Perfume 101: 332 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.

Best of 2019 in Perfume

When it comes to  fragrances, 2019 has been a good year. There have been the usual commercial releases, but innovative launches were also numerous. I particularly liked the collection by L’Officine Universelle Buly 1803 created in collaboration with the Louvre that gave scent to some of the museum’s famous works. Carine Roitfeld’s line was likewise interesting, with a number of memorable perfumes.

As always, my list is personal and idiosyncratic. I didn’t aim to include everything, but rather the perfumes that caught my attention the most this year and the ones I wore. These are the fragrances that will accompany me into 2020. I look forward to hearing about your 2019 favorites.

Carine Roitfeld Parfums George

Carine Roitfeld Parfums was created by the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris. The line includes seven unisex fragrances, AurélienGeorgeKar-WaiLawrenceOrsonSebastian and Vladimir, inspired by fictional love stories. I ended up with a travel set, which I found excellent given that the premise of the collection is travel. Each lover takes his paramour to a different city, from Paris to Hong Kong. My choice was George, effervescent but with a suave finish. I also liked Lawrence, who comes bearing jasmine garlands.

Continue reading →

Single Note Perfumes

Simple is rarely a compliment when applied to perfumes. Fragrances compared to symphonies or classic multi-volume novels are thought to be superior. Yet, as any perfumer knows, creating a simple composition is complicated. When the palette is reduced to a few key elements, the selection of each material becomes critical. It is even more difficult to create a fragrance that evokes a single impression, that of a flower, a root, or a leaf.

Composing a perfume that smells realistically of a flower, say, a rose, is part of the challenge, but it’s not the biggest one. The more elusive goal is how to suggest a story and give it character. The purpose of a perfume is not to replicate nature, but to weave a fantasy. All of us have our own idea about how a rose smells, and a successful rose perfume will not try to compete with a summer garden. Instead, it will evoke its own universe.

Continue reading →

Why Is The Scent of Lipstick So Nostalgic?

Do you remember the scent of your mother’s lipstick? Do you enjoy the aroma of Nivea cream? Have you ever wished to have the fragrance of your favorite sunscreen as a perfume? The November 2019 issue of Financial Times’s HTSI Magazine includes my article about the scent of lipstick and other cosmetics. I explore the nostalgia behind these aromas and explain why these scents, though subtle and discrete, can have a powerful effect.

I don’t remember the colour of my first lipstick, but I recall its scent. I was passing through the local department store in Chicago, aged 15, when an array of shiny, black tubes at the Chanel counter drew my attention. They promised the glamour and sophistication that I desperately craved. I was making swatches of the different tones of pinks and reds on the back of my hand when, suddenly, I became aware of the fragrance of roses.

The wave that swept over me was so intense that my eyes welled with tears. The scent reminded me of my great-grandmother, Asya, who adored rose essence; its sweetness enveloped her and always left a rich sillage in her wake. Even her lipstick smelled of roses. When Asya wasn’t around, I furtively sniffed her rouge compact, its fragrance evoking her soft cheeks and melodious laughter.

Update: The article is now available online, The Nostalgic Allure of Lipstick, November 2019.

As always, I’d love to know what scents transport you? Do you have favorite scented lipsticks or other cosmetics?

Ukrainian Scent and Taste Adventure : June 2-9, 2020

Our Ukrainian Scent and Taste Adventure tour is scheduled for June 2-9, 2020. I’m partnering with Nataliya Cummings of the Experience Ukraine, a boutique UK based tour operator. We’re taking reservations right now and there are still some places open. We would like to accommodate everyone, but we want to keep the group small. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. This tour will be a chance to learn about perfumery, discover the beautiful region of Transcarpathia, explore artisanal crafts, scents and food. The tour will include 8 days with a variety of workshops. We will travel from the capital city of Kyiv all the way west to the historical city of Lviv, and along our journey we will cook, eat, smell, have fun and discover Ukraine’s many treasures, from UNESCO heritage sites to smoked pears!

Safety: Ukraine is absolutely safe for travel. The tour will take place in the western part of Ukraine, 20km from the Romanian border. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Flights: we recommend flying in and out of Kyiv, unless you would like combine this trip with a visit to Poland, Czech Republic or Austria (Lviv offers easy connections to those countries). At the end of the tour, many of us will be taking a high speed train from Lviv to Kyiv, so you can travel with our group. Ukraine International Airlines offer many direct flights from the major US and European cities.

To book the tour: fill out the form on the the Experience Ukraine website. You can also see the full program on the Experience Ukraine website, while the detailed perfumery workshop descriptions are available  here.

Continue reading →

Michael Edwards’s Perfume Legends II

I’ve been waiting for Michael Edwards’s Perfume Legends II in the same way that Star Wars fans anticipate the new sequels. First published in 1996, Perfume Legends told stories behind more than 40 iconic fragrances. Edwards explained the inspiration behind the concept and the bottle and also left room for perfumers’ voices. Why did Edmond Roudnitska add an opulent plum note to Rochas Femme? How did Jacques Polge create the baroque effect of Chanel Coco? I read and re-read the book so much that my copy fell apart.

Edwards, however, wouldn’t rush the sequel. Respected in the industry for his Fragrances of the World database that assiduously tracks every new launch, he brought the same meticulousness to the Perfume Legends project. He decided to update the list, and so he spent several years researching information and interviewing perfumers, creative directors and designers. The industry can be frustratingly secretive, especially when it comes to explaining the perfume formula, but Edwards has never been daunted by such obstacles. The book reveals it all.

Continue reading →

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Eudore in Recommend Me a Perfume : February 2020: Hello Laura, I also love Coco with passion. Karen recommended Chanel 18. It is very very beautiful but I can see it as very polarizing. Very unique. And in the… February 27, 2020 at 3:22pm

  • Eudore in Recommend Me a Perfume : February 2020: Hello TJ, I connected two dots here, incensey and vanila. I have a sample of Diptyque Eau Duelle, do you know it? It is light but conforting. February 27, 2020 at 3:07pm

  • Silvermoon in Recommend Me a Perfume : February 2020: Hi Francesca, Yes the Zoologist perfumes are available in the UK from Bloom perfumery in London (they also sell/send small samples). So, you can try Civet. If you like violets,… February 27, 2020 at 2:01pm

  • Emma in Recommend Me a Perfume : February 2020: Oh thank you! Oh I tried this out. Was so lovely on the blotter but on me went SO sweet. I make everything so sweet! February 27, 2020 at 1:42pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2020 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy