News: 515 posts

Latest news from the fragrance world and other interesting reading

The Wallace Collection

One day Richard Wallace found out two things that changed his life–that he was the illegitimate son of the Fourth Marquess of Hertford and that he was the heir to an invaluable collection of antiques, including paintings by Titian, Frans Hals, and Rubens. He worked as a secretary for the Marquess, but discovering the true nature of their relation was a shock.  When he inherited his father’s collection, the apartment in the rue Laffitte, the chateau of Bagatelle, and the estates in Ireland, he was living in Paris. He married Julie Castelnau, a former perfume seller, and set about taking care of the collection. It was to become his life’s work.

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The Franco-German war of 1870-71 and the uprising of the Commune precipitated his move to London, and that’s where his collection currently resides. What is more, its treasures are available to visitors free of charge; Lady Wallace bequeathed most of the collection to the nation.

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Our Complex and Fascinating Olfactory System

The New York Times’s Smell Turns Up in Unexpected Places is one of the most fascinating articles I’ve read lately. Scientific research conducted over the last decade has revealed that odor receptors can be found not only in the nose, but in our skin, heart, kidneys and other organs. What is more, they aid various physiological functions, such as helping tissues heal or acting as a safety switch against poisonous compounds. Whether we will see the development of scent based medicine is still under debate, but it’s beyond doubt that our olfactory system has an incredible and still poorly understood potential.

“Over the last decade or so, scientists have discovered that odor receptors are not solely confined to the nose, but found throughout body — in the liver, the heart, the kidneys and even sperm — where they play a pivotal role in a host of physiological functions.

Now, a team of biologists at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany has found that our skin is bristling with olfactory receptors. “More than 15 of the olfactory receptors that exist in the nose are also found in human skin cells,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Hanns Hatt. Not only that, but exposing one of these receptors (colorfully named OR2AT4) to a synthetic sandalwood odor known as Sandalore sets off a cascade of molecular signals that appears to induce healing in injured tissue. Read the rest.

Thank you to Susan, Amanda and L for a link.

“10 Fragrances Every Woman Should Own” : Red Magazine

Red Magazine’s November issue includes my love letter to Guerlain Chamade in its feature, “10 Fragrances Every Woman Should Own.” I was thinking more along the lines of a great perfume everyone should try, and Chamade made the cut for a number of reasons: it has a distinctive personality, an original form, and it is beyond the trends and whims of fashion. There are many excellent and unexpected selections in the article. For instance, Tania Sanchez makes an impassioned call for Lush’s Gorilla Perfume Breath of God. Michael Donovan writes about Caldey Island Lavender Water, and Sali Hughes makes a great case for considering Chanel No 5.

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I also describe why I love Serge Lutens’s Féminité du Bois in Red’s online feature, Best Perfumes for Women.

If you were to suggest fragrances for others to try, what would you include?

Antonio Alessandria Parfums : New Fragrance Line

Last year I wrote an article about an intriguing perfume boutique in Catania, Sicily, Boudoir 36. Run by Antonio Alessandria, it is a treasure trove of artisanal perfumery and other scented products. Now, the boutique offers its own line of fragrances, Antonio Alessandria  Parfums. It includes three fragrances, Nacre Blanche, Nuit Rouge, and Noir Obscur.

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Nacre Blanche

“The light of the moon, white as a pearl, enters the window…”

Nacre Blanche is based on tuberose, and it includes notes of coriander, bergamot, osmanthus, jasmine, benzoin, vanilla, and leather.

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Lavender Farmers Against EU Regulations

In my latest article for the Financial Times Magazine, I wrote about the malaise affecting lavender. Another problem lavender farmers face is due to the new EU regulations. As ABC News reports, “They fear European Union rules adopted last year and due to come in force by 2018 will threaten [them]. According to regulators, lavender oil’s potential to produce allergies places it firmly within regulations on chemical toxins. That means lavender products will have to bear labels involving bold black and red warning labels with messages such as “CAN BE FATAL IF SWALLOWED OR INHALED.” Producers say the rules are too extreme — they note that lavender oil allergies usually produce only rashes — and too expensive for small farmers.”

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You can read more about this issue in Lavender Farmers Rebel Against EU Regulations.

One thing is important to keep in mind. Lavender is not the only material that falls under the umbrella of REACH directive (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). REACH applies to all chemicals imported or produced in the EU. Whether lavender essential oil deserves to be classed in the same group as hydrochloric acid is open to debate.

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