Perfume 101: 387 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.

Spring Fragrances with Green and Floral Notes

I’m in the mood for spring, although the weather doesn’t yet cooperate. No matter, the beauty of perfume is that it can transport us out of our routine and into the place of our daydreams and fantasies. Mine today is to take a picnic basket into a blooming cherry garden and to drink tea while watching the pink petals swirl around me. So, the topic of my new video is fragrances that evoke spring for me.

The selection I made doesn’t simply include perfumes that I enjoy all year around, but also fragrances that fit the spring mood during the season. Of course, everyone has their own idea of what spring smells like, but having grown up in a temperate climate where the difference among seasons was pronounced, I associate spring with exhilaration, verdancy and soft floral hues.

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Sultry Perfumes and Hollywood Glamour Fragrances

What is the hallmark of the ultimate bombshell perfume? I wonder this as I’m enraptured by the first glimpse of Ava Gardner in The Killers, a 1946 film noir. She sits at the piano, wearing a black satin gown that elegantly drapes over her curvy figure. She gives Burt Lancaster one look, and he is ready to follow her anywhere, even it will all lead to trouble. Such is the power of a bombshell.

My average day is more about routine than glamour, but perfume is my way to pretend otherwise. When I wear Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette, a smoldering potion reminiscent of a smoky jazz bar straight from a film noir set, I feel like a femme fatale.  It seems like bombshell material to me, but to find out for sure I turn to a couple of experts on the subject of the temptress—Farran Smith Nehme and Laren Stover, who also happen to be perfume connoisseurs.

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Do You Want to Be a Perfumer? Things to Consider

I receive many questions about training as a perfumer–how does one go about entering a perfumery school, what the salary is like, how many years the training takes place, etc. I try to respond to each letter, since I know how difficult it is to obtain the information about the industry, but lately I’ve noticed that many people contacting me have no idea what the profession entails. They hold romantic notions about working with beautiful scents and surrounded with other artistic people. It’s all true, but there is a negative side to this profession and it can be a shock to those who enter the industry. In my new video, I explain what the cons of perfumery as a profession is and what qualities a perfumer should have.

Of course, I share my experience working for some of the largest perfume companies in the industry, and my insight is influenced by that. People working for smaller houses or niche outfits would have a much different perspective. On the other hand, many people attempting to enter the industry want to work for the likes of IFF and Givaudan and create fragrances for brands like Dior and Estée Lauder.

My explanation is not meant to discourage anybody, but rather to give a realistic, clear-sighted view. Once you know what to expect, you are prepared. The positive sides of this profession are evident–creativity, passion, and of course, beautiful fragrances.

If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments.

Perfume as a Fantasy : Let’s Dream

Despite a persistent belief that perfumers aim to imitate nature, fragrance is about a fantasy. So looking for the exact smell of a rose in a bottle is like reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment to relive a vacation in Saint-Petersburg, even if said sojourn involved all things dark and sordid. Like literature, music, and sculpture, perfumery is a meditation on reality, rather than its photographic reflection. The best of compositions give us a glimpse into someone else’s world and their olfactory idea of a rose—or a cup of black tea, their lover’s skin, or a melancholy evening in Paris.

We read scent message differently

Each one of us might interpret the aromatic message in different ways. For instance, when I smell Balmain’s Vent Vert, I feel the same exhilaration as I do on the first days of March when the air smells intensely green and fresh. My friend, on the other hand, finds it disconcerting and aggressive, a storm of sharp, raspy notes that leaves her lightheaded. Considering that Vent Vert’s creator, Germaine Cellier, minced neither words nor accords, perhaps my friend’s impression is closer to the original intention of the perfumer.

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Seasonal Flowers : Mimosa

My new video is about one of my favorite flowers, mimosa. First, I will clarify what flower I am talking about, since the whole topic of mimosa can make a botanist despair. The mimosa used in perfumery is either Acacia decurrens var. dealbata (called simply mimosa in the perfumery trade) or Acacia farnesiana (called cassie). The former is the pompom like yellow mimosa that I am holding in the video, the latter has a less dramatic appearance but is equally fragrant. The essences don’t have similar scents, but they are used for similar floral-violet, green and powdery effects in perfumes. Most of the mimosa absolute comes from South India and France.

Mimosa or cassie, the fragrance is beautiful–radiant, bright, with an addictive honeyed almond facet. A green leafy and cucumber peel accent lends an interesting twist, which is why mimosa and cassie fit so well in violet, green, fruity and spicy compositions.

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