Fall fragrances smell of intoxicating, tipsy opulence

Gucci Bloom is an unapologetic tuberose and honeysuckle bomb that smells like being trapped inside a hothouse.
Gucci Bloom is an unapologetic tuberose and honeysuckle bomb that smells like being trapped inside a hothouse.PHOTO: GUCCI

NEW YORK • Sniff, sniff, what do you smell? This fall, the new class of perfumes are mostly floral, mainly strong and not at all dainty.

Tuberose, an intoxicating white flower, is back in a big way.

Boozy and giddy, it smells like being drunk underneath a disco ball.

While some perfumers choose a more delicate sensuality, lustiness is all over many of the season's new bottles.

Take Bloom, the first perfume released under Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele's hand.

It is an unapologetic tuberose and honeysuckle bomb that smells like being trapped inside a hothouse.

This is a hypnotic floral that whispers of a headier time, of lit-up floors and velvet jumpsuits, sateen glamour and 1980s power shoulders.

It feels exactly like Michele's new reign, which is to say: perfume as playground, perfume as high meeting low, perfume as stomping in sequins.

Meanwhile, Twilly d'Hermes is the first scent from the venerable fashion house to fling itself directly at the heart of the millennial market, and without apology.

It made the juice dusty pink, tied a teeny Hermes scarf around its neck and topped it with a lacquered miniature bowler hat. The squat, square bottle boasts a fragrance using just three notes - sandalwood, ginger and tuberose - to represent the tight-knit packs of 20somethings who cavort around Paris.

The three notes huddle together thick as thieves in the bottle, following a linear progression - first comes a swoon of flowers, followed by a ginger snap, and then it all dries down to creamy comfort.

For its new signature scent, Tiffany dipped back into its history of winning with irises.

There is orris butter laced throughout the juice (which, being a Tiffany item, is a faint shade of robin's egg blue), as well as a gleaming mandarin frosting and a quiet base of minty patchouli.

Gabrielle is Chanel's first original new scent in 15 years.

It is also a debut of sorts for perfumery scion Olivier Polge, who took over from his father Jacques as the house's resident nose in 2013.

The younger man swanned into the Chanel fold having already formulated several blockbusters.

He was responsible for Paco Rabanne Invictus, Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb and the Lancome cotton-candy megahit, La Vie Est Belle. Last year, he tweaked Chanel No. 5 to create No. 5 L'Eau, a spin on the classic formula that replaced some of the dank musk with a bright shellac of citrus.

This fall, he officially signed his name to an original Chanel concoction, Gabrielle, which is named for the matriarch tailor of the brand and is what the house deems a "solar" fragrance, intended for all-day wear. A collage of white florals including ylang-ylang, tuberose, jasmine and orange blossom, it is designed to diffuse on the skin, shimmering away from the wrist like heat on a pavement.

Whereas many of the fall perfumes smell like tipsy opulence - or vulgarity, depending on your take - Jason Wu swerved in a different direction for his first scent.

Though the main note is an essence of jasmine sambac that he remembers from his childhood in Taiwan, the scent is as cool as slices of cucumber laid on the eyelids.

There is not only a lightness to his namesake perfume, but also a sense of humour.

At times, it smells like Dr Brown's Cel-Ray soda; at others, it gives off sweet puffs of peony. This is perfume as understatement, everything tailored just so, but never fussy or high maintenance.

It is a slouchy sweater that always fits, though its casual, perfect drape is more complex than meets the eye.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2017, with the headline 'Fall fragrances smell of intoxicating, tipsy opulence'. Print Edition | Subscribe