(Think: barns…) It’s not the actual essence-of-dried-pasture – used to feed cattle, horses, goats and sheep – that you’ll smell in a perfume bottle, however: hay notes are created synthetically - yet they’re no less glorious for that… (Do also read about coumarin, here: it’s another, quite similar synthetic, which gives us the scent of new-mown grass…), Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette Celine Dion Paris Night We take your privacy seriously. Antonia’s Flowers Floret The history of incense itself goes back thousands of years – in fact, the first perfumes were burned, not worn: perfume actually gets its name from ‘per fumum’, or ‘through smoke’. Bulgari BLV Eau de Parfum II (Strictly it should probably be a ‘solifruit’, but there you go.) Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold (Fennel is of course familiar to most of us as a food – but did you know it’s also used in creating absinthe, the no-longer-banned-but-it-still-makes-you-dance-on-tabletops French alcoholic drink? Jasmine and rose are the two ‘foundation stones’ of perfumery. 'A very powerful molecule, in both masculine and feminine fragrances,' notes perfumer Alienor Massenet. Like quite a few flowers, daisy’s used more for conjuring up an image in a perfume than for the actual smell. It’s more likely to be isoeugenol, an ingredient found naturally in the essential oils of nutmeg and ylang-ylang, but which can also be synthesised from eugenol. Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely The actual aroma compound is known as ethyl maltol: its softness almost melts into floral notes, delivering a flirty, playful femininity, as well as depth and intrigue. Parfums de Marly Oajan by Embot. Byredo Rose Noir It evolves over time and is very complex, and requires a perfumer’s deftest touch – but it’s incredibly valuable to ‘noses’ as a fixative. Burberry Buberry Women They also feature in Houbigant’s Quelques Fleurs (created 1912) and Lanvin’s Arpège. There’s no cashmeran bush, or tree, or root, though: this is a synthetic ‘fantasy ingredient, also sometimes referred to as ‘blonde woods’ on perfume note ‘pyramids’. When the Iranian revolution broke out in 1979, the oil supply dried up – and Chanel’s perfumer faced the challenge of reworking this iconic scent. Tangerine and mandarin are basically interchangeable: their zestiness is instantly cheering - sweet, fruity, citrussy, with hints of neroli – and just what perfumers often look for to ‘lift’ the overture of a scent. David & Victoria Beckham Instinct The Three Kings famously presented frankincense as one of the gifts to Baby Jesus: THAT’s how far back frankincense goes. Smelled neat (we’ve tried it: really not a good idea), it whiffs intensely of birch tar and leather; only when expertly blended does it soften and seduce, blending well with rose and oud in particular, and acting as an excellent ‘fixative’ for other notes. Fresh Brown Sugar Diptyque Eau Duelle Thierry’s stroke of genius was to plug the gap with a touch of celery seed, instead. Leather in perfumery is not a natural essential oil that you buy. Byredo La Tulipe You might think that the name has sexy overtones – but not at all: allegedly the passionflower (a glorious blue/purple, twining vine) and passion fruit were named by Spanish Catholic missionaries who saw the flower as the symbol of the Passion of Christ, because the ring around its heart looks like the Crown of Thorns. (Erotic postscript: in the tantric rite of the Five Essentials, saffron was applied to the female’s feet…), The plant itself – Crocus sativus, from the iris family - was introduced into Europe in the 7th Century, after the conquest of Spain; by the 16th Century, English saffron was prized as the best in the world, grown in large quantities around Saffron Waldon (which is how come that town got its name). Fig also goes well with coconut, and other green notes. KKW Fragrance Ride or Die by LEM922. Vera Wang Princess Night, Revlon Charlie Blue Serge Lutens Fleur d’Oranger Now it has a somewhat old-fashioned, great-aunt-ish image, which means carnation tends to be consigned the chorus of a perfume rather than placed in the spotlight. The ‘blood’ refers to the deep crimson flesh of this delicious Citrus sinensis orange, which flourishes in Italy. Ylang yang is also luscious, buttery, a little apricot-y and – when smelled ‘neat’ – is a tad medicinal, too. Bay laurel is evergreen (where would our gardens be without it? There’s an entire book dedicated to the story of ambergris: Floating Gold. Worth Je Reviens. I love the warm leather tones of this quality of styrax - but it needs careful handling, though. (And in similarly teeny does, it’s also been used in medicine as a sedative…), Illamasqua Freak Lorenzo Villoresi Patchouli The leaves of banana are sometimes used in perfumery, too: less sweet, more green and subtle. Floris China Rose If you’re a fan of gourmand perfumes (read more about them here), then maybe – and if you love Thierry Mugler’s ground-breaking Angel, the most renowned gourmand scent of all, for sure. Notes of fig leaf and fig fruit can both be used. It takes a lot of elderflower to produce a little essential oil – so this note is usually recreated synthetically, to evoke that sweet, honey-like, floral-herby scent of this hedgerow plant. I love to use it because it's big and powerful, very sensual. In aromatherapy, blood orange is considered uplifting, stimulating and anti-depressant. Today, we’re more likely to wear fig behind our ears, and on our wrists…. It’s also on the official list of endangered flora of Brazil. Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom Illamasqua Freak Extrait de Parfum, Lime blossom (a.k.a. Sun-dried, they make their way into all sorts of foods – and have been used in Oriental medicine for over 3,000 years, for its stimulating effect on the digestion. Guerlain Mitsouko. Miller Harris La Fumée Guerlain Elixir Charnel Chypre Fatal (You might better know it as the Seville orange tree.) Chanel No. Several names for this: Curry Plant, Herb of St. John, Immortelle (which you might know from a L’Occitane skincare range) - and botanically, Helichrysum angustifolium. Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse Dior Diorissimo Santalum album isn’t actually a tree but a parasitic plant which grows by suckering itself to the roots of other trees, and slowly growing as high as 10 metres. Yves Saint Laurent La Collection Nu. The brightness and sparkling fuzziness of citrus, the damp woody, earthy brown vetiver and the sharpness of pepper fit like Coke, fries and burger. Ormonde Jayne Tiaré, Sweet, almost honeyed, balsamic, peppery: copaiba essential oil is often used in incense. (And we just love the way that perfumers rise to challenges like this…), PS Oakmoss has a near-relation, known as ‘tree moss’ - Evernia Furfuracea - which grows on pine trees, has a turpentine-y scent before it’s blended, and is also very highly-prized among perfumers. Carolina Herrera 212 Versace Versus, Sweet, juicy, peachily honey-like: nectarines have been dripping their bright fruitiness over quite a few compositions, of late, riding on the popularity of fruity-florals. Yves Saint Laurent Paris. (Beware, though: neat eucalyptus oil should be kept away from babies and small children, and avoided by those who suffer from asthma. L’Artisan Parfumeur Mon Numero 4 But it was their appearance in Chanel No. 2. When I take the lid off and sniff, I can’t help letting out a long appreciative mmmmmmmmm. Does beeswax smell? Givenchy Amarige All that, and a wonderful aromatic smell, too…, Goutal Mandragore The leaves and twigs give us petitgrain (read more about that here), while the cold-pressed peel of the fruit gives us bigarade (click here for more). The most celebrated use of bourgeons de cassis has been in Guerlain’s 1969 perfume, Chamade. That’s the zesty, lemony burst of citral, a natural aldehyde which is present in the oil of quite a few plants, including lemon myrtle, lemongrass, lemon tea tree, lemon verbena, lemons themselves, limes, as well as orange and petitgrain (the flower of the bitter orange). It’s my new favourite word. It all began in Ancient Egypt, where incense was first created using precious gums and resins from trees, imported from the Arabian coast and Somalia. Today, we can garland ourselves with bay through the use of fragrance: it’s a green, herbal note, maybe giving whispers of oregano and thyme, if you smell carefully, with subtle sweet hints of flowers. This is a list of some of the most widely known commercially available perfumes from the fourteenth century onwards, sortable by year, name, company, perfumer, and the authority for its notability. The raw materials in the floral family are sweet and varied by the natural scent of each flower. Estée Lauder Pleasures, Pink pepper is now a ‘hot’ perfume ingredient (in several senses): bright, cheerful, with a woody-rosy scent that’s quite different to the nose-tingling spicy warmth of the more-familiar black pepper. One of summer’s favourite berries, strawberry’s turned up in a fruitbowl of scents in recent years, riding on a wave of fruity-floral popularity – sometimes paired with exotic white flowers like ylang-ylang, lily or jasmine, or in ‘gourmand’ creations alongside caramel and cinnamon. It’s a naturally-occurring chemical, found in many essential oils – especially the glorious white flowers (jasmine, orange blossom, neroli), as well as wallflowers, and some citrus fruits. Diptyque L’Eau Trois (Or rather, lots of members: there are thousands of varieties of Malus domestica, a tree originating in Asia). (Dates are one of the oldest cultivated tree crops.) Estée Lauder Pleasures In perfumery, though, grass delivers a sweet, herbaceous scent – maybe not quite like walking past a house where the grass has just been cut, but delivering a gust (or a whisper) of outdoorsy freshness, nonetheless. So do we. Dior J’Adore Parle Moi de Parfum Totally White There’s a great article on angel’s trumpet on the perfume website Fragrantica, if you click here. Diesel Loverdose Britney Spears Believe Cinnamon is one of the smells of Christmas: spicy and enticing, comforting and sweet, all at once. The seeds - from the fruit of the Dypterix Odorata tree - are black and wrinkled, and when grated give off pleasant aromas of sweet spice, vanilla, praline and almond. Madonna Truth or Dare Yves Saint Laurent Opium. It’s a citrus note, often found as part of a zesty blend in colognes. Once upon a time (in the Victorian/Edwardian era), carnation was hugely fashionable (and if you ever manage to get your hands on a bottle of Caron’s now-extinct Bellodgia, you can experience just why it was so beloved). There’s an intriguing back story to the naming of this plant, meanwhile. Sometimes, though, both the violet leaf and the flower are used together, for a ‘cool’ contemporary violet effect, taking the edge off violet’s slightly great-auntishly old-fashioned powderiness. 9 Eau de New York Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine (Leading to the original name for perfume: per fumum, or ‘through smoke’…) Myrrh was a key ingredient in the ancient incense kyphi, used to fumigate ancient Egyptian temples. Its use in perfumery goes back millennia: galbanum appears in the Old Testament as an ingredient in holy incense, and was an ingredient of the Egyptian perfume Metopian. Lancôme La Vie Est Belle Harvesting techniques have become somewhat more sophisticated since the time when labdanum was collected from the coats and beards of sheep and goats that grazed on these tough little shrubs…! Relics from the burning of incense, dating back thousands of years, have been uncovered by archaeologists. It’s mostly used for its good-enough-to-eat sweetness in gourmand scents - but occasionally by perfumers for extra richness in fragrances from other families. Hints of tobacco, too, or the whiff of burning leaves in winter. (Though we do also invite you to improve your sense of smell through one of our nationwide workshops for subscribers – click here for details. Ink? That’s really the smell of cedar, which is of course also the wood used for pencils. (They’re deeply alluring to slugs, as gardeners know.) Yet try as they might, perfumers have never been able to capture the scent of freesias. Gucci Guilty Intense The whole orange family is invaluable to perfumers; mandarin peel has long been used in sachets and pot pourris to scent the home. They’re subtly different, in the hands of perfumers. It’s the leaves which can be distilled: the resulting oil is very high in a chemicall called eugenol. Base notes evaporate the slowest, have the longest staying power and thus determine much of the character of a fragrance. Tonka beans, which are sometimes used in perfume. Kylie Minogue Music Box Yves Saint Laurent Y. But did you know that licorce is used in love spells…? (Not to be confused, incidentally, with the type of verbena grown in Britain, which has no value in perfumery. Toward the end of the 19th century, scientists began discovering that the outcome of many of their experiments resulted in odors previously â¦ Acacia honey: the variations are almost limitless, sometimes woody, flowery, herbal or even tobacco-y. So why use tolu at all? When a French colonist later came upon a plant in the West Indies that smelled just like that perfume – the Plumeira alba plant – he named it ‘frangipani’. For a while, it was actually an accepted currency in Europe – ah, those were the days…, By Kilian Straight to Heaven Giorgio Armani Armani Code Yves Saint Laurent Opium, Smell carnation in a scent? I’d use more of it except that citrus fruit essential oils are restricted these days, and I almost always want to get some grapefruit in there too. And it’s controversial: the original musk came from a sex gland secretion from a specific a species of deer, the Tibetan musk deer, which became endangered - though since 1979 this creature has happily now protected by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). But in perfumery, I love it for its multitude of facets. 1 Ginger Essence & White Tea. Saffron was also used to scent baths, houses and temples, while in medicine it was a narcotic. ), Goutal Quel Amour Mariah Carey M Even more confusingly, the perfume ingredient doesn’t even come from amber itself – that time-hardened resin of Pinus succinifera, which is often shaped into jewellery. The poisonous, hallucinogenic black berries are what we’re most familiar with (and warned about, as kids). The tradition goes back centuries – to Charles IX, who inaugurated it in 1561. A couple of cutting-edge perfumers – Romano Ricci (with Not a Perfume) and Geza Schoen (Escentric Molecule 02) have daringly based an entire perfume around this synthetic note, which was discovered in the 1950s as a replacement for ambergris. (Though rum’s more widely used to add swagger to men’s perfumery, quite a few opulent women’s scents also feature a slug of this multi-faceted ingredient, which can have hints of vanilla, clove, ginger or ripe fruits). They’re also often left to produce fruit, which can be infused to extract an intense berry scent. ', Smell benzoin in: Chanel Les Exclusifs de Chanel Beige 19 was a very high grade from Iran. Just like a hessian sack of potatoes that’s been left at the back of your grandfather’s shed, when you peel back the drawstring and b-r-e-a-t-h-e, actually. Jimmy Choo Eau de Toilette Sometimes, the roots and the wood of this slow-growing tree are used, putting some environmental question marks over its use today. Monoi Gardenia (tiare) petals macerated in coconut oil. Ylang ylang famously clambers round the heart of some of the most beloved fragrances in the world, including the best-known of all: Chanel No. Oudh (sometimes spelled 'oud') has become a phenomenally popular ingredient, but still divides opinion. Comme des Garçons 2 Once upon a time, green unripe oranges – just the size of cherries – were also a source of petitgrain, hence the name (it translates as ‘little grains’). (A tradition we’d quite like to see revived…!). The bark, roots and resin are all still used to create incense for rituals, in Nepal, India and China (including Tibet - and acacia/mimosa’s used in mainstream perfumery, too: the scent has a warm, honey, iris-like, powdery airiness, which enriches the complexity of fragrances. Chemist Gunther Ohloff once described ambergris as ‘humid, earthy, faecal, marine, algoid, tobacco-like, sandalwood-like, sweet, animal, musky and radiant’. (See also Artemisia). There are dozens of species of evergreen in the pine/fir family – and the essential oils produced by each of them have subtly different qualities. With these materials perfumers can reinvent naturally occurring smells and create entirely new scents. One of the reasons it’s so widely used now is that it mimics the scent of ambergris – it’s also referred to as ‘amber’ – but it’s also a ‘fixative’, helping other ingredients to stay true, and to stay put. Demeter Mango Hermès Un Jardin Sur Le Toit. Dior La Collection Couturier Parfumeur Leather Oud Mostly, this evocative note – conjuring up images of sculptural wood cast ashore by stormy seas, and bleached by the sun – makes its way into men’s fragrances, or light, beach-inspired summery colognes. Sometimes, then, it’s paired with other tea-like ingredients – but more to paint an olfactory picture, in marketing terms, than for any other reason. Not the best-known fruity note – but rhubarb’s popularity is on the up, from all we’ve seen lately. Although ink-y notes can come from natural materials like oakmoss, it generally isn’t really ink that you’ll smell in a scent. The use of oakmoss in perfumery goes back a long, long way. Lanvin Jeanne Lanvin David & Victoria Beckham Intense Instinct Take C7 – or heptanal, naturally occurring in clary sage, with its herby-green odour. One of the three most used florals in perfumery. Serge Lutens Jeu de Peau, It sounds synthetic. So there’s some suggestion that datura, or angel’s trumpet, is used mostly for its mythical status rather than any unique aromatic qualities…. Thus, it can be combined with all sorts of other notes: Think flowers, roses. Ralph Lauren Polo Sport Woman Goutal Eau d’Hadrien, Can a perfume roar? Lancôme Trésor Hermès Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan Geranium’s used in colognes, herbal scents, florals and chypre fragrances. The agarwood is a result of a reaction to a fungal attack, which turns this usually pale and light wood into a dark, resinous wood with a distinct fragrance – a process that takes hundreds of years. Perfumes are mixtures of essential oils or organic scent compounds and solvents. Adding to the cocktail of perfume ingredients, that’s what, with its citrussy, tart-sweet fruitiness. It’s used to beautiful effect in gourmand fragrances, and blends with woods and earthy notes, too. Creed Jasmal The daisy-like chamomile isn’t one note, it’s two – because different varieties offer different nuances to a perfumer. Pepper, is metallic and spiky, sharp. As well as featuring widely in ‘soliflores’ (so-called ‘single note’ fragrances, which are often actually a lot more complex than that), lily of the valley works its magic in many other fragrances, used to ‘open up’ and freshen the other floral notes in a blend – as a clever writer on the Perfume Shrine blog puts it, ‘much like we allow fresh air to come into contact with a red wine to let it “breathe” and bring out its best’. Marc Jacobs Oh Lola! Fields of flax are heart-stoppingly – maybe even car-stoppingly – beautiful, with pale blue flowers wafting in the breeze. Nowadays, it’s widely cultivated: orange groves flourish from North Africa to North America, France and Italy. Calvin Klein Escape. (‘Headspace’ technology is usually used to capture the scent: the air around the bloom is analysed, and the aroma compounds flawlessly recreated in the lab.). CK One Shock for Her Bacon…? Used by the handful for a bracing freshness or plucked by the leaf to add just a hint of breeze, mint is a favourite that's here to stay. And somewhat more heavy-handedly in home fragrance, loo cleaners – and those taxi-cab car perfumes…, Goutal Nuit Etoilée Eucalyptus honey. Usually, the whale vomits these sharp bits. Since the time of the early Arab perfumers, the flesh of peach kernels was used in scents and ointments. Opoponax catches alight easily, which explains why it’s been used for incense for centuries: King Solomon apparently regarded opopanax as ‘the noblest of incense gums’. Once upon a time, jasmine’s scent was extracted through a process called enfleurage: the flowers were pressed into layers of fat, and gradually the scent migrated to the fat, from which it could be extracted. There’s nothing light and airy about guaiac wood, that’s for sure. Labdanum An aromatic gum from the rockrose bush. Steam-extracted from the leaves of a family of super-fast-growing trees and shrubs native to Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania – over 500 different varieties – eucalyptus can add an airiness to perfumes, with its green, camphor-y, lemon-ish facets. Guerlain Chant D’Arome Rich, warm, luxurious and comforting, honey works wonderfully to emphasise floral notes, or add touches of amberiness. One thing’s for sure: dahlias don’t smell as blowsy as they look. Diptyque Tam Dao Diane von Furstenburg Diane But in fact, orange blossom’s versatility lends itself to all kinds of fragrances – so it’s very widely used, acting too as a natural ‘fixative’ to prolong the life of will-o’-the-wisp ingredients. But pine can also be wonderful crisp, spicy, outdoorsy and invigorating – and it’s been closely linked to perfume creation since the time of the early Arab perfumers, who liked it in combination with frankincense, in particular. All Good Scents aims to establiâ¦ By Kilian Bamboo Harmony Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl, Beaver’s anal glands. endless. Prada No. We’re much, much more than just a website: we’re a also a subscription organisation for perfume-lovers, offering events (including ‘meet the nose’ events), courses, sampling opportunities, and a beautiful regular downloadable magazine, The Scented Letter. Bond No. soft, delicately sweet, skin-like, bit nutty, fruity undertone, black licorice, anised, sweet, spicy, fresh, green, sweet, vanilla-like, warm, caramel, resinous, fresh, lavender, floral, herbal, citrus, pepper, tea, spicy, pungent, fresh, dry, woody, dusty, bit warm, spicy, sweet, refreshing, lemony/citrus, woody, fresh, woody, earthy, violet, iris, slightly sweet, black currant, very strong, green, fruity, floral, smooth, woody, lightly sweet, slightly balsamic, fresh ground cinnamon, woody, vanilla, warm, peppered, dusty, warm, clove, spicy/sweet, woody, dusty, fruity, sweet, milky, coconut, coumarin-like, powerful, exotic fruit, lychee, raspberry, bit herbal green, fresh, camphorous, refreshing, stimulating, peppery, citrus, woody, balsamic, sweet-licorice tones, green, leaf-like, bitter, woody, green peas, resinous, warm, fresh, peppery, earthy, lemony, light, green, tart yet sweet citrus aroma, with a soft, floral undertone, balsamic, honeyed-sweet, smoky, tar-like, earthy, sweet, rich, freshly cut hay, herbaceous, musky, earthy, dried fig, ethereal, floral jasmine, very light, diffusive, airy, fresh, sweet, full-bodied, intensely floral, fruity-banana top, musky-animalic undertones, full-bodied, rich, warm, amber-like, sweet, balsamic, herbaceous, floral, soft, sweet, bit woody, leather, woody, powerful, elegant, tobacco-like, fresh, acidic, tangy, zest, lemon-peel, oily, green, honeyed floral, sweet, fresh, green, lily of the valley, musky, powerful, warm, ambrette seed, fruity, elegant, sweet musk, soft, delicately animalic, subtle, warm, buttery, earthy, mushroom, bit black licorice, soft, sweet, delicate white floral, lightly citrus & green, mossy, damp earth, smoky, leathery, woody, mushroom, warm, rich and powerful, sweet, powdery, honey, animal, honey, complex, fruity floral, apricot, exotic, rich, earthy, musky, dry, green, mossy, balsamic, sweet, pear-apple, ethereal, slightly floral, green, fresh, citrus, green, slightly floral, bitter, woody, dry, fresh, spicy-sweet, slightly floral, hints of angelica and juniper, freshly crushed stems, green-leafy, galbanum, fig, fresh, natural, fresh, sweet, strongly herbal, medicinal, light petroleum, smoke, coumarin, sweet, almond, vanilla, cloves, caramel, sweet, creamy, rich, powerful, fruity, slightly animal, green, cut grass, earthy, cucumber, herbaceous, bit floral, intensely sweet floral with faint medicinal top notes, jasmine-like, Perfume ingredients are the individual raw materials that make up a fragrance. For a while, attempts were made to keep civet cats in captivity – including in Britain – to ensure a ready supply of this perfume ingredient. Guerlain Shalimar Chanel Cristalle Tauer Perfumes 06 Incense Rose. Miller Harris Fleur de Sel When you smell something sweet, powdery, fluffy-little-cloud-like in a perfume, chances are there’s a touch of heliotrope in there. Cristobal Balenciaga Le Dix But it also works brilliantly as a fixative: around 13% of all perfumes apparently contain at least a trace of frankincense. Fern blends perfectly with lavender, oakmoss and coumarin, in fragrance creation. But its use goes way back: musk makes its first appearance in the 6th Century, brought from India by Greek explorers. Diptyque L’Eau de Neroli It's been highly fashionable in fragrances for the past few years: sweet, soft, powdery, suede-like – rather like violets, which we tend to be more familiar with as a scent. Intensely green – green as spring itself – the smell of hyacinth develops as the flower blooms. Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille. Log in Register. The links are rooted in the tradition of the ‘gantier parfumeurs’, a guild of glove-makers in Paris who fashioned gloves for royalty and the aristocracy as far back as the 15th Century. Chanel Coco ‘Mock orange blossom’, it’s also known as – or Philadelphus. Miller Harris Fleur Oriental Bulgari Mon Jasmin Noir L’Eau Exquise It’s actually a natural aroma chemical found in roses, but also citronella, geranium, palmarosa, petitgrain, eucalyptus. PS A relative of vetiver, Vetiveria nigritina, is also found in the Saharan areas of Africa, and is used to perfume clothes and fabrics – but it doesn’t make its way into the perfumes we wear. Penhaligon’s La Violetta Vera Wang Lovestruck, Where would perfumery be, without orange...? 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