Woods & Orientals
During perfumer training I was taught a fragrance wheel of fragrance families that is slightly different than most perfumistas use like BN's directory for example.
So now I got reading more about it and found that are many different ways of categorizing fragrances.
The most widely known being Michael Edward's
Then google gave me these:
I see similarities but also differences.
Basically I was left wondering: which ones do you perfume lovers prefer? And why?
Last edited by Irina; 17th March 2013 at 07:42 AM.
Woods & Orientals
I prefer the categorization by Ayala Moriel. To me it seems to be the most differentiated one.
Last edited by Graphite; 17th March 2013 at 07:53 AM.
As usual, the name oriental came from a time when people didn't know much about things east of Greece, other than they were exotic and fabled. (Eward Said had made his academic career on this). And thus somebody came up with the idea of naming the category "oriental". The term oriental has nothing to do with the East - similarly, chypre has nothing to do with Cyprus. But the name stuck.
(And since we're commenting on it, it seems to me that oriental is one of the most abused terms, essentially, when one doesn't really know how to categorize a perfume, but there's perhaps a touch of resin and vanilla, voila, it's an oriental).
Not being a pro, I never thought too much about categories. I tend to use whatever term seems best to characterize a perfume, without limiting myself to a system or another. In addition, no system will accomodate anything (even Edward's one - see the aromatic fougere placement). Besides, as new materials become available and new accords developed, one will need to add categories (eg my own newly defined "bilge" category).
Why? No idea, they just seem to be the families I own most of. I was wearing chypres as a teenager before I ever heard or knew what they were. Orientals, warm spicy.
Thank you guys! I've altered the thread name a bit as my question regards which method of categorizing fragrance you find the most helpful and not what category fragrance you enjoy most. So sorry for the confusion.
Cacio , you write you make up your own categories. Can you maybe give some examples? What is a 'bilge' fragrance?
I like the Guerlain family
honestly, i dont really seem to lean in any direction. i like all types of fragrance families.
I like something in every category but probably have more in the woody oriental family than anything else.
Adding: I suppose it would help if I actually read the questions before answering. I like the conventional way of categorizing scents: the wheel developed and refined by Michael Edwards.
Last edited by socalwoman; 18th March 2013 at 12:09 AM.
I was being a little semiserious. By bilges I mean those perfume that use those unpleasant, bilge-y marine notes as a foundation. Sec Mag being the mother of them all, and with less interesting (because serious) followers like M/Mink, Ambrarem and Petroleum, and others. (Though petroleum could also be classified as oud, var mineral).
But more in general, to add to what said, creating an all encompassing system, a la Edwards, is interesting and useful. But no system is perfect, because perfumes cannot be classified easily according to one or two variables. One system works very well for some fragrances or fragrance categories, and less well for others.
That's why I was saying that if the purpose is not to categorize broadly all fragrance, but to describe a frag, it seems more useful to adopt whatever term seems to be best for the purpose. Terms like chypre, fougere, oriental are used frequently exactly because they manage to describe many frags in a convincing way. And as perfumery styles and accords change, so new terms become necessary and useful, as for instance terms like fruitchouli, marine, and so on.
orientals and gourmands
Irina, Anya McCoy's makes most sense to my simple brain that immediately imagines perfumes with their own "atomic weight"; citrus floats to the top and animalics and smokey leathers sink to a murky bottom. I'd guess that most people promptly sense this, too. But, as a perfumer, I'd imagine that you'll need something with a more expansive vocabulary in order to accurately and succinctly communicate with your peers. Edwards' wheel creation is inherently fluid and infinite (at least for now), and with fougere at the center, allows for plenty of cross-pollination when you want to step outside the lines and blend distant relatives.
I support incorporating Cacio's bilge and florist's belch into your language, as they definitely lurk in the Fresh and Floral side of the wheel!
Kudos to you and your wonderfully exotic professional training!
So basically I wonder do perfumistas make their own categories?
Or how would you describe your favorite kind of perfume in just a few words to people that don't share this passion? Without naming a brand or the name of a perfume?
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Atm I'm actually interested to step out-of-the-perfume(rs)-box and see how you guys, people that are passionate about perfume, decide upon attaching a specific perfume to a fragrance family. Do you go for one that already exists (a la Michael Edwards or Anya's) or do you rather create your own language?
Hope I've explained my scope a bit better!
Last edited by Irina; 18th March 2013 at 06:58 AM.
Wow, I and several other people misread. The question is about how to categorize, not our favorite categories.
I'll put it this way. The same way people categorize fragrances are the same way that psychologist categorize the brain and disorders. There's no objective way to slice everything in the world into a category, as classifications aren't something that is inherent to the universe or god-given. It's something we as humans made up. So just go with what categorization you like the most because there really is no right or wrong answer.
Actually categorizing is a very useful universal human cognitive brain function
But I totally get the individual preferences, that is why I asked and would love to hear your input on
How would you describe your favorite kind of perfume in just a few words to people that don't share this passion? Without naming a particular brand or the name of a specific perfume?
I use my own 1-2-3 system:
1 gourmand aka I want to eat it
2 oriental aka I don't want eat it
3 everything else
Well, it works for me
It's like talking about art. For those who are not into that scene, experienced and somehow educated so they can refer to specific phases and trends, prominent figures or even theories of reception – for all those who don't see this area as an intellectual playground, art has to be „pleasant”.
And some people are not even able to say why they like this particular artwork or perfume. „It's just beautiful”.
I find this a very interesting topic to talk about. For some reasons there seems to be kind of a speechlessness.
I just browsed these lovely vintage advertisements. Some are working through abstraction, others by (the effort to) picturizing a feeling or assumed desires.
Or let's think of Xerjoff's „Join the Club” texts. Hilarious but a legitimate attempt to transfer fragrance into words.
Maybe the difficulty of finding a language lies in the archaic nature of scent. Language is always a process of abstraction. And smelling is so intimate. And it's running constantly, subconsciously.
Coming back to your question. How to set up a vocabulary to which the majority of people respond in the same way? What about very basic, literally elementary attributes like earthy, airy, warm, dense, light etc.?
I remember long time ago when I used to read record reviews. It often left me astonished how big the difference between my idea and the writer's idea of e.g. a „funky tune” can be.
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We had some very intellectual talks in the Chandle Burr's Untitled Series threads about the language of perfume art.
Thank you for sharing that site with the vintage ads, magnificent!
I really like your down to earth descriptions like earthy, airy, warm, dense, light . I often like to think and describe what I smell in rather simple terms too like fresh, clean, sexy, sweet, powdery, old fashioned, modern, synthetic, round, natural etc. Things that don't fit so easily in the theoretical fragrance wheels. And I found out that most of my perfume-noob friends can understand what I mean if I use such terms. Also with terms that refer to food or things that we are surrounded by in the daily life like sweet, spicy, gasoline, campfire etc
Michael Edward's wheel, is very systematic and i like it the most.....but when categorizing perfumes i love to categorize them by predominant base and middle notes....like woody-floral for a patchouly rose combo , or musky floral, or musky fruity......resinous-musky (labdanum and musk?)...etc
oriental group is somehow messy, for me this should be vanilla-musky type of perfumes (sweet and heavy),..woody oriental should be woody ....and floral -oriental under floral group...so oriental should be much smaller group i think
also soft floral name for aldehydic perfumes doesnt fit right nowdays they smell like extreme florals
its funny i remember i was surprised that patchouly are woods i thought its something green, or moss that would all be green for me lol but makes sense
and i love Anyas tree as well!
I agree only regarding single note's classification, but not whole fragrances, that's borderline useless given the amount of mixtures there are, and I think it's the common mistake we sometimes make around here.
We want a niche forum.
Categorisation is a systematic way of organising notes and fragrance structure. It is helpful but only up to a point. Perception varies with individuals as we may have varying levels of sensitivities to certain notes/accords. Someone sensitive to musks may describe a fragrance as floral musk but another person more sensitive to florals would describe it as musky floral. Are they both wrong?
I prefer to group fragrances according to dominant accords/basenotes. As long as it makes sense to me it doesn't realy matter what methods other perfumers use. I'm sure they have their own classification systems that make sense to them. Very few adhere to classical definitions and structures of chypres, fougeres and orientals anyway.
Perceptions are a lot more intuitive and useful to me as ultimately a fragrance's wearability is determined by how the wearer and others perceive it, not how it is actually structured. For instance someone who could only smell the projected notes may describe a fragrance as a floral but knowing the close-wearing drydown the wearer could well classify it as a floral oriental. They are both right. Not everyone gets to see the whole elephant.
Last edited by Diamondflame; 23rd March 2013 at 02:41 AM.
I just discovered this thread, and want to thank those who found my graphic "tree" of fragrance families helpful for their kind words. that tree, however, is just meant as a quick, visual tool wherein I correlate the molecular weight properties of FFs (generally) to what we recognize as top/middle/base notes. The entire list of FFS in my textbook is here, adapted and credited to the Société Francaise des Parfumeurs (SFP) fragrance families. It used to be on their website, but no longer is (I'm talking 10 years ago here).
floral chypre citrus
floral woody citrus
single floral lavender
woody fruity floral
floral amber fougère
sweet amber fougère
floral aldehydic chypre
conifer citrus woody
spicy leathery woody
floral spicy amber
floral woody amber
floral fruity amber
Many artisan perfumers, my self included, now create new fragrance families. For instance, my Fairchild is a floral marine chypre. We're breaking the "rules", but acknowledging the roots of our art, and its terminologies and classifications.
Anya McCoy - http://anyasgarden.com/
Best of the Best awards - Perfume: MoonDance, StarFlower, Amberess, Light, Royal Lotus and as
Project Leader: Outlaw Perfume and Mystery of Musk
Basic Perfumery Course with lifetime access to the website - http://perfumeclasses.com
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First Artisan Perfumer Voted in as member of the American Society of Perfumery 2013
Last edited by sjg3839; 3rd January 2014 at 04:41 PM.
I don't want to think in boxes.
So much of the type of classification is dependent upon opinion and we all have differing opinions. I like to read the reviews on a potential fragrance and decide for myself if I will like it.
There are too many ways! And I simply don't understand some of them. I use a very simple method to catagorize that has just three divisions.I like it.I don't like it.Try it again.
1. Amouage Epic man
2. Dior Leather Oud
3. Perris Monte Carlo Oud Imperial Black
4. Le Labo Patchouli 24
5. Amouage Opus VII
6. Byredo Bullion
7. Masque Milano Russian Tea
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.