rosbergs3s recent post on his encounter with a Marc Jacobs representative got me thinking about the whole idea of notes in fragrances. Unless a fragrance is made up of purely essential oils and absolutes, the notion of notes doesnt really apply strictly nor even taxonomically to modern perfumery. The idea of notes themselves is mostly an approximation, a way of articulating the overall effect of a complex blend of constituents that themselves are never really anchored to a single entity of a note as we like to imagine they are when we think of them purely in terms of essential oils and absolutes.
Consider that most modern fragrances have anywhere from 30 to 300 constituents, which usually consist of (to a lesser extent) pure essential oils and absolutes and (to a greater extent) synthesized, partial constituents of essential oils, or man-made aromachemicals that sometimes have very little to do with any naturally occurring scent substances. Many times, a blend of these various ingredients is used in certain combinations to produce the semblance of notes, sometimes, notes are arrive at chemically by mimicking in the lab the general scent qualities of constituents found in nature. For example the basis for one specific type of lab-created rose note is citronellol, geraniol, and nerol and for another specific type of rose note phenyl ethanol is used; all of these constituents can be found in the essential oils of Rose Otto and Cabbage Rose, but they can also be created synthetically as the basis for various aromachemical approximations of the notes we generically tend to think of as a rose note. Furthermore, citronellol, geraniol, and nerol, and to a lesser extent phenyl ethanol occur in significant proportions in other essential oils and can be isolated from them to produce rose note effects. The emphasis on the plural here is deliberate.
I remember shifts had started a thread recently about swearing he could smell sandalwood in *Cuiron*. A number of people swore that no way, according to their nose, was there any sandalwood in *Cuiron*. They were quite adamant about this, but one should never be so sure. As an illustrative example to what I am getting at, consider this: in many fragrances today, natural sandalwood is not used. Its actually easier and more economical, not to mention more consistent, to synthesize sandalwood type notes, many of which produce a very high quality sandalwood note type of effect and are actually patented. In fact, when you read sandalwood in a description of notes, theres a significant spread of what that sandalwood note can smell like. Even naturally occurring sandalwood essential oil varies widely in its scent profile depending on where, when, and how it was harvested and processed. Add into the equation the individuals perception of what sandalwood smells like and you have incredible variance in what is perceived as a sandalwood note, which might help to explain the disagreement over whether or not *Cuiron* actually has a sandalwood note in it. I happen to agree with shifts and think that it does. Consider, also, how various sandalwood notes are modified when theyre blended with other notes and you begin to see that discussion of notes is usually at best impressionistic, but then so is the art of blending ingredients to produce an accord. There is no necessary contradiction here.
Its interesting that the Marc Jacobs rep. informed rosbergs3 that there was gardenia and jasmine in *Marc Jacobs for Men*, but Ill guarantee that the gardenia and jasmine notes in *Marc Jacobs for Men* are not natural. Gardenia is extremely expensive to isolate naturally and is almost always produced synthetically by blending a number of other constituents. The only designer houses that still use natural occurring jasmine to any significant extent are Chanel and Jean Patou. Most other houses use synthetically produced jasmine approximations which isolate the main ingredients of jasmines scent constituent profile. There are many of these jasmines available as patented aromachemicals and many of them are of extremely high quality. I am not suggesting that there arent gardenia or jasmine notes in *Marc Jacobs for Men*. I am just suggesting what kind of gardenia and jasmine notes there are, and kudos to rosbergs3 for isolating the gardenia and jasmine effects in *Marc Jacobs for Men*. Now that hes pointed them out, I can definitely sense them too amidst what is a very complex, tight, and beautiful accord. I have always thought highly of such an accord, and now I know exactly why and that is because gardenia and jasmine effects provide that lift and viscous, yet airy buoyancy to a fragrance which is why theyre used often in womens perfumes to give them body and undeniable presence.