.
Boss The Scent Private Accord
We’ve all heard of the touted aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate, although gulping a whole chocolate fondue isn’t likely to do that beach body you slaved all summer for any good.
The latest update of the hugely popular Boss The Scent fragrance is a far better option, built on a base of cocoa absolute – the liquidised form of cocoa powder.
Sophisticated notes of spicy ginger and exotic Maninka fruit work together to brighten up the original 2015 fragrance, resulting in a surprisingly leathery and smoky olfactory experience despite the sweetened ingredients.
Terre d’Hermès Eau Intense Vetiver
Widely considered one of the best men’s fragrances of all time, Terre d’Hermès has done well to swerve second album syndrome with this amped-up addition to the family.
The new version by the French fashion house for autumn/winter 2018 focuses its attention on the earthy dewiness of vetiver, aided by a two-punch haymaker of fiery Sichuan pepper and galvanising bergamot to produce something fresher than a prince in Bel-Air.
It’s this distinct freshness contrasting with the warm smokiness of other new launches that makes it a strong rotational option when looking to bring a little zing into your smell on a crisp winter’s day.
L’Homme Prada Velvet Edition
With competition so tight at the top of the fragrance pile this season, Prada has realised one way to win the war is through the bottle design.
And so we get an Italian-made velvet cover, with a kitsch, multi-coloured trompe l’oeil design and a metallic inner that acts as a mirror inside the bottle because, well, subtlety this season is for suckers.
That’s not to say the fragrance inside isn’t special either. With notes including a honey-smelling neroli and amber paired with tingling pepper and patchouli, this is a masterful concoction built on a delicate balance between the different components.
Carolina Herrera Eastern Treasures
Arabian perfumery goes back millennia (they’ve been selling frankincense and myrrh since before the Roman empire). So it’s little wonder Carolina Herrera has opted to bulk out its Eastern Treasures collection with two new unisex fragrances.
But what does this all have to do with me smelling mighty fine through winter we hear you ask? Well, Platinum Leather utilises a combination of pink pepper, jasmine sambac and vanilla for a unique leather accord that will stand you out from your basic fragrance-touting work colleagues.
And for those looking for a warmer fragrance, Bronze Tonka smoulders with smoky tonka bean at its heart sparked into new life by notes of oud, cypriol and roasted coffee with an oriental sandalwood base.
Valentino Noir Absolu Oud Essence
Valentino’s Noir Absolu Oud Essence — developed by Olivier Pescheux, the man behind the record-breaking 1 Million by Paco Rabanne — can best be described as a fragrance that makes you second guess yourself.
At first spritz, the nutty concoction resembles cough sweets: tart and medicinal, but offset with an underlying sweetness (this would be the top notes of botanic saffron and myrtle). However, by the time you’ve walked out the door, the saccharine smell evolves into a punchy sandalwood musk.
This chameleon-like ability plays into the Italian brand’s ploy to create a scent specifically designed to be layered with other fragrances to increase the contrast of the notes while also being strong enough to go it alone.
Lacoste L’Homme Intense
It makes sense that brands try to create a fragrance that matches their aesthetic, and so the sporty but still chic Lacoste has devised a scent that is precisely that.
This new smell is a more intense version of 2017’s L’Homme, with the inclusion of peppery akigalawood and vetiver for a fragrance that is just that touch more refined than the earlier incarnation.
Elsewhere, the top notes read (and smell) like a delicious fruit salad with bittersweet rhubarb, floral quince and zingy mandarin on top of the candied combination of ginger, jasmine and almond in the middle; all of which add up to deliver great staying power. Wear this one through the day and into the early hours of the next morning.
John Varvatos x Nick Jonas Limited Edition
Singer-songwriter, actor, record producer and now fragrance creator, Nick Jonas is a modern-day renaissance man who, let’s be honest, is just making the rest of us look bad.
So good is he at the latter, the 26-year-old has already released a follow-up to his debut scent with menswear designer John Varvatos. An altogether heartier scent to pull you through the colder months, the update of JV X Nick Jonas offers the extra intriguing notes of Cuban rum and carbonated coffee, house in a dark red lacquer bottle.
It smells instantly familiar, warm and welcoming like a cushy Christmas morning, and that’s not because we’re completely reliant on the booze and caffeine to get through dinner with the in-laws.
British brand Dunhill is already a near-permanant fixture on bathroom shelves thanks to its stylishly refined Icon scent. So it seems almost monopolistic to launch another.
Nonetheless, that’s what it has done with Century, a subtle everyday fragrance, versatile enough to work just as well in the office as it does for a black tie event.
The sandalwood base chimes with the theme of the season, while citrus notes of mandarin and neroli aren’t so much reinventing the wheel as they are fundamental in creating a contemporary fragrance that evokes all the signs of a future classic.