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  1. #1
    noggs's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Houston, TX

    Default Fragrance House Styles

    Hi everybody!

    I'm a new member of the Basenotes community and wanted to introduce myself by starting a new thread. I am not only new to Basenotes but to fragrances as well. I've already learned a lot by reading this site, so thanks to everyone who has contributed.

    My topic is something which I think would've already been discussed, but I haven't seen anything like it, so here goes. If there are existing threads about this I would appreciate someone pointing me in the right direction.

    Do the various fragrance houses have identifiable house characteristics or styles? I mean something that can be consistently noticed throughout their line despite the different types of scents they produce.

    And if there is such a thing as house style, how much do these styles change within a particular house when their nose or chief designer changes? How much leeway is allowed the designer? Does he or she have to design within certain parameters in keeping with the house style or do they have free reign? Do houses every change their styles drastically?

    Can anyone give me a rundown of the major houses and what they consider their house styles to be? I probably wouldn't be asking this if I had more experience with scents, but since I am just starting out I think this information would be interesting as well as very helpful.

    Currently wearing: Oud 27 by Le Labo

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Atlanta, Georgia

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    I'm not sure there are house styles as you are presenting them. There are house notes, however.

    The two I can think of off the top of my head are:

    Guerlain has a number of notes that together are referred to as Guerlainade. I think they actually released just that by itself at one point.

    Chanel's house note is Chypre.

    I'm sure other members know more...
    Currently wearing: Sun by Zents

  3. #3

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    I'd say that most of the houses try to establish a theme for their fragrances...even if its quite broad.

    L'Artisan Parfumer tends to focus on single notes, many of which are very transparent fragrances. Same with The Different Company, although their newest creations have been on a more broad scope. Hermessence is also doing a similar thing, of course being performed by the same nose as the Dif. Co.'s first scents. Parfums Rosine sticks with rose based scents. Serge Lutens tends to produce heavy, oriental scents. Comme Des Garcons runs with a theme within a theme with its different lines...leaves, red, sweet, etc.

    There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule.
    Currently wearing: L'Oudh by Tauer

  4. #4
    noggs's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Houston, TX

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles


    Do you know what is in Guerlainiade or what it smells like?

    Currently wearing: Oud 27 by Le Labo

  5. #5
    rach2jlc's Avatar
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    May 2006
    US (KY) & Japan

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    Welcome to Bnotes, noggs!

    I agree with the others about house notes, but I also think that there is a house "style." Consumers like a certain consistency within a given product line and perfumers are no exception.

    I agree with the earlier mention of Chanel. In one sniff, one can generally tell it's a Chanel fragrance, even if we've never smelled it before. The earlier poster called it "chypre," but to me it is that powdery, often synthetic, feel that nevertheless is distinctive and classy. Likewise, Chanel presents an image of superlative luxury that doesn't have to brag; the packaging is often simple, marked with a large interlocking C. The "image" of Chanel seems to suggest that such simplicity is all that is required to recognize Chanel.

    Creed is another that has certain house "notes," the millesime base, ambergris, etc. They, too, have a definite image of class and distinction, but sometimes they try to push that a little too far or use their history to compensate for an otherwise lackluster fragrance.

    Bond no. 9: see Creed and multiply it times seven. They, too, are much more heavy on the packaging: thick, heavy, glitzy star shaped bottles with large, ornate boxes. I like Bond, don't get me wrong, but there are times when I wish the scent inside was half as snazzy as the bottle (Hamptons, I'm talking to you!)

    Malle is the best with image and packaging, though: like the Editions Gallimard that Malle wanted to emulate, the inside juice is ALL that counts. The bottling is simple with a simple label on the front. Unfortunately, hype-inducing Sales Associates have gone and made Malle the next "it" thing... but in its original inception I love the simplicity of it. Same with Le Labo (they just have a typed label that looks almost like an old chemists bottle).
    Is there any point in saying everything? -Basho

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    Quote Originally Posted by noggs

    Do you know what is in Guerlainiade or what it smells like?

    Noggs, welcome! Good threads to start with! If you search the forum for guerlainade (no "i" after the "n") you will find a few threads asking a similar question. Unfortunately, these shed only a little light. My best advice is to sniff Heritage, habit rouge, jicky and a few other geurlains and look for a common ground in the low-mid range of the fragrance. Also read all the reviews of these and see if you can make sense of what observations people make, bearing in mind that these vary massively, are always subjective and sometimes just wrong (we are all noses in development).

    good luck and enjoy the frags!
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder


  7. #7

    Exclamation Re: Fragrance House Styles

    Welcome to Basenotes!

    My view on the house styles is such:

    Chanel and Dior both tend to be bourgeois, luxury type of brands. Most (but not all) of their fragrances are classsy and distinctive. One of few exceptions would be Higher by Dior for example - not a great fragrance at all.

    Guerlain is a house of great history and, as it was already mentioned before, many of their fragrances share same note - guerlainade. Another thing I notice about Guerlain fragrances is some certain smoothness, mildness.

    The main twist of YSL, I suppose, would be their unconventional quality.
    All of their scents are ofcourse very classy, but the main thing about them is their rebel character I would say!

    Does anyone think the same?
    Last edited by deeablow; 23rd January 2007 at 10:21 PM.

  8. #8
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    Niles's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
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    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    I seem to remember neroli as an ingredient in several Creed fragrances, though I may be mistaken. Bvlgari fragrances frequently have tea notes. I think I remember oak moss being a house note for Ralph Lauren.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    Quote Originally Posted by noggs

    Do you know what is in Guerlainiade or what it smells like?

    Welcome to BN!! On your question - just yesterday I came across this interesting article on Geurlinade. Hope it helps!!
    Currently wearing: Jaïpur Homme by Boucheron

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    Interesting question!

    Yes, there is something that can be called a house's "character" even if the nose of the respective fragrances is different for each one.

    Chanel has a luxe, austere look with something that is perfumey in their scents and is due to aldehydes (do a board search for those or look at Just starting out) for the classic scents and to the shimmery character of the latest releases (Chance, Coco Mlle, Allure Sensuelle, Allure). They all exude some degree of sophistication.

    Creed has metallic quality in most of what I have smelled and they have a faint ambergris accord as well.

    Dior is very mixed bag of goods, because although it tries to pass the luxury image, they have some things that are more teenager targeted (Dior me, Chris, AddictII ) than really luxe. Their classics (Dioressence etc) have been a bit destroyed by reformulation and cheapening of the formulae too. Their new men's Dior homme is a bit of a revolutionary.

    Boss frags have a very bland smell: they are bestsellers and it shows. Generic stuff that won't offend, yet will never stand out. Sorry....

    Issey Miyake stuff is largely acquatic or ozonic, same with Kenzo with few exceptions. They are of the Far East school of thought that scent should be, above all, light.

    Bulgari is classy and focused on the tea theme (with multiple interpretations on various kinds: green, red, white, black, lapsang souchong etc).
    Good taste brand.

    YSL is a sophisticated brand with things that cater to different tastes, yet are usually individual (M7, Opium, Opium homme, Kouros). Some of them are not selling that well, but that has to do with perception and generic taste going for the innofensive, not a fault of the perfumes. A few of them have succumbed to the trendy (BabyDoll) and some are less exciting than expected (Cinema), but overall they smell unique and sophisticated.

    Serge Lutens is oriental oppulence, exoticism and arabian tradition. It caters to those who want something that will elicit comments and ignite discussion. They are worth sampling and before ordering you should surely test them, because they can be difficult. But when you find something to your liking, oh the joy!
    An artist's line, for sure.

    Frederic Malle is also an individual line but with completely diverse things because of the various noses working, that have one common element however: they are non commercial-smelling. Even if their creators have worked in similar compositions elsewhere (Ellena has created Declaration which is close to his Bigarrade, Roucel has created L de Lempicka which is close to his Musc Ravageur, Ropion has created Amarige which is similar in character to his Carnal Flower and Fleur de Cassie), in the creations for Malle, they went for the complete individuality that does not obey to market research and what would please the public. For that reason you might find that the creations of those noses for the mass market are less tricky to wear or get more compliments! (see above notes for those).
    However they do present an eclectic collection that is very worth investigating.

    Guerlain is the quintessential perfume house and there is no way one can pinpoint a specific character, at least not very specifically. They all smell rich however and slightly sweet and have a french character of old that is unmistakable. The Guerlinade by the way is the secret base that is included in most of their women's perfumes and consists of: bergamot, lilac, linden blossom, rose,jasmine, iris, tonka and their signature vanilla. It launched as a seperate perfume sometime back. It smelled less dense than a traditional Guerlain frag, more airy, but still unmistakably Guerlain.
    Vintage Guerlains are supposedly the best.
    One could lose one's heart to exploring Guerlain, they have issued more than 300 frags in their history.

    Annick Goutal frags are light with good ingredients and have a clarity and luminosity that is not common in more department store style fragrances. With the exception of Sables and Eau de Fier for the men's and Passion and Gardenia Passion for the women's they are mostly florals and citruses, light fragrances.

    Jo Malone has a sparse style of things that last little and smell crystaline. Nice but not very tenacious. Their only dark perfume is Pomegranate noir and perhaps their woody 154 for men (very nice).

    Miller Harris has a line of nice things that smell also crystalline and mostly light with some exceptions. They have a very artistic packaging that is a joy to look at.

    Floris and Penhaligon's have a classic English Victorian image about them and are simple compositions that smell like a traditional person would. No revolutionary things, but good taste in most cases. Old money image.

    Last edited by helg; 24th January 2007 at 08:17 AM.

  11. #11
    Eluard's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Projective Plain

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    There are some terrific answers here: very comprehensive.

    I'd only add that l'Artisan fragrances have a slightly thin, metallic note in many of their fragrances (ifconfig has commented on this before), which I find off-putting. If you get past that, however, they can be very pleasant.

    Quote Originally Posted by deeablow
    The main twist of YSL, I suppose, would be their unconventional quality.
    All of their scents are ofcourse very classy, but the main thing about them is their rebel character I would say!

    Does anyone think the same?
    Hi deeablow — yes, I agree with you. I think they are really trying for diversity rather than a common house note.
    beauty is a witch/ Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Fragrance House Styles

    Outsider houses

    Santa Maria Novella - florals that often tend toward being green and sour, very soapy scents, one even that smells like dial soap, another with a hint of listerine. Cuba: the scented life of a honeybee. Other extreme offerings: mace based and leather/rubber/motor oil (although that combination isn't all that unique) based, alongside formulas going way way back to when the place was a nunnery or monestary, or whatever it was before it was a pharmacia. Forumulas for the medicis and one attributed to a witch. Also for sale: hysteria relieving waters, baldness cures, colic cures, etc. Plays well with patchouli.

    Amouage - another way off the beaten path: Exotic (middle eastern), heavy, extreme. Scents for a spoiled saudi prince from a culture with an ancient perfume tradition. Desert boy ablutions. White frankincense.

    Villoresi - big, broad, emphatic, sweeping, tending towards the overpowering, very dramatic, very Italian, sumptuous, spicy, operatic.

    Czeck and Speake: heavy duty, cranky, eccentric, not for everyone, the firm also produces toilet seats and other bathroom fixtures.

    Scents for artists, poets, aesthetes, seducers, criminals, Faustian characters, redeemers... and the style of each of these houses has a janus like aspect. They're certainly among the most contemporary and forward looking of the lot yet there is a direct, dramatic connection, with each of them, to the past, a sense of history going way way back, before guerlain etc, I mean a real sense of the antique, the ancient, or anachronistic. At least that's the sense that comes down to me as an admittedly overwrought consumer! And I guess comme des garcons, covered earlier, falls into this group, can't be left out.
    Last edited by supermarky; 24th January 2007 at 11:17 AM.

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