Perfume 101: 243 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.

Chanel Gabrielle : Perfume Review

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After years of waiting for Chanel’s next big launch, here comes Gabrielle. “A rebel at heart…passionate and free,” exalted the press release, using words like radiant, sparkling, luminous and “purely feminine.” Although Coco Chanel was a talented individual and a major force in fashion, as a personality I don’t find her all that appealing. But then again, it wasn’t the first time the brand relied on the designer’s charisma to cast a spell. Coco, one of the most baroque and elegant perfumes of the 1980s, used Gabrielle Chanel’s nickname and an image of her reclining in her Coromandel-decorated salon. So what’s wrong with Gabrielle?

One fundamental thing. Unlike its namesake, Gabrielle the perfume doesn’t aim for originality. Gabrielle is a shadow of Coco Mademoiselle, with less personality, less character and less presence. Take Coco Mademoiselle, remove all of the bling and earthy bit of patchouli, put it through a laundry cycle with white musks, garnish it with a few white florals—and here you go, Gabrielle.

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Carnal Flowers

No fragrance type elicits more polarized reactions than white flowers. For some, they’re the ultimate love potion. For others–a bottled nightmare. I realize that the term “white flowers” covers too many botanicals to be useful, but let’s pretend we’re talking about night-blooming plants like jasmine, gardenia and tuberose. Jasmine can smell like horse sweat. Gardenia has a distinct whiff of mushrooms. But at least jasmine and gardenia can be tamed and made pretty and gentle. Tuberose, on the other hand, doesn’t do demure well and it also stands no competition. Add a touch of tuberose to a perfume, and it takes over everything with its warmth and luxurious heft. It’s perfect for those of us tired of wan floral perfumes that smell as if they need to be on life support.

My favorite tuberose is Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower. It’s been around since 2005, and I’ve rhapsodized about it for about that long. It thrills me with the richness of the sensations it evokes, from the brightness of green notes to the warmth of the tuberose petals. But that’s not why I selected it for my modern classics series, On White Flowers. Over the past decade it has become one of the gold standard tuberose fragrances against which others are judged. Love it or hate it, but it’s a modern classic.

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Postcard from Paris

Anyone care to make up a caption?

The illustration was drawn by the artist Elisabeth Branly (1889-1971) in 1911. It was presented as part of the exhibition celebrating the work of female artists and artisans at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. I thought that it was ideal for our Women in Perfumery series!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Recommend Me a Perfume : August 2017

Our “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread is now open. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations, and of course, share your discoveries.

How does it work: 1. Please post your requests or questions as comments here. You can also use this space to ask any fragrance related questions. To receive recommendations that are better tailored to your tastes, you can include details on what you like and don’t like, your signature perfumes, and your budget. And please let us know what you end up sampling. 2. Then please check the thread to see if there are other requests you can answer. Your responses are really valuable for navigating the big and sometimes confusing world of perfume, so let’s help each other!

To make this thread easier to read, when you reply to someone, please click on the blue “reply” link under their comment.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

L’Artisan Parfumeur Histoire d’Orangers : Perfume Review

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This review of Histoire d’Orangers, a fragrance created by perfumer Marie Salamagne for L’Artisan Parfumeur, continues both the Women in Perfumery and The Scents of Tea series.

Annick Goutal’s Néroli was one of my favorite orange blossom perfumes. I loved its graceful, lighter than sea-foam character paired with its robust lasting power, and it made me content. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a limited edition and the Cologne version that replaced it was pretty but flimsy. Until I discovered L’Artisan’s Histoire d’Orangers this summer, I’ve been rationing my last few drops of Néroli.

On the face of it, I shouldn’t have had trouble finding a replacement for a simple orange blossom cologne. They’re a dime a dozen. You can have a bottle for a couple of euros (Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange) or for a couple of hundred (Tom Ford Néroli Portofino). But as my perfumery teacher Sophia Grojsman says, nothing is more difficult than a simple thing. Many orange blossom colognes smelled either too pale (Jo Malone Orange Blossom), too dry (Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte), too flashy (the aforementioned Tom Ford), or just not right (Houbigant Oranger en Fleurs). The beauty of Annick Goutal’s Néroli was that it captured all the facets of the real thing, like the honeyed softness, indolic tang, and green sharpness, but made them refined and velvety. Every time I picked up the bottle and pressed the nozzle, I imagined a shower of white petals brushing my skin.

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