Perfume Trends: 53 posts

Overview of fragrance trends and popular perfumes

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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Three Crisp and Bright Incense Perfumes

Frankincense, the subject of my recent article and video, is on my mind again. Today I would like to reply to a request for fresh and bright incense fragrances that can be worn during warm weather.

Frankincense is a chameleon of a note, and it can evoke different impressions depending on what other ingredients are used in a composition. In general, if you’re looking for a fresh incense blend, consider fragrances with green, leafy and citrus notes. If you’re after a dark, smoky incense, search for notes like benzoin, tonka bean, Peru balsam, amber and guaiacwood.

Fragrances mentioned in the video:

Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur

Comme des Garçons Zagorsk

Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil

More on the subject of incense: why the supplies of frankincense are fragile and which brands source sustainably.

What unconventional fragrances do you prefer during summer? What are your favorite incense perfumes?

Is It Time to Rename the Oriental Fragrance Family?

My original article on this topic was published in FT’s magazine, March 2016 issue, but the topic is as relevant as ever so I decided to continue the discussion here.

The world of perfume press releases is one in which Edward Said never wrote “Orientalism”.  Odalisques lounge in the incense-scented harems of marketers’ imaginations. The Mughals are still ruling India, and the Arabian Desert is a vast expanse of golden sands populated with handsome explorers—not an oil well in sight. There is even a fragrance family called “oriental.”

The term is misleading and vague. The Middle East and North Africa have old and sophisticated fragrance traditions, but the average oriental one might come across at Harrods has little to do with their classical forms. This family of French perfumery grew in tandem with other 19th-century developments in society, economy and art. As Ingres painted his erotic ideals in a harem setting, perfumers used heavy, rich notes like balsams, vanilla and musk to fashion their fantasies of the east. The fascination lingered well into the 20th century. Guerlain Shalimar was created in 1925, but it reprised all the hallmarks of the genre—opulence, warmth and an exotic backstory.

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What Materials Are Valued by Perfumers And Why

If you’ve ever been confused by a term “matières nobles” or “noble materials” in a perfume marketing description, I have a video for you. These materials are so called, because in classical French perfumery, they are renowned for their expense and know-how required to produce them. These materials typically include floral essences such as rose oil, rose absolute, jasmine absolute, tuberose absolute, etc. The term should be taken with a grain of salt, because just because a press release mentions “matières nobles,” there is no guarantee that they’re present in a discernible amount or that they are “noble” indeed. Natural essences also have quality categories.

In the video, I describe the history of the term and then mention the materials that are valued by perfumers. To explain how they are used in a fragrance formula, I will use the following perfumes as my examples:

Serge Lutens A La Nuit
Chanel No 5/Jean Patou Joy
Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma
Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile
Frédéric Malle Une Fleur de Cassie
Comme des Garçons Wonderwood

Any materials that you particularly like in fragrances? What note mentioned in descriptions tempts you to try a fragrance?

Classical Perfumes For Those Who Don’t Like Classics

The more I delve into perfumery, the more the subject of fragrance classics fascinates me. Although when it comes to my day-to-day choices I still wear many fragrances from niche brands, I reach for classics when I want to experience the scent of another time, a glimpse of another era or simply to take myself out of my routine. For this reason, classics remain among my staples. What’s more, all of the recent top-selling fragrances lists from the US, France, Germany and Italy feature classical fragrances like Guerlain Shalimar, Chanel No 5, and Christian Dior Eau Sauvage.

Not everyone, however, is enamored with classics. Some people find them old-fashioned. Some think that they are too demanding or that they don’t fit their lifestyle. Can you wear Chanel No 19 while cleaning your flat? Or don Mitsouko for a supermarket run? While as I’ve said many times before, you need not like the classics, giving them a chance will benefit your understanding of perfumery. Another important consideration is that classical ideas are often reused in niche fragrances, so instead of paying the niche prices, you can find the same thing–and often of much better quality–from the original source.

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Latest Comments

  • Belinda in Estee Lauder Youth Dew : Perfume Review (New and Vintage): Hi Pauline, i just replied to Linda and wanted to send you a copy: Yes, You are correct. Youth Dew was my very first parfume i wore when i was… January 19, 2022 at 5:06am

  • Belinda in Estee Lauder Youth Dew : Perfume Review (New and Vintage): Yes, Linda. You are correct. Youth Dew was my very first parfume i wore when i was about 10 years old, a very long time ago. And over the years… January 19, 2022 at 5:03am

  • CC in Summer Cologne for Winter: That’s a wonderful description of Pamplelune! I do the same with Hermes’ L’Eau d’Orange Verte, which is invigorating and never fails to deceive me into believing I am on holidays… January 19, 2022 at 2:29am

  • irem in 10 Books on The Art of Science: Hello Victoria, as always a great list. Why not add a good math book to the selection though? My choice would be “Journey Through Genius” by William Durham. I think… January 18, 2022 at 9:37pm

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