The news from the perfumers course - Unit 13 so far

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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).


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.


The highlights of my vacation V (the last one)

Olfactory experience in the Beauty Affair

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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.

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


The highlights of my vacation IV


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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.


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.


The highlights of my vacation II

Part II: Köln

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

Russian version - click here

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.

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.

Mittelstrasse 12
D-50672 Köln

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.


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.

Markt 40
52062 Aachen, Germany

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.

Büchel 18-20
52062 Aachen, Germany

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

anne gallwé
fischmarkt 4
52062 aachen