2008-12-31

It's time for Champagne!



Happy New Year!
Let the 2009th be full of passion, love and pleasure.

2008-12-30

Jasmine: first formula


Russian version - click here

Image: a sample jasmine formula made from synthetic components by AromaX

It’s interesting to notice that the first formula of a jasmine base seemed to be an attempt to reconstruct the jasmine absolute. It has was build from the same components in the similar proportions as it was known about hundred years ago. Here is the formula I found in a perfumery book. Its name is Jasmine base No.1:

Benzyl acetate – 130 (65%)
Benzyl alcohol – 40 (20%)
Linalool – 20 (10%)
Methyl anthranilate – 10 (5%)

There are some reasons why you can’t see cis-Jasmone and Indole there although they make a part of jasmine absolute formula as it was known in 1912. cis-Jasmone was synthesized in 1932, but it was a very expensive synthetic material. Even now it’s four times more expensive than ylang-ylang oil or ten times more expensive than lavender, bergamot or basil oils.

The biggest problem of Indole is discoloration. Exposed to light it acquires reddish brown colour and is often substituted with other components. Without Indole this jasmine base has a larger application spectrum.

So far I don’t have any suggestions why linalyl acetate is not used there.

The Jasmine base No.1 is not really a jasmine – it’s a jasmine giant. Smelling it is like standing in the middle of a giant jasmine flower covered with a sticky and acrid nectar. The sharpness of benzyl acetate is almost hurting the nose’s mucous membrane. The base has recognisable fruity floral character of jasmine, but recalls an urge either to dilute it or to smell it from far far away. It still can be used as a jasmine component of a complex fragrance.

To me it was a challenge to experiment with this base and to try to make it more close to the jasmine absolute formula from 1912. I did noticed that:

Linalool increases the freshness of the base, but can’t beat the sharpness of benzyl acetate unless you take too much of linalool. But than it totally kills the jasmine character of the base.

Linalyl acetate in combination with Linalool gives an interesting fresh note reminding me of the tannic bitterness of green tea. Is also easy to overdose, because at the certain concentration it becomes an independent note that doesn’t makes a part of jasmine anymore.

cis-Jasmone – is a nice material that tames the sharpness of benzyl acetate. But not its strength. The base loses its acridness and the giant jasmine becomes smaller. Although it still remains to be a mutant jasmine, it’s not the raptorial flower anymore that stupefies you with its smell and digest your flesh with its acrid nectar.

Indole – it was interesting to notice, that small quantities of indole couldn’t really compete with benzyl acetate. And it was easy to overdose. Although this aromachemical gave some idolic properties to the base, it couldn’t really blend with the rest into give a dark narcotic note of jasmine.

After a small make-over the base became more tempered. Although it still wasn’t a real jasmine flower, but rather a decaying mutant flower as big as my hand. The notes of linalool with linalyl acetate as well as indole were not completely blended into the jasmine smell.

Some synthetic materials could help me to tame the beast of benzyl acetate, but I did want to stay close to a jasmine absolute formula from 1912. So, for some finishing touch I decided to use some naturals.

One drop of Bergamot oil was a nice blender for linalool and linalyl acetate. And two drops of Ylang Ylang oil helped Indole to feel home and also tempered benzyle acetate. I am satisfied with the final result. Of course it’s not a jasmine soliflore, but it is similar to some jasmine perfume oils and it can be a jasmine base in a floral heart of a complex perfume giving it a fruity floral jasmine nuances. Of course, the use of some modern aromachemicals could help to improve this formula in a much easier way.

2008-12-29

Jasmine: chemistry of smell


Russian version - click here

It’s amazing what science did with our world. Sometimes I think that the modern analytical methods are developed enough to solve any mystery of Mother Nature. Even such a ethereal substance as fragrance can be separated into the molecules. But the wisdom of our Mother Nature is still inconceivable and too sophisticated in all its appearances. For example, there are more than 300 constituents of jasmine oil found, but still no one managed to reconstruct the natural jasmine absolute that would match the natural product by smell and by composition. Not in a hundred years…

In 1912 the following jasmine oil constituents were known:

Benzyl acetate - 65%
Linalool - 15,5%
Linalyl acetate - 7,5%
Benzyl alcohol - 6%
Jasmone - 3%
Indole - 2,5%
Methyl anthranilate - 0,5%
Phenol compounds with narcotic odor – traces.

Whay are they? Let’s have a closer sniff:

Benzyl acetate – hyperconcentrated jasmine fruitiness at a toxic dose. Very sharp and strong, reminding of a solvent (like a nail polish removal). It’s not unpleasant. In contrary, its sweet jasmine floral fruitiness is nice, but there is just too much of it. It’s also referred as a fresh. Indeed it is, but only in small concentrations. Undiluted it’s a beast that nature could tame within the jasmine fragrance. The perfumers have also succeed in taming of benzyl acetate, but still cannot compete with nature as they can’t use it in the concentrations as high as it’s found in natural jasmine absolute.
In perfumery benzyl acetate is one of the most common (and cheapest) aromachemical used to create a jasmine-fruity note not merely to jasmine, but also to gardenia, muguet, lily and fleur d’orange.

Linalool and linalyl acetate. Linalool possesses a fresh floral fragrance with woody undertone. It’s the major constituent of the rosewood (about 80-97%) and has a similar smell. It’s impossible to define it’s floral component as it could be any flower. Linalool can be found within the composition of numerous flowers, fruits and herbs. Lilalyl acetate often follows linalool in floral and fresh fragrances. It has a similar smell with a distinctive sweet fruity note.

Benzyl alcohol. Has a faint floral fruity smell. I can also smell an almondy note there that comes as a result of oxidation. The quality can influence the smell dramatically. Can be found as a natural constituent of many flowers. Although it’s almost odourless, benzylacetate is used in perfumery as a fixative.

Indol – is a real wild beat you better never meet undiluted. In low concentrations it’s a nice dark narcotic fragrance with an leathery animal undertone. Once I was making a jasmine base. According to the formula I had to add a couple drops of indol at the end. The result was amazing as it extended the spectrum of a fragrance by giving it a perfect depth. From white innocent flower jasmine became a mature seductive temptress playing on primitive instincts.

Jasmone (cis-Jasmone). Also found in the oils of jonquil, neroli and fleur d’orange absolute. A multifaceted fragrance combining its jasmine floral character with fruity, spicy and herbal (celery seed) nuances.

Methyl anthranilate is a narcotic component of neroli, ylang, jasmine and tuberose.

Although there are more than 300 compounds of jasmine absolute are found, some of the major aromachemicals mentioned above still give a good picture of jasmine fragrance. I can still find back the nuances I emphasized before: white floral euphoric note, dark narcotic note, floral jasmine fruitiness, freshness, creaminess and spiciness.

Later I shall describe each of the jasmine absolute compounds in detail.

2008-12-15

Jasmine: essential oil myth


Russian version: click here

Image: One of the favorite jasmine absolute

Jasmine essential oil is an interesting perfumery fairytale. Does it exist? Yes, it does. Jasmine essential oil is a mixture of volatile components of the jasmine flower. Is it possible to yield those components as essential oil? No. Those fragrant volatile components are only yielded as absolute.

Essential oils can be yielded either by mean of expression or by mean of distillation. Expression can be applied only when the plant contains a lot of essential oils (like citrus peel). For distillation the plant should still contain enough essential oil and should be resistant for heating.

Jasmine flowers contain too little essential oil that can be yielded only by mean of solvent extraction or by an old method of enfleurage. The extraction is simple. Fresh opened blossoms comes in contact with volatile organic solvent (like benzene or hexane) and replaced with fresh flowers again and again till the solvent is saturated. After the solvent is eliminated from a saturated solution, the mass, consisting of volatile components and non-volatile waxes and colures is left. It’s concrete. This concrete is partially dissolved in pure alcohol to separate non-soluble waxes from the fragrant part. After filtration and elimination of alcohol the absolute is left. Thus, absolute contains almost the same volatile components as essential oils, but also less volatile (or non-volatile) components and (naturally occurring) colorants. The presence of less volatile components makes absolutes smelling different (somewhat deeper) than essential oils.

Enfleurage is romantically described in the book of Patrick Süskind “Perfume”. This method uses the high affinity of volatile components to fat. Freshly picked blossoms of jasmines are places on the trays of greased plates for 24 hours. They are replaced with fresh blossoms each 24 hours till the fat is saturated. This saturated fat is called pomade. The absolute can be extracted with alcohol the same way as it is extracted from the concrete. Due to its costliness enfleurage is almost everywhere substituted by solvent extraction.

Thus, there is no Jasmine essential oil available on the market. Only absolute. So, if you hold a bottle of Jasmine essential oil than it’s probably a synthetic fragrant oil (if it’s clear) or an absolute (especially if it’s dark and viscous). But it’s also can be an infused oil. In India the method of infusion is applied to capture the smell of jasmine. The blossoms are processed with a hot oil till it is saturated with a jasmine fragrance. Such an oil is not an essential oil, but an infused Jasmine oil (often called Chamelli-oil).

It’s also possible to distil jasmine blossoms together with sandalwood. The product is called Jasmine attar – a mixture of jasmine and sandalwood essential oils. Such an attar might be by mistake called pure Jasmine essential oil.

Theoretically it’s also possible to distil essential oil from absolute, but this method is not used in perfumery.

Jasmine absolute is a very expensive product with varying quality. That is why this absolute is often adulterated. The cheaper synthetics are used to mix with absolute and decrease the prime cost or to improve its olfactory characteristic.


A couple of interesting facts:

- Because only freshly picked blossoms are used for solvent extraction, concrete may be only produced near the jasmine growth place. But absolute can be made from concrete everywhere. Some perfume houses makes their own absolute from concrete they buy.
- Absolute may be made from a mixture of different concretes from different places. Mostly it’s done to provide a kind of standardized jasmine absolute. It would be difficult to say from what growth place such an absolute comes from.

2008-12-14

A la Nuit: my reference jasmine



Russian version: click here

As I already have mentioned before, A la Nuit by Serge Lutens is a kind of reference jasmine to my nose (or may be better to say one of the references). Especially in the beginning I can clearly smell all the components of the jasmine scent I have mentioned before: a fine euphoric note of the white flower, a deep and dark narcotic note of indole and an exotic fruitness of benzylacetate. At the very first moments I can even clearly smell the green notes I wanted to find in the jasmine smell so much. All those components are not only easy to separate in this fragrance, but they also looks a bit magnified or emphasized. Probably this slight exaggeration was the reason for Madame Turin to call this fragrance a “jasmine jasmine” or a “death by jasmine”.

On my skin A la Nuit can behave differently. Yesterday it was very capricious trying to protrude its aspects one after another until all of them had found peace and started to behave as a whole. But today it was very kind. A la Nuit even showed me its green notes I wanted to find in jasmine but couldn’t. It opened on my skin as a jasmine blossom slightly glimmering in a darkness and whispering me about the fantasy worlds full of mystery, miracles, love and passion. It was trying to seduce me to reveal my deepest desire and to surrender myself to the jasmine fantasies.

How does Christopher Sheldrake made this fragrance? Was he attempting to recall and recreate the essence of jasmine based on the thoroughly composed mixture of absolutes? Or did he want to approach a kind of jasmine image from his own perception? What I mean is that I think that there are three main ways to create a soliflor. The first one is when a perfumer tries to approach a live blossom. Like Lys Mediterranee by Frederic Malle with all its nuances of even nuances of stalk and blossom dust. Another way is to approach a kind of image of the flower that is an interpretation based on the individual perception of the flower. Like Un Lys by Serge Lutens. It doesn’t have the nuances of the live lily, but emphasizes its essence on the vanilla background. There is another variation of this way when a perfumer gives some new nuances that don’t even exist in the live flower to make it more a fantasy fragrance. The third way is when an essential oil or absolute is taken as a base (or a mixture of them or even different species of the same flower) and analysed to recognize its basic aspects. Than each aspect taken apart can be developed, emphasized and decorated. I guess that a lavender accord at Kiki by Vero Kern and incense accord at Incense Extreme by Andy Tauer might be build this way. But, it´s only a gues…

It´s interesting to notice that three sorts of Jasmine are mentioned to be used in A la Nuit – Jasmine from Egypt, India and Morocco. Formerly French Grasse was the main source of Jasmine where they bottled the smell of Jasmine by mean of enfleurage. But now Egypt, India, China and Marocco are the main suppliers of Jasmine absolute. The last one can be also a standardized blend of jasmine absolutes from the different sources. Even if a perfumer used just a drop of it in her or his perfume he may write about “thoroughly selected jasmine from Egypt, India, Maroco etc.” used to create the fragrance. But I still do believe that Christopher Sheldrake did really work with three different absolutes to create The Jasmine for his A la Nuit.

2008-12-13

Jasmime: the smell under the surgeon knife


Russian version - click here

Image: Jasmine in a "Tropical paradise" on Texel (Dutch island) by AmromaX

At this moment I am in love with white florals again. But what are the white florals? Jasmine, Ylang, Gardenia, Tuberose, Muguet, Lily, but also white Rose petals, white Lilac together with Hyacinth, Cyclamen and so on… So many different flowers with completely different smells can be called white florals. To understand them better I decided to take them one by one. Let’s Jasmine to be the reference flower as it’s the most used fragrance in perfumery.

How someone can describe the smell of Jasmine? If I try to analyse it with my nose I can define the following basic constituents. The first one is the fine white euphoric note – this note I can smell almost in all white flowers and it’s the finest in the smell of lilies. And an octave higher I can smell it in Hyacinth. Of course, it’s a bit different in each flower, so, let’s call this one a jasmine type fine white petal note.

Another very strong note is a sweet fruitiness. It’s difficult to determine what fruit it could come from as it’s very specific to jasmine and some other flowers like lilac. It comes from benzyl acetate – the main constituent of jasmine absolute and the jasmine smell.

There is also another euphoric note, a dark one. Indole might be the closest smell to describe it. It’s a deep narcotic note with a slightly dirty animal undertone – very prominent in jasmine absolute. Let’s call it a dark narcotic note of indolic type. I think I can also smell a similar dark narcotic note in tuberose and gardenia, but than it’s not indolic, but rather heavy tropical fruitiness with a rotten undertone.

Those three notes are the most characteristic to jasmine as my nose smells it. But there are also some minor notes like a creamy one. This one is much more characteristic for Gardenia and Tuberose, but I can also recognize it as a part of jasmine fragrance. Green notes are difficult for me to find behind the overwhelming narcotic and fruity notes. Books say that green notes are distinguishing for Sambac type of Jasmine – one of the two main jasmine species used in perfumery. But so far I couldn’t compare those two types to smell the difference and catch those green notes.

So, what could be a reference jasmine? Of course the live flower is The One. But it’s not always available when you need it. And jasmine absolute smells different from the live blossom. So far I decided A la Nuit by Serge Lutens to be my reference jasmine and inspiration.

2008-12-08

The Day of Enlightenment scented with Yatra



Image - from Aveda website

Russian version - click here

Today is the Bodhi day, the Budhist holiday, the day of enlightenment. According to the legend Siddhartha Guatama has spent some time meditating under the Sacred Fig to find the Truth. And finally he awoke enlightened and became the Buddha as we know him. It’s a very good day to learn some traditions from Far East. If you are a witch or astrologer you might like to try I Ching. If you are a perfume lover you might like to try some Oriental perfume.

I have chosen the Yatra by Aveda. It seems a good choice to me as Yatra means spiritual journey in Sanskrit. It’s a blend of Australian Sandalwood, Biodynamic Bulgarian Rose, Biodynamic Bulgarian Lavender and Organic South African Rose-Geranium. Aveda produces plant-based perfumes and cosmetics from natural and when possible organic ingredients.

Smelling Yatra from a vial was really disappointing – first some sour citrusy fresh notes and later harsh turpentine wood. On the skin it was the same, but aggravated by a dominating geranium note that reminded me of a fellow blogger who said that geranium should be banned from perfumery for its effect to kill the delicate blends (well, actually she meant the perfumery blending for beginners).

While blending with the skin chemistry Yatra started to transform into a beauty. First she came as a cold milky semitransparent wood with soft and rosy geranium note. Warmed up it appeared as a creamy and almost sweet vanilla woodiness, smooth and silky contrasting the cool floral notes. Lavender plays cool shadowed background that helps to reveal all beauty of Sandalwood. The perfume keeps playing with its opalescent notes changing from reserved soothing lavender to rich and sweet creamy sandalwood.

2008-11-30

Coca-cola: The perfect accord.


Russian version - click here

Accord is a basic concept in perfumery. In fact it’s a well-balanced mixture of two or more notes (or fragrant materials). But when is accord well-balanced? Well, if you have an idea of a certain smell in your head than “well-balanced” means the combination that gives you the closest match to your goal. But you can also search for a point of “olfactory balance”. The last one is a proportion when neither of two (or more) components dominate and the resulting smell differs from the “sum” of smell the components. Such an accord smells like an individual note and it becomes difficult to recognize what notes it’s made of.

A famous classic example of a well-balanced accord is a mixture of benzylsalicylate and eugenol in 4,5:1 proportion. A deep balsamic and sweet benzylsalicylate and sweet spicy eugenol mixed together yield a sweet spicy floral impression of carnation. This is a main accord used in L’Air du Temps by Jean Carles. Filled up with Ylang and iso-eugenol this accord makes almost 20% of the formula.

But the fact that olfactory point of balance between those two materials is found at 4,5:1 proportion doesn’t mean it’s always used this way. Various carnation bases uses those materials in different proportions that depends on the idea of carnation in the head of perfumer – the goal to be achieved.

One of the example of the perfect accord is Coca-cola. The major part of its smell is based on citrus oils like lemon and orange. But Cola doesn’t really smell citrusy. Here we deal with a perfect accord between citrus notes and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander). Together they form a new smell that is neither citrusy nor spicy. There are different recipes of Coca-cola in the Internet like this one or that one. I did try one of them and I can say that those recipes are just guide-lines. You still need adjustments to get the olfactory balance between the citrus and spicy notes. Otherwise you get just spicy Fanta lemon. I seem to need more trials to achieve the goal.

2008-11-28

Another Kiki impression from indorso (@livejournal)



Written by indorso (in Russian)
Translated by AromaX

Yesterday I’ve got an envelope from la_myrrhe with some samples of Vero Kern perfumes! Hastily I put my little child in hands of his father and escaped to try (“consciously”) those long-awaited perfumes.
Kiki is the most delightful lavender that I ever could smell! It’s so clean, ravishing and prattling like a fresh brook. Even the essential oil of lavender can’t compete with Kiki in its cleanness. I just nestled with my nose in my wrist for a couple of minutes… I did understand why AromaX compares Kiki with a lavender delight! It’s exactly what it is and I’ll not repeat what is already said. The one who knows what I am talking about will understand – I can’t say it better than it’s already written.
But there is a very surprising part… I do admire Kiki very sincerely, but… I don’t want it! And I can’t understand why.
I have a very similar feeling to Onda. Later I’ll write about it.

May be someone knows why those things happen? When you don’t really want something that you do like so much?

P.S. Alena, thank you very much for the possibility to try those perfumes. It was delightful! Like light shining in the Dark Kingdom of my yesterday (and always of today :)

2008-11-19

Ethyl maltol (&Co) in making berries


Image of ethyl maltol formula from Wikipedia

Russian version - click here

After reading that Alex consider to sign his future fragrant creations with raspberry accord I wanted to play with its main components: vanillin, beta-ionone and raspberry ketone. The last one is not an easy thing to understand – it doesn’t smell “the promissed” raspberry there as the name would suggest. So, I think I’ll have to smell fresh raspberries one time and try to understand what aspects the juicy red berry it’s reminiscent to. Now I smell rather a slightly bitter green leave scent (that could be a raspberry leave altough).

Ionones – very unique aromachemicals with various applications. They smell is more likely to violet or iris with a fruity and woody note. I don’t have a beta version, so I decided to use a gamma one (alfa-iso-methyl-ionone). The fruity note of ionones makes them suitable for use in various berry-like compositions.

The raspberry I got from the mentioned components was a poor creature. It was rather a cheap candy flavouring reminding on raspberry after you read an etiquette. And I do understand why. First of all I have just mixed a couple of drops together without making an effort to get a balanced accord. And I haven’t used a proper ionone. But when balanced properly, this raspberry accord might be very promising. But balancing might be a good goal for the future experiments.

Later I added a drop of ethyl maltol to the raspberry. This is a very nice molecule smelling of burned sugar. A very pleasant and balanced note that doesn’t need any modification or imrovement. Just a drop of it gives a perfect sugary note to any gourmand base from canned fruits to Butterschotch chocolate. I think it’s ethyl maltol, that was used in Angel perfume.

Adding a drop of ethyl maltol to my poor raspberry made a… strawberry. Not a perfect one and it was in need for some further balancing. But it was very close to a strawberry perfume oil I bought once. May be if I substituted methyl ionone with beta (or even alfa that is less woody and more soft and floral) and used less of it…

A drop of so called “strawberry aldehyde C-16” turned my potion into a candy made from sugar and milk called “Strawberry cream” (like the one I know from my childhood). And the drop of so called “peach aldehyde C-14” was very good in taming too prominent ionones. And even a drop of 10% solution was powerful enough almost to “kill” all the fragrance. This peach aldehyde is a real beast – use with caution. And it’s the same peach aldehyde that was used to tame the dominant smell of the oakmoss in “Mitsouko”.

After all that fruity and sugary staff it was nice to put some freshness. I decided not to use a famous “leaf alcohol” (cis-3-hexenol), but one of its ethers – salicylate that combine a green note with a sweet medicinal one (like a bit of an anti-cough syrup). The strawberry turned into a pineapple guava berries (feijoa – a green berry).

It was like a magic where each drop called another creature to appear on the smelling paper.

It’s very interesting to mention the strength of ethyl maltol. When I was awake I smelled a weak and pleasant scent of burned sugar. It was coming from a smelling paper left on the table with a strawberry mixture on it. Ethyl maltol was strong enough to “separate” itself from the mixture and reach my nose.

2008-11-13

Things I love...

For example, this song.

Why in perfumery blog? Because it's French, it's about love and passion, it inspires and touches emotions... and of course, because it's MY blog ;-) Enjoy !

It reminds me narcotic white tropical flowers...

2008-11-09

Another interesting perfume blog...

Russian version - http://aromax.livejournal.com/15442.html

Recently I discovered a new perfumery blog by a perfumery student. Alex is an American who is studying perfumery in the heart of the fragrant kitchen (which is known to be full of mysteries) - the city of Grasse. In his blog he shares some of events from the life of a perfumery student. He also discusses some actual problems and dilemma's of modern perfumery. So far I read each of his entry and find it really interesting, informative and motivating.

Here is the link: http://jaimeleparfum.wordpress.com/

2008-11-04

Kiki by Vero Kern - Parisian Lavender Delight



Image is from the Daily Unadventures in Cooking blog where you can also find a recipe of this delicious lavender chocolate cake.

Russian version - click here

Website of Vero Kern - click here

The idea of Kiki is simple – it’s all about sweet lavender or "lavender delight" … Lavender, caramel and musk with a touch of tropic fruits are the constituents of the Kiki as I read on the website of Vero. And thoese are also exactly the notes my nose can smell there. Except may be a touch of grapefruit fresh bitterness on the top, but I am not very sure about this. And I am also not sure about the tropical fruits – my nose being distracted by the sweetness of musk and caramel refuses to recognize any. But the simplicity of Kiki is based on a genial construction.

First the lavender itself. It has two faces combining the sweet floral notes with salty (and I mean it literally as salty taste) camphareous herbal ones. How could Vero separate them emphasizing the sweet floral quality and soothing the sharp herbal notes? I don’t know how, but it’s really amazing. Although I do suspect a use of Lavender absolute for this purpose. I haven’t smell it yet, but reading about this material gave me impressions that it possesses the qualities to turn lavender into a sweet flower.

Another amazing quality of Kiki is its emotional influence. The calming properties on lavender are well known in aromatherapy. But I have never met a perfume (at least I guess Kiki not to be a botanical or naturals only perfume) with such a strong influence on my emotions. It possesses not only the calming quality… it brings me into a nonchalant mood and reminds me to take life easy and to enjoy… It brings more playfulness into my attitude about life…

Kiki brings me into a lazy weekend summer afternoon when it’s so nice to sit somewhere outside with a cup of tee and an exotic delight like a lavender ice-cream or lavender cake with sweet caramel syrup… It may take place in a garden by a big villa or in a sidewalk Parisian café. Kiki is a moment for yourself, an island of peace and pleasure you create around you wherever you are… It also reminds me a movie about Marie Antoinette – Kiki is like a Petit Trianon where Marie Antoinette could escape her royal responsibilities…

And here is a small preview of Marie Antoinette in Petit Trianon:

2008-11-03

Another Onda impression by Alena (la_myrrhe)

Written by Alena (la_myrrhe)
Russian version - click here



Image from the website of Vero Kern

Last summer I’ve renewed my insight into the perfums with leathery notes. During the hottest weather (as hottest as it is possible to get in our North Sea climate) I have tried all my leather stocks kept in bottles and vials. Uncompromising leather fragrances have been shown at their best. Leather, resins, smoke, balsams, moss, vetiver sound surprisingly soft and even refreshing on a heated skin. Discovering new nuances of the old fragrances I become to love them even more. By accident I also found myself not to be versed enough in leather perfumes. Unfortunately I still do not have enough time to go deeply into the details of leather perfumes making.

Some perfumes have revealed their surprisingly multidimensional character during the hot their and one of them was Onda. I have used it till the last drop, but didn’t have time to share my impressions. A surprise from Vero has made me to come back to this fragrance this autumn. After noticing her fragrances in my wish-list she has sent me generous samples of Kiki and Onda. During two crazy days I was grasping for an appeasing Kiki and now I am wearing Onda for the second day.

Now during this time of a year it recalls very different emotions and impressions. But the classical character is still unchanged although the perfume does not develop according to a classical pyramid. Tar, Vetiver and smoke are present there from very beginning till the end. In the beginning they are seasoned with aromatic herbs. I can’t identify them – may be it’s thyme or rosemary or something else. They give bitter and sweet-sour nuances to the fragrance bringing some cooling during the heat and sounding more balsamic during the autumn. Fresh cut ginger combining both the coldness and the warmth can be definitely sensed there. The wealth of herbs and spices doesn’t make the fragrance “tickling” – it sounds soft and intense even on this stage [of development].

The leather in Onda is full of surprises. Sometimes it turns into a cracked leather of an old saddle. But at another moment it’s a finest (thinnest) suede which finest touch makes the skin crawl. I would like to know what animal notes are responsible for the effect making this perfume such tangible. Vetiver trails the fragrance into the lower register, roots and slows down. In Onda I also sense a heat of Amber – the heat of glowing coals cooling down in the depth of the hearth.

It’s a silent room with soft light coming through a blurred window. You can only guess the contours of odd pbjects in twilight. An old book in a leather cover has been touched so often that it has absorbed the warmth and smell of many hands and has got its own life. Wisps of herbs are hanged in the dark corners and there is a fresh one on the table that still keeps the dew drops on its leaves. An old Dutch artist could be the best one to paint such an image. I can only guess who will enter this room and what shall happen there.

An impression of summer Onda has paled in my memory. It’s inseparably connected to the image of my grandfather. Onda could be his favourite perfume, his signature scent. But this is something for another time.

2008-10-20

Perfumed impressions: Onda by Vero Kern



Russian version - click here

Website of Vero Kern - http://www.veroprofumo.com/

The begin of Onda was like taking a thin transparent ochre scarf from an antique wardrobe and getting a tail of fragrances from the past. The gramophone starts playing, the world starts turning around and I feel a long fall… back in time. Is it a fall or are you sliding the wave into the depth of the fragrance?

Onda reminds me of Marlene Dietrich. A femme fatale who was attractive and desirable in furs or leather or even a man’s suit. A woman whose manlike habits and lineaments made her even more feminine and attractive. Someone who jumps into the depth to taste the intensity of life. She is charmingly seductive and provocatively embarrassing at the same time. She is warm and caring, but also heavy and fatal.

It’s not possible to understand the complexity of this fragrance from the blotter. Only intimate contact with skin allows this perfume to blossom and show all her facets.

In the top of Onda I smell a fresh spicy basil that interacts nicely with a leather note for awhile and than turns into a heavy aromatic bouquet of bitter herbs with a touch of warm sweet spices. After another wave sliding into the depth of Onda I sense warm notes of coriander and a wonderful combination of clary sage with a pinch of black pepper. A random clash of the last two notes against the vetiver in the base reminds me of Andy’s Vetiver Dance just for a second. One more slide and the clear light yellow honing starts to drop slowly on herbs and leather. Slightly chemical on the blotter the honey note of Onda opens nicely warm on the skin – it’s viscous and mellow, but not sugary sweet. It’s not the sugar but rather ginger and mace mentioned in the pyramid that sweeten the honey. Although my nose doesn’t recognize the mace and barely recognizes ginger. May be because they are perfectly implemented into the honey accord. Another wave gliding brings me to vetiver and leather. The leather in Onda is rough and a bit harsh on the blotter, but on my skin it turns into soft and delicate suede with a pleasant smoky note. A touch of cumin gives Onda very attractive animalic quality. I don’t know if other animal notes are used as I am not familiar with them. But Onda has very animal character – sometimes it’s almost embracing to smell it from a bare skin.

2008-10-04

Michael Storer perfumes


Russian version - click here

Image comes from the website of Michael Storer

Michael Storer is an independent perfumer from Los Angeles who has begun to make fragrances after almost 30 years in the fashion industry. So far he has created six eau de perfumes “designed for individualist”. Very soon they will be available in Russia.

My “virtual” acquaintance with Mike began a year ago when I joined a perfume-making Yahoo group where independent perfumers can discuss different fragrant issues and support each other with advice. Mike is a very active member of this group who enthusiastically participates in almost any discussion and generously shares his perfume knowledge. He is a man with a great passion for perfumes and fragrances.

Being a beginner in fragrance making myself, I was very interested to try the creations of an experienced fellow perfumer. The perfumes of Michael Storer were not easy for me to understand. My impression about his style and vision of fragrant reality may be compared to looking at a piece of abstract art form for the first time. His style is like an emancipation of classic art. And based on contrasts, his fragrances are provocative and unique. This uniqueness makes them very suitable for wear by individualists.

More information on the fragrances of Michael Storer and the sample pack are available through his website http://michaelstorer.com/

The six fragrances created by Mr. Storer so far are “three sisters” for women – Genviève, Yvette and Stephanie; two perfumes for men – Djin and Monk and one unisex creation – Kadota – the newest one. All are made at eau de parfum strength.

Genviève.
According to Mike it’s a classy and unabashedly feminine floral rose fantasy. To my nose it’s All About the Rose, indeed. An emancipated one. It begins with a quiet, powdery flower. But very soon she reveals a sharp metallic note surrounded with fruits and fresh green accords. The sharpness of this metallic note is like an unabashed nudity that rather provokes than seduces. On my skin this note is too powerful, but on the blotter it’s better integrated in the fruity floral accord of peach, raspberry and tropical flowers like jasmine and ylang. Rhubarb, muguet and mimosa keep it fresh. Amber and resins warm the perfume up and musk and civet bring just enough animal power to keep the perfume seductive. My mind doesn’t show me an image of a rose garden, but draws a silver rose with electric metallic petals – a fine modernistic sculpture of a classic flower. The background for this rose is a fruit dish standing in the shadow of a big tree somewhere in the country.

Stephanie.
She is so green… That was my first impression. First I couldn’t smell anything else but the depth of galbanum, bitterness of chrysanthemums and the freshness of pepper – there was green jungle everywhere. But soon I smelled something I love so much – a trail of my favourite tropical flowers leading me to a seductive heart made of Jasmine and Tuberose. And maybe Gardenia.
It’s interesting to note that according to Mike, Stephanie is a recreation of the headspace of Gardenia. But you don’t see any Gardenia in a pyramid of the scent. The most unique aspect of this perfume is that Gardenia isn’t there, but she is born on the edges of a clash between tropical flowers and green freshness. The Gardenia of Stephanie plays hide and seek in the jungle. And her secret is – she really wants to be found.

Yvette.
She is the most elusive creation to my nose. Smelling this complex fragrance is like watching a thin oil film upon water that creates a kaleidoscopic interplay of iridescent colours. Tea notes, plums, fruity rose, honey, leather, exotic flowers and even an aroma of make-up… it’s all in her. Mike emphasizes the gourmand quality of Yvette based on buttery and pastry-like accord with the notes of tarragon running through. Yvette is seductive and a true temptress, yet aloof and elusive, which makes her all the more intriguing.

Monk.
Someone called this fragrance Chanel No. 5 for men. And it is almost true – Monk opens with a punch of aldehydes. But under them my nose smells only chocolate refusing to recognize any other ingredient from the rich, fragrant pyramid of Monk. The combination of chocolate and aldehydes is unusual. This contrast between ancient and modern aphrodisiacs is juxtaposed, but attractive. If you are not as chocolate attuned as I am, you might also recognize incense, smoky tobacco and a smell of the dark, musty monastic cell with a touch of animal notes. Monk is heavy, dark and mysterious as well as masculine and sexy.

Djin.
Is a fresh green citrusy masculine perfume with a pinch of spice. The fragrance opens with sour lemon and bitter grapefruit warmed with pepper and sweetened with cardamom. The green depth of galbanum together with aromatic freshness of geranium leaf contrasts with the tenderness of white muguet. A touch of musk, castoreum and teakwood support the fragrance. Djin is a fresh male eau de cologne with a spicy oriental twist – light and ethereal, but powerful as any Djin should be.

Kadota.
Kadota consists of green fig leaves together with a sweet, creamy delight made from the fig’s fruits and flowers. It plays like a gift from Mike to modern-day Adams and Eves. To my nose Kadota remained a forbidden fruit. A sophisticated clash of the notes yielded an unusual accord that initially recalled some unpleasant aroma associations from my childhood. It made me a bit jealous of all those people who could enjoy the beauty of Kadota. I smelled it many times and eventually was able to break through my personal olfactory block to enjoy the pleasant contrast between the bitterness of green fleshy leaves and the creamy fruitiness of the fig.

2008-09-27

Mojito Homme



Russian version - click here

Today I was just having fun with image processing and making collages. Actually I was following an on-line lesson about making a collage including a bottle, green leaves, ocean waves - or how you can emphasize the freshness of a drink. While working on it I did remember my impressions about Geurlain Homme and decided to make it a funny joke for myself. Here is a result. But remember - perfume is not a drink! And have fun!

2008-09-22

Coffee tincture: happy blending and wise lessons


Russian version - click here

Sometimes get en urge just to blend things following only a vague idea in my head. Than I don’t work this idea out or make a formula. This Sunday I had finally opened my coffee tincture that a made a couple of weeks before. It smelled lovely – a combination of burned notes, coffee and less pleasant, but not very prominent “sour” note (I know it from a coffee aftertaste in the mouth). The vague idea was to make a delicious kitchen scent.

Well from about 30 ml of coffee tincture I made 100 ml spray (alcohol/water/emulgator). The oils I use were – a couple of drops of Cinnamon, Clove, Vanilla (tincture), Ginger and a couple of dozen drops of Orange-Mandarine-Grapefruit mixture. From synthetics – two drops of Dairy Fleuressence from the PerfumersWorld (a mixture of lactones with butter and milk smell).

Guys, it became a really delicious kitchen spray – it smells spiced cookies like the one you bake for the Xmas (or St. Nicolas so popular in Netherlands) ;-) Coffee (I think with vanilla) gave it the necessary “something baked” smell and Dairy Fleuressence a drop of butter (“used in cookies”).

What perfume wisdom can I draw from this situation? Well – happy blending is fun, BUT – if I had measured the amount of coffee and alcohol as well as written down the amount of essential oils added I could get a formula and work it out. So, MEASURE and WRITE DOWN and later you’ll be able reproduce and improve. That’s the lesson I take when I go to make my second coffee tincture. And now I just enjoy the delicious cookies smell – so suitable for the becoming darker evenings ;-)

2008-09-20

Pefume assignment - eau de cologne


Russian version - click here

Well – the first perfume assignment I had to make was Eau de cologne as I already have mentioned.

Eau de cologne is not really a perfume, but more a refreshing water consisting of citrus, herbal and floral notes. Eau de cologne is not used to perfume ourselves, but to cool and refresh. That is why it doesn’t have to be tenacious or strong, but it should be light and have a fresh smell. Nowdays eau de cologne is also a synonym to a low concentrated perfume. There are also perfumes called eau de cologne (like one made by Chanel) – they possess the citrusy fresh smell of eau de cologne and qualities of a real perfume.

The formula I got to make was consisting mostly of citrus oils mixture – bergamot, lemon and mandarine natural oils made almost 60% of the formula. Some synthetics were used to enrich the citrus scents. An interesting aromachemical widely used in modern perfumery is dihydro myrcenol. It’s a fresh citrus smelling chemical with a distinguished lime note. It’s used as a lime oil replacement and it also gives a kind of noble masculine citrus accent. Another aromachemical used is citral. It gave it a barley sugar sweetness reminding of lemongrass oil (containing sometimes up to 90% citral). The use of citral and lemongrass oil is restricted by IFRA as they may cause skin irritation. Funny to mention the severity of IFRA. As I remember from my student period citral was a medicine. For inner use it was prescribed in much higher concentrations than IFRA forbid to put on the skin. I also remember that I read at Octavian´s blog that IFRA forbid the use of lemon balm oil at all – even for non skin applications. So, the next time when you drink a lemon balm tea, please, be careful not to smell any. And of course, avoid any skin contact ;-)

A drop of menthol is used to enhance the freshness and a drop of C-10 aldehyde gives some sparkles. Both are modifiers that mean you can’t easily recognize their smell in a final product, but they do have effect on a total composition.

The herbal part of the formula consisted of a couple of drops of lavender and rosemary oils.

Another interesting part was the use of linalool and linalyl acetate combination. Those are two chemicals are widely found in numerous flowers and herbs. In perfumery they are also used in numerous floral bases. Linalool smells a fresh, but chemical with a woody undertone. Rosewood oil consisting mostly of linalool might give a good idea about how linalool smells. Linalyl acetate shares the fresh chemical note with linalool, but differs by its fruity note reminding of pear and more bergamot like freshness. Mixed together they do smell fresh, but not pleasant enough to be used alone.

To fix the eau de cologne a drop of synthetic musk was used.

To test the formula I mixed all ingredients and made a 5% solution in the alcohol. Actually the most of eau de colognes has about 3% of fragrant materials. After a couple days of riping it was ready for a first test.

What did I get from the vial? On the blotter – a nice fresh citrusy smell sweetened with Citral giving a note of barley sugar and refined with lofty dihydro myrcenol. Unfortunately it doesn’t stay long on the skin – the citrusy freshness disappears in a few minutes and the only scent you smell is a camphorous note of lavender-rosemary supported with linalool chemical note. The problem is that the longevity of citrus oils mixture is shorter than the longevity of lavender-rosemary-linalool-linalyl acetate mixture. The only drop of synthetic musk seem to be not enough to make the smell more pleasant.

It looks that the improvement in this case should be pointed to the top to middle note. What materials could be used to cover the campharous note of lavender-rosemary combination and to lift up the chemical accents of linalool-linalyl acetate accord. I was thinking of using of ginger oil as it would nicely blend with barley sugar note of citral, ommiting of rosemary if needed and the use of hedione – a nice fresh long lasting chemical mostly used to give freshness to jasmine compositions. I was also thinking to use some materials to simulate a neroli odour (as linalool and linalyl acetate are also the components of neroli bases and neroli is widely used in eau de colognes). And of course I can enrich the base with some resin components.

Roxana has also made a nice blog entry about eau de cologne.

2008-09-11

Guerlain homme - a practical joke?




Russian version - click here

The whole summer I was teased by the bloggers writing about new Guerlain Homme fragrance. Finally I could smell it from the blotter in the perfume shop. Unfortunately there was no love from the firtst sight. My nose has got a sweet citrusy smell classified by my brain as “eau de cologne, masculine, fresh, sweet, common…” But I did remember the positive comments about this fragrance and decided to give it a second chance.

The first very short notes reminded me of iris from the namesake fragrance from Dior. The iris vision lasted only the seconds and later I could enjoy a nice glass of Mojito cocktail as it was promised. The resemblance with Mojito consisting of lime pieces, rum, ice, fresh mint leaves and sugar syrup was remarkable. A soft greenness of mint was resonating with a green bitterness of geranium leaf (oh, sorry, it was pelargonium mentioned in the pyramid). That emphasizes a fougère character of the fragrance, but not the classic aromatic one. This one is a soft floral. My skin likes the sweet notes and gratefully enhances the sugar part (maltol?) of the fragrance. I am not sure how rhubarb smells, but guess, that it is the rhubarb that gives a resemblance with rum to this fragrance. It’s funny to notice that Mojito cocktail comes back and goes again, playing with the fougère note. I was glad with the base that nicely support the fragrance and doesn’t let it turn “rancid”. Although I couldn’t really smell the woody cedar-vetiver note as obviously as it was promised.

Luka Turin in his review gives Guerlain Homme four stars from fives and in general speaks good about this fragrance calling it “rum wood”. He emphasize that he has already heard something like that in Yohji and he has also seen a similar bottle at Dior Homme. I do agree with him about the resemblance with Yohji. The last one has less obvious citrus note and more strong character. Guerlain Homme could have been called Yohji Light or Yohji Summer.

While exploring the fragrance, its presentation and the legend created by Guerlain I couldn’t get rid of an idea that it’s a kind of a practical joke. Follow me…

First of all we see Guerlain famous with its classical fragrances making almost a mass-market fragrance with Mojito notes. Many fans of Guerlain were almost offended by such a gesture and started to talk about the “fall of the Guerlain House”. Second they promised us a potion evoking a wild animal from the darkest corners of the male spirit. But what they did give to us? A glass of Mojito and an advertisment film about a Mowgli? It smells wrong. Unless… May be it is a big practical joke that the Head of Fragrance Development Sylvain Delacourte thought up drinking a glass mojito on the sultry evening somewhere in the tropical jungles? Who knows? I couldn’t evoke a beast with a sample of Guerlain Homme, but it reminded me of a simple wisdom, that you don’t have to take life too seriously. May be it’s time just to relax, drink a glass of mojito and behave silly for your own pleasure. Life is to enjoy.

Pyramid (derived from the fragrance description on the Guerain website):

Top notes: Mojito (Jamaican rum, mint, lime)
Middle notes: pelargonium, green tea
Base notes: Cedar, Vetiver, Rhubarb

Perfumer: Thierry Wasser in cooperation with Sylvain Delacourte

A piquant detail: Aren’t those wild green eyes of Renne Castrucci, the face of Guerlain Homme amazing? Check his profile and you find that his eye colour is blue (http://www.chadwickmodels.com/model/1467)

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2008-09-08

L’Air du Temps III : anatomy of the fragrance


And what’s wrong with the fragrant pyramids

Russian version - click here

Someone who is interested in perfume can easily notice that the fragrant pyramids from different sources don’t match. An advanced perfume appreciator can notice that he or she can smell the notes that are not mentioned in the pyramids. The explanation is very simple – the fragrant pyramids are nothing more than a fantasy of a perfumer – they never represent the exact formulation. The analyse of the L’Air du Temps structure can be a perfect illustration.

The core of this perfume is an accord between eugenol and benzyl salicylate. Together with Ylang Ylang and iso-eugenol they make a carnation note. Eugenol and iso-eugenol are the components of clove oil and a carnation fragrance as well. Benzyl salicylate is an aromachemical found in nature (for example as part of Tuberose, Jasmine and Hyacinth absolutes, Ylang Ylang and Neroli oils and Apple, Cherry and Raspberry). It has a heavy sweet floral note reminding an Orchid smell. Orris, vanillin and helioptropin are used in trace amounts to support the carnation accord. All together those chemicals are forming a carnation note mentioned in a fragrant pyramid. But you are also right if you smell Clove or Ylang Ylang in L’Air du Temps even if they are not mentioned there.

Another important part of the fragrance is a base note made of methyl ionone, vetiveryl acetate (a vetiver note), sandalwood, musk ketone and musk ambrette. Methyl ionone is a chemical with a fruity and woody iris-violet floral smell. It binds perfectly woody and floral notes and is especially good in combination with Ylang Ylang, Rose and Carnation.

The top notes of L’Air du Temps are made of Bergamot and Rosewood oils. But the last one is not always mentioned in the pyramids. The combination of linalool and linalyl acetate are supporting the top notes. Those chemicals are found in many flower and herbs.

And now the most interesting part – the floral heart. Only one chemical used per flower (well – two for Jasmine).

Lilac – terpeniol;
Rose – phenyl ethyl alcohol;
Gardenia – styrallyl acetate;
Muguet – hydroxicitronellal;
Jasmine – benzyl acetate and amyl cinnamic aldehyde.

To enrich the floral heart the natural absolutes of Rose and Jasmine are added. Neither complex floral bases nor naturals are used for Lilac, Gardenia and Lilly of the valley. Simple accords supported with naturals are used for Rose and Jasmine. No wonder if you never could smell a Gardenia in L’Air du Temps even if it’s mentioned in a pyramid – there is only “one molecule” of it there. This was my important lesson in perfumery – to use the most simple and the most distinctive floral accords in perfumes representing a complex floral bouquet. The complex floral bases are for soliflores.

The formula is simple. Another important ingredient I haven’t mentioned yet is Aldehyde C11. Mix it all together in a good proportion and you get the perfume. If you thought that making of perfume is simple – think of the following. There is something more – each ingredient there has more functions. Only phenyl ethyl alcohol supported with rose absolute is used for a rose. But already mentioned methyl ionone from the base, eugenol from the carnation and woody base are enhancing the rose accord. Ylang Ylang is not only the part of carnation, but also enreaches the Jasmine accord. Orris is mentioned to be a part of carnation also gives an independent iris note in combination with methyl ionone and woods. Aldehyde C11 enhances styrallyl acetate making Gardenia note more prominent in this perfume and phenyl ethyl alcohol used for the Rose may also take part in Gardenia accord. All together it’s really a multidimensional puzzle where each peace is connected with different other pieces. To make a nice picture from those pieces – that is what you need a perfumer for. Sophia Grosjman compares making of perfume with a Rubik’s cube where you can easily match one side, but need a lot of head breaking work to match all of them.

2008-09-07

L'Air du Temps II : Olfactory impressions


Russian version - click here

Image: miniature of L'Air du Temps from 70's mentioned in the text; made by AromaX

Olfacory experience and summary of reviews

The modern version of L´Air du Temps opens first with a slightly rubbery citrus freshness tearing apart while a big C. breaking through. It’s unclear who the big C. is – it could be Carnation or Clove or rather a kind of a big floral mutant combining them both. You may also recognize some shapes of Chrysanthemum or even CAcacia and CLilly. The big floral C-mutant is difficult to determine – only the overpowering Clove seasoned scent may give an idea that it should be Carnation. It’s not ugly at all, just… prodigious. Of course it’s not the fragrance belonging to the top 5 anymore. But it’s grotesqueness has still a certain charm. Unfortunately the mutant is not that strong and becomes slightly soapy soon showing the bitterness of decay. The bitterness increases revealing the shapes of Chrysanthemum within the mutant. It’s like in a fairy tale when you first stand before a fascinating flower on a warm summer sunny day. You can’t cope your temptation and pick that flower. At the same time you see the summer breeze turning into a catchy wind tearing off the already getting yellow leaves from the trees flinging them already dry, brown and lifeless at your feet. And only the fever of the mutant flower can still keep you warm. The agony of this still charming mutant is long lasting. Finally it’s getting quiet turning into a woody-iris (ionone like) note sweetened with some synthetic musk.

On my skin I definitely smell Gardenia passing by just after the decay of freshness and before the C-mutant opens. The floral mutant is friendly and quiet. I wonder if he can be used as a man’s cologne as well.

The EDT from the 70’s (you see on the picture) of L´Air du Temps opens with notes of tannic bitterness and demure freshness. The bitter tannic note stays on the background colouring the whole fragrance in reddish brown tints of autumn. The freshness gives up quickly consumed by the spicy flowers. A floral bouquet warmed with a spicy note is trailing like a mist. Slowly the flowers are taking their shape – carnation, rose and jasmine. Carnation is definitely and unbendingly leading in competition with a capricious rose hustling the jasmine away. I also smell a fruity note, especially on my skin. Some pyramids reports peach to be a part of the fragrance. Personally I think that this phantasm is born from the cohesion of slaicylates, musks and vanillin playing in combination with the flowers (especially gardenia component). The dry out is sweet and musky with a touch of tannic bitterness and a powdery woody iris note. It definitely smell an animalic note there.

It looks, like the modern version is not the same L’Air du Temps as it was created. The main component making the core of this fragrance – benzyl salicycalte is found to be able to cause sensitisation and was recommended to be restricted by IFRA. This fact could be the possible cause of the reformulation of the fragrance. After the 80’s the fragrance has changed that was noticed by a lot if its appreciators.

Thanks to lilamand I could also try a L’Air du Temps in perfume from about 1963-1967. This one is surprisingly different. There is no tannic bitterness, but just a bitter freshness at the opening. The whole fragrance is getting warm very soon, but the freshness is staying all the way long through the floral heart. There is neither competition nor jealousy in this floral heart – it’s a harmonious dance of carnation, rose, jasmine and gardenia where carnation is leading. Yes, this one definitely has Gardenia in it. The slight bitterness in this version is not a bitterness of decay, but is rather a vigour of youth. Jasmine and Gardenia are rich and fruity. The dry out is fruity sweet and musky with the woody iris component (less powdery than the modern version).

Luca Turin in his guide evaluates the modern version. He gives it two stars of five and calls it “lily amber” or “a lily with a salty amber background”. He mentions the dramatic decrease of quality of L’Air du Temps.

People who know only the modern version are generally satisfied with this fragrance – they still find it a nice carnation with a powdery dry down. People who likes this fragrance appreciate the spicy floral character and sweet powdery dry out. People who doesn’t like this fragrance mention its chemical character (especially modern version) and the old grandma smell at the end. Personally think that the base of the EDT from 70’s can be referred a bit as a grandma’s scent. But I do like its animalic base. Surprisingly enough the grandma from the perfume of 60’s is still fresh and young.

It’s also good to mention that the success of L’Air du Temps has inspired not only perfume creators, but also fragrance makers for cosmetic products. The simplified formula was obsessively used to perfume cosmetic products like hair sprays. It’s probably the reason that some people associate the fragrance of L’Air du Temps with a smell of hair spray and find it rather synthetic.

The personal associations I read in other reviews vary from a fun of picnic with friends on a nice lazy summer day to a melancholic autumn filled with decay of dried leaves and tannic bitterness of chrysanthemums. I think that the EDT of 70’s and the modern version better answer the melancholic association with autumn while the perfume of 60’s is more associated with youth, fun, summer, freedom and seduction.

2008-09-06

L'Air du Temps I : legend we buy in a bottle


Image: L'Air du Temps by AromaX

Russian version - http://aromax.livejournal.com/12329.html

Nina Ricci was born in 1883 in Italian city Turin as Marie Nielli. She was named Nina in her childhood and her surname Ricci she had got after she was married with a jeweller. Nina Ricci had a son, Robert, with whom she established the House in 1932 to design elegant gowns in Paris. Robert Ricci decided to create perfumes to secure the future of the House. It’s not clear if he was a perfumer himself. From one side all the famous fragrances of the House were contracted out. From another side Robert had a sensitive nose himself and actively participated in all stages of the creative process.

L’Air du Temps was made after the World War II in 1948. It supposed to be a perfume for a young, romantic and desirable woman – the expression of beauty, love and peace. The name of the fragrance “L’Air du Temps” is very multidimensional. It’s based on a French expression that is not easy to translate. The essence of this expression is freedom and ability to enjoy the life.

Francis Farbon is a perfumer behind this fragrance. He made a masterpiece – one of the five greatest perfumes (others are Shalimar, Chanel N5, Arpège and Joy). L’Air du Temps is a classical perfume with clearly defined top, middle and base notes. Its structure is simple, but the whole creation is very complex because of use of the natural ingredients. It’s a floral spicy perfume built around carnation flower supported by classic rose and jasmine combination on sweet ambery base.

The fragrant pyramid of the perfume consists of:
The spicy top notes represented by Bergamot, Carnation and Spicy Rose.
The floral heart made of Gardenia, Jasmine and Rose.
The clinging base notes of Musk, Iris and Sandalwood.

For those who is concerned about the match between the perfume and the style there are some tips found in the book of John Oakes “The book of perfumes”. L’Air du Temps is at best accompanied with pastels and purple tints (all sorts of purple from lavender to violet) of light transparent or glossy fabrics. It’s good for both day or evening use preferably during the spring or summer seasons as it’s not powerful enough for the winter. Perfect for the parties, especially the wedding. I can only add that I was pretty comfortable trying L’air du Temps on my skin sitting in my pyjama on the morning breeze.

The famous bottle for L’Air du Temps with two pigeons on the top (flacon colombes) is created by Marc Lalique. The families of Ricci and Lalique were very close with each other. There even was a time when Lalique created the perfume bottles only for the House of Nina Ricci. Flacon Colombes was made in 1951. During the first years of its existence the fragrance was poured into the “Sun bottles” made by Spanish sculptor Juan Rebull. Robert Ricci was very concerned about the complementarity of the fragrance, its name, its bottle and the way it’s introduced to the world. Two doves as a symbol of love and tenderness were the perfect extension of the fragrance.

L’Air du Temps was an inspiration for Fidji, Charlie, Gucci N1 and in some ways for Anaïs Anaïs.

2008-08-31

The news from the perfumers course - Unit 13 so far

Russian version - click here

If I remember it good, I have promised to share about my perfumery course sometimes. Nothing has happened yet and I have the third (actually the 13th) lesson of ten.

The subjects for the Unit 13 are:

1. The raw materials in perfumery – Aroma Chemicals.
2. Basic perfume composition (the famous fragrant pyramid).
3. Formulating by function (basic stages of perfume creation and taking into account the subsequent application of fragrance).
4. Odour prediction from Chemical Structure (neither Ouja nor Tarot cards are allowed – pure analysis).

Assignments:

1. Essay about the methods of producing aroma chemicals.
2. Improvement of fragrant pyramid model.
3. Test the structure with odour prediction model. First I have to sniff through my perfumery organ for aromachemicals, describe their fragrance, compare with their odour predicted according to a chemical structure and make conclusion. Later I have to smell the naturals and try to analyse what chemicals I recognize in there.
4. To work on perfumes: Eau de Cologne, Chypre, Tobacco.

Very interesting assignments. In the first one I have to think about not writing another schoolbook of organic chemistry – an exercise in generalisation, getting the essence and keeping it simple. Not easy for someone who really loves chemistry.

The second one – well, just give me a minute and I’ll give you the fragrant pyramids models in any shapes and smells… I was really scared by this one – to improve something simple, nice and generally accepted – wow… But after thinking a bit I understand – well – the model has its positives and negatives – I can think about it and see if there are possibilities to keep the pos and avoid the negs – just give it a try. It did help – I have some ideas now.

The third one. I have to start early enough – there are about 160 raw materials to smell and describe. It would be nice to see if my nose is grown up and if I can recognize more nuances.

The fourth – the most pleasant one. Don’t forget to start early too and make it relaxed – make the basic formula, let it maturate, evaluate, think about possible improvements, make a first version and all over again till the version 1.5 ;-) Actually I see that a kind of inhibited assignments allow a lot of interpretations. It makes me to learn to apply a methodical approach – very important in perfumery.

2008-08-28

The highlights of my vacation V (the last one)

Olfactory experience in the Beauty Affair



Russian version - click here

On the Königsallee next to Chanel there is a cosy boutique with a very special assortment – Beauty Affair. It’s amazing how much different niche perfumery brands are represented in a rather small space because of the smart design. A lot of brands I never heard of or smelled yet. It was quite overwhelming to stay there with a pleasant thought how much more there is to discover and desperately thinking what to start with. The carefully selected brands there don’t repeat the assortment of the neighbour perfumeries – Schnitzler and Douglas located in a five minutes walking distance.

A lot of us had an unpleasant experience with tiresome sales assistants who either were trying to astound you with a popular novelty or just to sale you something. My experience in Beauty Affair was completely different. Richard, the manager of the shop gave me enough time to look around and smell on my own. Later he asked me what perfume I mostly wear and joined me in my smelling around tour. Sometimes he gave me suggestions based on my preferences and interests as if observing my choices he was trying to figure out what smells do I like. Actually it was an ideal customer experience – someone who is trying to understand not only your olfactory preferences, but also a need you have at the certain moment. He was following me, giving suggestions, smelling together with me, listening to my comments, giving his own sometimes – it was more like a guided tour in a perfumer’s museum where I could decide where to go and could count on a professional support at any moment. His female assistant (whom I think also speaks Russian) seemed also to be very capable and helpful.

His selling tactic, if there was any, was not pushy. He simply let the perfumes do their job – to seduce… A kind of flirting dance where you are invited to expose yourself to a seductive power of perfume, but without any obligations. May be it’s the only selling technique suitable in the tempting world or perfume.

I’ve seen a package of Rose 31 from Le Labo there – a perfume I heard a lot about and wanted to smell. But unfortunately there was no tester. So, Richard decided to open a box for me. I said that it wouldn’t be necessary as I was not sure of buying it. But Richard insisted to do it as he wanted to smell it himself too (or pretended to do it to make me comfortable – who knows ;-). It was a nice slightly spicy and peppery rose. To compare with other rose fragrances he suggested smelling two roses of Frederic Malle. To smell them he used glass hemispheres – an extraordinary but efficient way to try a perfume. Extraordinary and special are the words best describing my experience there. A lot of niche perfumes collected there were also striking with their appearance, presentation or concept.

Richard has also introduced me to his own creation – a masculine fig scent made for the Beauty Affair only. It’s a nice green fig fragrance – less sweet than Primeur Figuer and is more reminiscent of a leaf than a fruit. As a representation of a fig leaf is very realistic – I could smell the dark green slightly rough surface of the leaf covered with soft fluff. Unfortunately my hands were covered with other perfumes and I couldn’t try this one on my skin and evaluate how it develops. But it’s really promising and worth to try.

Finally we finished by smelling some oriental perfumes of Rasasi. Some of them were amazing like Oudh smelling Esraa, some of them were a bit strange for my nose. There was a kind of oriental version of Angel by Thierry Mulger and a nice fruity sweet Osmanthus scent. I couldn’t remember the names anymore and was full from impressions and scents. It was time to stop. The card he gave me was scented with the Oudh smelling Esraa – the highlight of this olfactory experience.

I definitely recommend to visit this shop together with its neighbour Schnitzler – their assortments complete each other perfectly and both have a pleasant customer service.

BeautyAffair
Königsallee 30 (KÖ-Center)
40212 Düsseldorf
Tel. (0211) 8549211
Fax (0211) 8549199
Email: info@beauty-affair.net
www.beauty-affair.net

2008-08-27

The highlights of my vacation IV


Düsseldorf


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A center of the city is a Mecca for a perfumer appreciator. The biggest Douglas on Konigsallee, Beauty Affair and Chanel boutique on the Konigstrasse and Schnitzler perfumery in the Schadow Arcade all together have almost any perfume you wish.

Douglas has a lot of niche perfumery – Amouage, Chech&Speak, The Different Company, Etro and many others.
Schnitzler and Beauty Affairs are more specialized on niche perfumery and their assortments complete each other rather than compete.

In Schnitzler I finally found the green line of Commes de Garçons. Lily was really amazing representation of the fresh flower. Tea – a bit harsh – I couldn’t get it in just one time – the second approach is needed. Calamus – nicely green at first and quiet sweet marshy calamus later. After smelling a lot of perfumes I left the shop with samples of Bois 1920 – Sandal and Thé and Vetiver Ambrado. Both nice woody fragrances with twists. I do like warm sexy cumin note in Sandal. And Vetiver is very classic and silver cool.

In Douglas I took samples of Amouage Jubilation XXV – sweet wood as I know it from a forest aroma. Just a few days before I was walking in the forest wondering where the sweetness comes from – the sweetness always accompanying woody tones in a needle trees forest. And now I just met the similar fragrance in perfume.
Another one was a sample of Etro Vetiver that was still in my mind.
A really surprising was the visit to the Beauty Affair (here comes a separate entry).

In Chanel I met a real bitch. Arrogant Queen with a false smile. If being bitch was a job she was a millionaire. While sniffing almost all of the Exclusive line assortment I could hear her telling to a colleague that in fact no one can smell more than three fragrances in a raw… This time I was attracted by fragrances with an obvious iris note – N 18, 28 and 31. Of course there were no samples as the bitch told me. Anyway – I shall find decants of those iris scents to study them later.

Between the shops mentioned I haven’t found any having Tundra in their assortment. But it is definitely to be found in Parfumerie Nagelschmitz; Dominikaner str.2 – 0049(0211)552079. But I haven’t visited it.

2008-08-26

The highlights of my vacation III

The visit to the perfumery atelier of Guy Delforge



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The visit of perfumery atelier Guy Delforge was rather disappointing although not without some charm. There are three official languages in Belgium, but in fact people in the French part of it reluctantly speak Dutch (or better say Flemish – the Belgian dialect of the Dutch language) and vice versa. The same was with my guided tour. Officially I could take it either in Dutch or in French. But I appeared to be the only one asking for a Dutch tour – the rest of the group (about 15 people) were French speaking. The guide simply refused to translate for me in Dutch as it would drain the attention from the rest of the group and make a mess from a tour. To be honest I have to mention that I didn’t have to pay for the tour as a compensation (3,50 euro).

My French is only good to translate the names of the perfumes (sometimes with a dictionary). The most of the tour I could understand because of my knowledge of basics of perfumery. But I didn’t learn anything new – even if there were something new – I simply couldn’t understand it.

The tour is addressed for a public wishing to touch the “mystery of perfumery” and is full of perfumery fairy tales and myths (mostly based on common facts although). The tour is not going through the laboratories, but through a set up route. The laboratories were not on the way and I could only glance at them behind the closed glass doors. I could also see an obviously set up perfumer’s organ. Surprisingly it was consisting of only natural materials in the big aluminium cans. On the table – a couple of measuring glasses with some liquid in it. Pure decoration as I really doubt if any perfumer has used it. I was told about the favourable location of the atelier in the basement of citadel for making perfumes – it’s dark there, no dramatic temperature variations, no climate influences, it’s silent and quiet…

The perfumery fairy tales I heard were about the stage of perfume creations, the factors giving impacts on fragrances and how to use and to store the perfumes. Enflurage and distillation were briefly mentioned. The guide has also played the games with the audience – he let us smell some essential oils asking to guess what it was. Later he did the same with the basic fragrances like rose, jasmine and muguet. I did really appreciated his sense of humour, but unfortunately my French was not good enough to understand the most of it. He made some jokes about the purpose of glands of the musk rat and even promised a personal demonstration of how the rat would use the glands. He also made some jokes about the most popular fragrance in Belgium (“muguet” was the fragrance he meant, but “les frietes, potato chips” was the answer of the audience).

At the end of the tour there was a surprise for everyone. The guide and his assistances promised to choose a Guy Delforge fragrance for everyone based on his or hers favourite perfume. The trick is simple – Guy Delforge has a fragrance for each of the subgroup of olfactory group. So if you like Paris of YSL, you get the rosy violet floral perfume from Delforge. He also has his version of Cabochard and Angel and oriental perfumes for only 28 or 38 euro for 50 or 100 ml. For the visitors of the tour – 2 euro discount per perfume. I can’t add anything else about the fragrances of Guy Delforge.

2008-08-25

The highlights of my vacation II

Part II: Köln



Image: borrowed from the abyss of Internet picture of Dom in Köln

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In Köln I met a friend who has shown me some of the hotspots and also presented with small decants of rare vintage perfumes (worth to mention in a separate entry).

Beauty and Nature shop has a collection of Primavera essential oils and absolutes where I could try some new ones I was not familiar with yet. For some oils and absolutes they have several variations – like several jasmine, rose and neroli oils/absolutes. Surprising was to try a soft and gentle white rose oil. Finally I’ve bought some of them to play with later:
Osmanthus absolute from Australia 5% solution in pure alcohol – reminds me of a combination of tannic note of black tea and sour and sweet dried apricots.
Magnolia blossoms oil from China – with its salty note reminds me of lavender a bit. But it has more aspects to get acquaintance with.
Cacao extract from Peru – perfect chocolate, almost to eat from the bottle.
Tagetes oil (African marigold) 15% solution in pure alcohol – the first impression – coffee with rum, but later I discovered its herbal floral fragrance with a bitter chocolate undertone.

Beauty&Nature
Ehrenstraße 40-42
50762 Köln

The cakes again… I feel like I am in paradise. This time I did try a kind of walnut cake – did they use some ambrosia to make it?

The perfumery I visited was Apropos – a large assortiment of niche perfumery.

Apropos
Mittelstrasse 12
D-50672 Köln
www.apropos-coeln.de

Well, highlights only:

The use of pink feathers instead as blotters…

I did try some Montales:
Blue Amber – a nicely dirty amber – like Ambre Sultan with more animalic notes.
Ginger and musk – nice spicy musky sweetness, like ginger candies. The most of sweetness comes from the synthetic musks. They had a sample of it.
Red aoud – surprisingly similar to Red Vetyver.

Finally I tried Tundra. I know this one and this time it didn’t appear to be special. But after I put it on my skin it began slowly opening and gave me its various facets (berries, fresh water, herbs of tundra etc). In about a half hour it was the only fragrance I could smell (one spray of it has conquered it all). Now it’s on my wishlist too.

I visited the Commes de Garçons boutique that I never could find if I was alone – it’s behind a door from a frosted glass with almost no sign on it (actually you can see only the upper third of small “commes de garcons” sign). They have just several fragrances. The green series I wanted to try was not there.

Friesenwall 5-7
50672 Köln, Germany

Köln has the biggest Gothic cathedral, but less beautiful than one I’ve seen in Aachen.

The house 4711 is a kind of disappointing tourist hotspot now. You can still buy their modern versions of eau de cologne, Tabac, Tosca and several others. You can also visit a small exhibition of their history at glance. But there is nothing left from a spirit of former glory of the House.

Finally traditional German “lunch” (taken at about 18.00, so it has become the main meal of the day). This time I tried a kind of “butcher’s dish” – various kinds of meat with mashed potato and sauerkraut (yes, what else ;-). Simple, heavy and delicious.

2008-08-24

The highlights of my vacation I

Part I: Aachen

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Image: Postwagen - a nice restaurant serving traditional German food

A very beautiful Cathedral – his chapel was built in times of Charles the Great and still remain a part of a Gothic Cathedral making an interesting contrast. His gargoyles are mysterious. His stained glass is amazing. His pearl mosaic on the ceiling is charming.

For lunch I’ve visited a very special restaurant with traditional German food (recommended by a friend). Sauerbraten (Rheinischer Sauerbraten mit Rosinen und Printengewürz mit
Kartoffelklöße und Rotkohl) was the sliced marinated and roasted meat served traditionally with stewed red cabbage and “potato eggs” (Kartoffelklöße) where “yolk” was made of a small dough ball and “egg white” from mashed potato. The menu gives also a suggestion for a less traditional side dish – chips and salad. The meat was delicious – soft and tender, slightly sour and gently spiced. Perfect combination with red cabbage and raisins - yummy. The Kartoffelklöße taste a bit strange for a novice – I’d prefer either chips or mashed potato. This German lunch was pretty heavy – can be a substitute for the main meal.

Restaurant:
Markt 40
52062 Aachen, Germany
http://www.ratskeller-aachen.de

In Aachen I have also tried a special beer from Köln – it even has a special name – “kölsch”.

German pastry may be not refined, but very delicious. Mostly they are made with a real butter cream (and not from whipped cream as the most of Dutch cakes are made of). The oldest coffeehouse of Aachen has a very Dutch name – Leo van den Daele. Don’t be surprised – from the centre of Aachen you can walk to the Netherlands in an hour. Although the fine rice cakes are the specialty of the coffeehouse, I did choose a luxury chocolate Sachertorte.

Coffeehouse:
Büchel 18-20
52062 Aachen, Germany
http://www.van-den-daele.de

Going to Aachen I haven’t searched for any perfumery shop in hope to find one by chance. I found two of them (but there are definitely more). Goldkopf Parfümerie has mostly luxury line and also Serge Lutens, Etro, Annick Goutal etc. I’ve tried Vetiver by Etro there. A nice woody vetiver with a smoky undertone – it’s on my wishlist now. Another perfumery is Anne Gallwé beautystore specialised in niche perfumery. I did try a lot of staff there – Italian perfumery I am not good familiar with. Finally I left it with a sample of the salesassistant’s favourite – Chocolate Greedy by Montale to remind me about those delicious German cakes when I get home.

Goldkopf-Parfümerie Dr. Lennartz GmbH
Dahmengraben 19, Aachen
www.goldkopf.de

anne gallwé
fischmarkt 4
52062 aachen
http://www.annegallwe-beautystore.de