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  1. #1

    Default What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Ever since I fell head over heels in love with the Serge Lutens stuff, this question has been plaguing me. For some reason, I always assumed an oriental perfume would be light, airy, herbal... instead, I see many (if not most/all) Lutens fragrances categorized as oriental perfumes. Am I correct in assuming, then, that oriental perfumes are incredibly heavy, smoky, syrupy/sap-ish, sweet and dense? What is it that makes a perfume "oriental"?

    Any clarification would help, Google searches for the last couple of hours were of no help whatsoever.

    Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Generally, orientals are Sweet, spicy, frags. most of the time "heavy" since sweet scents tend to have a lot of sillage.

    I'm sure someone else with a better understanding will chime in in 5...4...3...
    LF: CAP/LID for Creed Original vetiver and Creed Millesime Imperiale, 75ml. Please pm me.. Thanks!

  3. #3

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    I'd say it has to have a clearly spicy character and there must be at least a semi-sweet base (vanilla and/or ambery), but without coming across like food of some kind (that's a gourmand). In recent years, there have been spicy frags without sweetness, but I'm thinking of "classical" oriental frags. There are also ones I'd call "hybrids," such as Adidas Victory League, which features notes of grass and herbs, which are not elements of traditional oriental frags.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 6th October 2009 at 03:25 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Spicy, ambery, vanillic... Orientals are usually the opposite of light and airy, though some are herbal ( think Ambre Sultan or, in fact, many men's orientals ).

  5. #5

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Excellent, that definitely clears up my confusion a good deal. Thanks

  6. #6

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    The major factor for me is an amber base, or notes list that comprise amber (vanilla, labdanum, benzoin, for example).

  7. #7

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by Asha View Post
    The major factor for me is an amber base, or notes list that comprise amber (vanilla, labdanum, benzoin, for example).
    This is how I've always understood it - amber/vanilla/labdanum as well as certain woods such as sandalwood and patchouli - especially when they appear in the mid/base. There's obviously some crossover with this definition with gourmands (which could fit in some cases under the 'oriental' genre.

    To some extent it's like the Supreme Court said in a different context: "I know [an oriental perfume] when I [smell] it."

  8. #8

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Well, just so we don't confuse the OP, let's take the example of Amour de Cacao. It's got very strong vanilla with some chocolate, but it's clearly a gourmand, not an oriental (it smells like something you might want to eat).

  9. #9

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    and Le male, It's heavy with the vanilla, but I can't imagine eating something that smells like le male. so that makes it an oriental, not gourmand.
    LF: CAP/LID for Creed Original vetiver and Creed Millesime Imperiale, 75ml. Please pm me.. Thanks!

  10. #10

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    I don't think of gourmand as necessarily a separate and distinct category from oriental, but rather a sub-genre. Not all gourmands are orientals, but they can be.

  11. #11

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Well, let's take Cuba Gold, which is similar to Le Male. It's got strong lavender and tonka, with mild tobacco (from what I remember). I can't imagine wanting to eat anything like it, but due to the absence of strong spices, I would not classify it as oriental.

  12. #12
    Dependent

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    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by Asha View Post
    The major factor for me is an amber base, or notes list that comprise amber (vanilla, labdanum, benzoin, for example).
    Same for me, something amber-y and incense-y is most often an oriental to me.

    I also agree with the mention of certain aromatic woods, especially sandalwood.

  13. #13

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    It's the base that makes something an oriental. Oriental isn't such a PC term. Some prefer to call this group ambers.
    From the Wiki:
    "Amber: A large fragrance class featuring the sweet slightly animalic scents of ambergris or labdanum, often combined with vanilla, flowers and woods. Can be enhanced by camphorous oils and incense resins, which bring to mind Victorian era imagery of the Middle East and Far East."

  14. #14

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Some guy in Chinatown
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

    Egon Schiele - Self-Potrait


    My classics: Dior Homme EdT, YSL Rive Gauche PH, Helmut Lang Cuiron, L'Occitane Neroli (vintage), Davidoff Zino, L'Occitane Eau des Baux

    http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/2976

  15. #15

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    It's the base that makes something an oriental. Oriental isn't such a PC term. Some prefer to call this group ambers.
    Things can be oriental but it's not PC to call a person oriental (which means "the east") because it lumps together several regions and ethnicities that have no association. I've never heard of anyone being offended by an oriental rug being called an oriental rug or an oriental fragrance being so named.

  16. #16
    Dependent pluran's Avatar
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    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    For a straight oriental: Blends of resins (labdanum, styrax, Peru balsam, Tolu balsam, opopanax, frankincense, myrrh, etc), opulent flowers, sweet vanilla and musks that are introduced by citrus, green or fruity top notes - Shalimar, Habit Rouge, Must de Cartier, Chergui, Eau Lente, Musc Ravageur, La Myrrhe, Piper Nigrum, Versailles, Ambre Precieux, Bois d'Encens.....

    Woody Orientals use more woods, mainly sandalwood and/or patchouli - Bois des Iles, Egoiste, Attrape-Coeur/Guet-Apens, Patou pour Homme, New York, Vol de Nuit, A*Men, Tea for Two, Bois du Portugal, Time for Peace pour Lui, Black Cashmere, Fumerie Turque, Gucci Rush, Angel, Bois de Violette, Ysatis, Dune, Heritage, Zino Davidoff, Gucci pour Homme (2003), M7......

    Soft Orientals use more incense, and the base notes aren't as heavy and sweet, making them softer and more of a melange of flowers and spices - Opium, Sublime, Ambre Sultan, JHL, Theorema, Youth Dew, Cinnabar, Loulou......

    Floral Orientals use more orange flower and aldehydes. Lately they're a lot more lively and fruity, and often times their cheap-sticky candy-nuclear radiance is enough to drive you out of the building or seek oxygen. These are good ones - L'Heure Bleue, Parfum Sacre, Tresor, Poison, Kenzo Flower, Nahema, Chamade........

    Or some would say it's just an emphasis on amber (labdanum-vanillin-Ambroxide)
    Last edited by pluran; 6th October 2009 at 08:24 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    I think Creed Bois du Portugal is a good example of an oriental.

  18. #18

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by pluran View Post
    For a straight oriental: Blends of resins (labdanum, styrax, Peru balsam, Tolu balsam, opopanax, frankincense, myrrh, etc), opulent flowers, sweet vanilla and musks that are introduced by citrus, green or fruity top notes - Shalimar, Habit Rouge, Must de Cartier, Chergui, Eau Lente, Musc Ravageur, La Myrrhe, Piper Nigrum, Versailles, Ambre Precieux, Bois d'Encens.....

    Woody Orientals use more woods, mainly sandalwood and/or patchouli - Bois des Iles, Egoiste, Attrape-Coeur/Guet-Apens, Patou pour Homme, New York, Vol de Nuit, A*Men, Tea for Two, Bois du Portugal, Black Cashmere, Fumerie Turque, Gucci Rush, Angel, Bois de Violette, Ysatis, Dune, Heritage, Zino Davidoff, Gucci pour Homme (2003), M7......

    Soft Orientals use more incense, and the base notes aren't as heavy and sweet, making them softer and more of melange of flowers and spices - Opium, Sublime, Ambre Sultan, JHL, Theorema, Youth Dew, Cinnabar, Loulou......

    Floral Orientals use more orange flower and aldehydes. Lately they're a lot more lively and fruity, often times driving you out of the building - L'Heure Bleue, Parfum Sacre, Tresor, Poison, Kenzo Flower, Nahema, Chamade........

    Or some would say it's just an emphasis on amber (labdanum-vanillin-Ambroxide)
    Excellent! I think I definitely get it now.

    But btw (addressing an earlier post), I was under the impression amber and ambergris were two completely different things? Or am I wrong?

  19. #19
    Dependent

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    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by flouris View Post
    Excellent! I think I definitely get it now.

    But btw (addressing an earlier post), I was under the impression amber and ambergris were two completely different things? Or am I wrong?
    To my knowledge they are different things altogether. I think in Ruggles post, the information indicated that the amber accord, may contain notes of ambergris(sperm whale discharge) among many others.
    Last edited by MFJ; 6th October 2009 at 08:48 AM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    This is how I understand it: Amber can refer to the fossilised tree resin and to ambergris (from sperm whales). "Tree amber" is resinous, ambergris is briny and animalic and they are not necessarily sweet. (I have some tinctured ambergris and it is not sweet at all.)

    "Amber" in perfume often refers to the amber accord which may contain either kind of amber or none of them.
    Last edited by tott; 6th October 2009 at 09:15 AM.

  21. #21

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by PorkFat View Post
    Things can be oriental but it's not PC to call a person oriental (which means "the east") because it lumps together several regions and ethnicities that have no association. I've never heard of anyone being offended by an oriental rug being called an oriental rug or an oriental fragrance being so named.
    The things or rugs you refer to as oriental are actually made in the part of the world designated as Asia or "the east" - so even though the term oriental is a little broad, there is some truth to it being used in that context.
    But when you refer to a product that is actually made in the occident or the west, as oriental, you really are tapping into a lot of cultural and power stereotypes/structures. Yes, using the term isn't as extreme as putting on a minstrel show in it's derogatory connotations, but I think many would agree there's something condescending going on. It's similar to the problems in the paintings of Gerome and Flaubert's book Salammbô: a westerner using orientalism to describe something they feel represents the other. It's one culture asserting dominance over another: colonialism, hence the non-PC tag I've mentioned. I know these ideas have been kicking around campuses since the 1960s, but they are very relevant in a culture that considers itself global.
    But alas, the fragrance industry would cease to exist without its flagrant propagation of cultural/sexual cliches.
    Now, please excuse me while I go and spray on some Rahät Loukoum and hope that a Japanese style deflation will eventually bring the price down on all those bell jars from my Wish List.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 6th October 2009 at 10:47 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Patou pour Homme is considered an oriental.
    thread reviver

  23. #23
    ECaruthers's Avatar
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    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    flouris ,

    When I started reading BN, I looked up my favorite fragrances and discovered most are classified as orientals. I've seen orientals defined as containing oriental resins and vanilla. I know, that sounds pretty circular. Resins are dried tree sap, like frankincense or myrrh. I don't smell that much of either in orientals I have. In practice I think of orientals as having a base of spice (usually cinnamon, sometimes clove, sometimes both) and vanilla. Then anything else can be added - woods to make a woody oriental or flowers to make a floriental, as pluran said. Add some oakmoss and coumarin to the base and you slide over to fougeres. Add some chocolate or coffee or honey and to slide into gourmands. Fragrances exist with almost every proportion from strongly oriental with a touch of wood to strongly foral with a hint of oriental to ... you get the picture. And most have some sort of citrus top note. Smell all you can and tell us what you think.

  24. #24

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by flouris View Post
    For some reason, I always assumed an oriental perfume would be light, airy, herbal...
    Orientals are the exact opposite of this. They are generally sweet, spicy and relatively aggressive. To me, YSL Opium PH epitomizes the oriental.
    "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."

  25. #25

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Quote Originally Posted by PorkFat View Post
    Things can be oriental but it's not PC to call a person oriental (which means "the east") because it lumps together several regions and ethnicities that have no association. I've never heard of anyone being offended by an oriental rug being called an oriental rug or an oriental fragrance being so named.
    Actually, I do know someone (who is also a Basenoter from Indonesia) who objects to the "oriental" group name. There are so many cultures in Asia where each may have its own style in scents that the name oversimplifies the diversity.

  26. #26

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    I recently read somewhere that orientals are fragrances that have spices of the Orient or Asia in their makeup, and usually on top of a "creamy" base of vanilla, lavender or amber.

    I know it when i smell it. . . .i think.

  27. #27

    Default Re: What exactly makes an "oriental" perfume?

    Opium Factor

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