Noble Materials: 2 posts

What Materials Are Valued by Perfumers And Why

If you’ve ever been confused by a term “matières nobles” or “noble materials” in a perfume marketing description, I have a video for you. These materials are so called, because in classical French perfumery, they are renowned for their expense and know-how required to produce them. These materials typically include floral essences such as rose oil, rose absolute, jasmine absolute, tuberose absolute, etc. The term should be taken with a grain of salt, because just because a press release mentions “matières nobles,” there is no guarantee that they’re present in a discernible amount or that they are “noble” indeed. Natural essences also have quality categories.

In the video, I describe the history of the term and then mention the materials that are valued by perfumers. To explain how they are used in a fragrance formula, I will use the following perfumes as my examples:

Serge Lutens A La Nuit
Chanel No 5/Jean Patou Joy
Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma
Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile
Frédéric Malle Une Fleur de Cassie
Comme des Garçons Wonderwood

Any materials that you particularly like in fragrances? What note mentioned in descriptions tempts you to try a fragrance?

“Noble” Materials

It seems that the niche houses, and everyone else in the know, have received a memo advising that the new trendy thing is noble materials. It can be the only explanation for the surfeit of noble verbiage in the press releases that pass my hands. “We are reviving the venerable traditions of the art of perfumery using only noble materials.” “The combination of noble materials and extreme sophistication takes your breath away.” “Our extraordinary fragrances are pure, authentic and use high concentrations of noble materials.” “We use only 100% all-natural noble materials, no water, other toxins or chemicals.” I will stop here before all of us start losing IQ points.

marie-antoinette st denis

So what is this social hierarchy in scent all about? In French, the phrase “matières nobles” generally refers to substances that are not synthetic, but it can also mean anything fine and luxurious, especially in the world of fashion. Even in science, where the “noble metal,” a term dating to the late 14th century, means a metal that doesn’t corrode or oxidize in humid air, different disciplines have their own lists of materials.

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