Perfume 101: 420 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.

Popular Brands and Perfumes of 2020

For those who like lists and rankings, I have a little treat today courtesy of the Cosmetify Index, a service that ranks the most searched for and followed beauty brands around the world. The Cosmetify Index was created in 2019 to see how brands engage with social media and also how consumers respond to new launches. The newest index tracked searches and engagement in 2020, assessing the impact of the pandemic on beauty and fragrance sales.

The Cosmetify Index also tracks which brands are popular in which country, so you can glean fascinating information like Russia being a Jo Malone country, while China favors Estée Lauder. Yves Rocher rules in France, Italy, and Spain, while Rituals holds court in Germany, Scandinavian countries, and unexpectedly, Angola and Bhutan. The Indian subcontinent is united in its love for The Body Shop, although Nepal prefers Dove. And so on. Of course, these are the macrotrends and generalizations, but all trend reports are bird’s-eye-view snapshots.

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Brand Spotlight: Serge Lutens and 5 Favorite Perfumes

Niche perfumery is synonymous with originality, boldness and surprise, and Serge Lutens deserves much of the credit for shaping it and giving it a set of codes and accords. Lutens was born in France and became successful as a photographer and artist, and his first sojourn in Morocco in the ’60s inspired him to experiment with new media and styles. When he eventually came to perfumery, he already had a concept that was revolutionary at the time–the scent of woods for women. Inspired by Moroccan cedarwood, it became Féminité du Bois, and it launched a new era in perfumery.

Féminité du Bois was created in collaboration between Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake (who also creates perfumes for Chanel these days.) While it remains an iconic fragrance, Serge Lutens’s collection is full of other gems. In my new series spotlighting different brands, I talk about Serge Lutens and five of his best fragrances.

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Are You Confused By Fragrance Families?

When we were discussing whether the oriental fragrance family should be renamed, a few people asked a question — do we need fragrance families in the first place? Even classical terms like fougère and chypre have been edged out by the herbal and mossy descriptors, while cologne is used less for citrusy composition than for the light and refreshing style of fragrances.

Fragrance families can be confusing. For this reason, I devoted my recent episode to this topic and described how the concept originated and what it means today.

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5 Modern Perfumes with a note of surprise

A good fragrance smells familiar, a great fragrance smells surprising. The whole quest of modern perfumery can be summed by this sentence. We’re instantly attracted to the scents that remind us of something — a pleasant memory or another pleasant perfume, which is why well-liked, best-selling fragrances are often reminiscent of other perfumes on the market. A composition that rises above a merely easy-to-like, however, has an unexpected element. This surprising touch makes the scent linger in the memory and intrigue us. Finding the right combination of familiar and surprising is part of perfumer’s aim.

The five fragrances below represent different genres and styles, but the one element they have in common is surprise. I’ve selected examples that surprise rather than jolt to show subtle accents at play. These perfumes reinterpret classic themes, challenge conventions, and most importantly, smell wonderful.

Galop d’Hermès

At the top of my list is Galop d’Hermès, a fragrance that appears at first as a pastel toned, chic rose but has a dark, smoldering heart. To wear Galop is to be enveloped in soft layers of leather, woods and musk. The new Hermès in-house perfumer Christine Nagel also added an accord of incense inflected rose and juicy quince, an additional surprise.

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Blending History and Architecture : Arquiste Parfumeur

I first came across Arquiste Parfumeur when I was looking for an original gourmand fragrance. Most of the dessert-inspired blends crossing my path were of the cotton candy and crème brûlée variety, and I wanted bitter chocolate. “Why not try Anima Dulcis?” suggested a friend, and gave me a small sample of cognac-colored liquid. It turned out to be the treat I was craving—dark, smoky, spicy, and properly indulgent.

Arquiste Parfumeur is a niche line conceived by architect Carlos Huber in 2012. In his original métier Huber specialized in the historical preservation of buildings, and his proclivities are obvious in the way he interprets history through scents. In Fleur de Louis, a graceful blend of jasmine, orange blossom and iris, he paints a picture of the engagement between Louis XIV and Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. The citrusy L’Etrog promises to show me the 12th century Calabria, while my favorite Anima Dulcis is a glimpse of the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria in Mexico. Helping to realize Huber’s vision are perfumers Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier. Flores-Roux and Vasnier teamed up on Anima Dulcis and L’Etrog, while Fleur de Louis is a solo project by Flores-Roux, a perfumer who shares Mexican origins with Arquiste’s founder.

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