how many hands touch your bottle of perfume: 10 posts

How Perfume is Made

Givaudan has recently launched a series of videos about their perfumery school and the way fragrances are created. The first video is a fascinating glimpse inside one of the internal perfumery academies that produce creators who design your perfumes  (International Flavors & Fragrances, Firmenich, Symrise and Mane also have their own training programs). Presented by perfumer Jean Guichard, the director of the Givaudan perfumery school, this brief video takes you into the lab and explains how students are taught.

You can also then watch Video 2: The Structure of Perfume and Video 3: Introducing Olfactive Families.

Thanks to Jessica for a link!

Behind the Scenes at Firmenich For the Creation of AXE Excite

“Behind the Scenes at Firmenich For the Creation of AXE Excite”video fits right into my How Many Hands Touch Your Bottle of Perfume series. Harry Fremont, Frank Voelkl, and Pierre Negrin, perfumers who work for a fragrance supplier Firmenich, explain how they created Axe and lead you into the lab. You can see the way the labs are organized and observe the lab technicians at work mixing the perfume oils. In the final scene, you will see that perfumes are tested on skin–the only way to properly understand how a blend develops.

It often comes as a surprise to many people that mass market products like Axe are created by the top perfumers in the field. As does the fact that the development of these scents is a careful, detail oriented process. While Axe body sprays may be cheap and ubiquitous, the process behind creating them is anything but. The Axe projects are among the most coveted for the perfumers, and when Negrin grins proudly mentioning the win, his emotion is genuine.  The big scope and diversity of Axe also mean that a perfumer can experiment with some unexpected accords like Voelkl does with his masculine coconut-caramel twist to make Excite. Not all mass market lines are willing to take risks, but Axe is big enough to push the boundary on occasion.

Thank you, Robin, for a link!

How Many Hands Touch Your Bottle of Perfume : Brief

You walk into Sephora, pass the shelves piled with makeup and find yourself in front of a wall covered with perfume bottles. You pick up the one that catches your eye, spray a blotter, put the tester back on the shelf and continue moving past the display of shiny glass vials. Perhaps you fall in love with the perfume and buy it. You bring it home, put it on your dresser and if the choice was right, the scent will now accompany you everywhere, serving as a fragrant soundtrack for your day. Perfume is such an intimate thing and its effects on us are complex, but equally fascinating is the process by which the aroma ends up in the bottle.

The overwhelming increase of new fragrance launches has robbed perfume both of its luxury status and of its mystery. The story of creators spending years crafting their masterpieces is difficult to believe when most big brands come out with a new fragrance every couple of months. The perfume houses have always been reluctant to disclose the process by which they create fragrances. In some cases, it is because the process contains some precious know-how, in others because it is simply too corporate and not mysterious enough to capture the consumer’s imagination. So how many hands touch your bottle of perfume after all?

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Value For Money, Quality and Other Perfume Musings


The question of quality is a complex one, especially with something as intangible as perfume. All of us have our own definitions of quality, and as such, I see this post as a place to share my reflections and hear your thoughts as well. As I mentioned in the previous post, I do not want to conflate the price of raw materials with quality. I do not believe that beer is inferior to wine, and in the same vein, I do not think that Tommy Girl is inferior to Shalimar. I simply do not want to pay the price of a great vintage for a bottle of Budweiser. Perfume is a luxury, and given the current economic climate, I want to make sure my pleasures are never guilty and that my dollar is spent wisely. When looking for a perfume that offers good value for my money, my personal take is as follows:


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The Price of Luxury Perfume


Last year the weekly French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur published an interesting article about perfume creation called La Guerre des Nez (The War of the Nose). It featured a candid interview with perfumers Dominique Ropion and Anne Flipo and provided a table outlining the price breakdown for an average prestige brand perfume. The revelation is that in a bottle of perfume that costs 100 euros, the value of the fragrance concentrate is only 1-1.50 euros, or about 2-3 dollars. The rest is for marketing and distribution: 19.6 euros for value added taxes, 36 euros for distribution, 25 euros for ads and so on. I know all too well the economics of making a perfume, but seeing this table was still a shock.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Priscilla Scofield in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2023: I have been wearing Mediterraneo by the Carthusian perfume company in Capri. It smells like a mixture of sunshine, sparkling green tea, lemon leaves and herbs. December 2, 2023 at 5:21pm

  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume : November 2023: Hello: there is an orange blossom/leather I like very much although it is not talked about much, it’s Arquiste Infanta en flor, perhaps you might like to tryb, it is… December 2, 2023 at 12:19pm

  • A in Recommend Me a Perfume : November 2023: Could anyone recommend an orange blossom (more white floral than green) scent for the wintertime? I find myself gravitating to Neroli Oranger by Matiere Premiere, which is so warm and… December 2, 2023 at 5:54am

  • Notturno7 in Recommend Me a Perfume : November 2023: Hi Amy, you might like Private Collection by Estée Lauder. I enjoy it and it’s a lovely chypre. Victoria gave it a 5 star review. I found a bottle of… November 30, 2023 at 6:30am

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