Fragrant Facts

Odour Profiles
Every perfumery ingredient has a unique odour profile: how it evaporates on a scent strip. Perfumers memorise the odour profile of more than a thousand ingredients. For instance, lemon oil lasts only fleetingly, while you can smell sandalwood oil for days. The odour of a material will change in both strength and character over time. Understanding how a material evaporates is key to knowing how to use a material, as a top note (lasts perhaps 5 minutes), middle note (lasts two or three hours), or base note (can last at least 4 hours), in a fragrance.

Fine Fragrances
The first fragrances that were created from other than pure essential oils (as were the Eaux de Colognes from the 1880’s) came in the early 1900’s from the houses of Guerlain, Coty, Caron, Chanel, Houbigant and Patou. It was discovered how to synthesize some of the ingredients which were found in nature but were expensive to isolate from natural oils, such as Coumarin and Vanillin: Aime Guerlain used these in Jicky. Aldehydes were used in a revolutionary way by Ernest Beaux to create Chanel 5 in 1921, and since then other exciting new synthetic ingredients have inspired the creation of other gorgeous scents.

Fragrance Families
Fine fragrances are categorised according to families.There are different ways of identifying fragrance families but I find it useful to divide them into 3 main groups:


  • Sweetness combined with spice and amber sensuality
  • These can be
    • spicy (Opium)
    • ambery (Shalimar)
    • or both (Angel)


  • The dominant character is flowers- rose, jasmine, tuberose, carnation and lily
  • Can be sub-classified as having notes that are
    • even more floral (Tresor)
    • green (Chanel 19)
    • aldehydic (Chanel 5)
    • ozonic (Escape)
    • sweet (Jean-Paul Gaultier)


  • Means “oakmoss”, a core ingredient of this fragrance type, in  Greek
  • A classic accord of bergamot, rose and jasmine, exotic woods and oakmoss
  • Can be sub-classified with…
    • citrus (CK One)
    • green (Alliage)
    • woody (Knowing)
    • leathery (Cabochard)
    • animalic (Miss Dior)
    • fruity (Mitsouko)

A fragrance triangle is a convenient way of communicating the primary notes of a fragrance. The triangle is divided
into 3 portions depicting the main top, middle, and base notes of the fragrance.

 Fragrance Triangle

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