coty: 3 posts

Fascinating Perfumery: How Violets and Ionones Made History

It’s not an understatement to say that without the humble violet we wouldn’t have perfumery as we know it today. At the end of the 19th century when the fashion for violet perfumes was all the rage, several German chemists set out to isolate the aroma-material that gives this flower its delicate and yet persistent scent. Until then violet essence was distilled from the flowers of Viola odorata, a process that required more than 33,000 kg of flowers to obtain a kilogram of violet oil. The search for Veilchenduft, the scent of violet, led to the discovery and isolation of ionones, a class of materials that are sweet and powdery.

In today’s film, I describe how this violet-scented revolution happened and compare different types of ionones. The term ionone is derived from the Greek word “iona,” which means violet, and “ketone” referring to its chemical structure. Several isomeric ionones occur naturally in flowers like rose and violet as well as in different fruit and berries. Fine grades of Japanese green tea are rich in ionones as is milk–if a cow eats ionone-rich alfalfa, ionones will then be found in its milk.

I mention several violet gold standards such as

Coty L’Origan

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

Chanel No 19

Chanel Coco

Rochas Femme

Yves Saint Laurent Paris

Lancôme Trésor

This episode focuses more on the classics, and in the next film I will discuss modern fragrances featuring ionones. Ionones: Sweet and Powdery includes even more perfumes and information on these fascinating materials.

Of course, I would love to hear about your favorite violets, vintage or modern. 

7 Rare Vintage Perfumes : The Perfume and Wine Class

As preparation for the Art of Perfume and Wine class that I’m teaching in April in France (more details here), I thought I would write about 7 vintage perfumes that have been influential for the evolution of perfumery and that we will smell in their original versions. There will be over 50 different perfumes in this course, but these 7 are among the most essential to learn.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue 1912

Many perfumers will name Guerlain as the most influential perfume house, especially in its period when Jacques Guerlain was the head creator. L’Heure Bleue is a textbook example of a classic as well as of a symphonic perfume.

We will, of course, smell other Guerlain classics, from Après L’Ondée and Mitsouko to Chamade and Chant d’Arômes.

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Coty L’Origan and Francois Coty : Two Legends of Perfume History

55555

Coty_2

Original:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Reformulation:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

If one were to enumerate perfumers who wielded great influence over the course of perfume history, François Coty is among them. A person of great talent and creativity, he gave the world fragrances that would serve as inspirations for many perfumers, despite the fact that he did not have formal perfumery training. Born in Ajaccio, Corsica in 1874, Coty realized that in order to expand the perfume market, the high quality product must be presented in beautiful packaging and at a reasonable price. While marketed as luxury, he deemed that perfume had to be affordable for people of every socio-economic class. While La Rose Jacqueminot (1904) was his first fragrance, incorporating new floral bases, L’Origan (1905) and Chypre (1917) would initiate two new genres of perfumery: soft sweet floral and chypre.

L’Origan (1905) cannot be mistaken for anything but a child of its times. Its soft powdery veil embellished with carnation, violet and heliotrope calls to mind gloves and Edwardian silhouettes. A precursor of Guerlain L’Heure Bleue (1912), L’Origan reveals the same bittersweet anisic top notes that sparkle like diamond dust in its powdery cloud. …

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