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  1. #1

    Default Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    First: Hello, I am a fragrance virgin, and this is my first Basenotes post. Be gentle with me.


    Now, imagine you are to teach a class on fragrance connoisseurship, and thus need to come up with a list of essential fragrances -- the canon, if you will -- for your students to sniff to develop their noses, understand the history, and familiarize themselves with the range of fragrances, houses (Guerlain, Chanel, Creed, etc.), notes , types (floral, oriental, etc), quality (!), and markets (ex.: designer, niche, exclusive, celebrity, etc.). And whatever else you feel a beginning student should experience.

    Organize it however you'd like and suggest any number you'd like: you are the instructor!

    Men and women are both invited to contribute, but as this is the women's forum, perhaps lean towards women's fragrances and add men's as a separate category?

    Share your selections, and if you'd care to, add what each represents to the world of perfumery.

    and I'll be standing by, taking notes.
    --------------------------------------
    Just kidding, but I can't help but expect any historical review to include, as representative of the 80's: Giorgio, Opium, Obsession, and Poison. Almost everyone seemed to wear one of those four, and in offensively enormous quantities, didn't they? LOL. Ugh. Phew.
    Last edited by MiaKulpa; 1st October 2007 at 04:19 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    *

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sestra View Post
    Kelly Caleche smells like Beelzeebub's urine to me...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Welcome to the best place on the net, Mia! Hope you like it here and stay for a while. Your question is both complex and simple, and the answer is "It depends!"

    1. Sniff a lot! Jot down your thoughts, compare them with the reviews here and on MUA, voice your opinions and retest your fragrances again. I am afraid that my Essentials will not suit you or somebody else, so you have to figure it out for yourself.
    2. You can go in depth with either a particular house (say, Guerlain, Caron, Dior, Lutens) or test several fragrances from different houses concentrating on the note/multiple notes that appeal to you (like, gardenia scents, or spicy orientals, or everything with tonka bean, etc). There are fantastic resourses out there with osMoz being just one of them -- with olfactory groups subdivided into families, pyramids, pictures, articles. Check the best of Basenotes -- we are voting each year and nominate best fragrances in different categories -- it should be available from Basenotes home page.
    3. Read our threads -- perhaps, you can find your fragrance buddy whose tastes are somewhat similar to yours and you can further explore the wonderful realm of smellies together. We often get a sample, sniff it, form an opinion, retest it and send it on for our other people to try. Or, some samples stay -- we want to sniff it later, or we know that we will never muster up enough courage to wear it on public but would like to sniff it out of the vial once in a blue moon.
    4. Browse through beauty magazines to get the scoop of the trends (always with a grain of salt though!) or what is new and coming soon.
    5. There is the whole world of fragrances not being advertized in beauty magazines. Depending on where you live and travel, try to get to the closest Needless Markup store to see it with your own eyes. There are blogs where people describe their feelings, and Now Smell This would be a good starting point. There are links to other blogs there on the left hand side.
    6. To help you better inderstand what notes are used in perfumery, please refer to our discussions taking place every first Saturday of a month, they are called "Sniff and Speak" days where we all wear scents with a particular note. This coming S'n'S is October 6, and it will be all about amber.

    Does this all help any so far?

    7. Almost forgot -- budget! It is so very easy to max up your credit card(s) with so many enablers here.
    8. Be nice -- read as "responsible in swaps" -- they taught you all about it in the kindergarten!


  3. #3

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Thank you for the very warm welcome twolf! I have already done so, but I imagine I'll be spending many many more hours here educating my brain as I educate my nose. Your tips are excellent...especially the one about how to collect without filing for bankruptcy. Oh, so many frags I want to try, but not enough $$$$!

    But what frags would YOU -- meaning not just you, twolf, but all of BN -- think are the essentials of women's frags for *any* newbie, and not just me, to sniff? It doesn't matter if they suit anyone or not. C'mon, put together that syllabus and share your choices! What do you think is the perfumery version of required reading?

    Surely Jicky and Chanel No. 5 would be required sniffing, yes? What else? (there are no wrong answers, by the way...you are in charge!)
    *

    Please visit SalonAesthetica.com (undergoing redecorating, but still open for business and will be motoring along soon)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sestra View Post
    Kelly Caleche smells like Beelzeebub's urine to me...

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Brililant questions Mia - and obviously Twolf has given you fantastic advice there. I'm fairly new to this too and am only just getting active here at BN after reading and testing for a while.

    I got into perfumery through reading Chandler Burr's book about Luca Turin - The Emperor of Scent - and just went into a parfumerie while on holiday in France and smelled everything I could get my hands on. I found a lot smelled like (say this very quietly) Old Ladies (sorry!) but there were a couple of scent strips that I kept in my handbag and kept pulling out to smell again and again. L'Heure Bleue was one.

    A little while later I got a decant of it, and one of Bandit. They both blew me away and were like nothing I'd ever worn before. They didn't smell like I thought perfume was supposed to smell. So I'd suggest trying some classic scents that get reviewed on BN as a bit 'out there'. Piguet Bandit, Caron Tabac Blond, Caron Poivre, the Guerlians L'Heure Bleue and Jicky, are some that I've tried and I'd recommend smelling all of them.

    It all depends on what you can get to sniff. Many of us aren't blessed with a nearby perfumery that stocks the niche scents and have to organise special visits or order samples.

    The houses that are often easiest to get to smell in local deartment stores are Chanel, Hermes, Guerlain, Dior, etc. Have a look in the BN directory for brands you can smell locally.

    Then you can get an idea of what general notes you like or are intrigued by before sending for samples of niche scents such as Lutens. I can't recommend anywhere in the US but in the UK I usually send for samples from Les Scenteurs in London (www.lesscenteurs.com). I have tended to explore a thread in my sampling - e.g. iris or leather - to have some kind of comparison between samples.

    But you asked for some straight up recommendations? OK, here are some that have expanded my horizons:
    Guerlain L'Heure Bleue, Jicky, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Mitsouko, Parure
    YSL Opium, Nu, Rive Gauche
    Chanel No 5, No 19, No 22, Bois des Iles
    Hermes Hiris
    Bulgari Black
    Piguet Bandit
    Caron Tabac Blond, Narcisse Noir, Poivre, En Avion

    I'd suggest smelling a range of rose, jasmine, gardenia and iris perfumes to see which versions please you most, and looking at the notes involved to see what you find particularly appealing.

    I'd also suggest coming back to some of these perfumes after a year of 'adventures in smell', to see how you respond to them with a more educated nose. I now find L'Heure Bleue and Tabac Blond much easier to wear and appreciate and I'm sure that's because I've smelled so many other things since I first encountered them.
    "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." Coco Chanel

    I'm streamlining my collection http://community.basenotes.net/showt...29#post1219729

  5. #5

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Rather than reinvent the wheel, here’s a link to a great post from Perfume Posse, titled as you asked, Perfume 101

    http://perfumeposse.com/2006/05/30/p...f-an-atomizer/


    At this point your “most desired” and “want to try” lists are all over the map. Not a bad thing; after a lot of determined sniffage I’m still all over the map. And you may be as well, but there’s no way to tell yet. You may find giant sweeping categories of scents that you loathe or you might like a bit of everything. So I wouldn’t invest in many full bottles yet and in fact I’d recommend you go out and do a fair bit of sampling before you even collect very many decants. Unless you’ve landed in one of the far corners of SoCal that isn’t studded with malls, you are probably near some good high end department stores where you can start to sort this out. But take it slow if you can, goodness knows there have been days when I didn’t want to be in the car with myself after trying too many new things at once. Keep us posted about your field trips. I own a lot of things you want to try and I’d be happy to talk about swaps once you get your bearings.

    And although I often like sniffing my way through a house, you’ll probably get more traction in the beginning by comparing a few scents in the same category.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyra View Post
    ... goodness knows there have been days when I didn’t want to be in the car with myself after trying too many new things at once. .
    True, how very true!!!!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyra View Post
    Rather than reinvent the wheel, here’s a link to a great post from Perfume Posse, titled as you asked, Perfume 101
    http://perfumeposse.com/2006/05/30/p...f-an-atomizer/
    Superb reference to offer, Kyra. You can retire to the teacher's lounge now.

    I love it! A "syllabus." What a wonderful attitude and approach you have, MiaKulpa. You know, theperfumedcourt.com has composed a few newbie sample packs under "A Beginner's Intro to" headings. So far these include florals, iris, jasmine, leather, tuberose, woods, greens, coffee, incense, sandalwood, skank (naughty/flirty), lily of the valley, violets, Italy. They also offer "A Gateway to" groupings for the houses of Caron, Chanel, Malle, Guerlain, Hermes, Montale, Lutens, and more.

    As you proceed in your autodidactic studies, you might like to make notes about which notes you favor. As an example, here are my class notes (personal preferences) from my sophomore year here at basenotes.

    FAVORITES: Amber, Coffee, Leather (Cade), Spearmint, Tonka
    MORE GOODIES: Balsam, Blood Orange, Caramel, Castoreum, Cedar, Civet, Clover, Cocoa, Coumarin, Cucumber, Datura, Fig, Frangipani, Hazelnut, Immortelle (Everlasting Flower), Iso E Super, Lavender, Lemon, Linden, Musk, Myrrh, Opopanax, Orange Blossom, Patchouli, Peony, Pineapple, Powder, Quince, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Strawberry, Tiare, Tuberose, Vetiver, Wintergreen, Ylang-Ylang. GENERALLY FAVOR: Florals, Resins.
    "IT DEPENDS": Aldehydes, Almond, Aquatic (Marine), Berries, Black Currant (Cassis), Cardamom, Carnation, Cinnamon, Citrus, Galbanum, Gardenia, Heliotrope, Herbs, Incense, Jasmine, Lilac, Musk, Pepper, Rose, Tea, Vanilla
    ICKY-ICKY-ICKY: Anise, Apple, Cloves, Coconut, Coriander, Ginger, Grapefruit, Hesperides, Honey, Licorice, Lily-of-the-Valley, Melon, Metallic, Smoke; all Orientals
    Can't seem to smell: Honeysuckle, Iris, Lily, Moss, Violet
    Last edited by Quarry; 1st October 2007 at 08:18 PM.
    In a world where 6 million people are added each month, every landscape matters.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyra View Post
    Rather than reinvent the wheel, here’s a link to a great post from Perfume Posse, titled as you asked, Perfume 101

    http://perfumeposse.com/2006/05/30/p...f-an-atomizer/


    At this point your “most desired” and “want to try” lists are all over the map. Not a bad thing; after a lot of determined sniffage I’m still all over the map. And you may be as well, but there’s no way to tell yet. You may find giant sweeping categories of scents that you loathe or you might like a bit of everything. So I wouldn’t invest in many full bottles yet and in fact I’d recommend you go out and do a fair bit of sampling before you even collect very many decants. Unless you’ve landed in one of the far corners of SoCal that isn’t studded with malls, you are probably near some good high end department stores where you can start to sort this out. But take it slow if you can, goodness knows there have been days when I didn’t want to be in the car with myself after trying too many new things at once. Keep us posted about your field trips. I own a lot of things you want to try and I’d be happy to talk about swaps once you get your bearings.

    And although I often like sniffing my way through a house, you’ll probably get more traction in the beginning by comparing a few scents in the same category.
    that's where I got the idea!

    And yes my wishlist is most definitely eclectic. I agree that sampling is the way to go now as many department store brands do nothing for me (though I like burberry london -- go figure). I'm blessed to have Scent Bar, Barney's, Saks, Nieman Marcus, and Apothia local to me, more or less, along with the usual suspects Macy's (ugh), Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, and Sephora. I've tried to pry some free samples out of perfumers but they just refer me to the stores. Booo!

    yes, I'll look forward to swapping once I get some things to swap!
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Quarry View Post
    Superb reference to offer, Kyra. You can retire to the teacher's lounge now.

    I love it! A "syllabus." What a wonderful attitude and approach you have, MiaKulpa. You know, theperfumedcourt.com has composed a few newbie sample packs under "A Beginner's Intro to" headings. So far these include florals, iris, jasmine, leather, tuberose, woods, greens, coffee, incense, sandalwood, skank (naughty/flirty), lily of the valley, violets, Italy. They also offer "A Gateway to" groupings for the houses of Caron, Chanel, Malle, Guerlain, Hermes, Montale, Lutens, and more.

    As you proceed in your autodidactic studies, you might like to make notes about which notes you favor. As an example, here are my class notes (personal preferences) from my sophomore year here at basenotes.

    FAVORITES: Amber, Coffee, Leather (Cade), Spearmint, Tonka
    MORE GOODIES: Balsam, Blood Orange, Caramel, Castoreum, Cedar, Civet, Clover, Cocoa, Coumarin, Cucumber, Datura, Fig, Frangipani, Hazelnut, Immortelle (Everlasting Flower), Iso E Super, Lavender, Lemon, Linden, Musk, Myrrh, Opopanax, Orange Blossom, Patchouli, Peony, Pineapple, Powder, Quince, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Strawberry, Tiare, Tuberose, Vetiver, Wintergreen, Ylang-Ylang. GENERALLY FAVOR: Florals, Resins.
    "IT DEPENDS": Aldehydes, Almond, Aquatic (Marine), Berries, Black Currant (Cassis), Cardamom, Carnation, Cinnamon, Citrus, Galbanum, Gardenia, Heliotrope, Herbs, Incense, Jasmine, Lilac, Musk, Pepper, Rose, Tea, Vanilla
    ICKY-ICKY-ICKY: Anise, Apple, Cloves, Coconut, Coriander, Ginger, Grapefruit, Hesperides, Honey, Licorice, Lily-of-the-Valley, Melon, Metallic, Smoke; all Orientals
    Can't seem to smell: Honeysuckle, Iris, Lily, Moss, Violet
    Quarry: Thank you very much for your welcome, your notes on the notes, as well as all your helpful posts that I've read on my travels through basenotes-land.

    And agreed on coconut and anise being hideous. How did you do your single note studies -- with essential oils?
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbird View Post
    Brililant questions Mia - and obviously Twolf has given you fantastic advice there. I'm fairly new to this too and am only just getting active here at BN after reading and testing for a while.

    I got into perfumery through reading Chandler Burr's book about Luca Turin - The Emperor of Scent - and just went into a parfumerie while on holiday in France and smelled everything I could get my hands on. I found a lot smelled like (say this very quietly) Old Ladies (sorry!) but there were a couple of scent strips that I kept in my handbag and kept pulling out to smell again and again. L'Heure Bleue was one.

    A little while later I got a decant of it, and one of Bandit. They both blew me away and were like nothing I'd ever worn before. They didn't smell like I thought perfume was supposed to smell. So I'd suggest trying some classic scents that get reviewed on BN as a bit 'out there'. Piguet Bandit, Caron Tabac Blond, Caron Poivre, the Guerlians L'Heure Bleue and Jicky, are some that I've tried and I'd recommend smelling all of them.

    It all depends on what you can get to sniff. Many of us aren't blessed with a nearby perfumery that stocks the niche scents and have to organise special visits or order samples.

    The houses that are often easiest to get to smell in local deartment stores are Chanel, Hermes, Guerlain, Dior, etc. Have a look in the BN directory for brands you can smell locally.

    Then you can get an idea of what general notes you like or are intrigued by before sending for samples of niche scents such as Lutens. I can't recommend anywhere in the US but in the UK I usually send for samples from Les Scenteurs in London (www.lesscenteurs.com). I have tended to explore a thread in my sampling - e.g. iris or leather - to have some kind of comparison between samples.

    But you asked for some straight up recommendations? OK, here are some that have expanded my horizons:
    Guerlain L'Heure Bleue, Jicky, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Mitsouko, Parure
    YSL Opium, Nu, Rive Gauche
    Chanel No 5, No 19, No 22, Bois des Iles
    Hermes Hiris
    Bulgari Black
    Piguet Bandit
    Caron Tabac Blond, Narcisse Noir, Poivre, En Avion

    I'd suggest smelling a range of rose, jasmine, gardenia and iris perfumes to see which versions please you most, and looking at the notes involved to see what you find particularly appealing.

    I'd also suggest coming back to some of these perfumes after a year of 'adventures in smell', to see how you respond to them with a more educated nose. I now find L'Heure Bleue and Tabac Blond much easier to wear and appreciate and I'm sure that's because I've smelled so many other things since I first encountered them.

    Hello Wordbird, thank you for your suggestions and your list of scents.

    I want to read that book on Luca Turin as I've become a big fan of Turin's writing from reading through the blog of his. And I envy you being so close to Paris and the Serge Lutens belljar bottles and the Guerlain boutique, the Caron perfume urns and Frederic Malle's boutique. ::sigh::

    And I agree that once my nose has become sophisticated and educated I will detest some of the scents that I love now and appeciate some that elude me now, like Shalimar.
    Last edited by MiaKulpa; 2nd October 2007 at 09:37 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    *

    Please visit SalonAesthetica.com (undergoing redecorating, but still open for business and will be motoring along soon)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sestra View Post
    Kelly Caleche smells like Beelzeebub's urine to me...

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Quote Originally Posted by MiaKulpa View Post
    I'm blessed to have Scent Bar, Barney's, Saks, Nieman Marcus, and Apothia local to me...
    If I bring lots of samples with me, can I stay with you?
    Last edited by Quarry; 2nd October 2007 at 02:50 PM.
    In a world where 6 million people are added each month, every landscape matters.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Quote Originally Posted by Quarry View Post
    If I bring lots of samples with me, can I stay with you?


    make that 5ml decants and you have a deal.

    Actually those places intimidate the hell out of me, though my last visit to Barney's eons ago resulted in a ton of free sample vials...and a celebrity sighting (Kramer from Seinfeld, before he became known as a drunken racist jackass)!

    __________________________________________________ _____________



    Update:

    Luca Turin's 10 Fragrances to take to the Moon (though I only count 9):

    Angel
    Beyond Paradise
    Black
    Bois de Violette
    Cuir de Russie
    Habit Rouge
    Joy
    Mitsouko
    Shalimar

    edit: #10 is:
    Farnesiana

    ref: Luca Turin Blog pdf pg.232
    Last edited by MiaKulpa; 2nd October 2007 at 05:01 PM.
    *

    Please visit SalonAesthetica.com (undergoing redecorating, but still open for business and will be motoring along soon)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sestra View Post
    Kelly Caleche smells like Beelzeebub's urine to me...

  11. #11

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    From a man's perspective...here's my list of ten fragrances every woman should, at the very least, have tried:

    1. Mitsouko by Guerlain
    2. Bal a Versailles by Desprez
    3. Chanel No. 19
    3. Tabac Blonde by Caron
    4. K de Krizia
    5. Carnal Flower - Frederic Malle
    6. Diorella - Dior
    7. Cabochard - Gres
    8. Feminite du Bois (or Bois de Violette) - Shiseido/Serge Lutens
    9. 1000 - Jean Patou
    10. Eau Sauvage - Dior (because every woman should break the gender boundray)

  12. #12

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Quote Originally Posted by sofresh View Post
    because every woman should break the gender boundray
    I thoroughly agree. I already have my eye on Bois du Portugal, Vetiver, and Antaeus.
    *

    Please visit SalonAesthetica.com (undergoing redecorating, but still open for business and will be motoring along soon)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sestra View Post
    Kelly Caleche smells like Beelzeebub's urine to me...

  13. #13

    Default Re: Fragrance 101 - The Essentials for Women

    Quote Originally Posted by MiaKulpa View Post
    I thoroughly agree. I already have my eye on Bois du Portugal, Vetiver, and Antaeus.
    I think Vetiver actually smells better on a woman than on a man...its almost too predictable on a man.

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