Still Beijing Autumn Air – finding scent that works


Kate Apted


Heidi ho, APJ family!

Last month, I went to Beijing for a week of random pottering around. It was actually to escape my family and responsibilities, but it sounds so much more romantic to state the other. Admittedly, I didn’t really do much other than eat lots of street food and go to a few of the sights I hadn’t been to on previous visits.

Still Beijing Autumn Air PXHerePDI

Still Beijing Autumn Air

Finding scent that works

What struck me about Beijing this time was the Still Beijing Autumn Air and the lack of rich scents. I could smell the copious amount of cigarettes smoked by the young women with porcelain skin, but beyond that, nothing struck me as being interesting in an olfactory way. Beijingers are pragmatic people with a huge ambition to be serious players on the world market. They work hard and relax just as hard. They enjoy life to its fullest, but trying to eke out a scent worn by anyone was almost an impossibility.

You know what I caught a whiff of twice? Chloe. Chloe Eau de Toilette (2015). I expected this but I also hoped I’d find some hidden gems favoured by locals. No such luck.

Chloe Eau de Toilette (2015) Chloe FragranticaFragrantica

Beijingers don’t ordinarily wear perfumes. There are no major issues with body odours because cleanliness is taken so seriously. The dry, crisp Still Beijing Autumn Air does not dissipate odours like they do in the humid Aussie heat, or the windy spring days where the finest pollen fills our air. I did follow a Western fellow who was wearing a divine fougere, and it sliced the air in two. He wasn’t heavy handed with the fragrance, yet it was enough to leave a trail as obvious and as harsh as a neon laser beam . It just did not work. It felt offensive.

I took some fragrances with me to wear. I barely wore them. They seemed so out of place. I had three Hermessence samples, Bleu de Chanel edp and a couple of random scents I hadn’t tried from my Myscent subscription pack. They were not hard hitting scents, but totally wrong for the ambience. The little I did wear lasted three times as long on me as they normally do. I got 12 hours out of Bleu with only three little spritzes!!

Bleu de Chanel Chanel FragranticaFragrantica

In retrospect, I should have taken my more gentle scents, like Bodhi (Teone Reinthal), Chance Eau Tendre (Chanel), Keora (Couturier), Reveal (Klein) and Intrusion (de la Renta). These scents linger on me as a skin scent. I’d have gotten an aura of personal scent without disrupting the Still Beijing Autumn Air. They would have interspersed into the air as I walked, rather than creating a pocket of scent ballooning in the air. I may have enjoyed Intrusion so much more than I do at home!

Have you found scents that work better in a completely different climate or culture? Or discovered new facets of your favourites in a place far from home? Are you planning on travelling and are you looking at which scents you might take?
Kate xx

15 thoughts on “Still Beijing Autumn Air – finding scent that works

  1. So interesting that you didn’t like wearing your Hermessence in Japan Kate. I always think they are the perfect foil.
    I wonder if your chypre man was The Black Narcissus? He is in Japan.
    Portia xx


    • The autumn air in north China is very different to our autumns, which is rich and blustery. Each morning was crisp and absolutely no breeze or movement of air at all. The Hermes scents seemed too heavy for the air, strangely. K xx


  2. Hi Kate, Sometimes while traveling I opt for no fragrance. I want to take in the sights and experiences without thinking of scent. All too often the scents I brought along just don’t seem to belong to all the new surroundings. Sandra xo


  3. I’ve never been to Beijing and this did not exactly inspire a desire to go. I think I felt more subdued in England though not that subdued, and only outside of London, Manchester, and other cities.


    • Oh, Shiva-woman! Sorry I gave a negative impression! Beijing isn’t really a tourist draw card, but it is a fascinating place. I love the place; I’ve been there 3 times. It is certainly a world class capital city, though. K xx


  4. A really enjoyable piece Kate, thank you. It’s fascinating to compare how seasons, climate, cultures and landscape can utterly shift the profile and projection and the ‘rightness’ of an imported fragrance. My son recently went to Germany and took a few of my frags along for the trip. He raved about the sudden revelation he had with one in very dry cold weather, (typically only wearable in Brisbane for a few short weeks in Winter) and complained that his fave cool herb floral (that usually projects like crazy in Brisbane) just fell completely flat. He described it as if its notes were already present in the air all around him and it found no traction to speak out. It was one I’d made with herbs and flowers native to central Europe.


  5. Kate, your trip must have been fantastic! I would’ve never thought that Beijing air would seem so appealing.

    I haven’t travelled in the past few years, my trip to Moscow last winter excluded but as I live not too far from the sea of Azov there are a few frags I like to wear when going there for a swim: my darling Shalimar, Dune, Timbuktu, oh, and Safari, – it’s at its absolute best when it’s hot outside.


    • Hi Diana. It was lovely to have a change of scenery, eat something different and do not very much.

      Interesting choices to take for your swim. I agree that Safari works well in the heat. I took that on my last visit to Beijing before this recent one, and it was the middle of winter. That was so wrong for that visit that I packed it away. Shalimar I associate with winter and cosyness. So, it just goes to show that scent is very subjective!

      I now need to look up sea of Azov! K xx


  6. That is exactly what I’m getting at. I felt Bleu was oppressive in the air. It began to affect others around me. I normally don’t feel my scent surround me as my selection did in Beijing. I thought I chose quiet, personal scents. Nooo! These dragged the air around me and trapped me in a halo.

    It is interesting your son noted all his differences in scent in Germany too. Astute young man. K xx


  7. Interesting to read this piece and the comments. I often find the scents I pack for a trip seem somehow not “right” at the destination. When I went to Hawai’i, I found I almost didn’t want to wear scent at all as the air was already perfumed with flowers and I knew I couldn’t compete. This summer, my husband and I are going to Paris – my bucket list trip! – and will be taking a river cruise to Normandy. I need to consider sharing a small room with him, and close contact with others as I pack scents. But what scents does one take to the capitol city of all scents? yes, of course I’ll buy something there, but I likely won’t open it to wear until I get home. So…? (so far I’m thinking of taking small decants of Chanel 1932 and AG Eau d’Hadrien, but I could easily change my mind)


    • Hey maggiecat! Yes, going to Paris would be a tough one to pack for. Small decants are a good idea. At least that way you can take a wider selection and even give them away as presents along the way. I bought some hot water from a Russian carriage worker in 1992 by swapping a little bottle of Spellbound. I was catered for all the way from Irkutsk to Moscow. Never know when a little perfume comes in handy. K xx


  8. I wish I could whip off to Beijing. Maybe next week, I’m baking right now.
    Hmmmm. I always take Vero’s Kiki Extrakt when I go away, it is perfect anywhere. Maybe a couple of otger things. Usually plenty of perfume wherever I’m going so it’s no big deal. I did notice a couple of years ago that my perfume only lasted two or three hours in LA. Instead of an eternity here in Europe. Must have been the climate, it was late summer. I liked it in a way, coz I could wear more. I would not know Chloé if it bit me in the arse. Hugs. Xxxx


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