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  1. #1

    Default What the heck are they anyway?

    Fougere? I wouldn't know a Chypre if one hit me in the head. What else is there? I don't know those either.

    Sure, I can look up the definition, but that wouldn't help. BUT what would help me understand better is if someone could tell me what each one is by identifying them in my wardrobe (if I happen to have one). Is anyone knowledeable enough to help me out?

    Thanks in advance!

    TNMA
    "Why not seize the pleasure at once?"
    -- Jane Austen (Sun, and Mercury in Sagittarius)

  2. #2
    Thrax
    Guest

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    I'm glad someone finally asked this question. Because I dont know either.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    I feel ya -- I'm still trying to figure out "powdery"
    *

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Sestra View Post
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  4. #4

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    There is a good introduction in the Basenotes guide:

    http://www.basenotes.net/articles/families.html

    I also like the poster available here for a simplified fragrance genealogy:

    http://www.leffingwell.com/h&rfragra...e_masculin.pdf


    -Slim
    Last edited by SlimPickins; 16th October 2007 at 05:50 AM.
    Haikus are easy
    But do not always make sense
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  5. #5

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Thanks Slim; that was very useful. Seems that the two major categories are fougeres and chypres. Also looks to me that the categories can be somewhat subjective?? This does make sense this scents are also subject to personal interpretation. Looks like my wardrobe is all over the place; I was curious if I had a "natural" preference.

    TNMA
    "Why not seize the pleasure at once?"
    -- Jane Austen (Sun, and Mercury in Sagittarius)

  6. #6

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    nothing I wear is on the chart

  7. #7

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Fougeres are usually somewhat sharp and herbal; geranium, lavender, and coumarin are typical notes. Brut is a fougere, IIRC. Very stereotypically masculine smell.

    Chypres are heavy, dark, leathery/mossy scents, usually with lots of floral notes added; the classical chypre accord is oakmoss, labdanum, and bergamot.

    Of course, these are just the bases for these families. Any perfume of either kind is also going to have a bunch of other notes (wood, musk, flowers, other herbs, citrus, fruit, etc), and a lot of them are so removed from the base, or sitting somewhere in the middle, that they're hard to classify.

    Glancing at your wardrobe, you seem to go for citrus, fougeres (Kouros Fraicheur, Rive Gauche, probably a lot of the others) and strong wood/incense fragrances. Don't see anything that suggests chypre, so maybe you don't like those.

  8. #8

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    The basenotes guide is a very nice resource clarifying these families, although it could do with some more examples, maybe. Gourmands are missing entirely, but that may be the most straightforward classification.
    Last edited by fakepurseninja; 16th October 2007 at 08:11 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Known categories aren't as subjective as the (rudimentary) BN introduction makes you believe, and families are easier to understand than fragrance pyramids, I find. I very much regret BN's premature decision to omit family names and sub-categories. If a data base contains the family name (olfactory group) it is a lot easier to find similar fragrances to match your favorites. Fortunately, these are included in the French


    This DB looks like a perfect online shop without prices. But it offers different views and reliable information in addition. It does include family subgroups, like: Fruity Chypre, Floral Chypre etc.... In the group view it shows all the current fragrances within that group. You can learn a lot about your own wardrobe, just looking up those bottles or pick fragrance details, down to the pyramid which are often more reliable than those in BN. ( No pun intended, Grant! I suppose the job is on more than one shoulder at Osmoz. After all, it is a professional website, and supposedly sponsored by the French industry.) I find Osmoz rather unique. It is constantly updated, and has a section 'New Perfumes' also. It can save you the ridiculous expense for a Michael Edwards copy and (updates!) for most of your questions, I suppose.
    Last edited by narcus; 18th October 2007 at 08:54 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  10. #10

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    I very much regret BN's premature decision to omit family names and sub-categories. If a data base contains the family name (olfactory group) it is a lot easier to find similar fragrances to match your favorites.
    Searching by fragrance family is a nice option, but there are big practical problems to that approach too. If you're going to introduce olfactory groups in your database, you need to choose a categorization first. The French society of perfumers has one, Michael Edwards has one, and about every other fragrance manufacturer has one of their own too. That first choice is hard to make for an independent resource like Basenotes - it's a bit like taking sides in a open debate.

    Then, you need to assign each fragrance in your database to one specific category and sub-group. Again, this is no exact science. We've seen many discussions about this in the past, where people cannot agree on the exact "position" of a certain fragrance in a chart. We know that olfaction cannot be reduced to a three-dimensional space with X, Y and Z coordinates, and that all existing olfactory categorizations are an approximation at best. There will be inconsistencies between different databases, and people will wonder whom they should trust.

    All in all, I think that having a database with fragrance notes is a sensible solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by narcus View Post
    I suppose the job is on more than one shoulder at Osmoz. Afterall, it is a professional website, and supposedly sponsored by the French industry.
    Osmoz is owned by Firmenich. Most of their articles and interviews are written by specialized journalists and freelance perfume consultants; I assume the rest is taken care of by employed staff. They do a great job, and people can safely use their database because it's a great tool. Having said that, I think that the


    is unique in its kind, and a real alternative to the one provided by Osmoz because of its different approach. I think the two coexist just fine. Adding a problematic feature like olfactory groups won't do much good for the end user, I think.

    By the way, this is my 2000th post!
    Last edited by Marcello; 16th October 2007 at 11:06 AM.
    [font=verdana][url=http://del.icio.us/scentedpages][b]my bookmarks on del.icio.us[/b][/url][/font]
    [font=verdana][url=http://www.nstperfume.com/perfume-books/][b]my book reviews on NST[/b][/url][/font]
    [font=verdana][url=www.scentedpages.com][b]ScentedPages.com[/b][/url][/font]

  11. #11

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcello View Post
    ...Having said that, I think that the


    is unique in its kind, and a real alternative to the one provided by Osmoz because of its different approach. I think the two coexist just fine. Adding a problematic feature like olfactory groups won't do much good for the end user, I think.

    By the way, this is my 2000th post!
    #2000 – chapeau ! Thank you for another fine post, Marcello, so well considered and sotto voce, as is your trademark.Two days ago, I also became aware your admirable Scented Pages. As Zurich University has a decent library, your compilation of literature offers more than just a theoretical chance to me. I hope. I can put my hands on a few of these books soon. That will make winter go by sooner. My pet target: finding records or historical documentation of men applying perfume on themselves. I think we share a couple of interests, as our pilgrimage has been one of almost three years now. You started in 2003 already, and I could learn quite a few essentials from you since I registered with Basenotes in early 2005.

    From the start, I was afraid that I might sound too critical concerning the BN Fragrance Directory. But that was not my intention at all There are a few improvements I would like to suggest, but I think they will be considered anyway in due course (example: fragrances without a pyamid can never be found in a search by notes. The data base may have to be scanned for integrity bugs). The major strength of ‘our’ directory is the number of fragrances covered, mainly because discontinued fragrances will (thankfully) not be eliminated. And I consider the possibilities to search by perfumer and/or release year/decade as very useful indeed. Still, I do miss the incorporation of fragrance groups very much. It would be nice not to have to leave BN for that. It honors you, Marcello, to defend their omission, but neither your kind words nor Grant’s arguments in “A guide to fragrance families” sound convincing in retrospect. (would it be very difficult to guide me to those early discussions on that? )

    There is probably more to the question of fragrance families (groups) than even the original poster may have realized. Although I have been using these for orientation and communication during the past years, I can still not separate fougères from chypres well. But when somebody says ‘it’s a citrus and adds a prominent other note, like ‘rose’ I can put a fragrance to that: Acqua di Parma! The average person, I suppose, cannot imagine smells simply from words. But we can recall things we smelled before with the proper key word easily. So, I believe, it’s important to mentally connect two or three fragrances from each group to the proper group name. Most loved or hated ones are perfect subjects for that.

    Which are the ‘proper groups’ if there are several ‘systems’? I do not really think the ‘systems’ are fundamentally different. There has always been a core of five to eight separate groups in modern perfumery, developed by perfumers and the (French) industry.mainly to communicate with each other. That system has been regarded useful for more than a hundred years (with modifications). Besides Osmoz, I use the tables of the University of Lyon/France which are nearly identical. The Fragrance Map of Haarman and Reimers ( H&R, Leffingwell) is fine for quick orientation and great for those fragrances ‘between’ fixed categories. Unfortunately, the H&R map will be outdated soon (H&R do not exist any more, and their books are not printed any longer). I consult Edwards rarely, if at all. It's rather slow from my web source :



    @ Thenmarcher : Nobody seems to have volunteered to do the job for you, at least not publicly. If your motivation isn’t laziness only, you can pm me, and I’ll do my best to sort your wardrobe. It’s admirably kept at (below) thirty. I think I could handle that. On the other hand, you would learn more about your own preferences by going through the exercise yourself
    Last edited by narcus; 18th October 2007 at 02:20 PM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  12. #12

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    I don't like the Osmoz clasifications. I have never found them very useful or practical. For example: they have fougere as a sub catagory of oriental. Since when was your trumpers fern oriental?

    Michael Edwards seem a bit better, but I dont think the wheel is very good because catagories only overlap with adjacent ones which is too limiting.

    The best thing to do is to read as many different systems as possible.
    "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

    reviews

  13. #13

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    It is really refreshing to see that established members don't know the classifications either, because I sure am lost (esp. the differences between chypre and fougere).

    I feel that alongside actually examining specific perfumes, we should learn all we can about perfumery itself (obviously including classifications), or else we won't truly be able to appreciate the perfumes themselves.

  14. #14

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    I think the very idea of categories is out of date. There are so many variations within each category that in many cases one could argue that a fragrance falls into any one of a handful of subcategories. And then there are fragrances that just evade categorization all together.

    Back when there were a very limited number of releases coming out, I suppose the categories held. Look at, for example, at early releases from Crown Perfumery, Creed, Dunhill, etc. The groundbreaking fragrances of this era are the reason for these limiting categories, and they all helped to define what each category constituted. But we've moved past them. Except for a few fragrances that are very CLEARLY defined cyphres and fougeres, I find it much more useful to describe fragrances by dominant notes and degree of heaviness.
    Last edited by LiveJazz; 19th October 2007 at 09:07 PM.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  15. #15

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Totally agree with the above. I wanted to understand better when people say "this is my favorite fougere" when it is referenced.

    TNMA
    "Why not seize the pleasure at once?"
    -- Jane Austen (Sun, and Mercury in Sagittarius)

  16. #16

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post
    I think the very idea of categories is out of date. There are so many variations within each category that in many cases one could argue that a fragrance falls into any one of a handful of subcategories. And then there are fragrances that just evade categorization all together.

    Back when there were a very limited number of releases coming out, I suppose the categories held. Look at, for example, early releases from Crown Perfumery, Creed, Dunhill, etc. The groundbreaking fragrances of this era are the reason for these limiting categories, and they all helped to define what each category constituted. But we've moved past them. Except for a few fragrances that are very CLEARLY defined cyphres and fougeres, I find it much more useful to describe fragrances by dominant notes and degree of heaviness.
    I disagree. The categories, and the archetypes that define them, are meaningful. To those who don't understand them due to lack of training or experience, they might be confusing or useless.. but if someone tells me of two perfumes, and says that one is a fougere and another is an oriental, then I don't know what they smell like, any more than I would know what they smelled like if I saw a note pyramid.. but I would know what character each has, and how they might differ from each other. And that is that point of having categories.

    After all, lists of notes only give one a vague idea of what a perfume would smell like, and then only if one knows, or can imagine, what they smell like together, after guessing what proportion they exist in and what interpretation of a real or fantasy note the perfumer might have used.. and heaviness is completely subjective.

  17. #17

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    For anybody who believes fragrance families are useless:
    Just try to find ten popular leather fragrances using the BN search wizard (entering note(s)). You may have a surprise, but If you are successful in less than three attempts, please let me know how you did it.
    Last edited by narcus; 19th October 2007 at 02:24 PM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi č un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  18. #18

    Wink Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    I don't like the Osmoz clasifications. I have never found them very useful or practical. For example: they have fougere as a sub catagory of oriental. Since when was your trumpers fern oriental?

    Michael Edwards seem a bit better, but I dont think the wheel is very good because catagories only overlap with adjacent ones which is too limiting.

    The best thing to do is to read as many different systems as possible.
    Osmoz developed a very helpful classification. Also Michael Edwards wheel is a good guide. Pay attention, Osmoz classified pefumes based on their "structure"s. Using them for ordinary perfume lovers is a little hard.
    What Michael Edwrds did, is classification of the scents based on the scent that people get from the perfumes. Using the terms like Crisp, Rich and ... show this issue in his classification. I agree with the point that, if you want to understand the perfume classifications, you should red as more systems as possible!
    Finally I want to add that, don't bother yourself with these terms! Because even the professional perfumers can't tell anything about a scent based on its categories or even reading the notes in a perfume! Didn't you notice that, must of the perfumes have somewhat similar list of notes, but the scents are too different?

  19. #19

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post

    I think the very idea of categories is out of date. There are so many variations within each category that in many cases one could argue that a fragrance falls into any one of a handful of subcategories. And then there are fragrances that just evade categorization all together.

    The groundbreaking fragrances of this era are the reason for these limiting categories, and they all helped to define what each category constituted. But we've moved past them. Except for a few fragrances that are very CLEARLY defined cyphres and fougeres, I find it much more useful to describe fragrances by dominant notes and degree of heaviness.
    Categorizing fragrance presents the same problems as categorizing anything else. Any taxonomy will be incomplete, somewhat subjective, and subject to change over time. However, that is not to say that it is useless.

    Certainly, a specimen may fit in two categories. That problem is what I mean when I say that taxonomies are subjective. Even the categories themselves may be open to dispute.

    Definitely, categories develop over time. There was no fougere category until the first, Fougere. Before then, there no such category was needed. After that, a new category was required because Fougere did not fit anywhere else.

    Despite their flaws, categories do still help. I may have never seen a lemur before, but if you tell me that it is a mammal, then I will know that it is a warm-blooded animal with an internal skeleton. If you also tell me that it is a primate, I will know even more about it.

    Because of this, I find categories to be more helpful than specific notes. Think of how many different fragrances have notes of lavender, yet smell nothing alike. If all you knew about three foods was that they contained flour, you might assume that they shared a common flavor or texture. Yet gravy, bread, and cake are as different as can be.

  20. #20

    Default Re: What the heck are they anyway?

    Well, I see the validity of everyone's points here. Categories can be useful in many cases. I just don't think modern perfumery is one of those cases. If a fragrance can be easily identified as a fougere, cyphre, gourmand, oriental, or something else, fine. That is very helpful when trying to guess what the scent will smell like. I'm just saying that only maybe 5-10% of fragrances exactly fit those categories. I suppose you could say that something is a combination of categories....i.e. fougere-oriental...but then you run into the same issue as trying to determine the dominant notes: it's all subjective. Which is really my point. Fragrance is subjective.

    I also agree that note pyramids are close to useless because they don't say anything about how the notes are blended and interpreted by the perfumer. But that's why we have the wonderful user review function of this site. The spectacular diversity and usefulness of those reviews (especially if you know who around here tends to interpret fragrances like you do) further proves the subjectivity of fragrance and the difficulty of classification.

    I've tried fragrances that some people swear are dry and smoky, but to me they are ambery and fruity (Cacharel Nemo). The first lot of people would claim, I suppose, that Nemo is a cyphre with a slight oriental twist, and I would call it an oriental with a few cyphre-like qualities. But if I had to place it, it would be an oriental. Similarly, there are fragrances that people swear are sweet and fruity, but to me are green and refreshing (Baldessarini). The vast majority of fragrances I've smelled after noting their classifications and notes have smelled nothing like I expected them to. But then I'm not a very analytical, mathematical, categorization-minded thinker. I do better with detailed, open-ended descriptions. So maybe it just depends on the learning style of the smeller? I don't know. I'm on a tangent. See? This is how I think.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

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