Smoke gets in your sighs… smoky scents to celebrate autumn

Smoky scents on the breeze are one of the first signals the season has changed – distant drifts of bonfires and hazy wisps of woodsmoke; the eldritch mists of morning fields…

 

 

Whether it’s the whiff of roaring fires, or mellow pipesmoke evoking much-patched tweed jackets and just a hint of damp dog: truly great smoky fragrances are immediately transportive, and not always quite so comforting. In Romeo & Juliette, Shakespeare reminds us that ‘Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs,’ which can resemble the fire in your lover’s eyes, or become a ‘choking gall’. So too can smoky fragrances recall excitement in spent fireworks, waft the  standoffish cigar-tinged sneer of a ‘members only’ club, or cloak you in the sanctified air of a Catholic confessional. They might recall stubbed cigarettes, boozy liasons and yesterday’s eyeliner, suggest the once-furtive fug of illicit substances, appease fickle gods or summon the most lascivious demons.

 

 

It’s hardly surprising there’s many smoke-laden scents, seeing as the word perfume itself arises from the Latin, ‘per fumum‘ – ‘through smoke’ – referring to fragrant materials burned as scented prayers. Perfumers, meanwhile, might choose to combine both naturals and synthetics to acheive their desired level of vapour; from the folksy, dried hay and tobacco or even burned rubber funk of isobutyl quinolone; pitch black tarriness of cade oil, the bitter, leathery slap of birch tar or rich, incense-like resins such as the fruity amber purr of labdanum (from the cistus plant) or the more powdery balsamic musk of opoponax.

Sprayed to rejoice in autumnal splendour or perhaps used to summon something altogether more Mephistophelian – I urge you to seek these out and smoulder forth…

 

Sarah Baker, Bascule
Succulent peach juice sizzles on hot leather, tobacco frottages smouldering hay while soapy lily of the valley and cut grass beckon a bath (following a torrid tumble in the stables). Ruthlessly seductive.

£80 for 50ml eau de parfum (PSSST! Use code MEMBERSONLY at checkout, there’s 20% off until 6th December 2020)
sarahbakerperfumes.com

 

 

Rook, Thurible
Swinging incense trails conjure trembling sooty fingerprints stroked on skin, a low thrum of sticky patchouli cloaking herbaceous freshness; the stolen kisses writhing in a mossy embrace.

£100 for 50ml eau de parfum
rookperfumes.co.uk

 

Initio, Rehab
A more subtle swathe of smokiness for those who prefer to exude sophistication; here flinty lavender swirls oodles of soft tobacco into creamy vanilla, with clouds of hay-like coumarin cushioning the wood.

£190 for 90ml extrait de parfum, selfridges.com (OR sample in The Sharing Collection Discovery Box, £19 for ten fragrances.)

 

 

Moschino, Toy Boy
Utterly beguiling from the get go, a bouquet of roses is tossed on the bonfire; dry clove crackles and peppercorns pop, the heat suddenly sliced through with a cool leather whip, soothed with cashmeran.

£38.25 for 30ml eau de parfum
escentual.com

 

 

Ruth Mastenbroek, Firedance
Only when you’re ready to ramp it up: scorching leather smooches Damask rose and deepest, darkest oudh. Think billowing bonfire-smoke clinging to your hair and cold lips burned by passionate kisses.

£95 for 50ml eau de parfum
ruthmastenbroek.com

By Suzy Nightingale

Firework fragrances to smoulder in this season

Fireworks are a celebration of light amidst these darker months – as the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in – and so here we present a selection of fragrances with smoky, sensual notes to smoulder in this season…

A scorching interpretation of rose, in which smouldering leather tangos with rich Damask rose against a backdrop of patchouli, amber and deepest, darkest oudh. Think bonfire-smoke still clinging to your hair, pinpricks of starlight against a velvety black sky and cold lips soon warmed by passionate kisses.

Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance £90 for 50ml eau de parfum
ruthmastenbroek.com

P.S: You can try a sample of Firedance in the Ruth Mastenbroek Discovery Set – featuring the first four fragrances in her eponymous collection, so perfect to explore at home – try all four fragrances here for only £17.95.

Arabic dokha tobacco’s smokiness wafts through a spicy-woody-Oriental with an unexpected note of raspberry, then a fabulous fug of full-on tobacco dust absolute and tobacco leaf, warmed by roasted tonka bean, creamy sandalwood and a delicious woody-amber blend of cistus absolute, castoreum and patchouli. This one’s all smoke – and mirrored label.

Tom Ford Oud Tobacco Intense £315 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

Rip-roaring along hot tarmac on the back of a motorbike with fireworks bursting and  ‘big hair don’t care’ optimism, the cypress, lemon zest freshness becomes dirty (in the best way), hugely smoke-smudged and sexy as all hell. Kudos, too, to the heavy magnetic lid, packaging and price.

Banana Republic Leather Reserve £55 for 75ml eau de parfum
debenhams.com

This feels like an homage to the very origins of perfume – ‘per-fumum’ meaning ‘through smoke’ – melding incense with fruity notes of fresh Turkish rose with a fragrant drift of exotic spices. And it lingers beguilingly, waves of wamth unfurling, tendrills of woodiness creating a sumptuously smoky cloak.

Atelier Cologne Rose Smoke £325 for 100ml pure parfum
Harrods

 

This fragrance’s Scottish geology is composed of black pepper, densely smoked minerals and rose absolute with a splash of whisky and amber-rich leather. It’s complex, fusing an invigorating opening with a trio of peaty swirls, fresh tobacco and incense metamorphosing as it warms – and wins your heart.

Kingdom Scotland Metamorphic £110 for 50ml eau de parfum
kingdomscotland.com

Whichever of these intriguingly smoke-infused scents you choose, we feel sure you will revel in their scented display for hours, days and months ahead. Now, all you need do is seek them out, choose your favourite, light the metaphorical ‘blue touch paper’ and get ready for the fragrant fireworks…

By Suzy Nightingale