Perfume Notes: 100 posts

Articles on perfume ingredients and fragrance terminology

Seasonal Flowers : Mimosa

My new video is about one of my favorite flowers, mimosa. First, I will clarify what flower I am talking about, since the whole topic of mimosa can make a botanist despair. The mimosa used in perfumery is either Acacia decurrens var. dealbata (called simply mimosa in the perfumery trade) or Acacia farnesiana (called cassie). The former is the pompom like yellow mimosa that I am holding in the video, the latter has a less dramatic appearance but is equally fragrant. The essences don’t have similar scents, but they are used for similar floral-violet, green and powdery effects in perfumes. Most of the mimosa absolute comes from South India and France.

Mimosa or cassie, the fragrance is beautiful–radiant, bright, with an addictive honeyed almond facet. A green leafy and cucumber peel accent lends an interesting twist, which is why mimosa and cassie fit so well in violet, green, fruity and spicy compositions.

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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.

The Idea of Radiance and What It Means in Perfumery

Radiance in perfume is an elusive quality. The best way of understanding it is to envision a candle burning in a dark room, its glow lifting the dark shadows. A radiant fragrance is not necessarily a strong smell—it follows the wearer at a few paces, but it’s neither heavy nor overpowering. Capturing this duality seems impossible, but perfumers are adept at creating illusions.

Calice Becker is one such creator, and her fragrances illustrate the idea of radiance. Her Tommy Girl contains a green tea accord so luminous that it seems fluorescent. Another trendsetter is Becker’s Christian Dior J’Adore, a layer of flower notes as tightly woven as the millefiori ornaments of Murano glass. Perfumery students learn the craft much like artists, by copying the work of the masters, and when I was trying to achieve the variegated radiance of J’Adore, its complexity and nuances mesmerized—and confounded—me. Despite the conventional saying that too much knowledge kills the mystery, the experience made me appreciate both Becker’s craft and J’Adore’s lingering glow.

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Sandalwood : Woods Series (New Video)

I’m continuing my woods series and today I’m discussing sandalwood, the most distinctive sweet wood in the perfumer’s palette.
The beauty of sandalwood lies in its sweet and creamy scent that differs from the aromas of other woods, which tend to be dry and sharp.

While I mention a variety of perfumes in this video, such as Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore, Santal Majuscule, Ambre Sultan, Jeux de Peau, Chanel Égoïste, Guerlain Samsara, Diptyque Tam Dao and 10 Corso Como, this is far from a complete list. Therefore, I wanted to supplement it with several other examples of excellent sandalwood perfumes.

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New Style-Chypre Perfumes

Chypre perfumes that rely on an intricate interplay of citrus, florals, moss, woods and musk are among the most intriguing and complex. As I’ve described in Revolutionary Perfume : A Brief History of Chypre, it attained the form we recognize today in 1917 with the creation of Coty Chypre, although the idea of a mossy-citrusy accord is much older. Many iconic fragrances are classified as chypre, from Guerlain Mitsouko to Chanel No 19. However, given the IFRA-mandated restrictions on the use of oak and tree moss in perfumery, the classical chypre is an endangered species. Its dark, warm accord contrasted with the effervescence of citrus can’t be achieved without the inky richness of moss.

For a perfumer, however, the only choice is to experiment with ingredients that can evoke a chypre-like effect. Patchouli, oud, musks, dark woods and woody-ambery aromatics can in part produce the unique sensation of a good chypre perfume–I describe it as the crinkly feel of raw silk. Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, for instance, is an excellent new style chypre, even if it doesn’t include moss.

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  • Potimarron in 5 Books about Dance and Resilience: Thank you for the recommendations. I’ve never done ballet but I’m a ballroom and Latin dancer and your question about fragrances made me wonder. The changing rooms at my dancing… March 4, 2021 at 5:00pm

  • Sara in Spring Fragrances with Green and Floral Notes: I’m intrigued and will have to order a sample of Absinth, then. I like how you describe it as “spare”–I find that’s exactly how a lot of modern fragrances feel,… March 4, 2021 at 2:40pm

  • Ninon in Spring Fragrances with Green and Floral Notes: I adore Nasomatto Absinth and need to get a fb! It’s witchy and damp and green, and, while spare, has some of the structure and complexity of a chypre. I… March 4, 2021 at 2:17pm

  • Sara in Spring Fragrances with Green and Floral Notes: Hi Ninon, How do you like Nasomatto Absinth? I feel strangely drawn to it, but I have no other absinthe or wormwood fragrances in my collection. I own and adore… March 4, 2021 at 1:14pm

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