In perfumery, though, grass delivers a sweet, herbaceous scent – maybe not quite like walking past a house where the grass has just been cut, but delivering a gust (or a whisper) of outdoorsy freshness, nonetheless. Czech & Speake Frankincense & Myrrh L’Occitane de Provence Citrus Verbena Intense Can it purr? Goutal Quel Amour Bury your nose in an amaryllis (do mind the pollen! Dior Poison (Plus the fougère family, which is mostly men’s scents. Serge Lutens Arabie Prada Infusion de Mimosa Giorgio Armani Idole d’Armani Lancôme Trésor They’re also edible, should you ever find yourself in front of the actual tree (Robinia pseudoacacia). 'The first association, when you tell me "leather", honestly, is "Swiss Army" and me serving there as soldier: my generation had the privilege of serving in thick leather shows that were made to endure a Swiss invasion of Moscow, including the way back. Diesel Loverdose Jo Malone London Earl Grey & Cucumber Walden Perfumes is a UK perfume brand founded in 2017. Mandarin’s zestiness is instantly cheering: sweet, fruity, citrussy, with hints of neroli – and just what perfumers often look for to ‘lift’ the overture of a scent. Its bittersweet freshness works well in Colognes and summer scents, when a shot of ‘green’ is called for. Memo Quartier Latin Eau de Parfum Maison Francis Kurkdjian APOM Pour Femme, In common with balsam of Peru and balsam of tolu, this is an oil – tapped from a tree (Styrax benzoin), after deliberately damaging the bark. Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, Read The Perfume Candy Boy's Guide to Vanilla, here. It evolves over time and is very complex, and requires a perfumer’s deftest touch – but it’s incredibly valuable to ‘noses’ as a fixative. You might think that the name has sexy overtones – but not at all: allegedly the passionflower (a glorious blue/purple, twining vine) and passion fruit were named by Spanish Catholic missionaries who saw the flower as the symbol of the Passion of Christ, because the ring around its heart looks like the Crown of Thorns. You might know it best from Caribbean jerk seasoning, or from Middle Eastern cuisine (or Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie spice mix) – and in perfumery, allspice offers a similarly warm, sensual, nutty quality. But in a perfume…? And so, Amaretto (the drink) was born. Maison Martin Margiela Untitled Alternatively, let your eye travel over the scrolling, rolling collage below – and click on whatever takes your fancy: a visual ‘lucky dip’…. But although cannabis has a famously strong, aromatic, herbal, sometimes nutty or grassy vibe (and occasionally ‘skunky’ and animalic, even), it’s probably present in fragrances more for its shock/publicity factor than for any genuine narcotic quality it brings. Violets were Napoleon’s favourite flowers. Rosewood has been prized by carpenters and furniture makers for centuries: we know it as rock-solid, strong, darkly handsome and perfect for everything from guitars to chess pieces. The leaves of banana are sometimes used in perfumery, too: less sweet, more green and subtle. Estée Lauder Private Collection Water lily, as a perfume ingredient, is a little like lily ‘lite’. Why allspice? Dior Miss Dior As they have for thousands of years, these deciduous trees grow (impressively fast) in the Mediterranean and the Middle East – although the fig note we smell in contemporary fragrances is actually quite likely to be synthetic, from ingredients which go by the name of ‘stemone’ (it smells very green, and is produced by the fragrance house Givaudan) and ‘octalactone gamma’ (more prune-like and sappy). Diptyque L’Eau Rough leather, made from Swiss cows, with a thickened skin due to a happy but rough life in the Alps (we can dream, can't we?). The whole orange family is invaluable to perfumers; mandarin peel has long been used in sachets and pot pourris to scent the home. Some flower just once a year, for a single night – a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pleasure that happily can be captured in a bottle and enjoyed 24/7…, Dior Addict Chanel Les Exclusifs 28 La Pausa And it’s controversial: the original musk came from a sex gland secretion from a specific a species of deer, the Tibetan musk deer, which became endangered - though since 1979 this creature has happily now protected by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). However, these perfume brands are expensive, used occasionally and not on an everyday basis. Givenchy Pi Because – as with that spirit – the juniper berry adds a bracing, exhilarating touch to fragrances. Sometimes called Monoi de Tahiti. Today, many of us carry a little bag around to munch on during the day, as a (slightly) healthier alternative to sweets. Very popular in contemporary perfumery – tonka’s sweetness goes beautifully in gourmand fragrances, as well as Orientals – it was also used in the past for making pot pourri, to scent snuff, as well as being layered between clothes. Chloé L’Eau de Chloé Through history, peony was known for its medicinal powers, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s still used to treat night sweats, injuries and stomach pains. The fruit can be round, or oval, depending on which species you’re looking at – and the skins can range from yellow or green to maroon. Go figure. Famously, myrrh was one of the three gifts brought to the infant Jesus by the Three Kings. Famously, Nicotiana tabacum - member of the nightshade family made its way to Europe via the Spanish, in around 1528. The task of the rose-picker is to pick the dew-drenched blooms before 10 a.m. at the latest, when the sun evaporates their exquisite magic. Camellia Japonica (our garden shrub, which originated in – yes – Japan) is also related to the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. Angel’s trumpets bloom at night, pumping out a heady, sweet scent which nowadays is often recreated synthetically. Revlon Charlie White Crabtree & Evelyn India Hicks Island Living Spider Lily It also blends beautifully with sweet pea and with tuberose. There are a few scents, yes, which capture the sweet, grassy, earthy warmth of hay, which also has almost animalic qualities. Patchouli, black tea and tobacco can also conjure up that old library/leather-jacket sensuality. Sometimes the perfumer conjures up a black tea note, sometimes green – but the effect is always uplifting. Although ink-y notes can come from natural materials like oakmoss, it generally isn’t really ink that you’ll smell in a scent. James Heeley Cardinal Anyone for ‘Naked Lady’? DSquared Potion for Women His father prayed for Orchis to be restored, but instead the gods transformed him into the flower we know today as the orchid. Actual fragrances with hints of eucalyptus, however, shouldn’t cause any problems. Penhaligon's Blasted Bloom Ortigia Sicilia Orange Blossom By Kilian Sweet Redemption Bond No. Sometimes bitter orange is referred to ‘bigarade’ – but many of us know it best as the too-sour-to-suck-on Seville orange, used for making marmalade. (Mostly men’s, but a few shared and women’s scents; it goes really well with other aromatics, such as fennel, licorice, tarragon, basil and fennel, in aromatic and oriental creations.) Crabtree & Evelyn Lily Bobbi Brown Bath You can enjoy it in colognes, Orientals chypres, as well as petal-perfect florals. The word ‘geraniol’ may be written there, as this is one of the perfume ingredients known to trigger sensitivity, in some people – so it’s there as a warning. Lavender is thought to have originated in the highlands of India, but today it’s happy in all sorts of sunny, stony, well-drained spots around the world. Guerlain Vetiver Once exclusively reserved for kings and queens, frankincense has been used in religious ceremonies, burial rituals and for embalming – including for mummification. Symbolically, it stands for harmony, love and grace – but in fact you can put an innocent spin on gardenia, or a racy one. This yummiest of fruits originates from Central Mexico (‘guacamole-land’!). Shay & Blue English Cherry Blossom, Chemicals like Iso E Super (a bit of a tongue-twister, we’ll grant you) are important tools in a modern perfumer’s kit: perfumer Francis Kurkdjian told us it was ‘torture’ for him to create a scent for a recent Paris exhibition, without ingredients like this at his fingertips, to turbo-charge the staying power or help ‘fill a room’. 19 L.Villores Piper Negrum. Goutal Paris Le Muguet This little known plugin reveals the answer. Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose It gets its name from the Italian word ‘amaro’ (for bitter) - even though the legendary alcoholic drink (lugged back home from many a Duty Free) is actually sweet and almond-y. Donna Karan Black Cashmere We save your email and cart so we can send you reminders -. Natural ingredients have been used since the beginning of perfumery. It’s also used for making charcoal, for posts and for engraving. ', Boucheron Boucheron In nature, of course, it’s toxic: the Atropa belladonna plant can kill. What’s a staple ingredient of bread and cakes doing in perfumes…? Symbolically, honey stands for ‘the sweet life’, prosperity, even immortality; the word itself comes from the ancient Hebrew word for ‘enchant’… When man and bee teamed together, it turned out to be a win-win situation: bees got a safe place to live (and a reliable food source, in the form of flowering crops) – and we got to harvest honey and beeswax in unbelievably impressive quantities: a single beehive can produce up to 200 kilos of honey each season. Originating from south America, this member of the nightshade family can be grown in greenhouses – and outside, during summer months, as ornamental, which range from white to pale purple via yellow and pink. Fresh – but sophisticated, too. You’re most likely to encounter wheat in a gourmand (‘edible’) or Oriental fragrance – though sometimes, used sparingly, it’s used as a ‘modifier’: an ingredient added to make something smell truly unique, rather than another ‘me-too’ scent. Geraniol’s used in perfumery to ‘extend’ the scent of roses, bringing sheer, floral freshness to blends. One fine day, in perfumery heaven, we will all smell and enjoy cinnamon in heavy doses: Until then, we have to life with the regulations that we have...', Dior Dioressence Ralph Lauren Romance That’s the zesty, lemony burst of citral, a natural aldehyde which is present in the oil of quite a few plants, including lemon myrtle, lemongrass, lemon tea tree, lemon verbena, lemons themselves, limes, as well as orange and petitgrain (the flower of the bitter orange). Dior Miss Dior Chérie Jimmy Choo Jimmy Choo All types of petitgrain contain aroma compounds known as geraniol and linalool that are known to trigger sensitivity in some people, so are listed on perfume packaging. Donna Karan DKNY Caron Muguet de Bonheur (Labdanum is today extracted from the leaves using solvents, although the branches can also be boiled.). Frederic Malle Lys Mediteranée. Yves Saint Laurent Paris. It has inspired countless readers since its â¦ (It’s also used in vermouth.) Bond No. Guerlain Elixir Charnel Gourmand Coquin Nasomatto Narcotic Venus Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps As an alternative, perfumers have turned to synthetic oud, although trained noses will tell you that it smells plainer, woody and leathery – but without the warm, balsamic qualities. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Carolina Herrera 212 VIP (The best oil, though, is said to come from Tunisia, where Jean-Paul Guerlain has his own bitter orange grove…) During the distillation process, a beautifully scented water’s also produced, which makes its way into floral waters and flavourings. The Different Company Pure Virgin, Ever smelled a scent that seems like it’s dripping in honey? This member of the citrus family is native to south Asia and has long been cultivated in Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, too. (It helps to repel insects – even though bees love it, on the plant.) In rituals, sandalwood oil may be applied to the forehead, the temples, or rubbed between the eyebrows. Guerlain Myrrhe & Délires Heliotrope’s teamed with violets and iris for a talcum-powdery, lipstick-esque sweetness – but as you may now have guessed, it’s actually very versatile, becoming almost mouthwatering when used alongside bitter almond, each ingredient turbo-charging the other’s marzipan-ish qualities. The oil steam-distilled from German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is more sweetly smoky, with hints of apples, working well as a base note. James Heeley Verveine (Doesn’t mean it will. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb, Run your fingers over the leaves of a redcurrant bush, and you’ll get a ‘catty’ quality that’s distinctive, intriguing – but not to everyone’s taste. Bella Bellissima Arabian Rose (And we’ve adopted it ourselves.) Naturally, it’s a synthetic ‘fantasy’ ingredient: you can’t distil a metal, or extract it through enfleurage…! Clinique Calyx E. Coudray Jacinthe & Rose ‘According to the Australian Orchid Society, "Old Totonac lore has it that Xanat, the young daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess, loved a Totonac youth. The Body Shop Midnight Bakula Tom Ford White Musk Collection White Suede. Guerlain Tonka Impériale Rich and heady, tiaré is also used to create ‘monoi’ oil (familiar from many suntanning products), by macerating the flowers in coconut oil. Today, iris plants happily grow everywhere from Europe to the Middle East, Asia and north Africa. Lancôme Hypnôse Senses A ‘fantasy’ note of salt can be used to add tang to marine, woody or even gourmand fragrances. C13? And who can resist the smell, either: soft, sweet and violet-like, and a touch fruity…? But as with many ‘unlikely’ perfume ingredients, add it in the teensiest dose, and hemlock can add depth and intrigue. What’s a sticky, bright red syrup doing in a perfume bottle? Nina Ricci L’Air Because violet petals are really reluctant to give up their scent naturally. Memo Shams Because when the flowers are over – and their perfume’s breathed its last – black seedpods emerge…. (And in similarly teeny does, it’s also been used in medicine as a sedative…), Illamasqua Freak The history of incense itself goes back thousands of years – in fact, the first perfumes were burned, not worn: perfume actually gets its name from ‘per fumum’, or ‘through smoke’. This masculine splash started as an artisan creation on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, but many other West Indian islands (as well as American and European fragrance companies) now make a version. There’s an entire book dedicated to the story of ambergris: Floating Gold. Xerjoff Shooting Stars Collection Oroville, Bergamot orange is the fragrant citrus fruit of the Citrus bergamia, a small evergreen tree which blossoms during the winter. Leather as side note brings out, by contrast as so often in perfumery, flowers. Atelier Cologne Vanille Incensée Instantly cooling and utterly refreshing, mint has been infused for centuries in various preparations to be taken as a herbal remedy for digestive complaints, to soothe inflamed skin and also to splash on as a tonic for the senses. Sometimes, a perfumer will put them side by side in the same fragrance, to create the equivalent of a fig ‘soliflore’. Dior Les Creations de Monsieur Dior Diorella Beware of the Fakes . Bacon…? In fact, it’s what Guerlain’s in-house nose Thierry Wasser used to ‘plug’ a hole in a new, ‘fractionated’ oakmoss note, to make it smell just like the original – and so, return the legendary Mitsouko to its former glory. Creed Green Irish Tweed It isn’t just the fruit that’s used: apple blossom gives a soft, floral air to fragrances – and lately, there’s been a trend to using something called an ‘apple tree’ note: in fact, a synthetic, ‘fantasy’ ingredient which delivers a fruity-woodiness. (Although some scholars – and we’re really not qualified to argue – think that the cassia plant of old is inferior to the one still used today in teas, ointments and perfumery.) Yves Saint Laurent Opium, As you might imagine, a perfume ingredient extracted from one of our sturdiest trees adds a bit of ‘heft’ to a scented creation: dry, woody, grounding. (We secretly long for a job naming compounds like this...! Register. Chanel Allure Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus When hawthorn blooms, you know spring’s here. Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto. Others are reminded of angelica, frankincense and celery, while we love this quote from the blogger Boisdejasmin, when she dipped her testing strip into some opoponax: ‘The wave of warm, sweet scent washed over me: it smelled of aged whiskey, mahogany shavings and bitter caramel, but it was also velvety and powdery.’ The resin is extracted from the bark of the Commiphora eyrthraea tree (mostly from Somalia), and is also known as ‘sweet myrrh’. Narciso Rodriguez for Her Eau de Parfum That’s really the smell of cedar, which is of course also the wood used for pencils. Memo Sundance Almost spicy, so green and sweet, with hints of lemon: that’s lily of the valley – and a more spring-like scent it’s hard to imagine. An annual-flowering member of the borage family, also known as ‘cherry pie flower’, you’ll often find Heliotropium arborescens on sale in nurseries and garden centres for summer bedding (and you can create a wonderfully scented display with the plants, which butterflies will also love). 9 Sag Harbour Tom Ford Oud Wood, Whoosh! But not any more: this seriously exotic, intense, rich fragrance note is at the top of the price scale for ingredients – though even so, it’s still present in as much as 40% of quality perfume creations. Think: ‘gin’. (There are also forests of it in northern Ethiopia – although ecologists report that production of this resin could decline by half, over the next 15 years, as those forests are systematically cut down to make way for agriculture.). CK One Shock for Her Tom Ford Café Rose Obtained from natural materials through alcohol extraction. Diptyque L’Eau de Neroli Even with the popularity of fruity-floral scents, kumquats still make an appearance on our plates far more often than in our perfume bottles. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Of course it’s not actual grenadine itself – which is made from pomegranate juice, cherry juice and sugar – which perfumers use: the grenadine note is generally synthetic. Much was made, not long ago, of the discovery on a British beach of a whacking great lump of greyish-beige waxy material – which turned out to be worth thousands of pounds. Dior Dolce Vita Floris Tuberose Diptyque Eau de Tarocco La Prairie Silver Rain Amouage Ciel Pour Femme Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. All FREE! Givenchy Very Irresistible Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold It’s certainly possible to capture the airy sweetness of sweet peas, or Lathyrus odoratus – which naturally smell somewhere between orange blossom and hyacinth, with a hint of rose – through a process of extraction. Highly aromatic, merely brushing against the dark green leaves releases the potent scent, all varieties of the plant have some common characteristics - mostly perennial, mint simply adores to be near water, pools and in partial shade. 19 was a very high grade from Iran. It all began in Ancient Egypt, where incense was first created using precious gums and resins from trees, imported from the Arabian coast and Somalia. It’s spicy, aromatic – and surprisingly leathery, in a perfume. Perfumers love animalic notes – including civet – for the raw sexiness they deliver to perfumes, and for that reason it’s incredibly popular and found in many of the world’s most notoriously seductive scents. Hermès Un Jardin Sur Le Nil Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert Yes, really: this salty, smoky breakfast food has been used in synthetic form as a ‘novel’ (very novel) perfume ingredient in John Leydon’s Fargginay fragrance brand, in a specific bacōn collection. (It was one of the first ‘juices’, or perfumes, to be almost as clear as fresh water in colour, too.) More likely, these days, it’s synthesised. (Think: barns…) It’s not the actual essence-of-dried-pasture – used to feed cattle, horses, goats and sheep – that you’ll smell in a perfume bottle, however: hay notes are created synthetically - yet they’re no less glorious for that… (Do also read about coumarin, here: it’s another, quite similar synthetic, which gives us the scent of new-mown grass…), Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette This product of the galbanum plant is used as a top note, instead – and some very famous fragrances (see below) get their character from this VIP perfume ingredient – most notably Chanel’s No. Yardley English Lavender. Some ‘noses’ played around with ingredients like patchouli, or synthetic ‘imitations’ of oakmoss to try to achieve some of the same effects as this wonder of the natural scent world, but there’s no question that some favourite fragrances started not to smell like themselves. This combo is unbeatable. It’s widely used in white florals, and scents seeking to capture springtime-in-a-bottle, but because real hyacinth oil – produced by a process of extraction – is heart-stoppingly expensive, can’t-tell-it-from-real synthetic hyacinth notes are what perfumers turn to, nowadays. An accord is a combination of natural and/or synthetic materials that resemble a specific scent. (It also helps to develop rose notes, in soap-making.). Chanel Coco It goes especially well with musks, fruits and flowers. Crush the leaves of this frothily-flowered plant, and they smell fetid, rotting – rank, basically. 'So far, I have used black pepper only once in my perfumes - together with a bundle of citrus and vetiver. Violet leaves smell quite different to the flower which emerges later. There is a wood line. In perfumery, date is used as a fruitily sweet fantasy note – especially in gourmand fragrances – giving a drizzle of caramel, honeyed, buttery sweetness. Carolina Herrera 212 Sexy Vera Wang Lovestruck, Where would perfumery be, without orange...? Down the centuries, then, incense has been burned as a part of religious rites, as a fumigant – to cleanse the air and kill germs – or simply for the pure joy of its perfume. Thierry Mugler Angel Captured in a bottle, wisteria’s as lush and beautiful as when it scampers up the outside of a house or over a pergola, garlanding them with multi-flowered, hanging ‘racemes’. (Nobody’s quite sure where the fruit originated: maybe the southern Mediterranean, maybe China…) Because of their luscious, hint-of-raspberry juiciness, blood oranges have become incredibly popular to eat – and now they’re making their way into zesty perfumery, too, with a warm, tangy, citrussy, berry-like quality that adds a real sparkle factor to fragrance creations, complementing other citrus elements (mandarin, neroli, grapefruit), as well as rose and geranium, and spicy notes of clove and cinnamon. Tom Ford Private Blend Mandarino Di Amalfi When a French colonist later came upon a plant in the West Indies that smelled just like that perfume – the Plumeira alba plant – he named it ‘frangipani’. Serge Lutens A La Nuit Our favourite lilac legend, though, is that the deep floral fragrance was believed in Celtic cultures to transport humans into fairyland and the spiritual world. Fern blends perfectly with lavender, oakmoss and coumarin, in fragrance creation. Did you know that the apple’s really a member of the rose family…? Gucci Flora by Gucci Gorgeous Gardenia (Though mandarin also blends beautifully with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and clove in perfumery – rather as it does around Christmas-time, in cooking and in our homes…). Hints of tobacco, too, or the whiff of burning leaves in winter. ladanon, black balsam and gum cistus) was a key ingredient in the kyphi incense blend, used for ceremonial purposes. Thierry Mugler Angel, The powdery sweetness of lilacs fill the air in suburban streets and parks in late spring: short-lived, but utterly beautiful, with their pollen-y, jasmine-like softness, and tantalising hints of almond and roses. Guerlain Shalimar But as the stories behind fragrance ingredients go, they surely don’t come much more romantic than that…, Prada Les Infusions de Prada Iris It then conjures up jasmine and orange blossom, and goes beautifully with green notes, and other floral ingredients. Julie Massé, whose many fragrance creations include Shay & Blue's portfolio, explains: 'I use it to give a Mediterranean sensation - to create the impression of a cocktail of herbs...'. L’Occitane en Provence Peony It pumps out its fragrance at night, to attract insects. Marc Jacobs Blush. When you see opium listed as a fragrance note, it implies something mischievous and mysterious about the perfume itself. With its hints of plum and peach, and a touch of lush green, mango’s often to be found alongside floral notes in the fruity-floral compositions which have become so popular in recent years. But there’s also a teeny touch of vanilla to oak (synthetic vanillin, used in many baked goods and confectionery, is derived from wood shavings! And where would Guerlain’s Mitsouko be without the peach-skin warmth of C14…? Chanel Gardénia Indian Carnation). Guerlain Shalimar The galbanum plant produces the gum resin asafoetida, used in Indian cooking (as well as perfumery), which you can read about here. We'll cover this too (and find out if vegans can ethically wear musk). For a while, attempts were made to keep civet cats in captivity – including in Britain – to ensure a ready supply of this perfume ingredient. According to romantic legend, the name ‘Iris’ comes from the Greek ‘rainbow goddess’ Irida, who used a rainbow to slide from sky to earth, bringing the will of the Olympic Gods to share with mere mortals. 9 Brooklyn It was the legendary fragrance Angel which really put caramel as an ingredient on the map: that sweet, seductive, eat-me quality which gourmand fragrances embody. Carita Carita Eau de Parfum L’Artisan Parfumeur Mon Numéro 1 Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl, Beaver’s anal glands. Serge Lutens Fleur d’Oranger. (The actual aroma compound itself is called oxane, FYI.) But just sometimes, you’ll catch a whisper of avocado in perfumery: it has a green, slightly sweet, vegetal quality…, Do orchids smell? Guerlain Idylle Most of us are unlikely to smell it growing wild, but apparently it’s deliciously, delicately sweet, in flower form. By Kilian Bamboo Harmony (This rose is also known as Rose de Mai, because it generally blooms in the month of May, and – romantically – ‘the painter’s rose’, because it features in many works of the old masters.). ', Goutal Paris Eau de Lavande Guerlain Mitsouko. Most of us are unaffected though, able to delight in the fresh, spirited joy of petitgrain’s citrus pleasures. They give perfumes a gentle, deep dark, sensuality. As perfumer Christine Nagel explains, 'I like to use tangerine in many different structures for its fizzy, joyful, luminous effect in a fragrance. Chanel Chance (And they’re in good company: Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles were early habitués of this now world-famous bar, with its strangely low seats and tables that almost make you feel you’re at a doll’s tea party.) Here's perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays on Tolu balsam... 'Funny how the official descriptions just say is smells balsamic. synthetic) – to evoke the sticky sweetness of dried figs, dates and apricots. Serge Lutens Bas de Soie That’s because it takes almost forever to produce oudh, which is actually the resinous heart-wood from fast-growing evergreen trees – usually the Aquilaria tree. Through a process of ‘fractionation’ – separating the different elements of an individual ingredient, and removing the potential sensitiser – it’s possible to get an ingredient that’s much closer to the oakmoss we know and loved. Fragrances can be ‘leathery’ – but it’s not really essence-of-leather in that bottle, as Andy Tauer explains below. Chanel Cristalle The fruit, by contrast, is lush, juicy, ripe and sunny. (We love that it’s also known as the ‘Forbidden Fruit’, as well as one of ‘The Seven Wonders of Barbados’! Donna Karan DKNY Goutal le Mimosa Cool, green, shady: we’re eternally fascinated by how perfumers use scented ingredients to give a sense of temperature, through their creations. Violet flowers smell soft, powdery and romantic, a little like iris, and are can be played up to create a very feminine fragrance. ‘A sack of potatoes’. (And read here about beeswax, which also makes its way into fragrances.) Nez à Nez The Unicorn Spell 2. Citral is lemons, while C11 gives a ‘cleanness’ to fragrance (it’s naturally present in coriander leaf oil). It’s a citrus note, often found as part of a zesty blend in colognes. Adds perfumer Andy Tauer, 'Styrax actually comes in two forms, which give different effects. Tom Ford Black Orchid. (Erotic postscript: in the tantric rite of the Five Essentials, saffron was applied to the female’s feet…), The plant itself – Crocus sativus, from the iris family - was introduced into Europe in the 7th Century, after the conquest of Spain; by the 16th Century, English saffron was prized as the best in the world, grown in large quantities around Saffron Waldon (which is how come that town got its name). The ‘blood’ refers to the deep crimson flesh of this delicious Citrus sinensis orange, which flourishes in Italy. Gucci Guilty Intense Evody Note de Luxe Production of this beautiful powdery, soft, floral, elegant note requires great patience – hence the hefty price-tag. Water used in making perfumes â¦ Just like a hessian sack of potatoes that’s been left at the back of your grandfather’s shed, when you peel back the drawstring and b-r-e-a-t-h-e, actually. I love them for that. The Sambucus nigra flowers – white, frothy, umbrella-like – actually go much further when they’re used for making drinks (elderflower’s a popular cordial). If you smell different concentrated ‘absolutes’ (the oily liquids created through macerating the jasmine flowers), they have their own characters: some smell medicinal, some sweet, some musky, some green. Dior Miss Dior (And when they do, the essence is prohibitively expensive. A third variety, Narcissus jonquil, can also be used, and in one form or another this beautiful ingredient is said to make its way into as much as 10% of modern fragrances - despite the fact that a staggering 500 kilos of flowers are needed to produce a kilo of ‘concrete’, or just 300 g of absolue, making it very pricy. 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