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Thread: ----NOTES----

  1. #1

    Default ----NOTES----



    rosbergs3’s 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 doesn’t 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. It’s 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, there’s 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 individual’s 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 they’re 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.

    It’s interesting that the Marc Jacobs rep. informed rosbergs3 that there was gardenia and jasmine in *Marc Jacobs for Men*, but I’ll 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 jasmine’s 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 aren’t 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 he’s 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 they’re used often in women’s perfumes to give them body and undeniable presence.

    scentemental





  2. #2

    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Always a pleasure to read your posts, scentemental. I do agree that there are inconsistencies in many natural extracts, which is rather frustrating for me to think that if I made a batch of fragrance with these natural extracts, I may not be able to reproduce the same blend. I agree that it seems a lot easier to use synthesised aromachemicals because they are definite and reproducible. That being said, there is a certain allure to the variation in natural extracts, it adds an olfactory facet that the perfume may not have designed, but nature. This adds a more 'artistic' method to perfumery which may be more appealing to some people than a quantitative approach to perfumery.

  3. #3
    teflondog's Avatar
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    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Wow. I'm always intrigued at how much science is involved in perfumery. It is a strange but wonderful phenomenon when we all detect different notes in scents. Just as you mentioned, our good friend shifts detects sandalwood in Cuiron. Although many disagree, perhaps his nose is just keen on picking up different chemical structures. After all, sandalwood in fragrance is merely a combination of different chemicals. Maybe his nose arranges the notes in Cuiron in a different order than ours, which results in him smelling sandalwood. Does that make him wrong? Certainly not.

    Although Geir's pyramid doesn't include honey, I swear I smell honey in it. That's the fun part about this fragrance hobby. If we all agreed on everything, we wouldn't have much discussion on this board.

    It's always a pleasure to read your posts scentemental. Cheers

  4. #4
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    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Quote Originally Posted by scentemental


    The only designer houses that still use natural occurring jasmine to any significant extent are Chanel and Jean Patou.


    Nice post, scentemental. I'm not disputing what you say about Chanel and Patou versus
    other houses, but I'm curious where you got this information. Did this come from Luca Turin
    or some such insider?

    Thanks,
    trumpet_guy

  5. #5

    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Good post, Scentemental. I think the whole "notes" business is just an approximation to the difficult task of describing a fragance. Wine aficionados will understand this better, there's a set of notes that tasters use in their descriptions: vanilla, tobacco, red fruits... This doesn't mean actual vanilla or tobacco are involved in any part of the process of wine making, is just a convention among wine lovers so that they can exchange their impressions.
    I think when it comes to perfume, more or less the same happens.
    "It is the mark of a brave man to admit defeat, cut his loss and move on." - David Ogilvy

  6. #6

    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Great, thought provoking post.

    I imagine Creed use natural jasmine as well.

  7. #7

    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Thank you scentemental! I started on a similar post several times but I just couldn't get the words right so never posted. I agree with you totally. Very well put.

  8. #8

    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    I agree with the others on yet another great post Scentemental. Coll you used the sandalwood in Curion as an example.

    I want to take this topic a bit further and maybe side-step a little bit. I've been thinking about Odeur 53 and the opinions it evokes. All those said notes it is supposed to contain, I do not believe they exist. But I do believe they exist through association though. Call it marketing scam if you like, I'd call it brilliance. Just like Helmut Lang sure wanted us to think of leather when we saw the brown bottle, I'm positive CdG want us to associate in certain ways regarding their Odeur 53/71. And it works. I can, if I want too, smell newly washed clothes, electricity and metal in there. I don't know enough about what notes these smells might share, but since Odeur 53 mostly is made out of hedione (http://boisdejasmin.typepad.com/_/20...ie_7.html#more) one could make a guess that it at least is similar in one way or another.

    I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here, but maybe something like: do all the synthetic notes in Odeur 53 really exist or do they give us those notes to make them up in our heads when smelling the wonderful Odeur 53?

    I actually think I started thinking about this when I read a member review here saying something like "I reeked of burning tires all day!!!" and I just found it so absurd. Odeur 53 is so calm and soft that I could only see that reaction come out of the mind playing tricks on you.

  9. #9

    Default Re: ----NOTES----



    [color=#0000ff]Wedge, teflondog, trumpet_guy, Gus, Dante, Concord, and shifts, let me thank all of you for responding to my post and especially for your kind, generous words. I’ll address below some of the points raised in your respective posts individually.

    Quote Originally Posted by wedge
    Always a pleasure to read your posts, scentemental. I do agree that there are inconsistencies in many natural extracts, which is rather frustrating for me to think that if I made a batch of fragrance with these natural extracts, I may not be able to reproduce the same blend. I agree that it seems a lot easier to use synthesized aromachemicals because they are definite and reproducible. That being said, there is a certain allure to the variation in natural extracts, it adds an olfactory facet that the perfume may not have designed, but nature. This adds a more 'artistic' method to perfumery which may be more appealing to some people than a quantitative approach to perfumery.
    There really is a “certain allure to the variation in natural extracts”. Maybe the difference between using natural ingredients with all their variance and synthesized ingredients with their standardized consistency is the difference between listing to a analog recording on vinyl and a digital recording on CD. You lose and you gain with both. Ultimately though the course of modern perfumery and all of its monumental achievements (Chanel No. 5 is the most obvious example that comes to mind) would not have been possible without the modern chemistry and its processes. While blending natural ingredients is an art, it’s a limited art in terms of the effects you can achieve, but it is an art nevertheless, as is modern perfumery. Thanks for a thoughtful response wedge.



    Quote Originally Posted by teflondog
    Wow. I'm always intrigued at how much science is involved in perfumery. It is a strange but wonderful phenomenon when we all detect different notes in scents. Just as you mentioned, our good friend shifts detects sandalwood in Cuiron. Although many disagree, perhaps his nose is just keen on picking up different chemical structures. After all, sandalwood in fragrance is merely a combination of different chemicals. Maybe his nose arranges the notes in Cuiron in a different order than ours, which results in him smelling sandalwood. Does that make him wrong? Certainly not.

    Although Geir's pyramid doesn't include honey, I swear I smell honey in it. That's the fun part about this fragrance hobby. If we all agreed on everything, we wouldn't have much discussion on this board.

    It's always a pleasure to read your posts scentemental. Cheers
    There is no doubt teflondog that subjective responses play a large part in how we process scents. Scientist who have conducted experiments claim that in about only two out of five cases can people clearly identify essential oil of rose if they have absolutely no context for the smell and rose is a pretty straightforward distinct scent. I also think that differences in the mechanism of smell--how each person actually physically and neurologically processes scent data--along with experience and awareness of what they’re processing is also a factor in the perception of fragrance. Throw in culture, gender, and the vagaries of human individuality and you’ve got a bunch of complex variables. But of course, I am not really telling you anything you don’t already know. As you note, “If we all agreed on everything, we wouldn't have much discussion on this board.” To me, in many ways, it’s a wonderful thing that the sense of smell--and all the senses for that matter, despite our advances in the scientific understanding of them--remains a mystery. That’s how it should be. Thanks for your, as usual, intelligent response to the gist of my post teflondog


    Quote Originally Posted by trumpet_guy
    [quote author=scentemental link=1132539893/0#0 date=1132539892]

    The only designer houses that still use natural occurring jasmine to any significant extent are Chanel and Jean Patou.

    Nice post, scentemental. I'm not disputing what you say about Chanel and Patou versus
    other houses, but I'm curious where you got this information. Did this come from Luca Turin
    or some such insider?

    Thanks,
    trumpet_guy
    [/quote]

    trumpet_guy,

    I think this is pretty much general knowledge. I know it’s clearly confirmed in almost every book one reads on fragrances these days. For a specific instance, check out:
    Cathy Newman. Perfume: The Art and Science of Scent (National Geographic Society, 1998).



    Quote Originally Posted by Gus
    Good post, Scentemental. I think the whole "notes" business is just an approximation to the difficult task of describing a fragrance. Wine aficionados will understand this better, there's a set of notes that tasters use in their descriptions: vanilla, tobacco, red fruits... This doesn't mean actual vanilla or tobacco are involved in any part of the process of wine making, is just a convention among wine lovers so that they can exchange their impressions.

    I think when it comes to perfume, more or less the same happens.
    Yes absolutely Gus, with the difference that in fragrances there are clear cut instances, in the more artisanal fragrances, in which such fragrances do actually contain vanilla, tobacco, etc. and other cases where it’s not always a clear cut case of exactly how those notes are being constituted. In such cases, the taxonomy used to describe notes approximates the way its used in wine tasting. Interestingly, the same taxonomy is used to describe flavors and scents in coffee.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dante
    Great, thought provoking post.

    I imagine Creed use natural jasmine as well.
    Yes, Dante, I imagine Creed has it own supplier, as I am sure do a lot of artisanal perfumers. However, I would hazard to guess that their consumption of pure jasmine absolute is tiny compared to the tons of synthesized jasmine products used in the mainstream manufacture of perfumes and colognes and other scented products. Surprisingly, a large percentage of men’s fragrance contain “jasmine”. Off the top of my head I think it’s something like 18%, but don’t quote me on that.


    Quote Originally Posted by Concord
    Thank you scentemental! I started on a similar post several times but I just couldn't get the words right so never posted. I agree with you totally. Very well put.
    High compliments, indeed, Concord, coming from someone like yourself who clearly knows a lot about these aspects of modern perfumery. Thanks. I am glad I could oblige.


    Quote Originally Posted by shifts
    I agree with the others on yet another great post Scentemental. Coll you used the sandalwood in Curion as an example.

    I want to take this topic a bit further and maybe side-step a little bit. I've been thinking about Odeur 53 and the opinions it evokes. All those said notes it is supposed to contain, I do not believe they exist. But I do believe they exist through association though. Call it marketing scam if you like, I'd call it brilliance. Just like Helmut Lang sure wanted us to think of leather when we saw the brown bottle, I'm positive CdG want us to associate in certain ways regarding their Odeur 53/71. And it works. I can, if I want too, smell newly washed clothes, electricity and metal in there. I don't know enough about what notes these smells might share, but since Odeur 53 mostly is made out of hedione (http://boisdejasmin.typepad.com/_/20...ie_7.html#more) one could make a guess that it at least is similar in one way or another.

    I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here, but maybe something like: do all the synthetic notes in Odeur 53 really exist or do they give us those notes to make them up in our heads when smelling the wonderful Odeur 53?

    I actually think I started thinking about this when I read a member review here saying something like "I reeked of burning tires all day!!!" and I just found it so absurd. Odeur 53 is so calm and soft that I could only see that reaction come out of the mind playing tricks on you.

    Your post is really a thoughtful extension of teflondog’s similar reflections. I think what is seriously missing is a phenomenology of fragrance and even an epistemology of scent. It’s all very interesting stuff as are your reflections shifts. If anyone out there has any references for books or articles that touch on this stuff, I for one would be very interested in them. Perhaps our friend Marcello might be able to help us out here.

    Thanks to all for keeping this an interesting thread.

    Best regards,

    scentemental





  10. #10

    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Scentemental,

    If I can ask you about an unrelated point briefly?

    Unless I'm mistaken, your icon is the Czech & Speake Number 88 bottle. I've been thinking seriously about purchasing a bottle, but cannot get to test it anywhere. What fragrance (if any) is it similar to? Any in my current wardrobe?

    D

  11. #11

    Default Re: ----NOTES----

    Quote Originally Posted by Dante
    Scentemental,

    If I can ask you about an unrelated point briefly?

    Unless I'm mistaken, your icon is the Czech & Speake Number 88 bottle. I've been thinking seriously about purchasing a bottle, but cannot get to test it anywhere. What fragrance (if any) is it similar to? Any in my current wardrobe?

    D

    Dante,

    You're not mistaken; my icon is the Czech & Speake No. 88 bottle.

    Check your messages. I sent you a PM.

    scentemental



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