Jean Carles on Olfactory Training and Perfumer’s Organ

“Perfumery is an art, not a science, as many seem to believe. A scientific background is not necessary for the perfumer; scientific knowledge may even sometimes prove an obstacle to the freedom required in perfume creation,” wrote Jean Carles (1892-1966), the perfumer whose fingerprint is on Miss Dior, Carven Ma Griffe, Dana Tabu, Schiaparelli Shocking, and my absolute favorite, Elle… Elle by Lucien Lelong.

“The creative perfumer should use odorous materials in the same way that a painter uses colors and give them opportunity for maximum development and effect, although it is understood that potential reactions such as discoloration within the ultimate formulation and also the stability of the perfume should be given due consideration. This is about the only use the perfumer will be able to make of his scientific training, if any.”

Today many would disagree with Carles’s dismissal of a scientific background, especially when a perfumer is expected to create fragrances for a variety of products, from laundry detergents to candles. Carles himself approached perfumery in a scientific manner, laying out the techniques in his influential “A Method of Creation and Perfumery” published in 1961. All perfumer trainees, myself included, studied according to his theories of smelling and composition.

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Recommend Me a Perfume May 2017

Our May “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread is now open. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations, and of course, share your discoveries.

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

Scents of Evanescence

I often come across comments that many spring flowers are unscented. Tulips, cherry blossoms, and snowdrops fall into that category. But are they really? Tulips smell of earth, green sap and unripe apples. Cherry blossoms have a mild bitterness that contrasts with their frothy looks. Snowdrops smell green, dewy, with a curious musty note. Their aroma is mild, lacking the generous sweetness of late spring-early summer blooms, but they’re hardly unscented.

These watercolor fragrances are among the treasures of spring. Taking a bit of effort to discover them makes their delicate beauty more memorable. Even more so when you find them in an urban setting.

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Balmain Ivoire Perfume Giveaway

Today we have a giveaway thanks to one of our readers. Tammy offered to send one of you a bottle of  Balmain Ivoire (Eau de Toilette, 30ml, almost full, original packaging, modern formulation). She received it as a gift, but it’s not her style. She would like to send it to someone who enjoys this perfume.

It goes without saying that we are not responsible for leaks or damage during transit or for lost packages.

To participate, please answer these questions. I will randomly draw one winner.

1. Tammy would like to find out what perfumes would you recommend for someone who enjoys sweet florals.
2. May I contact you via email to notify you of your win?

The contest is now closed. The winner is Marjorie. Congratulations! I will announce the winner here and will contact them via email.

Cherry Blossom Haiku

The sky shifts with the cherry branches above my head. I’m lying on the grass staring at the blossoms. This idyllic scene would be straight out of a Japanese silk painting were it not for the fact that I’m dressed for garden work and the reason I’m in a reclined position is because I’m exhausted after weeding the garden. But as the petals fall on my face, I forget about the back pain and think of my favorite haiku by Matsuo Basho, the 17th century Japanese poet.

How many, many things
They call to mind
These cherry-blossoms!

Haiku weaves vivid images, and cherry blossom themed poems have an element of contemplation and bittersweetness that is compelling. The sight of blossoms, so exquisite and so evanescent, is a reminder of the transience of things, and while it can be melancholy, it’s also reassuring. Everything passes–and then returns.

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