The Perfect Halloween Scent

By Aleta, 26, Virginia

Aleta is the associate editor of a national history magazine (World War II), and an unapologetic fragrance nerd. Growing up on a farm west of Portland, Oregon, she spent many summer nights attempting to make perfume by soaking flowers in cups of water (if only her mother had let her use the vodka). Her most prized possessions include a bottle of French cologne brought home by an American GI after World War II (L’Ardent Nuit by Cotay), a signed copy of Perfume: The Guide, and a handwritten “enjoy your purchase” note from perfumer Mandy Aftel. Her website:

The Perfect Halloween Scent

The possibilities are endless for pairing fragrance with Halloween costumes: one of the fresh-scrubbed Clean fragrances would be cheeky for doctors and nurses, cowboys and cowgirls can’t go wrong with Stetson, and Demeter Fragrance Library’s Dust, Dirt, or Funeral Parlor are just a few literal options for the various undead. But in terms of capturing the overall trick-or-treat spirit of the season, a few fragrances come to mind for their candy-like sweetness paired with an unexpected quirky edge.

Lolita Lempicka matches near-medicinal red berries with a kick of licorice that’s both icy herbal and molasses-cookie warm, all carried through with a breathy white floral. When I saw Twilight, someone in the theater treated the entire audience to this scent; perfection. It would also suit those who are attracted to gingerbread houses and chatty wolves. Or, if your sweet tooth leans a little more Wonka (or Gaga), you can’t beat the original that sparked this scent–Thierry Mugler Angel, an over-the-top confection that passes on the licorice in favor of husky, chocolaty patchouli and adds a dose of ultra-ripe fruit for good measure.

Bvlgari Black starts with a blast of smoky black rubber and leather, rendered weightless with sweet, inedible vanilla. If your mood this holiday leans toward pleather–or the real thing–take note. For something a little less devilish/biker and more Stepford, try the equally inedible Kenzo Amour, a space-age vanilla lacking any hint of pastry warmth.

I’ll be pairing my Bride of Frankenstein ensemble with one of my favorites, Aftelier Cepes and Tuberose. The cepes (mushroom) note is a stunningly earthy, subtly wine-like complement to a tuberose note that’s far less restrained than its sisters found at the department store. A perfect pairing of forest decay and insatiable full-bloom life–hopefully just the thing to catch the nose of my Dr. Frankenstein. (Newcomers to this brand: don’t let the price tag scare you. The seemingly wee bottles of pure perfume last me about as long as a 1.7 oz eau de parfum.)

What are you wearing for Halloween? Need help picking a fragrance? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Well, not entirely mine 🙂 I’m just the lucky editor who gets to wrangle our amazing contributors’ articles onto the web after we finish the print magazine. Couldn’t resist sharing though, it’s a labor of love as well as my day job.

1) welcome!

2) i already know i’ll be spending hours reading articles on your website.

3) i’m going as nicki minaj in the lonely island ‘creep’ video. thoughts? (i have a stash of victoria’s secret scents – i was thinking something along the lines of very sexy, or even the discontinued love rocks – blatant and even a little aggressive, in my uneducated-about-fragrance opinion!)

Super cute costume idea! Nicki herself lives and breathes pink, so a Victorias Secret scent seems right on. Aquiline Pink Sugar would do the trick too.

Of course nothing is more aggressive than the original Dior Poison, it’s been compared to wielding a tank turret for a reason. Poison takes over like Jumanji and if you over-apply, its monster tuberose, viscous red berries, and incense haze will swallow you whole. But just a drop or two on the wrists and neck is like Katharine Hepburn, stunning and commanding of attention. Probably not the best fit for your Halloween costume, but worth a sniff.

I somehow had a feeling that Angel would be mentioned as a Halloween scent!

I have yet to try anything from Aftelier but it sounds like I need to make it a priority. It seems like Mandy Aftel is doing really cool things with perfume–I never would’ve though a mushroom note would be appealing!

I love all these unusual brands you mention, but having some links to sites with more info on price and availability and whether they’re seasonal or LE would be very helpful.

Most of these brands are available at stores with medium to large perfume counters, like Sephora, Nordstrom, and Macy’s. Stetson is at drugstores; Demeter and Aftelier are available from their respective websites, which also list store locations. Price can vary wildly depending on whether the scent is in stock at discount fragrance sites as well as by bottle size, but all of these can be had for around $50 or less.

Thanks for the wonderful reviews, Aleta! And welcome to Temptalia!

The Lolita Lempicka scent sounds wonderfully intriguing… but which Lolita Lempicka? (The bottles themselves seem to function as labels!)

Online retailers as well as perfume counters can help you match bottles with names; the scent I mention is the brand’s eponymous fragrance, in the purple and gold apple-shaped bottle.

I’ll probably be wearing Ember by Wylde Ivy. It is fall in a bottle! It’s pretty much my go-to fragrance this time of year. (black vanilla, vetiver grass, wood smoke, cinnamon bark, and pomegranate)

Oh, my god, I don’t believe it, you’ve used a photo of a Polish cemetary on 1st of November! Soooo familiar!
The perfect Halloween scent? Something dark and intense, sickeningly overwhelming… Alien by Thierry Mugler

Whats significant about a polish cemetery on November 1st? Do they do things for the dead like Mexicans do on November 1st? Very interesting… Time to google!

I guess the Mexicans celebrate the holiday in a more festive way. We tend to perceive death-related matters in a more solemn way. 1st November is the day of massive rush towards cemetaries, almost everyone goes to light a candle on the graves of their relatives. It’s insane, can you imagine a 38-milion nation on the way to hit their destinations often as distant as 500km away?

These sound great! I love the idea of matching your scent to your costume. I googled “Lolita Lempicka” immediately after reading this- as a sidenote, it’d be great if you could include links of where to buy the perfumes you talk about in these articles.


Here in Brazil we have not the Halloween party, so I can not answer;

but I enjoy different scents like Angel, who marked the history of perfumery.

I really enjoyed seeing your story, the presentation …. Interesting how perfumes are linked to our memories.

A hug from Brazil,

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab halloween scents. I’ve got several scents from a few years’ worth of collections. I tend towards foodie scents, so I’ll probably wear something like Blue Pumpkin Floss, Bite Me, or Sugar Skull (all right, that last one’s technically a “Dia de los Muertos” scent, but it’s still seasonal).

Thank you for the entry! Will definitely be reading your column after your description of(my top 5 ever) Amour as “space-age vanilla”. That’s exactly what it is!!! Finally, I have words to describe it.

Btw, D.S. & Durga’s Five Step Waltz is Halloween-y. I think… Mostly because Amber = Fall and early Winter. But the fragrance is also many many other things. No rubber or licorice; straight up amber & vanilla, yet warm and a little boozy.

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