The essence of the day

When you have a lot of fragrances to choose, it can be difficult. What shall I wear today? Mostly I try to look at my emotional needs, my mood and the wear trying to understand - what do I need today? What fragrance can fulfill that? Very often your fragrance becomes your essence of the day.

So, today I was looking at the cold, gray and wet morning. It's almost end of the spring, but we haven't seen much warm sunny days this year. It looks like the automn is very early this year. Will the summer come? Dwelling on those sag thought I saw the parrots on the tree. Yes, there are parrots in Amsterdam. People tend to think that those are fugitives escaped from the local zoo. Other theories confirm it, but underline the fact that it's happened many years ago and those parrots are having a colony here. But some wise people say that parrots came here long time ago - before the zoo. It was so long that you can call parrots native to the fauna of Netherlands.

Anyway what a pittance was it to observe those wet unhappy tropical birds under the cold rain! And it was funny as well. So, it made me laugh. If I look to those parrots, especially to those mean expressions... well I tend to think that there is might be lack of abusive terms in a birds language, but definitely plenty of swear thoughts - you can just see it.

This image becomes my essence of the day - keep smiling even if it's cold and wet. And what do I need? Yes, something warm and consoling. Like... chocolate! Yes, let it be Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens today. A nice bitter piece of chocolate made of Pathouli with some spicy, woody and smoky nuances. This is a ship that takes you to an exotic warm island where parrots are happy!

And here are some pictures. Look at those mean expressions!

And this is an essence of being lonely I guess...


Fragrant flowers of my balcony

Last time I told you about Freesia I bought to investigate the smell and to use as a reference point in perfumery. Today we’ve got a couple hours of sun, so I decided to make a picture of my plants. Here are Freesias and Carnations. I hope the lilies and jasmine will be next to blossom.

Pink Freesia has a soft green smell with a fruity undertone. Reminds on a florist shop where you smell wet earth and all the shades of green coming from different plants.

White Freesia – the “florist shop” effect is present, but on the background. Dominating is a fresh smell with a peppery note.

Carnations have a surprisingly soft and quiet scent unlike their interpretations in perfumery. A spicy hart of clove with sweet vanilla note and a floral veil. White carnations are much more fragrant.


Freesia lessons: a big frustration on purity

Well, perfumery can give you the greatest moments of pleasure when you smell a fragrance gently striking your emotions. But it also can be your greatest frustration when you can’t find a smell you are looking for. Learning perfumery gives you similar ambivalent feelings, but they seem to be stronger and occur more often.

Let’s take Freesia again. Well, I tried the smell of the sample formula from the PerfumersWorld. Nice, green, soapy clean, but it’s not a smell of a Freesia flower. Trying to improve it I made another version – less soapy and lees sharp in green notes, softer, but again… it’s not Freesia. And then a very simple solution – what if I just blend the materials found in the headspace of Freesia smell? About 15 drops of Linalool, 3 drops of beta-Ionone, 1 drop of alfa-Terpineoil and a drop of 10% Triplal as a green note (thanks to a perfumer from a perfumemaking Yahoo group for this wonderful idea). I was very surprised to smell a real Freesia flower very similar to the smell of a live flower, but… it lasted just for a couple of moments as later I smelled the harsh notes of linalool and alfa-Terpineol… So I faced a problem of quality of aromachemicals I used. The impurities making linalool harsh and alfa-Terpineol piney killed my Freesia accord. When you use those aromachemicals in a complex composition you can blur and mask the effect of impurities. But when you make a simple accord where those ingredients are crucial… you need the purest materials you can get.

The only problem here is the question – is it possible to find Linalool of such purity grade? Reading the description of Freesia from the PerfumersWorld I understand, that it looks like natural Linalool that occurs in Freesia is much more pure and radiant than a synthetic product available. Does it mean that there is no Linalool on the market that could concur the natural Freesia smell? It’s funny and frustrating. With the power of all the modern science and technology we can do many great things, we can precisely determine the components of the live flower smell, but we can’t reproduce it in the way the nature does using only earth, sunlight and water in less than a year…

Now I am sitting here and typing this message and by the random movements of the air I smell a real Freesia fragrance that is coming from a bunch of blotters with the residues of my experiments.

By the way, searching for information on Freesias I found an interesting discussion on Perfume of Life. Here is a quote: "In fact, there’s no freesia in any perfume in the world." -Chandler Burr. The full text you can read here: http://www.chandlerburr.com/articles/25tghost.html (you have to “download” the article to read it).

And for those who didn’t know yet – Nicole Kidman makes her own perfumes. Freesia was one she made. He doesn’t share the secrets of her craft, but you can watch two interviews where she mentions her hobby. In the first one it’s in the begin and in the last one at the end. Have fun!


Freesia quest II: technical details on smell

See the first part about Freesia here

There is something very special in Freesia fragrance in perfumery – it doesn’t really has a “key” ingredient. Unlike eugenol for carnation or rose alcohols for rose or benzyle acetate and indole for jasmine. PerfumersWorld course mentions linalool to be that “key” for Freesia. But linalool is also a very common ingredient in many other raw materials – bergamot, rosewood, lavender to mention a few. It’s also often used in floral bases to give freshness. I guess it explains the problem of Freesia note in perfumery – consisting mostly of linalool it can easily become dominated by other components, loose its character and just turn into a fresh note.

To my nose the white Freesia I bought does smell like pure linalool with a peppery nuance. A perfumer in a perfumemaking group where Freesia accord was discussed also mentions that Freesia smells like linalool, but without a harsh part of it. A chemical analysis of the smell shows about 80% linalool to be the major constituent of live Freesia fragrance (it increases up to 90% in a picked flower).

Another important constituent of Freesia fragrance is beta ionone. It’s found at the amount of 3% in the fragrance of a live flower (together with 3.7% of dihydro beta ionone, 5,4% 4-oxo beta ionone and 2,2% 4-oxo beta ionol). Michael Storer also mentions that smell of beta ionone is very close to the smell of Freesia. I tried his suggestion and I can say it’s true – 1% beta ionone solution on the blotter start to smell very close to my colored Freesia flower in about 30 mins (but not right from the beginning).

Another important constituents of Freesia fragrance are Terpineol 4% and traces of green molecules (like cis-3-hexenyl butyrate and beta cyclocitral). So, it looks like the formula of Freesia is made of linalool with a little bit of beta ionone and traces of green nuances. A good point to start!

The sample formula from the PerfumersWorld produces very clean, fresh and green Freesia note. The presence of aldehydes and sharpness of green notes make it soapy. It would be a nice base to use in body care products. It can be also a good fresh room scent reminding on spring. But I guess I have to work on it a little bit and try to make it closer to the smell of the flowers I bought.

Freesia quest: smell and perfumes

Picture: Yellow Freesia Bloom found at teleflora.com

It was very exciting to receive my new unit from the PerfumersWorld – it was all about flowers – about 18 sample formulae to make, investigate and to play with, so I can learn to understand the soul of each of floral note in perfumery. The funniest thing I discovered that there are flowers I don’t know at all… like freesia.

Well, of course I’ve heard about it and met in pyramids, but… I’ve found I don’t remember how it looks like or how does it smell. That’s a good time to learn about this fragrance. And you know, Fortune always helps to those who follows their heart and is eager to discover. May be that’s why the next day I found folder from the local garden shop telling me they had fragrant Freesias on sale, so I went there to meet my housework and came home with two freesias – a white one and pink with yellow.

The first surprise was to discover that they smell different. The white flower has a fresh fragrance with peppery notes and the colored one smells very green – just like at florist shop – a mixed fragrance of plants, leaves and stems. It’s fresh and rather soft green unlike the sharp smell of fresh grass or crushed leaves. It’s funny to find how many varieties of flowers in shapes and colors it produces… and the tough thing is that the smell varies as well. So, what would be the reference?

PerfumersWorld in their course puts Freesia among “Light Green Floras” together with Muguet and Cyclamen. I also found that in one classification it was listed under the Tuberose-Narcissus group. Well to my nose it’s green, but less sharp than hyacinth and less poisonous than narcissus. I guess “light green” or “fresh green” would be the nice place for Freesia.

It’s funny to find that there is very little information on Freesia in perfumery books or magazines. Well, I can understand that – there is no essential oil or absolute available. Some sources mention that Freesia have been a fantasy bouquet in earlier fragrances. They also mention that it was used for extracts or as modifier.

Searching for Freesia fragrances I found that most of the soliflores called Freesia are made by brands specializing on Bodycare fragrances (like Crabtree&Evelyn, The Body Shop, Bath&Body Works) – I guess the freshness of Freesia note makes it very suitable for such products. But I also found a couple of niche Freesia fragrances – “Orfésia” van Diptyque and “Musc et Freesia” by E.Coudray. Fragonard, Borsari and Demeter also have their Freesia versions. Unfortunately I haven’t smell any of them, so it promises a lot of sniffing, discovery and surprises.

Browsing through the Basenotes discussions I also found the following fragrances might be interesting to try: Miracle by Lancome, Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, Rush by Gucci, Cerruti 1881 pour femme, Eternity by Calvin Klein, Kenzo Parfum d’Ete, So de la Renta, Beige van Chanel, Paul Smith Woman, Sun Moon Stars van Lagerfeld, New York Fling by Bond No. 9, Antonia’s Flowers, Pleasures by Estee Lauder, Allure by Chanel, L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake, JPG Classique, Dolce & Gabbana Woman, Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Incanto Dreams by Salvatore Ferragamo, Balmy Days and Sundays by Inele. I haven’t checked those fragrances and it would be interesting to search for Freesia in them. But you are also welcome to share your experiences and suggestions.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find interesting facts or inspiring myths and legends related to Freesia. This flower seem to have a short history as it’s cultivated as a cut flower only since the begin of the XIX century. It was named in honor of Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese, a German physicial from Kiel. His friend, a plant collector Christian Friedrich Ecklon has proposed the name.


For Andy who likes to play

This cute guy's name is Orange Star and I put him here for someone who likes to play a lot, but probably doesn't have enough time lately. So, the message is simple - keep your inner child alive, smile and play whenever you like :o)

To feed Orange Star just click within the window.
To make him work for you click in the middle of the wheel.

This guy is found at aBowman


Antihéros by Etat Libre d'Orange


Etat Libre d’Orange


Parfumer: Antoine Maisondieu

Concept (according to a website of Etat Libre d’Oragne): "Take me as I am," seems to say this fake Mr Everybody. An anti-hero never lies about who he is, hence the seeming simplicity of this hedonistic and sun-drenched creation, entirely centred on lavender flower. This hero of everyday life fights very ordinary battles at work, when driving, at home without every taking anything too seriously. His innate modesty is extremely appealing and he knows it. He cultivates his imperfections with wit and with natural unconventional elegance. With his tousled hair and look, this somewhat unexpected superman catches the eye and still cannot believe it – that’s why we adore him.

Notes: Lavender, musk, wood.

My impression: In the begin lavendel is accompanied with a cool breeze, later in the hart it’s aromatic and in the base it is mossy-woody. But all the way long it’s just about lavender from top to base. Rustic and nonchalant. Smells like a lavender soap, but gives rather a clean and groomed impression. It smells simple, but not cheap on my skin. To me it’s a perfect perfume for a lazy Sunday or on vacation somewhere in South France – it gives a relaxed feeling when nothing has to be done and all the time is free for whatever you’d like to do. Rustic, peaceful and nonchalant. On the other hand I also think it would be a good perfume to wear in the office – clean impression, soft and helps to keep your head cool. So, if you like lavender than it's a nice one to try, but if you don't - well - you might smell an old lady there.

Luca Turin says it smells like a cheap soap, but gives it 4 stars of 5 and calls it wonderful, poetic and affecting.

Classification: Osmoz classifies this perfume as “aromatic rustic”, but Michael Edwards places it into the floral classics. Well, it’s not really a fougère, but it has definitely aromatic aspects. I’d classify it as a floral, soliflore, lavender (B5 according to SPF classification) and would place it into aromatic subgroup (if such precise classification would exist).

Compare this with:

Lavender by Yardley – is another perfume around just a single lavender theme. This one is sweeter and less aromatic or woody. Antihéros is more powerful.

Pour un homme and Le 3eme homme by Caron – another classic masculine lavender, but opposite to Antihéros lavender is softened and sweetened with Vanilla here.

Rêverie au jardin by TauerPerfums – a very special variation of lavender theme, where she is married with sweet resins to create a complex fragrance that makes you dream of green fields and gardens.

Sliver Aoud by Montale – is another different view on lavender theme. Lavender and Oud are not easy to combine. A classic lavender theme with a twist.