Fragrant Pleasures: 365 posts

Essays on scented pleasures: collecting and enjoying fragrance, building perfume wardrobe, growing aromatic plants and more.

Perfumes for When You Are Under the Weather

Are you feeling under the weather? Pat explores a range of scented cures. (Bois de Jasmin will be back to its regular schedule on March 6th, Friday.)

It might start with a slight headache, or a small case of the sniffles, or just feeling somewhat unbalanced, then it progresses to general malaise and aching limbs. Time to face up to it, you’re sick, and you might as well cancel everything planned for the next three days to a week. Your best friends will be a cup of hot tea, a box of tissues, and a warm comforter on the sofa. Perfume won’t even be on your radar.


But what about when you start to recover and take an interest in life again? Just as you wouldn’t attempt a three-course meal before starting with a bowl of hot chicken soup, you won’t want to go right back to wearing a heavy application of your vintage Mitsouko. Transition fragrances are in order, and here are some of my favorites.

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Perfumers on Perfume : Ernest Shiftan

“What a character he was,” said Sophia Grojsman when I once asked her about Ernest Shiftan. When Grojsman came to International Flavors & Fragrances as a young chemistry student, Shiftan (1903-1976) was an experienced perfumer with a great portfolio of fragrances. Over the years, he created fragrances like Brut (with Carl Mann), Révillon Detchema, Jean Naté, Givenchy Le De, Prince Matchabelli Wind Song (with Léon Hardy) and Revlon Intimate. (Some sources mention Estée Lauder Youth Dew and White Linen as his co-creations too, but this is not correct. The former was created by Josephine Catapano, while the latter was the work of Sophia Grojsman. Since at the time Shiftan held the position of vice-president at IFF, his name would sometimes be automatically added to the successful creations of other perfumers.)


Shiftan certainly was a character. Well-versed not only in technical and artistic aspects of perfumery, he was excellent at winning customers’ trust and sensing the direction of trends. Shiftan made a famous quip that “in all of America there is only one true nose and it belongs to Estée Lauder.” In turn, Leonard Lauder was unstinting in his praise for Shiftan and the way he put American perfumery on the map. While many of his own creations have been either discontinued or reformulated, the fact that companies like Estée Lauder and Avon can compete with the French brands, and in some sectors of the market, even overtake them, is one of his achievements.

In partnership with the Osmothèque, I would like to share several excerpts from Review of the History of Perfumes, an essay by Ernest Shiftan:

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Winter Favorites : 10 Boozy Perfumes to Warm Your Bones

Get ready to become intoxicated by Elisa’s heady selection of winter fragrances.

As I write this, it’s 65 degrees – hardly fire-building and hot-toddy weather. But Denver is erratic in spring, and it could easily snow this week. Regardless, winter is the perfect time for perfumes that feel like an après ski fantasy: cozy, firelit, complete with nightcaps. Here are some of my boozy favorites.

pine cone ratafia


MiN New York Barrel – Described by MiN as a “complex cocktail of spirits” including tannins, absinthe, and rum, this wonderful scent has a smoky sweetness that reminds me more of a cross between bourbon and mezcal, laced with intense spices that conjure up whiffs of Chinese mustard and gunpowder.

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In Nose We Trust

What makes one a perfume lover? Having a collection that puts the Saks Fifth Avenue fragrance counter to shame? Knowing the minute details of Serge Lutens’s biography? Speaking of fragrance ingredients with an obsession rivaling that of a Michelin starred chef? Wearing nothing but the most exclusive and expensive brands? No, no, and no. A perfume lover, or a perfumista, is someone who loves scents. Period.


Like all hobbies, fragrance can be treated in as esoteric and passionate a manner as you wish, but what I have always found special about this pursuit is its endless variety. Our olfactory palettes are shaped by numerous factors, including early childhood memories, idiosyncratic preferences and particularities of our noses. It’s a fact that we all experience scents slightly differently, based on a combination of individual sensitivities and anosmias. Even perfume industry professionals, whose noses are well-honed to distinguish different ingredients, can’t avoid olfactory quirks, whether it means not being able to smell some types of musk or woody ambers. The wealth of individual interpretations of common smells is what gives perfumery its richness and beauty.

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Recommend Me a Perfume : February

This week, we have our “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations. If you’ve asked for a recommendation before, we would love to hear how your search went and what you’ve discovered.

vydubecki monastyr

How does it work: 1. Please post your requests or questions as comments here. You can also use this space to ask any fragrance related questions. To receive recommendations that are better tailored to your tastes, you can include details on what you like and don’t like, your signature perfumes, and your budget. And please let us know what you end up sampling. 2. Then please check the thread to see if there are other requests you can answer. Your responses are really valuable for navigating the big and sometimes confusing world of perfume, so let’s help each other!

To make this thread easier to read, when you reply to someone, please click on the blue “reply” link under their comment.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Kyiv, Ukraine

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