Autumn is here in all of its glory. One cannot take a stroll outside without receiving an explosion of colour in nature – reds, oranges, browns, yellows and purples carpet the world and the crunch of leaves underfoot is the sound du jour. I love autumn. After the unrelenting warmth and brightness of summer, we head to cooler times, where nature performs its swan song before the barren, cold and long winter sets in. The air smells different in autumn, the scent of earth and decaying leaves fill the air, which itself dances with the odour of chimney smoke. Autumn is a very special time and it officially marks the start of a fragrance wardrobe shift – so put away those colognes and solar florals because it’s time for warm, autumnal delights.
In this post, I’m going to be looking at fragrances that focus on the most autumnal of fragrance accords: amber. I am cheating slightly, however, because I am going to feature two very different types of amber – one that is found in nature and one that is imagined, both of which celebrate the festival of coolness and colour that is autumn. First off we have scents that utilise ambergris (grey amber) found in the sea and excreted by the sperm whale. This material represents the greyness of the sky in the autumn and the mineral smell of the air. Accompanying that we have the amber accord, a delicious, toasty blend of benzoin, labdanum and vanilla that evokes the glowing and rich auburn colours of autumn.
It’s time to get our autumnal amber on.
Colonia Ambra by Acqua di Parma
Let’s start with one of the grey ambers, for they offer something that is atypically autumnal. Colonia Ambra by Acqua di Parma is a woody marine-fragrance with unusual smoky tones that make it hard to define. It’s a complex, rich and beguiling scent that presents the idea of cold stone and smoky air. It is mineral, grey woods and icy cold water. If it were to be a place it would be an empty city street with bare trees rising from it and ice cold pavement slabs underfoot. That may all sound aloof and standoffish, but in reality, it presents an austere beauty that is difficult to ignore and entirely autumnal in tone.
Prada Amber Pour Homme by Prada
The next amber sits between the grey and the golden and is perhaps the wild card of the bunch. I’ve been wearing this one for years and whilst it may come across as a barbershop amber at first sniff, there is definitely something autumn-esque about it. It sits on the cusp of amber and fougere, presenting bergamot, geranium, vetiver and orange blossom, against amber, musk, leather and patchouli. The result is a smart amber that portrays the crispness of autumn. It may not contain ambergris but it certainly feels grey and it’s the type of thing that simply must adorn the scarf of a well-dressed man in autumn. I’m pretty sure there’s a law stipulating it somewhere.
Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens
Serge Lutens is the Emperor of perfume and Ambre Sultan is the king of amber, so it’s no surprise that this fragrance comes across as a royal and luxurious affair. It is an exotic, spiced amber that conjures up the image of rich spice markets in Lutens’ adopted home of Marrakech. It boasts the sweetness and boldness of the amber accord, but it mixes in dried fruits, aromatic spices and dried herbs to create something completely golden. This is the amber for those days when you want to blend in with the auburn colours around you whilst exuding a warm halo of glowing, amber light. There’s nothing better.