Leading Ladies We Love (and the Perfumes We Imagine Them In)

Fall’s newest fragrances are brimming with character—so much so, that we were inspired to let our imaginations run wild, pairing each one with a film-character counterpart that embodies the scent’s personality. Keep on scrolling to see what we’d expect to smell on our favourite leading ladies.

Maleficent from Maleficent

Serge Lutens Baptême du Feu

maleficentThis smoky, intense, and slightly sweet eau de parfum captures a dichotomous mood and spirit; an identity that seems to embrace both goodness and evil—a hero and a villain—through comforting notes of spiced gingerbread that merge with powerful (and slightly sinister) notes of gunpowder.

In Disney’s 2014 rendition of Sleeping Beauty, we are introduced to the story’s anti-hero, a fairy called Maleficent, who until now (so the story goes) has been widely misunderstood. The woman we’ve called a villain since our childhoods is in fact as complex, and feeling as any hot-blooded human and, as such, is capable of a full spectrum of emotions from love and joy to hatred, anger, and regret. She’s also fierce, fearless, beautiful, strong, and righteous and thus, capable of letting an unbearable betrayal (one the original version told us nothing about) bring out her darker, vengeful side. She is a passionate woman, and this intoxicating, sensual fragrance captures that passion well, embraces it, and accepts it in all of its many facets.

 Adriana from Midnight in Paris

Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream

midnight-in-parisAfter layering a personalized blend of essential oils as her signature scent for over 30 years, Charlotte Tilbury decided to perfect and bottle her always-complemented, often-coveted fragrance, and share it with the rest of us. The unique oral-chypre blends citrus and saffron with tuberose, jasmine, and frankincense. Its base contains what many perfumers have called a powerful attractant: Iso E Super—a molecule said to amplify the wearer’s pheromonic aura.

Midnight in Paris is a romantic film in which tourist Gil Pender is taken back to the 1920s each night, to mingle with the great artists, writers, and musicians of the time. When Gil meets Adriana, a beautiful woman and lover and muse of Picasso, time stops. As he looks at her for the first time, with her soft-lit ’20s elegance, he is temporarily stunned—and so is the audience. She is, as he puts it, “exceptionally lovely.” Her subtle beauty, sensuality, and allure has everyone who meets her under her spell, and although in that moment we don’t know her, we’re wholeheartedly intrigued. She has captured us. As does Scent of a Dream. It’s beguiling, and intoxicating, but hard to pinpoint. It smells unlike anything we recognize, but we want more of it.

 Cristina from Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Michael Kors Wonderlust

vicky-cristina-barcelonaThis oriental oral gourmand boldly projects the spirit of voyage, exploration, and discovery. Smooth almond milk, Sicilian mandarin, and Italian bergamot evoke seaside nostalgia and a craving for hot sand, while base notes of Cashmeran wood, pink pepper and heliotrope stir thoughts of green forests and lush gardens.

In Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, two vacationing women find themselves intertwined in a love triangle with a handsome, and captivating Spanish artist. Cristina’s open-minded spirit, curious and sensual nature—paired with a travel-induced sense of adventure—has her testing her limits, exploring her passion, and engaging her store of spontaneity. Michael Kors Wonderlust captures Cristina’s adventurous spirit, the film’s lush and luxe backdrop, and the passionate romance that ensues.

 Alice Kingsleigh from Alice in Wonderland

La Femma Prada

alice-in-wonderlandFor Miuccia Prada, fragrance is personal; the emotions it evokes are abstract, the response instinctual, and the experience spiritual. It’s so personal, that to Miuccia, defining it feels counterintuitive. La Femme Prada, she explains, is “designed to take the wearer on a voyage through place, memory, and time.” What she doesn’t want it to do is dictate the mood or character of its wearer. “We wanted [the fragrance] to say: ‘You are who you are, and what you want to be.’”

In Tim Burton’s 2010 rendition of Alice in Wonderland, a 19-year-old Alice Kingsleigh finds herself plucked from a life of stifling societal expectations, and thrust into a peculiar world where concepts like up, down, big, small, right, wrong, or left are turned on their heads. As Alice works her way through a series of peculiar events and encounters, she gains a strengthened sense of self. Like a true “Femme Prada,” she won’t be boxed in, and ultimately rejects the path set out for her, in order to carve her own. The fragrance is equally hard to define. Frangipani and faraway flower offer a sweet but smooth dewiness, while the subtle spice of beeswax, vanilla and tuberose flux and flow like the woman who wears it.

Céline from Before Sunrise

YSL Mon Paris

before-sunriseJuicy raspberry, strawberry, and champagne are at the forefront of this fresh and modern fragrance. A floral heart, with a base of white musks, ambroxan, and patchouli radiate exhilarating romance. And yet, the woman who characterizes this new fragrance is not an entirely hopeless romantic. Like Before Sunrise’s female protagonist, Céline, the wearer of this fragrance is far too independent to think about forever. The pale pink liquid, and black tulle bow around the bottle’s neck represent a feminine prerogative to fall head-over-heels in love, but once the evening comes to its end, our heroine won’t let even this intoxicating encounter alter the course of her life. A black leather ribbon atop the delicate tulle symbolizes the modern woman’s independence. She might choose love, but she certainly doesn’t have to.

Jenny Mellor from An Education

Chanel N°5 L’eau

an-educationThis modern version of Chanel N°5 is a completely reinterpreted blend of N°5’s original ingredients after being dissected, rebalanced, and put back together in a way that’s entirely new. “Respecting its history, while looking to the future,” was the goal for Chanel’s master perfumer, Olivier Polge.

The scent’s film-character counterpart? Jenny Mellor of the 2009 Oscar-nominated film, An Education. Jenny has an exuberant youthful energy, with a penchant for fun, excitement, art, and experience. Her charming persona is captured brilliantly in this modern eau, which is more vibrant than its predecessor, brimming with an effervescence conveyed through zests of lemon, mandarin, and orange. Base notes of vanilla are softer than the original, jasmine notes are lighter, and powdery notes are dialed back for a refreshing touch. Vetiver, cedar, and cottony musk offer a natural element that suits a bright-eyed woman with a passion for life, brought down to earth—only barely—by her effortless sophistication.