Perfume 101: 432 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.

Summer Cologne for Winter

I’ve noticed over the past few years that my most worn winter perfumes have been the most summery ones in my collection. Or at least, the ones that feel crisp, bright, and effervescent. Enveloping ambers, dark musks, or plush leathers edge in, but they are not as prominent. While Belgian winters have been getting warmer, the main reason is that radiant, uplifting fragrance fit my mood better during cold days than anything rich and heavy. For instance, Hermès Eau de Citron Noir gives me an instant boost with its combination of citrus, spice, and woods.

Another favorite category is white florals, from dewy Frédéric Malle Lys Méditerranée to opulent Guerlain Cruel Gardénia. This genre of fragrance behaves so differently during cold weather that it’s fascinating to wear and compare one’s impressions. The blossoms open up slower, the dew lingers, the freshness persists. Sometimes I don’t even get to the final drydown before the day is over and the winter dusk falls.

What about you? What are you wearing today?

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Spices, Citrus, Woods, Rose, Orange Blossom, Iris : New Classes

Update: The interest in the new classes has been overwhelming, and all six seminars are now fully booked. I appreciate your enthusiasm and support. If you are interested in the Bois de Jasmin classes, please subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of new dates and topics. Of course, if you are interested in a particular class or topic, please send me a note.

New Bois de Jasmin online classes are now available for enrollment in 2022. I am continuing the popular Spices, Citrus, and Dark Woods series. I will also add three new classes focusing on florals: Rose, Orange Blossom, and Iris.

About Bois de Jasmin classes: These classes are for students of all levels of interest in perfumery. The classes teach you how to smell like a professional perfumer, take apart complex scents, and sharpen your sense of smell. Together we will study the fundamental classes of perfume materials and discover how they are used in perfumes. The lectures are designed to improve your enjoyment and appreciation of scents.

Class structure: 1h 15min. Small-group, interactive classes.

Having completed several classes, I listened to your suggestions and made a few changes. Originally, the classes were 1 hour and I set aside 15 minutes for questions. Many felt that 1 hour was not enough and wanted more guided exercises, so the lecture + exercise portion will be 1 hour and 15 minutes. We have time in between exercises for questions, and I’m always available to answer your questions afterwards.

Another change is that I suggest to bring perfumes to each class. I will give you a couple of suggested fragrances, but you can always use any suitable perfume from your own collection. We will still continue using readily available spices and fragrant materials for our smelling exercises, such as spices, coffee, or citrus fruit. You do not need to buy essential oil kits for these classes. You’ll receive the full instructions before the start of the class and after finishing the class you will also receive a list of fragrances to try based on the lecture theme.

Location: Online, Zoom

Date & Time: 1h 15min

Spices January 22nd, Saturday 1:00pm-2:15pm EST/7:00pm-8:15pm CET (time zone converter)  SOLD OUT

Citrus January 26th, Wednesday 1:00pm-2:15pm EST/7:00pm-8:15pm CET (time zone converter)  SOLD OUT

Dark Woods January 29th, Saturday 1:00pm-2:15pm EST/7:00pm-8:15pm CET (time zone converter)  SOLD OUT

3 class series: Spices, Citrus, Woods  SOLD OUT

Rose February 5th, Saturday 1:00pm-2:15pm EST/7:00pm-8:15pm CET (time zone converter) SOLD OUT

Orange Blossom February 9th, Wednesday 1:00pm-2:15pm EST/7:00pm-8:15pm CET (time zone converter)   SOLD OUT

Iris February 12th, Saturday 1:00pm-2:15pm EST/7:00pm-8:15pm CET (time zone converter) SOLD OUT

3 class series: Rose, Orange Blossom, Iris  SOLD OUT

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Spices and Perfumes

Nothing about my masala dabba, an Indian-style spice box, looks exotic. It’s a round tin, with a double lid and several compartments, that after being moved across continents has enough dents and scratches to form a geography of its own. But it’s what’s inside that counts, and the moment the slightly battered lid is pushed ajar it becomes obvious why the roots of the words “spice” and “special” are intertwined–the perfume of coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, fennel and pepper that rushes forth is so rich and heady that it alone is enough to dispel gloom on a cold winter day.

Among the aromatics inside my spice box, cardamom has a place of honor. It’s a curious spice, because unlike darker, heavier favorites like black pepper, cumin or allspice, cardamom combines the freshness of lemon peel with a peppery and metallic bite. I often crush a few green pods to flavor a cup of coffee, a batch of gingerbread or a Persian style lamb stew. Another way I enjoy cardamom is via Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom, a fragrance blending soft mimosa with the citrusy spice.

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5 Perfumes for a Snowy Day

Imagine that snow is falling outside your window. Everything is white and opalescent and soft shadows fill your room. It’s a moment of winter stillness at its most exquisite. But perhaps it’s just another rainy day outside your window. Or if you are in the Southern hemisphere, a lush summer day. Or perhaps you don’t particularly like snow and have no desire to conjure up snowflakes and ice. This doesn’t prevent us from dreaming of fragrances that capture the idea of warmth and softness and that suit any season.

Such was the idea behind my list of these five perfumes. I wanted to select fragrances that comforted me and yet felt elegant, warm and yet luminous. Heavy ambers, furs, and too much leather wouldn’t do for that impression.

Serge Lutens El Attarine

Spices, musk, and soft rose petals. El Attarine is the lightest of all Serge Lutens’s ambers, so while it envelops you, it remains soft and gentle. Think of delicate cashmere rather than heavy brocade.

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New Online Classes : Spices, Citrus, and Dark Woods

Three Bois de Jasmin classes are now available: Spices, Citrus, and Dark Woods. These classes are for students of all levels of interest in perfumery. They cover three fundamental classes of perfume materials. We will talk about different fragrance notes and I will teach you how to find them in perfumes. The lectures are designed to sharpen your sense smell and improve your enjoyment and appreciation of scents. And since this is the holiday season and everyone loves a good story, I will tell you insider stories about classical and niche fragrances that revolutionized the industry with their use of spice, citrus or woody notes.

The class size is small to ensure that everyone gets attention and a chance to interact.

Notify Me of New Classes


We will use readily available fragrant materials for our class exercises, such as spices, coffee, or citrus fruit. You do not need to buy perfumes or essential oil kits for these classes. You’ll receive the full instructions before the start of the class and after finishing the class also you will receive a list of fragrances to try based on the lecture theme.

You’ll also have time at the end of the lecture to ask questions. If you are interested in something specific, you can send me your questions beforehand. I look forward to meeting you! 

Location: Online

Date & Time: 1h + 15min Q&A

December 15th, Wednesday 1:30pm-2:30pm ET/7:30pm-8:30pm CET (time zone converter)   Spices $55 per person: SOLD OUT 

December 18th, Saturday 1:30pm-2:30pm ET/7:30pm-8:30pm CET (time zone converter)   Citrus $55 per person:  SOLD OUT 

December 22nd, Wednesday 1:30pm-2:30pm ET/7:30pm-8:30pm CET (time zone converter)  Dark Woods $55 per person SOLD OUT

Important: If you booked the class successfully, you should receive a receipt and a confirmation from me. If you don’t, please check your spam folder or contact me. Closer to the date of the class, you will receive a separate email with joining instructions.

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For the news of upcoming lectures, refund policy, and privacy policy, please take a look at the Online Courses page.

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • CC in Summer Cologne for Winter: That’s a wonderful description of Pamplelune! I do the same with Hermes’ L’Eau d’Orange Verte, which is invigorating and never fails to deceive me into believing I am on holidays… January 19, 2022 at 2:29am

  • irem in 10 Books on The Art of Science: Hello Victoria, as always a great list. Why not add a good math book to the selection though? My choice would be “Journey Through Genius” by William Durham. I think… January 18, 2022 at 9:37pm

  • Fazal in 10 Books on The Art of Science: Amazing article. Science is the biggest reason I became a skeptic despite growing up in a religiously conservative environment. Particularly glad to see the mention of Carl Sagan as he… January 18, 2022 at 7:48pm

  • Tourmaline in Summer Cologne for Winter: Hi Hélène, Thank you for your kind words. That is true, the scent memories are indeed often the strongest. That is such a lovely memory, and I’m glad that you… January 18, 2022 at 8:03am

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