Perfume 101: 211 posts

Here you can find how to guides to selecting, testing and enjoying scents. Also includes are the lists of our top favorite perfumes for different occasions and articles covering all range of topics related to fragrance. If you’re curious to step inside a perfume lab (or even become an industry professional), this group of essays will be of interest.

Woods : Scents and Words

For our edition of scent diary today, I’ve selected woods as our theme. You can describe your favorite perfume that contains woods such as cedarwood, sandalwood, rosewood, etc. Although it’s a leaf, patchouli is classified as a woody note. Or you can pay attention to your environment throughout the day and see if you can notice a woody aroma–coffee, cloves, pepper also have nuances reminiscent of woods.

One of my favorite woods is cedarwood, a wood redolent either of fresh sap and violet petals or of pepper and soft smoke. In perfumery, the note called cedarwood usually comes from a type of juniper, although the precious Atlas cedarwood is also used for its plush honeyed effect. Another popular cedarwood is a synthetic called Iso E Super. To experience it unvarnished, you can try Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, which is a solution of Iso E Super, or Hermessence Poivre Samarcande, which overdoses Iso E Super.

Extra Reading: Perfumes with Cedarwood Notes

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

The Shifting Contexts of Perfume

Could other factors, apart from the aroma itself, influence our perception of perfume? Yes, of course, and this is not limited to fragrance. Elisa explores the topic.

A few years ago, I went to a nearby wine shop to stock up for a weekend in the mountains with some old college friends. A representative from a local winery intercepted me in the red blends aisle and implored me to try a bottle of his family’s wine. Colorado is not known for its vineyards, but I went along in the spirit of adventure, bonhomie, and perhaps a touch of pity.

When we got to the mountains, I warned my friends (occasional wine snobs) that I couldn’t vouch for the quality of the local wine. Since we were all sure it would be bad, we saved it until the end of dinner, a couple of bottles in. When we finally opened and tasted it, we were blown away—it was utterly unusual, with the complexity and creaminess of a good Bordeaux but some additional, unplaceable quirk that made it compulsively drinkable. I was sad when it was gone.

Continue reading →

The Vetiver of Spring : Season’s Favorites

Patricia enjoins spring to arrive faster with a selection of vetiver favorites–and a few salty woods and violets.

Spring in New England takes its time in coming. As I’m writing this, a blizzard is raging, and the blooming heather at the end of the driveway is covered in snow. But I know that the snow and ice will reluctantly give way, the earth will gradually thaw, and what is somewhat affectionately called “mud season” will begin. During the melting phase, my favorite fragrance is L’Eau d’Hiver by Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums. Creator Jean-Claude Ellena perfectly captures with transparent powdery iris, the sensation of the run off of melting snow into a cold mountain spring. Though it doesn’t last long, the musks evolve into a soft skin scent that is a pleasure to wear.

Vetivers

The vetivers, too, bring to mind the first weeks of spring and the anticipation of change. The dryness of Lalique Encre Noire with its cypress and dark woody notes suggest the raw, hard earth not yet ready to give way to new growth. Unlike L’Eau d’Hiver, it lasts a good six to eight hours, softening gently in the drydown process.

Continue reading →

5 Iris Perfumes and One Dumas Novel

Iris has the reputation of being a cold and austere note. Obtained from the roots of iris pallida, rather than flowers, it smells of its source–more like a sliver of frozen woods than petals. (This is why iris in perfumery is not quite a floral note, and it’s classified separately, between woods and violets.) And yet, it’s my favorite scent for winter. It fits so perfectly into the wintery panorama of scents that I can hardly imagine these cold days without an opaline sillage of iris. On the other hand, a beautiful perfume is beautiful all year round, so I’m slowly transitioning to spring with my bouquet of irises.

The indisputable gold standard irises are Chanel No 19, Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, and Annick Goutal Heure Exquise. Hermès Hiris is another notable fragrance, often referred to as “a cult favorite,” whatever that means. Although I enjoy No 19, Iris Silver Mist and Hiris, my personal iris cult is more varied, a testament to the allure of this ingredient.

Continue reading →

Bitter and Fresh : Citrus Colognes for Winter

In my new FT column, Sublime Citrus Scents, I talk of Napoleon, bitter oranges and an iconic fragrance family, colognes. Contrary to usual recommendations, I prefer colognes in the winter, and it’s not simply because I don’t believe that scents are seasonal. The freshness of colognes is uplifting on dark winter mornings.  The zesty aromas linger in the cool air and I start noticing new facets even in my summery staples. Finally, while I enjoy winter, even in its grey and rainy Belgian variant, cologne can bring a beguiling reminder of spring.

“Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have used litres of cologne, even when on his military campaigns. While my ambitions don’t reach as far as world domination, fragrances suffused with citrus nevertheless feature prominently in my perfume wardrobe. Few aromas are more uplifting and rejuvenating, and their versatility makes colognes an easy fragrance type to adapt to various moods and occasions. To continue, please click here.”

Please let me know what citrus fragrances you prefer and whether you have favorite winter colognes.

Image via FT

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Karen A in Cherry Blossom Haiku: I am right there with you nearly passed out from exhaustion from working in the garden! I take breaks under various shrubs breathing in the scent of the earth. Love… April 26, 2017 at 11:23pm

  • Karen A in Three Ultimate Iris Perfumes: I am enjoying it quite a lot. The sandalwood adds a nice warmth to it without it being overpowering. Lately I’ve been using a rose scented dry oil (it’s quite… April 26, 2017 at 11:16pm

  • Anna in Cherry Blossom Haiku: What a lovely post for the Spring, Victoria. Cherry blossoms and haiku. I love Basho but had not heard of Buson. It reminds me to buy an anthology. Winter gives… April 26, 2017 at 9:17pm

  • ClareObscure in Cherry Blossom Haiku: Hi Victoria. I hope you are making progress in your garden. This was a lovely post about the fleeting poignant loveliness of Spring blossoms. Here in England we are surrounded… April 26, 2017 at 7:44pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2017 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.