Perfume 101: 427 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.

How to Find the Right Perfume and Seduce Yourself

“What perfumes do men like?” is one of the most common questions I am asked, followed closely by “What perfumes will make women fall for me?” For both I have the same reply: each to his or her own, and instead of bothering to entice others with our perfume – a task of rather dubious merits – why not seduce ourselves instead?

Selecting perfume, however, can be tremendously complicated. The market is full of new launches, each making lofty promises, but with many smelling almost identical. There are also considerations of brand, packaging and marketing that influence us more than we are willing to admit, even to the point of obscuring our real preferences. And then there is the problem of the sheer volume of choices.

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Why Do We Like Floral Perfumes?

One of my favorite childhood pursuits was to make perfume. At least, that’s what I called it—my great grandmother’s description was “pestilence.” I scoured the flower beds, collected rose, carnation and dahlia petals, soaked them in water and waited until they turned into a fragrant brew. Eventually, the whole lot would rot and smell more beastly than beautiful, but undaunted I persevered. Faced with a garden that her great granddaughter pillaged on a daily basis, Asya gave me a bottle of perfume called White Lilac and hoped that my interest would eventually fade.

Years later, and I’m still fascinated by floral scents. Their variety is immense, from jasmine to marigold, from rose to ylang ylang. More than any other family, florals are susceptible to change as technology evolves. The aroma-material called hedione has changed the way we perceive floral perfumes. Its lemony freshness decorates almost all floral accords–and fragrances in all other perfume families. For instance, you can notice hedione in classics like Christian Dior Diorella or in modern blends like Penhaligon’s The Favourite.

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Rose for Men and The Freedom to Choose Your Perfume

The arbitrary nature of gender divisions in fragrance becomes obvious as soon as you examine scent habits around the world. Both men and women splash themselves with sharp citrus colognes in Spain. Jasmine attars are shared in India, while rose is a favorite essence among men in the Gulf countries. But try to convince a lad in North America to don some flowers and you are met with a quizzical look. Aren’t roses just for ladies? Of course, this won’t hold true for the regular Bois de Jasmin male readers on both sides of the ocean, but gender associations with fragrances can be hard to break.

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Francois Robert, the perfumer behind the niche line Les Parfums de Rosine, doesn’t think so. Les Parfums de Rosine is devoted to fragrances based on rose, and it includes a dizzying array of roses in all guises, including roses for men. Rose d’Homme is a rose in soft focus blended into leather and patchouli. Rossisimo wraps the red blossoms around a zesty accord of bitter orange and bergamot, with a dash of lavender for a cavalier spirit. Both fragrances require a willingness to experiment, but the classical masculine scents like leather and citrus take so well to rose that the outcome is refined rather than radical.

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Bois de Jasmin Online Courses

I’m happy to announce that I can finally offer Bois de Jasmin online courses. The first series of classes will be lectures designed to sharpen your sense smell and improve your enjoyment and appreciation of scents. You will learn professional smelling techniques and receive personalized tips. You will learn how to smell complex aromas and about the main criteria of a well-made fragrance–and how to look for them.

Please note that every lecture has a slightly different theme! For the winter of 2021, I will focus on spices, woods, and citrus.

We will use readily available fragrant materials for our class exercises, such as spices, coffee, or citrus fruit. You can also bring your favorite perfumes to the lecture. You’ll receive the full instructions before the start of the class.

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

November 10th, Wednesday 1:30pm-2:30pm ET/7:30pm-8:30pm CET (time zone converter)   Spices $55 per person:  SOLD OUT please send me an email to be notified when this class returns

December 1st, Wednesday 1:30pm-2:30pm ET/7:30pm-8:30pm CET (time zone converter)   Dark Woods $55 per person: SOLD OUT  please send me an email to be notified when this class returns

December 11th, Saturday 1:30pm-2:30pm ET/7:30pm-8:30pm CET (time zone converter)  Citrus Fruit $55 per person:  SOLD OUT  please send me an email to be notified when this class returns

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.

10 Favorite Modern Patchouli Fragrances

I started my 2-part patchouli series by describing classical fragrances, or rather classical uses of patchouli. This material was once used as an accent note to enrich ambers, leathers, and mosses, add darkness to herbs and citrus, and to create shadows in floral bouquets. Then Thierry Mugler Angel happens in 1993 and perfumery hasn’t been the same since. Today, using a formula with 25% patchouli won’t make anyone raise their eyebrows, and this ingredient has become so ubiquitous in sweet, gourmand perfumes that it has engendered its own family.

Why has this happened? Angel certainly showed that pairing patchouli with sugary notes like caramel, vanilla, or cotton candy creates a striking contrast. The sweetness recedes, while the warm dryness of patchouli shimmers. Imagine that almost thirty years later Angel remains one of the most copied perfumes. It’s also still among the top-selling fragrances.

For this reason, compiling a list of modern patchouli fragrances was easy. I titled my post “Favorite” patchouli fragrances, although I should say that I also included perfumes that made a splash and influenced other creations, whether in fine fragrance, candles, shower gels, or home cleaning products.

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