jean carles: 3 posts

One Week Perfumery Course with the Jean Carles Method

Continuing the Professional Perfumery series, in which I explain how perfumers are trained, how they create fragrances and how you can use their techniques to improve your sense of smell, I will talk about the Jean Carles method. This method is used to learn perfumery raw materials. When I was studying at IFF Perfume Academy, we didn’t use this method, but I applied it to my own practice, and I found it helped me to memorize smells better. It also helped me to learn the nuances of materials, since it’s based on comparing and contrasting them.

Once I finished recording the latest episode, I decided to create a one-week study plan for those who are serious about learning perfumery. I followed the Jean Carles method, but I modified it to the home environment. It means that I reduced the number of materials studied each day. I also selected materials that can be easily obtained as essential oils or can be used in their natural state. It’s appropriate for complete beginners.

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Jean Carles on Olfactory Training and Perfumer’s Organ

“Perfumery is an art, not a science, as many seem to believe. A scientific background is not necessary for the perfumer; scientific knowledge may even sometimes prove an obstacle to the freedom required in perfume creation,” wrote Jean Carles (1892-1966), the perfumer whose fingerprint is on Miss Dior, Carven Ma Griffe, Dana Tabu, Schiaparelli Shocking, and my absolute favorite, Elle… Elle by Lucien Lelong.

“The creative perfumer should use odorous materials in the same way that a painter uses colors and give them opportunity for maximum development and effect, although it is understood that potential reactions such as discoloration within the ultimate formulation and also the stability of the perfume should be given due consideration. This is about the only use the perfumer will be able to make of his scientific training, if any.”

Today many would disagree with Carles’s dismissal of a scientific background, especially when a perfumer is expected to create fragrances for a variety of products, from laundry detergents to candles. Carles himself approached perfumery in a scientific manner, laying out the techniques in his influential “A Method of Creation and Perfumery” published in 1961. All perfumer trainees, myself included, studied according to his theories of smelling and composition.

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Dana 1932 By Tabu : Classical Perfume Relaunched

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Dana Tabu,  a legendary fragrance created in 1932 by perfumer Jean Carles. Tabu was complex and innovative, and it gave us a whole generation of oriental fragrances that were unabashedly sultry and rich. The original included notes of bergamot, lemon, basil, tarragon, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, ylang-ylang, heliotrope, patchouli, oakmoss, musk, benzoin, and vanilla.

This September Dana will introduce a new limited edition relaunch of Tabu called 1932 By Tabu. It was reochestrated by perfumer Brett Schlitter as a softer, spicier version. It will include notes of bergamot, lemon, basil, jasmine, mimosa, rose, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, nutmeg, heliotrope, sandalwood, moss, amber, musk, and vanilla. With Jean Patou, Balmain, Molinard and Jacomo busy relaunching their classical collections, it’s also good to see Dana trying to resuscitate Tabu. Even if the new version will be less animalic and smoldering, Tabu deserves more attention.

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