What are Perfume Accords and Bases?

Today I will continue the technical series on perfumery that many of you have enjoyed, and I will cover the topic of accords and bases. What are these concepts? How are they used in perfumery?

In my video, I explain the differences and nuances and will give some ideas to the perfumers-in-training.

I mentioned the following perfumes in the video:

Caron Nuit de Noel

Guerlain Mitsouko

Chanel No 19

Drakkar Noir

Guerlain Shalimar

Frédéric Malle Une Rose

Chanel Eau de Cologne

Atelier Cologne line

Today I am wearing a mimosa perfume, Caron Farnesiana, which includes a number of bases as well as a beautiful violet accord. Tell me what perfume you are wearing today, and I will explain which accord it contains.

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33 Comments

  • Karen G.: Thank you Victoria for all you share in the world of sensory pursuits. I love learning more about the art of perfumery. Today I am wearing Magnolia Nobile by Aquua do Parma. March 8, 2021 at 7:58am Reply

    • Karen G.: Aqua Di Parma! March 8, 2021 at 7:59am Reply

    • Victoria: That one has a rose-jasmine accord. A nice perfume. March 8, 2021 at 8:42am Reply

  • Mercedes: Hi, Victoria!. As usual, it’s a pleasure to hear and learn from you. It would be great if you would think about organising a course about aromas. I live in Bilbao and right now we are lockdown. It would be great to have the chance to learn direct from you. Today I’m wearing Passum from Profumi di Pantelleria. March 8, 2021 at 10:57am Reply

    • Victoria: I will consider it, thank you!

      Passum has a woody accord. March 9, 2021 at 3:13am Reply

  • Justine Jones: I am wearing MDCI Nuit de Andalouse. I hope I got that right! Thank you so much for all your columns and videos! March 8, 2021 at 12:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: MDCI Nuit Andalouse has a white floral accord around jasmine and gardenia, if I recall it correctly. March 9, 2021 at 3:14am Reply

  • Lindsay: Thank you Victoria! I love learning from you. I’m fascinated by how each element melds (or not) into a signature scent. I’m curious also about what is considered ‘harmonious.’ I am wearing an older version of Jean Patou’s 1000. March 8, 2021 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a good topic to cover, but in a few words, harmonious means that every element of the composition is in balance. Nothing is overdosed or too prominent, or even if an overdose of a material is used, the effect is smooth and balanced.

      1000 has a chypre accord, which is one of the most prominent. There are other accords in it (floral, woody, etc.) and a few bases, but the chypre accord is what defines 100 for me. March 9, 2021 at 3:18am Reply

  • Vi: That was fascinating! I don’t think I quite understood the concept of accords before, specifically that it was the accord that primarily determines the type of perfume. I’m wearing Papillon Perfumes’ Dryad. March 8, 2021 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Dryad has a chypre accord. It also has an oriental accord with its balsamic, woody notes.

      Glad that the explanation was useful! March 9, 2021 at 3:19am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Penhaligon’s The Favourite is SOTD March 8, 2021 at 7:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: A floral accord is in that one! March 9, 2021 at 3:19am Reply

  • Angeliki: Hi Victoria, thank you so much for this explanatory video! I am wearing Hermes Elixir des merveilles. March 9, 2021 at 12:21am Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure, thank you for watching. Elixir des Merveilles has an oriental accord as well as a gourmand accord, although one could say that it’s all part of the same accord (technically, oriental accords comprise sweet, gourmand notes.) March 9, 2021 at 3:20am Reply

  • Nina: Hello & thank you. I wear coco Chanel… March 9, 2021 at 7:22am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a classical example of an oriental accord. I like this fragrance very much. March 9, 2021 at 8:03am Reply

  • Dorothy Van Daele: Hi Victoria,
    I was wearing Kiki by Vero Profumo, which I find reasons to wear year round. Thank you for addressing this topic! March 9, 2021 at 9:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Kiki is interesting–it has an oriental accord as well as a fruity one. March 10, 2021 at 8:58am Reply

      • Dorothy Van Daele: Thank you! I knew there was more than the fruit, but I couldn’t identify what! March 10, 2021 at 7:46pm Reply

  • Laurie: Probably am commenting too late, but love this post and have loved all your videos! I’m wearing the first Versace – the one with the gorgeous bottle, released in 1981. Got my first bottle that year and, even then, knew I would want to stock up on it and did so. March 9, 2021 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: That Versace was a chypre floral perfume, so it had a gorgeous chypre (woody-mossy accord) as well as a floral one. There are so many balsamic, woody notes in it that it could also be an oriental, but the chypre part dominates. March 10, 2021 at 8:59am Reply

  • Anne Marie Papandrea: I’ve been learning so much from you – you’re an excellent teacher. Today, I’m wearing Songes, because it feels like spring here in MA! March 9, 2021 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: An oriental accord. One of my favorites too. March 10, 2021 at 9:05am Reply

  • Geraldine: Thank you for teaching us, Victoria. Today I chose Un Matin d’Orage by Annick Goutal. I feel like it’s a strong aroma with which to greet spring! March 9, 2021 at 8:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: It has a floral accord, so beautiful. March 10, 2021 at 9:05am Reply

  • Nina Z: I have been thinking about bases recently because of a perfume game I’ve been playing using my own collection plus samples. I focus on a single house per week, sometimes vintage and sometimes modern. When I wore 6 vintage Patou fragrances from the Ma collection, I noticed that not only was the style similar (complex, well blended, subtle) but they all had what seemed like a similar base, so that they all smelled a bit a like. I had the same experience when I did a week of Prada fragrances, including 2 from the influsion series (iris and mimosa) and 5 from the numbered series (oeillet, benjoin, opoponax, myrrhe, and fleur d’oranger). They all had a similar smelling component to them. In both cases, I wondered what it was. March 9, 2021 at 9:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: The old Patou fragrances had numerous bases, mimosa, carnation, lilac, rose, jasmine, etc. Often when you see “carnation,” it means a formula of several ingredients, some of which could be bases themselves. This gave complexity and a certain feel to composition, but it also ran the risk of them smelling identical. March 10, 2021 at 9:12am Reply

  • Jill: Victoria, first I want to say that I adore reading and viewing your posts! I have a question about aquatic notes. Whenever there is one, I find I dislike the fragrance. What is it that I am reacting to? Thanks, Jill March 10, 2021 at 9:40am Reply

  • Aurora: I feel I understand so much more thanks to your informative posts.

    Today I am wearing Chamade extrait. March 10, 2021 at 1:55pm Reply

  • John: Hi Victoria,

    Thank you, this was very informative! I’ve recently been trying out the original iteration of Givenchy Gentleman (now marketed as ‘Givenchy Gentleman Eau de toilette Originale, 1974’), a notably patchouli-based composition that is sometimes discussed as a ‘leather’ fragrance. Based on my understanding of your video, it seems to me that it might be more accurately described as having a Russian leather accord and an amber base, but I am still becoming acquainted with it… For such a darkly-toned, old school profile it is, in the current version anyway, appealingly warm and sheer. March 10, 2021 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Karen A: Thank you so much for making these educational videos! They are interesting and very helpful for understanding fragrances in a more complete way. I’ve been wearing Nahema or Chamade extrait a lot. March 11, 2021 at 6:57am Reply

  • Christelle: Thank you for this lovely and very informative video. I am looking for the Mimosa pour moi l’Artisan Parfumeur but it looks like it is out of order here in Europe. Do you think it is still distributed ? March 12, 2021 at 1:13pm Reply

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