Perfume 101: 383 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.

Your Personal Museum of Scents

Last year, I received an email from one of my readers asking me an interesting question–if I could create my personal museum of scents, what would it include? She mentioned a NYT column by Tejal Rao, a restaurant critic in Los Angeles, in which she described smells that were meaningful to her. I immediately thought that Bois de Jasmin in its entirety was indeed my personal smell museum. If I were to limit it to certain themes, then I would mentioned two articles that I have already written, Scent of Kyiv, about the city where I was born, and Where Jasmine Forest Blooms, which describes my grandmother’s garden in Poltava, a place that inspired this page.

Yet, as I reflected further, especially on the last decade of my life, I realized that my personal scent museum at this point encompasses much more than I have previously noted. So, I decided to put down a list of scents that move me, evoke memories or inspire me.

Libraries

“Paradise is a library, not a garden,” Jorge Luis Borges said. Or could it be both? Either way, the scent of books and the scent of libraries is one of the most essential and evocative smells for me.

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Reflections on 2020

I don’t like the phrase “new normal,” especially since there is nothing normal about the situation that 2020 forced us to accept–staying away from others, fearing human touch, human presence, human breath. 2020 was not normal, and my way of coping had its ups and downs.  Not being able to see my family for almost a year was the hardest part. Nevertheless, there were some bright moments this year, and in this post, I wanted to highlight them.

You

One of the best parts of this year was the Bois de Jasmin community. Your comments, enthusiasm, and support have boosted my mood on more occasions than I can mention. Your support ensured that even on the most difficult weeks I looked forward to sitting down and writing, that even on the most difficult days I still discovered something interesting to share with you. I’ve been writing Bois de Jasmin for almost 16 years, and I already knew how generous and kind this community was. 2020 once again proved it.

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Classical Challenge

“I have no luck with classical perfumes,” confessed a friend. “My grandmother wore Jean Patou Joy, my mother loved Chanel No. 5, but when I wear these fragrances, I feel like I’m playing dress up.” She wondered why she completely missed the allure of fragrances widely considered iconic.  It is easy to attribute it to personal tastes and associations, but I decided to embark on a classical challenge.

The French use the phrase “grand parfum” to describe fragrances that not only have symphonic complexity but also a distinguished heritage. Chanel No. 5 is a quintessential example—created in a remarkable collaboration between Coco Chanel and perfumer Ernest Beaux, it revolutionized the ‘20s with its daring blend of aldehydes, manmade materials that smell starchy and metallic, and opulent floral essences. It is voluptuous, rich and heady. Today, on the other hand, we are no longer used to the strong burst of aldehydes, and the curves in perfumes—as on Hollywood actresses—are toned down.

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Synthetics in Perfumery : Hedione Part 2

As a counterpart to the first series of Synthetics in Perfumery, here is the second part. The material I cover today is hedione. I explain how and by whom it was discovered, what led up to the experiments with hedione and what makes it such an important material. Hedione, which is the Firmenich tradename for methyl dihydrojasmonate, occurs naturally in jasmine. While its quantity in jasmine essence is quite small, it provides a unique radiant effect–and that is what Edmond Roudnitska discovered when he used it to create Dior’s Eau Sauvage. While on its own hedione doesn’t have a particularly strong character, the luminosity and radiance that it lends to compositions are striking.

Without hedione, Eau Sauvage would have been a well-crafted but not particularly memorable cologne. Without hedione, we wouldn’t be able to experience a variety of sensations and textures. It’s one of the most versatile perfume materials and today it’s hard to find a fragrance that doesn’t include it.

If you’ve liked my video and want to learn more about hedione, here is another article: Hedione Luminous Jasmine. It includes a number of perfume examples and mentions the doses of hedione used in them.

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Gold, frankincense and myrrh have been venerated since antiquity and their importance often exceeded their monetary value. Many know the Biblical story of the adoration of the Magi, but you can find mentions of these materials interspersed in Hindu, Islamic and Judaic texts. Since perfumery reflects trends in art, fashion, and society at large, I have always wanted to explore the three gifts of the Magi in the context of fragrance. I thought that it would be a fascinating exercise.

While the value of gold may be self-evident, its ability to hypnotize and dazzle is even more prized. The pursuit of such an irresistible sensation has deeply influenced perfumery, despite the fact that gold does not have an obvious olfactory profile. After all, just as gold is an exquisite adornment, so too is perfume.  Although every perfumer might interpret the gilded idea differently, many gold fantasy accords fall in the realm of rich oriental notes—spice, amber, balsam, tobacco, vanilla.

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