Perfume 101: 246 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.

Perfumista Bait

Elisa talks about types of perfumes that never fail to grab the perfume lovers’ attention.

My good friend L, who years ago worked at a perfume counter, is suddenly, newly obsessed with perfume. We frequently email about her exploits in the rabbit hole. One day, she half-bragged, half-complained to me about spending hundreds of dollars on a single sample order – all 1-ml vials! As she works through the samples, she’s tracking her impressions in a spreadsheet; there’s a Guerlain she describes as smelling “like a girl’s clean underwear drawer where she has been stashing her rancid Turkish delight and wet markers.”

Recently L asked me what perfumes I think of as “perfumista bait.” I had never heard the phrase, but I knew exactly what she meant – perfumes that us jaded connoisseurs are instantly drawn to and still get excited about.

The quintessential perfumista bait has something about it that’s rare and perhaps difficult – it’s both a delicacy and an acquired taste, like sea urchin. Below are a few of the categories that I think are especially appealing to us perfumistas.
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5 New Perfumes for Fall : Reviews

I’ve been making lists of fall fragrances ever since the end of summer when the new launches started appearing. So, I decided to narrow down my selection to a few perfumes I enjoyed and wore. In this installment, I will talk about 5 such fragrances. They weren’t picked to be traditionally seasonal, and they range from citrus colognes to floral orientals. With the possible exception of Twilly, they’re for both men and women.

Twilly d’Hermès

Twilly d’Hermès is one of my favorite launches this year. The fragrance was inspired by Hermès’s narrow scarves, and if the house aimed for a blend as versatile as its famous accessory, then it more than succeeded. More than that, it also demonstrated that it’s possible to create a lighthearted, pleasing perfume that still smells clever, memorable and plush. The core of the fragrance is composed of ginger, tuberose and sandalwood, notes that together create a colorful, exuberant effect. The floral accord of Twilly is abstract and luminous, but it has a creamy sweetness that’s the trademark of white flowers like tuberose. Like most of Christine Nagel’s perfumes, it blossoms on skin and has a seductive, coquettish flair.

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Learn About Perfume and Wine in Burgundy : April 2018

I have some news for you. I’m going to teach a new perfumery course in France next spring (April 18-21, 2018). Since it will take place in Burgundy, a region renowned for its wine, the three day course will reflect that. We will learn together about the aromatics used in perfumery and found in wine, practice sharpening our sense of smell and learn to take apart accords and recognize notes. We will also have an overview of perfume history in the form of some of the most iconic fragrances. At the same time, I will show you lost masterpieces, less well-known but equally fascinating blends and teach you a number of professional techniques for smelling, remembering scents and describing them. And we will certainly be enjoying plenty of good wine.

The course will be held in Château Le Sallay in Magny-Cours. It’s a Renaissance-era building, once the residence of the Counts of Nevers, that’s been restored as a 4 star hotel surrounded by a large park. It’s easily reached from Paris, and if you wanted to combine the course with a visit to the Loire Valley, it’s possible. 

Just like my previous two courses, this one is organized by Senses & Vacation. All of the details can be found via their website, The Art of Perfume. It also lists the program, accommodation details and much more.

The course program will be slightly different, but you can read about the course I taught in spring of 2017 here.

1st image by Anna Kozlova via Senses & Vacation, 2nd via Wiki-images, some rights reserved.

Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa : Perfume Review

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I sometimes notice that coffee smells better than it tastes–or that it doesn’t taste the way it smells.  Even the aroma of coffee, for instance, is difficult to sum up–sweet, bitter, spicy, acidic, toasted, burned, with hints of blackcurrants, chocolate and hazelnuts. Even more difficult is to render coffee notes believable in a perfume without making one smell like a badly washed coffee mug, or worse, a piece of grilled meat. Coffee notes are stubborn. I’ve been on a search for successful coffee perfumes for a while, and this fall I’m adding a new contender to my collection, Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa.

The idea behind Café Tuberosa is clever–take a creamy tuberose accord, brighten it with bergamot and give it a bittersweet rush with coffee. All three are bold, strong notes, but the whole fits together so harmoniously that it makes me wonder why this motif is not more explored.

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Vetiver Voyages

“Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible,” wrote the cubist, surrealist and expressionist painter Paul Klee. The same could be said about perfumery, which is an art of intangible substances. The greatest fragrances conjure up the most complex of images, holding the artistic intent of their creators and offering a glimpse into their thoughts and memories. Just how perfumers achieve is what I explore in my recent article for my FT column, Vetiver Voyages. I use vetiver as an illustration.

One of my favourite examples is Lalique’s Encre Noire Pour Homme, released in 2006, which perfumer Nathalie Lorson composed with the intention of showing off the suave, languid character of vetiver – a note usually seen as bracing and cold. A type of grass originating in India, vetiver is grown to prevent soil erosion and produces a complex essential oil with accents of liquorice, bitter grapefruit peel, smoke and damp earth. To continue, please click here.

The other fragrances in the Modern Classic series were Serge Lutens’s Féminité du BoisLolita LempickaBulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert, and Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower.

What are your favorite vetiver fragrances?

Image via FT

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Elisa in Perfumista Bait: It took me a long time to feel confident in, and “ready” for Coco too! Isn’t that strange, how we can completely fall in love with something but not buy… November 21, 2017 at 11:42am

  • Sandra in Perfumista Bait: I fell for fragrance when I smelled Obsession in the 90’s and Cristalle. Some fragrances that captured my attention, but at that time I was no confident enough to wear… November 21, 2017 at 11:37am

  • Elisa in Perfumista Bait: I’ve experience the same thing, Nora — I now love things that I originally thought I hated, whether it was materials or styles. There are now very few things that… November 21, 2017 at 9:47am

  • Elisa in Perfumista Bait: It’s like the Area 51 of perfumes! November 21, 2017 at 9:45am

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