learning perfumery: 15 posts

Online Sources for Learning About Raw Materials

You have to be a sleuth to learn about perfumery. As I already mentioned several times on this blog, there is not one definitive textbook or publication that covers all of the fundamentals but if you’re prepared to search, you can find a wealth of sources. This applies particularly well to the study of perfumery raw materials. Soon enough you find yourself curious about more details than an average fragrance description provides. While articles like the kind I have published in Perfume Notes are helpful, it’s also useful to have a database reference on hand where you can look up the materials you know or scroll through the lists to discover something new. Where does the material come from? How is harvested? How is it processed?

The online raw material catalogs provided by fragrance and flavor suppliers are a great source. They’re typically compiled for potential customers, so they explain the origin of a material, its olfactory characteristics, processing and main components. They might also list regulatory stipulations and other useful details for those who work with these materials. These databases are constantly updated, so I recommend bookmarking them. For your convenience, I have compiled the databases I use the most for my work. I hope that you will find these useful.

Continue reading →

The 5-Step Method to Decode a Perfume

I’m often asked for guidance to identify notes in specific perfumes. This question touches upon the larger topic of learning about fragrance–how is it made, what do various terms mean, how to parse out mixtures and so on. I’m asked about books or online materials that a non-professional can use to make sense of the intriguing and complex world of scents. Often, I direct my readers to the books by Philip Kraft and Harold McGee, but the truth is that there is no one definitive book that covers this topic. You would have to read widely and pick and choose your materials to tailor them to your interests.

What’s more, there is not one professionally recognized textbook on perfumery that all perfume students need to read. The text that comes close is Method of Creation and Perfumery by Jean Carles, originally published in 1961. I will leave a link at the end of the article, in case you want to read it. While it still remains a seminal text, much has changed in perfumery in the past decades, to the point that creation is conceptualized differently. With this in mind, where does this leave a perfume lover? What should you do in order to learn how to identify perfume notes and how to understanding fragrances better?

Continue reading →

May-June 2024 Online and in-Person Perfume Classes : Registration is Open

Update: the May classes are sold out. The new schedule is now available.

It’s been such a pleasure to teach my online classes this year. I’ve enjoyed interacting and smelling with you and every session made me discover something new. And so this spring continues with more new courses. Everyone’s favorites Citrus-Spices-Woods and Rose-Orange Blossom-Iris courses will return and there will also be new offers.

I will teach you the next classical trio of floral notes such as Lily of the Valley, Lilac and Hyacinth. I will explain what makes each of these notes unique and how they are used in perfumery. Since these flowers can’t be extracted by steam or solvents, I will discuss how different perfumers, from Guerlain to Chanel, employed them. I will explain different accords and give you examples of materials that are used to construct these accords, in case you want to try to make your own.

Next, I will devote three seminars to Amber, Vanilla and Tonka Bean, giving you a glimpse into the rich and luscious world of ambers, amber-florals and gourmands. These classes are for students of all levels of interest in perfumery.

To register for the online courses, please go to the Online Perfume Classes page.

Besides the online classes, I would like to invite you to my Brussels studio to take an in-person class.

Brussels Studio Class: Perfumes That Influenced Fragrance History

This seminar will give you a rare chance to smell legendary perfumes in their original formulations. You will have access to my perfume collection and try iconic fragrances from Caron, Guerlain, Coty and Chanel. You will also explore some of the best materials used by fragrance industry professionals and discover why your nose is more sensitive than the most sophisticated machine.

We will step back in time, smell some of the iconic fragrance or examples of interesting genres from the past and also talk about people who made perfumes. Although contemporary perfume marketing focuses on perfume as a luxury item (or a tool for seduction), scents are more complex than this. A bottle of perfume contains an artistic message. It tells you something about the aesthetics of its time. Tastes of its contemporaries. Advances in science and trends in art and fashion had a big impact on the development of perfumery and on how perfumers were able to translate words and visions into scents. Together we will learn the evolution of perfume history by studying some of the most iconic examples of the perfumery art in their original formulations. You will also perform exercises to sharpen their sense of smell.

Class location: Brussels
Class duration: 2.5 hours
200€/per person   (50€ to be paid as a reservation deposit, the rest is payable in person on the day of the class)

Date: June 16th, Sunday, 12-2:30pm Reserve Now 

Date: June 23rd, Sunday, 12-2:30pm Reserve Now

To request another date, please  email me.

Continue reading →

Smell Training and Perfume Making Kits

Update: I have a last-minute opening in the Citrus workshop on Wednesday. You don’t need any essential oils for that class, just citrus fruit and easy-to-find spices. The seat has been taken. Thank you for your interest! If you’ve missed this round of registration, please subscribe to receive updates about new workshops.

When I first started planning my perfume classes, I decided that for the fundamental series, I will offer the option of using common spices and fruits as study aids. My belief is that anything can be useful to training our sense of smell, as long as we follow the proper technique, smell consciously and practice regularly. You can create a box of spices and study them, noting their different nuances. Even after a week of diligently smelling your spices, you will find your sense of smell much sharper.

Once you learn the basics, you can consider investing into a smelling kit. I researched a few reputable options, compare them and made the guide below. Some of the products I mention are available in the US, others in the EU. Either way, I hope to give you a few choices. And to repeat, these kits are not necessary when you first start out with your perfume explorations, but they become useful if you devote more time to unraveling notes and accords.

Continue reading →

Teaching at ISIPCA and My Online Perfumery Courses

I’m delighted to share that I have joined ISIPCA and I will teach Perfume History starting this fall. ISIPCA (Institut supérieur international du parfum, de la cosmétique et de l’aromatique alimentaire) was founded by Jean- Jacques Guerlain in 1970, and it’s the leading academy in France conferring degrees in perfume, cosmetics and flavors. It’s thrilling to become part of its faculty. I have always enjoyed teaching and I look forward to exploring the subject of iconic perfumes and history with my students.

In the meantime, I will resume my online perfumery classes starting this winter. As always, I will release the new dates via my newsletter, so if you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to stay informed. If you have any wishes about particular topics, I would be glad to hear from you.

Photography by Anna Kozlova, my perfume seminar in France.

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2024 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy