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Karst

Perfumer Barnabé Fillion’s background in botany and phycology (the study of algae) served him well for the unisex Karst, one in a trio of new nature-themed fragrances from Australia’s Aesop. It’s a salty citrus aquatic subtly layered with cumin, rosemary and sage. As it turns more mineralic, the effect is briny, a bit smoky and evocative of a bracing walk by the sea.

Karst by Aesop, $255/50 ml at Holt Renfrew, SSENSE and Aesop stores (aesop.com).

Vanille Iconique

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French brand Comptoir Sud Pacifique is the house that vanilla built. Flanked by different tempering facets, the ingredient takes star billing in every one of its popular fragrances. A pairing of bourbon vanilla absolute and Tahitian vanilla absolute dominates this scent. Complemented by peach and almond praline, it also features a hint of autumnal spices – a well-judged balance between New Orleans bread pudding with hard sauce and a mellow sweetness akin to good pipe tobacco. Consider it gourmand self-care – medical studies have shown the smell of vanilla to be calming.

Vanille Iconique by Comptoir Sud Pacifique, $115/100 ml through Sephora.ca in November.

Rock River Melody

Los Angeles-based creative Alia Raza’s Régime des Fleurs is known for continuing collaborations with indie darlings such as Batsheva and Chloë Sevigny. Rock River Melody is rooted in the niche brand’s love of flowers and was inspired by both “a muddy forest ride on horseback” and the music of rapper Tyler the Creator. That means it melds rich rose and narcissus with wood (patchouli, cedar) and foliage (ivy). Though it’s marketed as a men’s scent, the haunting spicy-woodsy floral will likely find fans among many women, too.

Rock River Melody by Régime des Fleurs, $290 at Ewanika (ewanika.ca).

Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger

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This companion to the popular Twilly is all freshness thanks to its peony and candied ginger top notes. It’s a straightforward aroma with a pleasantly soapy dry-down (the classic, expensive, triple-milled floral kind found in five-star hotel toiletries that you hoard in your suitcase). The ginger that remains is a touch watery, elegant and like a softer version of Roger & Gallet. The effect is clean and uplifting.

Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger by Hermès, $114/50 ml eau de parfum at Hermès (hermes.com).

Synthetic Jungle

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Perfumer Anne Flipo’s first composition for Frédéric Malle, the luxury brand that first put creators in the spotlight and on the label, is “an ode to cult perfumes of the 1970s.” Flipo singles out two specific classics: Chanel No. 19 (all wet meadows) and the posh Estée Lauder Private Collection. The sharp vegetal quality of bitter galbanum and moss keeps things bracing and outdoorsy, but their piercing quality is modernized with top notes of basil and blackcurrant and the addition of styrallyl acetate (a penetrating metallic green note). It’s everything you remember as assertive – but more wearable.

Synthetic Jungle by Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, $275/50 ml at Holt Renfrew (holtrenfrew.com).

Cedar Violet

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“I love the Adirondacks in the fall, when the leaves take on a golden hue,” is how heiress and luxury lifestyle brand founder Aerin Lauder describes her latest source of inspiration. Cedar Violet’s name is a misnomer – after a brisk green violet-leaf opener, it’s basically a satisfying sandalwood, with deep-yellow gardenia for a touch of sunlight. Radiant and crisply warm, it embodies those luminous days when summer is changing into fall.

Cedar Violet by AERIN, $155/50 ml eau de parfum at Holt Renfrew (esteelauder.ca).

Desertland by Oribe

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Cuban-born co-founder Oribe Canales was the celebrity stylist of the big-hair 1990s supermodel era. The brand’s original cult fragrance is the sunny Côte d’Azur scent of his hair-care products. In keeping with that wanderlust theme, Desertland takes its cues from a location – Marfa, Tex. – to give a sense of arid vastness (picture country singer Kacey Musgraves driving through the desert in her new heartbreak-anthem music video). Juniper berry and Texas cedarwood (a variety that has a distinctive cool and sweet scent) conjure sun-baked West Texas clay and heat – or glamping in a vintage trailer among trust-fund bohemians.

Desertland by Oribe, $156/75 ml eau de parfum at Oribe salons (oribe.com)

Phantom by Paco Rabanne

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When Paco Rabanne established his futuristic fashion brand in 1966, chain mail and hammered metal were among his chosen materials (see Jane Fonda in his space-age costumes for Barbarella). Accordingly, Phantom relies on new technology, with its four perfumers enlisting the help of artificial intelligence to suggest unexpected scent combinations. The bottle is a cross between a Bearbrick art toy and a 1950s tin robot, presumably to drive the point home. A microchip embedded in the spray cap also connects wearers to filters, interactive games and playlists. Cut through the sci-fi kitsch and the cologne itself is a perfectly average traditional aromatic of sweet citrus and creamy lavender. Thanks to the distinctive bottle, get ready to smell it everywhere.

Phantom by Paco Rabanne, $125/100 ml eau de toilette spray at Hudson’s Bay, Shoppers Drug Mart and Jean Coutu (pacorabanne.com).

Fusion d’Issey Extrême

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Now that face masks covering the nose are the norm, we’ll be seeing Extrême (and Intense) versions of perfumes more often. The original Fusion was inspired by the natural phenomenon of volcanoes. The Extrême version’s initial flinty and refreshing coolness of mint (which appears when mineral-rich magma from a volcano has tempered) ushers in cardamom and coconut and dries down to a warm cedar and patchouli skin scent that really lasts. The promised hot-cold/fire-aquatic contrasts – or at least, their olfactive associations – remain pronounced even as the scent progresses.

Fusion d’Issey Extrême by Issey Miyake, $92/50 ml through isseymiyakeparfums.com.

Constantinople by Penhaligon’s

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This is the smell that comes to mind when, in his novel The Little Sister, Raymond Chandler describes a man as living a life of sin, “with something in a long mink coat and an interesting perfume.” Inspired by the ancient city in Turkey now known as Istanbul, Constantinople is the intricate new entry in the British heritage perfumer’s Trade Routes collection. It features lush and fruity iris with the prick of pink pepper and geranium and spicy nuance from earthy cypriol. The unctuous vanilla dry-down has a little of that glorious old-book smell. This sensual beauty’s strength lingers, so go easy.

Constantinople by Penhaligon’s, $335/100 ml at Etiket (etiket.ca).

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