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  1. #1
    Basenotes Member lisa16's Avatar
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    Default Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    After reading some fragrance reviews, I have noticed phrases like "this perfume by Sisley or house X is typically French..." or "Norell is a classic American perfume..." And perhaps there are others (an "Italian" or "Spanish" scent maybe?) but I have not seen them yet.

    Can somebody please explain to me how to interpret these descriptors? Is this some sort of major division in perfume making? Does it refer to history? Style? Technique?

    And what is the difference?

    Thank you in advance for your patience!
    Last edited by lisa16; 22nd May 2011 at 05:24 PM. Reason: correcting typos
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  2. #2
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    For me the only thing that the terms represent are where they are made. Others I am sure will have other ideas.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    Good question which I'm sure the more seasoned veterans (like JaimeB) can elaborate in better detail. There is indeed some historical or cultural significance attached to the style of perfumery. Correct me if I'm way off base but the following (over) simplification may help.

    American style favors the clean, the fresh & the laundered.
    French - florals with a dose of skank
    English - light edc-styled citrus/florals
    Italian / Mediterranean - herbs, neroli, figs, cypress
    Arabian - myrrh, frankincense, oud, amber, musk

  4. #4

    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    From a non-expert viewpoint, I guess that these delimitations become increasingly blurred: e.g. a French fragrance house might consider taking up a more "fresh", casual, sporty approach, while an American fragrance manufacturer might take up a style traditionally rated as "European": formal, conservative, closer to the Mediterranean chypre and so on

  5. #5

    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Good question which I'm sure the more seasoned veterans (like JaimeB) can elaborate in better detail. There is indeed some historical or cultural significance attached to the style of perfumery. Correct me if I'm way off base but the following (over) simplification may help.

    American style favors the clean, the fresh & the laundered.
    French - florals with a dose of skank
    English - light edc-styled citrus/florals
    Italian / Mediterranean - herbs, neroli, figs, cypress
    Arabian - myrrh, frankincense, oud, amber, musk
    This is a nice, concise way of putting things, Diamond!
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    Diamondflame's post was great.

    IMO French perfumery originated the 3 stages of development style (top -heart-base) and each phase can be equally important. In American style, emphasis can be more on the topnotes. Cynical view, I know.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    I also think Diamondflame's post is excellent.
    I also read somewhere and I have tried to find where but I can't remember- but this article said that French perfumery follows how the french apply their fragrance. They like the ritual of reapplication through their day and like the progression of their scents ( much as Knit at nite has said. ) Americans seem to have less time and patience for reapplication and so they like bolder ,stronger scents that last through a day without re spritzing- plus the preference is for cleaner fragrances.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    I find Diamondflame's descriptions about right.

    In addition I think they say someting about the experience when worn.
    As knit at nite and Mimi Gardenia suggested American might be more direct/obvious with less development (maybe not lasting as long) while French might be more likely to have nuance and progression. Arabian will tend to be strong bold and enveloping. Spanish might be summery synthetic and green or musky?

    They're not steadfast rules though, just generalisations.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Descriptors-- "French" and "American" when applied to perfumes

    It used to be that a "typical " French perfume had a top, a middle and a base and that wearing it was like reading a novel or going on a journey; whilst a "typical" American fragrance was much more linear and did not change so much over time. The idea that American fragrances are all clean and fresh is not necessarily true. Remember Youth Dew, Obsession and Giorgio are all American fragrances.

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