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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!
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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 ;-)
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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.
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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)
And what’s wrong with the fragrant pyramids
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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.
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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.
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.