In “The Power of Perfume," a 2012 article for Harper's Bazaar, novelist and Scorpio powerhouse Mary Gaitskill claimed, “The appeal of perfume is that it is at once ephemeral and empowering. It creates a shimmering invisible armor that lingers in a room long after its wearer has gone and infuses our imagination with a subtle power, hinting at a hidden identity."
Well, if your fragrance belies a secret identity, your astrological sign could only make that secret identity more potent. In the spirit of secrets laced with power, I offer these 12 fragrances paired with our 12 signs, and encourage you to envision your armor being, if not made of a $100-plus bottle of perfume, then at least made of three free samples bottles you convinced a salesgirl to gift you.
Aries: Vetyverio by Diptyque
Let’s just take a second to take in the description of Diptyque’s new fall fragrance Vetyverio: In the eau de parfum, vetiver from Haiti takes center stage. Used in an overdose, it reveals itself in a pure state, without artifice, drawing its elegant, smoky nature from this volcanic rock with a fiery temperament. Have you ever heard anything more Aries-sounding in your whole life? If all my Aries ex-girlfriends (at least three) and current lover, too, were a perfume, they’d be this perfume. They’d be standing around a roasting fire (never sitting, ever, because that is boring) arguing about how they’re, like, allergic to drama and wish people were just less sensitive. They would boldly bite into the flesh of the animal they hunted while watching you with a glimmer in their eye. And you might find the whole scene very annoying, but I would not because Aries impudence endears me to them. Besides, they would all be hunting and dueling and glimmer-seducing it out while wearing this brazen perfume. You, too, can capture that feeling because every time you spray it on, you’re a huntress, a free flame.
Diptyque, Vetyverio, from $90, available at Diptyque.
Taurus: Colonia Pura by Acqua di Parma
Here’s the thing about Taurus, they’re a little uncanny. Uncanny as in strange, as in mysterious, as in you’ve got a lot of unconventional thoughts hidden behind that steady, uncompromising gaze. Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Pura is like that too. It arrives with an air of fixed confidence in a stern masculine bottle that does not fuck around. But, get this, it does fuck around. Because, here are the notes this fragrance offers if you’re willing to take it on: (1) bergamot and juicy orange, “delicate petit grain accents” (LOL, what even is that, Taurus?), (2) “floral lusciousness” of narcissus and jasmine blended with spicy coriander. Wow, are we done because that is, like, really the abundance of the Earth right there? And, (3) LOL, no, not done because also here come “warm and sophisticated accents of patchouli and cedarwood” followed by “delicate, yet persistent white musk notes.” Listen, if every sentence a Taurus spoke was followed by “delicate yet persistent white musk notes,” it would be a surprise to no one ever because that is exactly what a cosmic bull is capable of when they’re feeling soft and free.
Acqua di Parma, Colonia Pura, from $150, available at Neiman Marcus.
Gemini: Twilly d'Hermès by Hermès
I’m pretty sure a Gemini can wear any scent they want any time they want. Like, a Gemini can wake up in the middle of the night and anoint themselves with mysterious potions not even they understand, wrap themselves in multicolored scarves, and endeavor to document their one-time-only one-woman show into the waking dawn. Despite Gemini’s multiplicity, Twilly d'Hermès, the new fragrance by perfume powerhouse Hermès, was surely created in spirit of, and precisely for, our cosmic twins. I make this claim not only due to the innovative and heady mix of tuberose, ginger, and sandalwood—which promises to inspire “revelation in the carnal,” and not only because Hermès could be Hermes (Greek) or Mercury (Roman), god of Geminis everywhere. But also, I make this claim because Twilly d'Hermès' style is smart and irreverent. Behold, the finishing touch: “In a final flash of wit, a hand-tied silk ribbon playfully graces the bottle.”
Hermès, Twilly d'Hermès, $79, available at Sephora.
Cancer: Savage Rose by Anine Bing
Anine Bing’s first fragrance, Savage Rose, is here to show you that a rose by any other name is another rose entirely. Stem against stem, a wild frilly Bulgarian rose and an elegant white rose speak entirely different languages. Mix in black pepper and musk, and you’ll understand that whatever you thought a flower was, whatever you thought femininity could be, you were limited by your imagination. This is a scent for the kind of femme that can harness the power of the moon even when it is nothing by a closed eye in the night sky, a silver slash in black silk. This is the kind of fragrance a Cancer was born to adorn herself with, a romantic overture that gives and receives at once. That demands both, always, and gets whatever she asks for because she knows how to ask sweetly even when sweetness is the last thing on her mind.
Anine Bing, Savage Rose, $69, available at Anine Bing.
Leo: Gabrielle by Chanel
Listen, it’s very important, if you haven’t seen the film advertisements for Chanel’s Gabrielle, that you do so immediately. It’s important because you are going to come upon Kristen Stewart in a sort of blue gauzy web that probably symbolizes a life without this fragrance. She is going to be both sensual and uncomfortable, and so she is going to bust the fuck out… gracefully. Like a rebellious cat. A Leo. Loose but still tethered, she’s going to run through a sort of red-light realm with her gauze streaming behind her and, also, electric light rain. This fragrance is about radiance and has notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, and Grasse tuberose. Beyoncé’s voice will be in the background singing about running, because that’s what Kristen is doing, but also Kristen is free and leaping and making a rage face (which is beautiful because a woman’s anger is beautiful), and she’s soft fisting a crystal light wall. It shatters, and then there’s the Sun, so powerful, so resplendent, so leonine.
Chanel, Gabrielle, from $105, available at Sephora.
Virgo: Vio-Volta by D.S. & Durga
Chances are good that you, dear reader, don’t know how many Virgos I have known and loved in my life, and chances are good that the number is much higher than you’d expect. Because of this, I find myself expertly set up to explain to you that to open a Virgo’s closet is to immerse yourself in a world that is precise in its devotion to being singular, artful, and distinct. No two Virgos are alike because a Virgo just noticed they have the same shoes as you and has already bought a new set of purple-dyed leather laces to distinguish their boots from yours. Shouldn’t the fragrance a Virgo wears be just a unique? Look no further than D.S. & Durga’s Vio-Volta, which brings forth violet, black currant, wisteria, and… get this… shades of metal. The company describes it as “the smell of purple. electric vegetal fluorescent violet.” Which pretty much sounds like a punk rock ballad that Virgo plays the bass to.
D.S. & Durga, Vio-Volta, from $175, available at D.S. & Durga.
Libra: Jason Wu by Jason Wu
Have you ever been near a jasmine vine? This summer, I went to visit my Libra-rising lover and arrived at their mountain home in the middle of the night. Opening the car door, I felt my lungs fill with jasmine. It was an involuntary and welcome surrender to beauty. In the dark, I wandered from Earth mound to Earth mound, inhaling deeply and whispering in reverence, "Where is it?” Some not dissimilar spell must have come upon Jason Wu, whose new self-titled fragrance is an ode to jasmine sambac. Made in collaboration with master perfumer Frank Voelkl of Firmenich, this fragrance is described as evocative of Jason’s Taiwanese childhood, “where he used to pick the flower from his neighbor’s stone wall.” If that’s not the most Libra-child behavior you’ve ever heard of, consider this: The gold capped midcentury-inspired glass bottle is made in collaboration with architect Andre Mellone, and the perfume itself is nude with a touch of blush. This is a scent in service to beauty, a Libra’s calling card.
Jason Wu, Jason Wu, from $70, available at Jason Wu.
Scorpio: Obsessed by Calvin Klein
If you haven’t noticed, this decade has been truly obsessed with another decade. It’s been the '90s everywhere. You’d think the trend was over, but people are just, like, expanding on it? This summer had people acting like jelly sandals are comfortable, like plastic choker necklaces don’t make you look like a turtle in danger, like that sweaty embroidered velvet dress you wore to your bat mitzvah is a luxe look. All those '90s ghosts of fads past were spectral lies, but let me tell what is not a lie and can never be: The love that existed between Kate Moss and Mario Sorrenti when he photographed her for the original Calvin Klein OBSESSION campaign in 1993. Did you know that Calvin so believed in the veracity and art of their desire that he sent the two young lovers away ALONE to the Virgin Islands to facilitate what would later become the iconic campaign? OBSESSED is a Scorpio in a bottle, unyielding to time, a servant to lust. Described as “the scent of another on the skin… genders are subverted and layered… traditional scents of the masculine Fougère … harnessed for the women’s fragrance, while the men’s scent is in thrall to a dark vanilla.” Subverted, layered, harnessed, in thrall. That’s basically a Scorpio on a Wednesday night just getting started.
Calvin Klein, Obsessed, from $56, available at Calvin Klein.
Sagittarius: Woman by Ralph Lauren
I was resistant to it at first, Ralph Lauren’s Woman. What could he know about a heroine? I wondered. What could Ralph—which, by the way, is the name of a boyfriend’s penis in Judy Bloom’s Forever—know about the power of femininity? Then I started thinking about Ralph Lauren’s commitment to the women’s power suit and how that black tuxedo he designed for the campaign looks real good on Jessica Chastain. Also, it doesn’t hurt that this perfume, blended by master perfumer Anne Flipo, combines sensuous tuberose and handsome sandalwood to create a fragrance like a cowgirl who got gussied up and went out on the town. She’s alone, but not for long. Plus, the fragrance fills a bottle like a flask and, listen, I’m not saying all Sagittarian women love to drink, but I’m saying most likely your Sagittarian friend loves her liquor. Most likely, the perfume flask would make her swoon and she would wear the scent out while with you, talking your ear off about dreams she’s had where she’s wearing the perfect suit tailored to match the equine grace and strength of her body. Sounds indulgent but, truth is, you’d listen rapt since she smells so good and smiles so sweet.
Ralph Lauren, Woman, from $84, available at Ralph Lauren.
Capricorn: Oud Wood Intense by Tom Ford
I know it’s not winter yet, and you know it’s not winter yet, but Capricorn has no idea what you’re talking about. While you’ve been busy grass-hoppering around, trying to stretch the last days of summer well into October, Capricorn has been working hard to prepare for what’s coming. And, no, I’m not talking about the army of the dead lead by the Night King, although white supremacy is starting to really show up in that blue-eyed vacant sort of way. I mean, Capricorn has been gathering the coin for winter spending, preserving the fruits for winter feasting, anticipating “cuffing season” (forgive me if this is not a thing anymore, I was once young and am no longer young), and chopping wood for the good fire. This kind of hearth work pairs well with Tom Ford’s Oud Wood Intense, which is not only fun to say out loud while sipping Lambrusco, but also impossible to resist as it “reveals its full force through a bold intensification, ignited by the smoldering grip of angelic and cypress.” Healing roots and tallest trees, this fragrance is a Capricorn welcoming you into their home when the fire’s going and their heart is strong and ready.
Tom Ford, Oud Wood, from $230, available at Tom Ford.
Aquarius: Nirvana Amethyst by Elizabeth and James
You might think you know an Aquarius. You might think that just because you’ve sat next to one in a booth, felt her press the side of her thigh against yours casually, her enthusiasm an effervescent cloud at your side, that you’ve got some idea of who she is. You would be mistaken. Ruled by Uranus, the planet of rebellion, an Aquarius is an unknowable element, fixed and shifting at once. A fragrance that has rebellion written all over it is Nirvana Amethyst by Elizabeth and James, which is named after a precious stone, but arrives all fire and smoke. Bold, gold-rimmed and violet, this vessel holds notes of tobacco, honeysuckle, and cedar. A cool spice and a switch, this versatile scent is just like an Aquarius; she’s going to tell you one thing, and she’s going to be another.
Elizabeth and James, Nirvana Amethyst, from $65, available at Sephora.
Pisces: Velvet Haze by Byredo
Out of the three water signs of the zodiac, it’s Pisces that can’t survive on land. So it’s Pisces that devote their bodies to the sea and wanders the world with their minds. And, sure, many a Pisces loves a psychedelic from time to time, but they barely need one. A Piscean mind is already a psychedelic one, each fish instinctually intimate with the ocean of knowledge that flows over us all. What better fall scent for a Pisces than Byredo’s Velvet Haze? The modern grail, Velvet Haze is a bottle of coconut water boasting the Earth of Pisces’ dreams: heady patchouli and wild musk. With the state of the Earth as it is, doesn’t Pisces deserve the artificial paradise and hypnotic beauty Byredo promises?
Byredo, Velvet Haze, $230, available at Byredo.