Monday, February 05, 2007

Seasons of Scent

The first thing I used to visualize whenever somebody brought up seasonal colouring analysis is Michael Moore being draped with hideous orange fabric in Roger & Me. I always thought of it as a cheesy eighties gimmick employed only by Amway or Mary Kay salespeople at ladies luncheons. Also, it seemed like nobody actually knew how to do it: in Moore's documentary, Janet the professional "colour consultant" somehow finds out belatedly that she's actually a Spring. I've been told: a) I'm a Winter because I'm a brunette; b) I'm a Spring because I have greenish (hazel) eyes and freckles; and c) I'm a Summer because I look tanned. Every colour palette I'd ever seen for these seasons included colours that made me look like I'd eaten tainted clams. Several weeks ago, I decided to do some Internet research and find out my season.

Lo and behold, I am an obvious Autumn: yellow undertone, chestnut hair, hazel eyes. Like many other people, I had thought all Autumns were red-heads, and had therefore ignored the colour advice for fall complexions. When I read the suggestions for the right season, things suddenly made a lot more sense. My best tawny blush and sage eyeshadow? The eggplant-coloured dress I refuse to throw away despite the fact it's a size 4? My collection of brown and camel coats? My olive t-shirt that is the husband's favourite and the cayenne-coloured top he became suicidal over when I ruined it with bleach? These are all the spicy, earthy, woody tones recommended for autumns. And then - because they always do - my thoughts turned to fragrances. Mostly, I like... hmm, well... spicy, earthy, woody tones. I'm not suggesting that every perfume I love could be considered fall-appropriate - in fact, I'm jealous of some of my faves that seem suited to other seasons - or that I like every scent in this category. I'm certainly not saying that my skin chemistry cooperates with my colouring either - I'm just saying my nose is most often attracted to the gilded, rich, slightly melancholy scents of harvest-time. The following is a tongue-firmly-in-cheek exercise in finding your seasonal scents.

A note if you're confused by the skintones: I think most people are good at determining the intensity of their eye and hair colour (intense and darker or bright and paler), but have trouble telling whether they have a warm (yellow) or cool (blue) base tone to their skin. The best trick I have come across is to hold a substantial piece of gold or silver jewelry to your face. If the gold looks brighter and your blush is peachy or sandy, you're warm and a Spring or Autumn. If silver pieces (and clear diamonds) shine bright and they highlight the pink of your cheeks, you're cool and a Winter or Summer. If you can't tell which looks better, randomly guess. As my online searches have taught me, this is a very inexact science.

Winters - The easiest look to recognize, Winters usually have dark hair and dark or intensely coloured eyes. This group is the most dramatic and strikingly high contrast of the colourings , and therefore look best in black as well as all strong, solid primary colours and jewel tones such as deep purple. Most women of Asian, African or Arabic descent are Winters. Liz Taylor is the iconic ice queen; recent celebrity Winters include Sandra Oh, Selma Hayek, Halle Berry and Winona Ryder. For scents, Winters rock the eyelinered orientals: the big vanillas, chocolates and ambers, the animal and leather bases, the velvety cloves and clouds of smoke... basically anything that goes with a little black dress, pearls and a pout of red lipstick. Bvlgari Black, Caron Tabac Blond, Chanel Coco in EdP or parfum, Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque, i Profumo di Firenze Ambra del Nepal, L'Artisan Dzing! and Fendi Theorema would all fit the bill. Powders, black (Kenzo Flower Oriental), white (Chanel No. 22, Comme des Garçons White) and boudoiresque (Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige, Balenciaga Rumba) would do too. Finally, Winters should seek out warmers (Caron Nuit de Noel, Donna Karan Chaos) and chillers (Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire, Comme des Garçons Incense Series Zagorsk, CB I Hate Perfume Winter 1972).

Springs - Springs look like they "bleed pure butterscotch" (like Bunny from Fred Exley's A Fan's Notes). Strawberry and honey blondes and brunettes with "peaches and cream" complexions and paler eyes are Springs. If you are that rare woman who carry off a coral gloss, but dark lipstick and true white or black clothing makes you look as if you are clawing your way out of the grave, then you are a Spring. A historical Spring is All-American pinup Rita Hayworth; current Spring celebs include Nicole Kidman, Gillian Anderson and Lindsay Lohan. Springs look best in bright, crisp colours like grass and emerald greens, true reds, coral and watermelon, clear blues and aqua, golden yellow and ivory. Their scents are clear, bright and transparent greens and cool or dewy florals: Dior Diorissimo, Gobin Daude Seve Exquise, Annick Goutal Eau de Ciel, Guerlain Apres L'Ondée, Diptyque Do Son, Hermes Hiris, L'Artisan Premier Figuier, Gucci Envy and Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert. Sometimes Springs should choose perfumes with earthy or musky basenotes that heighten the freshness of the heart: CB I Hate Perfume Black March, Guerlain Jicky, Serge Lutens Fleur de Citronnier and Ormonde Jayne Champaca.

Summers - Summers are the blond bombshells; most natural blondes, especially ash blondes, and cool-coloured, paler brunettes with blue, green, grey or sometimes amber eyes are Summers. Marilyn Monroe was a Summer; reigning Summers are Gwyneth Paltrow, Denise Richards and Sara Jessica Parker. Summers look best in soft, muted shades - pastels and icy or rosy shades as well as true white. Day scents for Summers include classic and fruity chypres and hesperidia. Think bracing summer drinks (Jean Patou Cocktail, Guerlain Sous le Vent, Etro Anice), sunshine scents (Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, Serge Lutens Chergui, Parfums de Nicolai Balle de Match, New York and Eau D'Ete), bright, fruit-infused florals (Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus, Les Parfums de Rosine Ecume de Rose and J.A.R. Bolt of Lightning) and beaches (Annick Goutal Vetiver). Rochas Femme is a summer scent if you go light. Orange blossoms are made for this season. You can get away with more heft at night, so some slinkier white flowers are great.

Autumns - If you have chestnut, copper, golden brown or auburn hair, golden (amber, hazel or green) eyes and beige, golden or olive skin, you are an Autumn like me. Warm, rich colours for us: forest and olive greens, camel, oranges and rusts, browns and neutrals, winey shades and orangey reds. Sophia Loren is an Autumn, and so are Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba and Sigourney Weaver. Chanel Bois des Iles, Parfums de Nicolai Nicolai Pour Homme, Serge Lutens Chene, Guerlain Mitsouko, Les Parfums des Rosine Une Folie de Rose, Frapin 1270, Fendi Asja, Caron Alpona and Yatagan, CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves and Gathering Apples, Ginestet Le Boise and L'Artisan Tea for Two all seem like fall scents to me.

So, does your colouring match your fragrance preferences?

22 Comments:

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Kathy said...

Hi,

I love the article, and it gives me something to think about as far as my season. I've never been sure where I fall for colors because some makeup salespeople try to put me in tones of plum which I think makes me look anemic. I much prefer peaches and golds, and I found that I prefer most of the Autumn fragrances that you listed. Sometimes I want the cool, chilly fragrances like Hiris or one of the Incense series, but I am drawn to warmer scents like Chergui, Tea for Two, and Mechant Loup. I like some spice and woods and sometimes a gourmand quality to my fragrances for comfort, but a little orange blossom jolt is nice - but it is a jolt. Now I have to go divide my fragrances into seasons!

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger Erin said...

kathy - welcome, and I'm glad you found the post interesting! It's interesting you mention plum, since it is the cool purples that always made me question my season. Plums and rosier mauves or pinks make me look kind of demonic, my skin ashy, my eyes brighter and somehow both greener and reddish brown. The salespeople would always tell me: "It just looks bright because you're not used to wearing a lot of makeup." The thing is, well, you don't really want to look like you're wearing a lot of makeup, do you? If you like peaches and golds, MAC's new "beauty icon" is Racquel Welch and her palette is nice.

It looks like we like many of the same scents. What is your favourite orange blossom?

 
At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Kathy said...

Hi Erin,

I've been lurking a while, and I do enjoy your articles.

I feel your pain with the plums and pinks. I think that they make me look bruised and dirty, and the salepeople are telling me that they "should" work with my coloring (dark blonde with gold undertones and blue eyes). I bought a whole bunch of Prescriptives Blue Red stuff, and I never wear it.

Orange blossom is hard for me because sometimes I think that it smells sickening. Not a great endorsement! I do love Caron's Narcisse Blanc in spite of the scary opening. I also love Hermes 24, Faubourg because the orange blossom is blended with some amber, and I enjoy my Guerlain AA Flora Nerolia in the spring. I need to check out my decants and samples again!

I hope that this reply is coherent because my 22 month old wants me to admore her ladybug at the same time. She enjoys "smells" too : )

 
At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Dear lord - I'm somewhere between winter and autumn I think, but I'm not sure where between.... And as for scents... who knows...

Almost black hair, chocolate brown eyes, sallow skin generally, with that trace of grease to indicate Mediterranean descent somewhere along the line...

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger marchlion said...

I'm the Winter poster girl, even though I've dyed my salt-n-pepper hair red (the RIGHT shade of red!). You would think makeup selection would be easier at the hands of people who put makeup on other people all day long and are therefore (theoretically) trained, but not so, apparently... my big issue is I'm ruddy, so they do thing like put green base on me, which is supposed to neutralize but looks terrible, OR they try to bury it under sallow makeup. Bobbi Brown yellow base is criminal on me. I finally stumbled across a Chanel rep at Nordstrom (another winter) who helped me find my first foundation, concealer and blush that were really, really right. The best part was, being Nordstrom, she picked from different lines... also, I know it *seems* wrong, but as I ease into my 40s I've discovered that Summer's pale, cool pastels (violet, ice blue) can be more forgiving than my former jade, purple, etc.

Anyhow, I loved your suggestions about fragrance! With the exception of Neige, I love all your winter selections.

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Kathy: Always great to hear from a lurker! Well, from your description all we can safely rule out is Winter. Do you tan a nice golden brown or mostly just burn? (Blonde Springs always burn.) If your skin is browner and your eyes are a slate blue, you're an Autumn, but otherwise it sounds like you're a Summer. Plum *is* a recommended Summer colour, but only for whiter-toned blondes and would of course clash with your hair. I can sort of picture you in a beige "nude" lipstick or glass or gold gloss, but, to be honest, I'm left-brained and my powers of creative visualization are very poor.

Narcisse Blanc is one I keep meaning to get to. I can somehow imagine both Chergui or Faubourg being stunning on you.

Your comments are very clear; my daughter is almost a year and she has just underearthed a leftover Christmas ornament from the couch to chew on, so I understand feeling incoherent.

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger Erin said...

leo: Most people who look Mediterranean are Winters. In your new avatar, you look wintery, but, of course, in my own head, I look like Ursula Andress so we know how reliable these systems are! :>

 
At 10:28 AM, Blogger Erin said...

March: I used to wear a lot of black, but now I'm trying more forgiving warmer greys and I'm going to need to start dying my hair soon. My aging problem is I have a real baby face, which is just going to look weird when goes all crepey. I wish I lived next to a Nordstroms. I have not had a lot of luck with Bobbi Brown SAs or colours, which is odd, because it seems like a neutral line designed for me. I'm not a Neige fan, really, either, but otherwise I covet those winter fragrances!

 
At 10:31 AM, Anonymous AngelaS said...

As a classic autumn, I've discovered that lots of plums and mauves can be kind of striking (think of Nicole Kidman, for instance, in a just-right pinkish dress), and brown is starting to feel too monochromatic. I have blue eyes, though, so that may affect it a little. Of course, I love the autumn scents you listed, but I think lots of your winter scents are for autumns, too. I think of leather and spices as being really autumn-y, for instance. But maybe the whole season-perfume thing is why white flowers just don't seem to go with some people.

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Angela: Now, while she dyes her hair auburn sometimes (like many people) I think of Nicole Kidman as a classic Spring, because she is a natural strawberry blonde. She looks great in peach as the Chanel ads show. And I thought the very pale pink Chanel she wore to the Oscars in 2002 was a rare tactical mistake for her, though the cut was perfect as always. It made her look washed out on the red carpet, but was admittedly not nearly as bad as the black one she wore the next year. I thought she looked best the year (1999?) she wore that very brave, embroidered chartreuse gown. But of course, like us, she is entitled to wear what she wants and it would indeed be a very dull world if you or I only wore olive and brown, or Nicole only wore No. 5 (surely she doesn't?!?).

 
At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Kayliana said...

I am a summer. The worst kind I think.I hate all those fragrances you listed for me. I am a frustrated Autumn living in a Summer's body. I get told I should wear white flowers all the time. I also live in Florida. It's 78 degrees today. This is the time I am supposed to be able to wear all of my heavier fragrances, which makes up almost my entire collection. I would love a suggestion on what you could personally recommend for me?! Anything but white flowers please!!

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Kayliana: I'm sorry I listed all ones you hate for summer - I like a lot of them! But it sounds like what you need is spicier, woodier, more golden scents that won't kill passersby in the Florida climate. Do you really hate Chergui? Also from SL, Bois Oriental is spicy and exotic while still having that warm, close skin quality. I love Bvlgari Omnia, a great spicy but sheer scent - I like many of the Bvlgaris actually - but people seem to be divided about both that scent and the line. L'Artisan also has a few complex but transparent scents. Do you like Bond No. 9 Chinatown? (I know, a few white flowers in there...) What about Patou Que-sais je? - don't give up on the Ma Collection! If you're not afraid of crossing the aisle, men's fragrances would be great - a lot of my favourite "fall" types, Caron's Yatagan and Third Man or Guerlain's Habit Rouge for instance, are spicy and smokey but not overwhelming. Finally, two wonderful, complex tea scents from lines I'm not wild about generally, Parfumerie Generale's Harmatan Noir and Yann Vasnier's Gourmandises for Keiko Mecheri?

 
At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Kayliana said...

Chergui makes my stomach turn. And if the Bois Oriental is in the exclusive range forget it, I'm not going to France anytime soon. Also I find most SL's to be works of art to smell... not to wear. I used to really like Chinatown until my husband told me he couldn't wait for my bottle to be finished! Can you believe that?!Omnia just disapears in nano-seconds on me. And to tell you the truth I don't like tea to drink or to wear. Funny you should mention the menswear, my very first fragrance that I bought and loved was Chanel's Egoiste. And then they discontinued it. The Bastards. Oh did I mention I'm a couple months pregnant? So everything in my collection stinks to high heaven right now! Wow, what a negative little post I have left on your beautiful blog. I feel ashamed :-( Thanks for your help Erin, but I think I'll just keep reading about perfume until I can decide on what to wear next!!!

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Hey kayliana - no problem, and congratulations! When are you due? I had a great pregnancy where I was barely sick at all and no scents bothered me, but I have quite a few friends who really suffered. Certainly, if you are pregnant and in a humid climate some of those Serges are going to be nauseating. Omnia is tricky one - some people seem to barely be able to smell it, while others complain it is too strong. And reading about perfume is nearly as enjoyable for me as sampling it...

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Lots of scent for thought- and so much fun to read, E !
I guess I'm a winter-but I love ALL the scents.
Give me everything but aquatics, and I'm happy as a pig in s*it...

Bottom line- if you smell bad- don't wear it...

 
At 11:46 PM, Blogger Erin said...

chaya: It's great to have you here to always remind us of the bottom line! It's true - I love scents from all the categories. I'm looking forward to going to the Old England store in France and sampling all those Creeds you mentioned the other day...

 
At 2:24 AM, Anonymous dinazad said...

Hi Erin - another de-lurker here! I'm Autumn. Sort of. Red hair (dark blonde, actually, but henna helps), olive-green eyes, yellowish undertone, and I look fantastic in olives, browns, oranges, greens and such. But black also suits me. And I don't tan. So I'm probably late autumn slipping into winter with streaks of late summer and the occasional freckle of spring? And I confess that I, too, love scents from all categories! Actually, I think we should wear, both in clothing and in scent, whatever makes us feel happy at the given moment. And just forget about colour consultants, stylists and such. They, after all, don't live our lives. We do. To the extreme, hopefully!

 
At 6:07 AM, Blogger Dusan said...

Hullo, fellow babyface, finally someone who understands me:) I'm definitely a Summer with ash to strawberry blond hair streaked with gold, yellow-speckled blue eyes and freckles (also a typical Leo). Scent-wise though, I'm heavily drawn to orientals, golden liquid ambers, woods and incense, but I also enjoy spices (ginger, saffron) and florals (o.b., jasmine, rose). Addicted to F. Turque, Opium PH, M7 and L'Instant PH, but am yet to try the much yearned-for Chergui. The sun hates me with a burning passion, because that is precisely what it does to my skin, so that unfortunately, being shielded from the sun most of the year, it ends up having an unhealthy ashen hue. And smoking doesn't help matters, obviously:)
Great article, Erin!

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger Erin said...

dinazad: Certainly! The whole seasonal thing was just really a lark of mine, really. You sound like a stunner. (Do you like the smell of henna? I do, actually.)

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Erin said...

dusan: Freckled people of the world unite! You sound delicious, dahling. Your comment has me craving a little M7, too. Did you read "The Emperor of Scent"? It explains in there how smokers have better senses of smell than the rest of us - counterintuitive, eh? Not enough for me to take up the habit, but still interesting.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Dusan said...

Why thank you dahling, I'm sure you are too:) You know, M7 has been haunting me ever since I first smelled it, but it wasn't until recently that I finally gave in and bought a bottle - the smartest thing I did in ages. No, haven't read the "Emperor" though it's been on my to-read list for quite some time. So, smokers actually have a keener sense of smell? Bah! Don't let Chandler or Luca trick you into developing this dizghusting habit. Stinky fingers, ashtray-breath and sallow skin, not to mention the teeth. Naw, the nose knows better than that:)

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Well, I'm afraid I can't really take up smoking; it's a big no-no in my family since my mom's brother died a hideous smoking-related death. (Not trying to scare you out of your habit, honest - there are plenty of ways to die a hideous death. Actually, sorry, that's not very comforting either. At least, despite all the new EU policies, nobody has been done in by M7.) I actually like the smell of cigarettes, though... and I'm sure you smell lovely anyway!

 

Post a Comment

<< Home