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  1. #1
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    Default Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Does anyone know? The perfume houses would have us believe that they have exclusive access to far superior natural materials and synthetics we've never even heard of? Do they, or is that just another part of their effort to mislead and detour niche perfumers from eating into a bigger share of the market?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Yes, the big houses have access to lots of materials that the public do not.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Each of the big Perfume Houses also have a chemical and research division. When a suitable new chemical is developed it will become a captive to that company for as long as the Perfumers want to use it without selling it to any one else. Firmenich did this with Hedione, and continues with its own captives to this day. Smaller fragrance houses are, usually not so lucky and have to rely on the Chemical division deciding to sell a once captive to the general public. The big houses also own companies which produce naturals, so they will get the best oils at a lower price than anyone else. We used to buy oils and Absolutes from Monique Remy knowing that we were paying more than iFF did. There are not that many speciality captives, indeed fewer than there used to be. The quality of product accepted depends on the say of the QC panel of the company who buy the products.

    A larger company will be able to buy larger volumes of ingredients. Bigger batches are cheaper than small batches.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    No, those companies really do hold captive molecules that they don't sell to anyone. It's not always about superior quality, though. The research is also about finding alternatives to materials considered as allergens, for example.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Thanks all! Luca Turin discussed captives in some of his books, so I was aware that some molecules are well-guarded secrets. Luca seems to indicate that the days when independent perfumers can attempt a product comparable to those of large houses are either over or numbered. Other than price advantage and allergy safety, do proprietary materials give large perfumers a dominant advantage in creating unique and quality fragrances?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    If a successful fragrance depends on one or more ingredients that no-one else can use, then the company that has the captives has an advantage, as no-one else can produce that fragrance. Once it has been decided that the use of a captive is lessened it may be released for general sale, usually at a price much higher than paid by the Perfumers of the company who owns the captive. This happened with Hedione, with Ambroxan and with the various isomers of Iso E Super.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    It sounds then like it may take several years for a useful captive to be released to market since some top-selling perfumes sometimes stay popular for a decade or more.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    It depends how useful a captive is as captive. Sometimes it will be captive for many years, sometimes it will be released after a few years. However, even when it is released the Perfumers of the company that owns the captive will still be able to use it at a lower price than those who have to buy it in. However once a chemical is released for general sale there is nothing to stop someone else from synthesising it, and trying to sell it on the open market. Very often the method of synthesis is patented, so whilst it is possible for another company to try and synthesise it, a different pathway must be used. This often results in a different isomer mixture, which can make a great difference to performance etc.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    How have recent niche perfumers like Tauer/Le Labo and the like been able to pull off unique fragrances? Do you think individuals perfumers will continue to be successful in coming years, or do you think that software will devour the fragrance industry like so many others that are being disrupted?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by dshadri View Post
    ... Luca seems to indicate that the days when independent perfumers can attempt a product comparable to those of large houses are either over or numbered...
    Speaking from the sidelines, I'd have thought it were quite the opposite. The rise in popularity of DIY perfumery (for want of a better term) means there are now more suppliers willing to sell low Minimum Order Quantities to the hobbyist, including fairly exotic materials.

    Quote Originally Posted by dshadri View Post
    How have recent niche perfumers like Tauer/Le Labo and the like been able to pull off unique fragrances? Do you think individuals perfumers will continue to be successful in coming years, or do you think that software will devour the fragrance industry like so many others that are being disrupted?
    Andy Tauer is an independent perfumer whereas Le Labo perfumes are created by the likes of Maurice Roucel, Yann Vasnier et al who work for big fragrance houses (Symrise and Givaudan respectively, I think). They're not really comparable in that respect.
    Last edited by gandhajala; 21st March 2017 at 06:09 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    I read one article that mentioned 2 of the Le Labo founders having worked for Armani as perfumer assistants for 4 years before "fire-branding off to do it their way" (my words, not the article). Probably just part of their niche marketing, huh?

    Is Andy Tauer's background well-known? Is he self-taught?

  12. #12

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Why would the big companies share their greatest olfactory illusions with all when they can license them, most profitably, to the highest bidder which then allows them to create unique compositions that others simply can't replicate, no matter how hard they try? Its a win win situation for the major players.

    Consider Aventus and its captives, many who are privy to the secrets say that it is based on a very simple and elegant formula which many have tried (with varying degrees of success) to replicate/emulate and yet, every single one from all of the price points falls at at least one fence as it goes about its performance, with most clattering through the hurdles like they are trying their hardest to pretend it is supposed to be a sprint and all they're left to show is a shin full of splinters....

    Now, this could be down to the skill of the perfumer involved, the budgetary inclinations and costs involved or (more likely) the captives aka those special little molecules that make all the difference. Bearing in mind I know nothing about the art of composition so am taking a wild guess (any of our experienced noses care to chip in and tell me if I hit the nail on the head or if my thumb resembles that of a blind cobbler?) here based on experience I'd say it goes a little something like this:

    Imagine a pie chart, the maximum can be 100%. Now lets say that the complete Aventus formula clocks in at a 85% blend of aromachemicals and whatnot leaving 15% headroom/breathing space in the final concentration. Let's say that their captive version of ISO E is responsible for 25% of the composition and some enterprising yet uninspired soul manages to recreate all of the original formula bar the ISO captive of which he can only get the common market equivalent.

    This is where things get sticky.

    At a fictional 25% of the overall composition this element is responsible for a fair whack of the overall effect of the scent as it makes up a significant amount of the juice. Now the captive version is identical to easily bought aroma chemical only that its much more refined, more concentrated and more dense which means that in order to get a similar amount of hit/power/overall effect you'd have to effectively double up the amount you used of the non captive stuff.

    See the problem?

    That would mean you'd have to find 25% of the existing mix to kick to the kerb to make room for this element which is such a key component of the original which would then allow you to closely copy one part of the scent (performance) whilst being forced to compromise parts of the original composition so you could have one or the other but not both.

    Now, as I said as the outset, I'm no perfumer but I do read, sniff and think and whilst none of the facts of figures I've stated in my fictional example are intended to be reflective of the situation they are shared to illustrate the difference between what these magical captives can do and therefore what you can't without them.

    Not that all wonderful scents rely on these trade secrets but if you were to glance back through the recent annals of releases you'd note a pattern emerge that looks like this:

    New scent is released that contains a captive molecule in huge amounts and sells loads becoming a stand out fragrance in its era that spawns imitators that never match the original.

    In a nusthell the captives give the composition an unfair advantage and when this is wrapped around a skilfully created scent that captures the zeitgeist of the era then the tills ring and people smell your creation from Babylon to Timbuktu.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by dshadri View Post
    How have recent niche perfumers like Tauer/Le Labo and the like been able to pull off unique fragrances? Do you think individuals perfumers will continue to be successful in coming years, or do you think that software will devour the fragrance industry like so many others that are being disrupted?
    Firstly it is not necessary to possess every single sample chemical to create a good fragrance. Van Gough did not need the entire Pantene range to paint something glorious , Roudnitska did not need Iso E Super when he created Diorissimo. Far better to have a good Perfumer. Of course individual Perfumers will be able to "pull off unique fragrances".

    Secondly, whilst the development of certain software has greatly helped Perfumery there is no software (yet?) that can actually do the job of a Perfumer. When I was working I used various programmes developed for perfume creation which enabled me to check the price of the fragrance; check the suitability for certain end products; check if it was IFRA compliable for whatever end product and at whatever dosage, and for whatever reason; check whether the fragrance was compatible with whatever legislation I was interested in ( the country of the customer for example) and much else besides. All of this made my job, in one way a lot easier, but in another more complex. The more things need checking the more complicated things become. However it was still necessary for a Perfumer to be sitting at the computer actually creating fragrances; so far, there is no bt of kit that can do that.
    Last edited by David Ruskin; 22nd March 2017 at 09:34 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Palmolive have you read my posts on this topic?

    I don't understand the "unfair advantage" bit. The producers of the aromachemicals have devoted a great deal of time and money in the development, research, synthesis and safety testing of their products. As with Pharma research the vast majority of aromachemicals developed will not be successful, and of those that are used hardly any will become as popular as Hedione or Iso E Super. Why should they not enjoy the rewards of their hard work. That's capitalism, isn't it?

  15. #15

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    I agree with David, besides, nowadays indie perfumers have so many nice materials available to them the fragrance quality is limited by imagination, not materials. Why would anyone want to remake Aventus anyway?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    Palmolive have you read my posts on this topic?

    I don't understand the "unfair advantage" bit. The producers of the aromachemicals have devoted a great deal of time and money in the development, research, synthesis and safety testing of their products. As with Pharma research the vast majority of aromachemicals developed will not be successful, and of those that are used hardly any will become as popular as Hedione or Iso E Super. Why should they not enjoy the rewards of their hard work. That's capitalism, isn't it?
    Yes I fully agree, the addition of unfair was a slip on my behalf.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    Firstly it is not necessary to possess every single sample chemical to create a good fragrance. Van Gough did not need the entire Pantene range to paint something glorious , Roudnitska did not need Iso E Super when he created Diorissimo. Far better to have a good Perfumer. Of course individual Perfumers will be able to "pull off unique fragrances".
    This.

    David has given some great insight here on what it's like to work for one of the larger fragrance manufacturers. Whether you can be successful as a perfumer outside of a large perfume house or lab depends on how you define success, and what you aim to create. If your aim is to create something very similar to many of the commercial perfumes on the market, but independently, this will be difficult if not impossible, based on some of the insights shared here. If the aim is to create something different, beautiful and unique, that is absolutely within the reach of an independent perfumer with the materials available. It will cost more, and require a high level of talent, natural and cultivated. There are lots of independent perfumers making great perfumes, and the recent trend of companies like LMVH purchasing those thtat make a name for themselves suggests that there's business's to be had, and benefits to both approaches. There's no perfume without a perfumer, though!

  18. #18

    Default Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Deleted
    Last edited by hamed.121.hamed; 31st March 2017 at 04:26 AM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    It depends how useful a captive is as captive. Sometimes it will be captive for many years, sometimes it will be released after a few years. However, even when it is released the Perfumers of the company that owns the captive will still be able to use it at a lower price than those who have to buy it in. However once a chemical is released for general sale there is nothing to stop someone else from synthesising it, and trying to sell it on the open market. Very often the method of synthesis is patented, so whilst it is possible for another company to try and synthesise it, a different pathway must be used. This often results in a different isomer mixture, which can make a great difference to performance etc.
    I wish the Basenote didn't remove like botton but I can't stand thank David for these valuable informations.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    Firstly it is not necessary to possess every single sample chemical to create a good fragrance. Van Gough did not need the entire Pantene range to paint something glorious , Roudnitska did not need Iso E Super when he created Diorissimo. Far better to have a good Perfumer. Of course individual Perfumers will be able to "pull off unique fragrances".

    Secondly, whilst the development of certain software has greatly helped Perfumery there is no software (yet?) that can actually do the job of a Perfumer. When I was working I used various programmes developed for perfume creation which enabled me to check the price of the fragrance; check the suitability for certain end products; check if it was IFRA compliable for whatever end product and at whatever dosage, and for whatever reason; check whether the fragrance was compatible with whatever legislation I was interested in ( the country of the customer for example) and much else besides. All of this made my job, in one way a lot easier, but in another more complex. The more things need checking the more complicated things become. However it was still necessary for a Perfumer to be sitting at the computer actually creating fragrances; so far, there is no bt of kit that can do that.
    Master David
    Is the perfumery computer program public or for private use in your company?
    If it was public, what was the name of program?
    Hamed

  21. #21

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    hamed, there are several programmes available. Formpack, and Winchem are the two I am most familiar with. I do not have any details as. to who sells these, when I was working it was done for us. As far as I am aware anyone can buy (or rent) these. If you have the money you will, I am sure, be made most welcome.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    How strange that nobody says that DIY can NOT sustain the good quality of AC at the storage... AC is not a gold or silver, it's more close to bread or meat- you can not store it forever without loosing quality. ALL companies selling AC to DIY in grams do not disclose the date of manufacturing and the manufacturer. You are buying SOME AC for educational purpose (PA discription). DIY has no spectrometer or gas chromato to check the quality of materials. After certain period of time the quality of all your ACs became questionable.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    hamed, there are several programmes available. Formpack, and Winchem are the two I am most familiar with. I do not have any details as. to who sells these, when I was working it was done for us. As far as I am aware anyone can buy (or rent) these. If you have the money you will, I am sure, be made most welcome.

    Hamed

  24. #24

    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    Quote Originally Posted by Serg Ixygon View Post
    How strange that nobody says that DIY can NOT sustain the good quality of AC at the storage... AC is not a gold or silver, it's more close to bread or meat- you can not store it forever without loosing quality. ALL companies selling AC to DIY in grams do not disclose the date of manufacturing and the manufacturer. You are buying SOME AC for educational purpose (PA discription). DIY has no spectrometer or gas chromato to check the quality of materials. After certain period of time the quality of all your ACs became questionable.
    This is a big problem for amateur Perfumers, and one that I do not know how to solve. If you have never smelled something before how do you know that the sample you receive is of the correct quality? If you do not have the experience to check quality how can you be sure that your materials are sound? The general way of checking the quality of something (in a professional Fragrance house), be it finished fragrance, Essential oil or aroma chemical is to compare it, by smell, to a "standard" sample. The standard is simply of a quality that is acceptable. What is meant by acceptable is down to you (the Perfumers of the Fragrance house). It is also usual to GC Essential oils and even some aroma chemicals, to check against adulteration. Occasionally a finished fragrance may be GC'd. The GC trace will be compared to the GC trace of the standard. None of this will be possible to most amateurs. However it is possible to keep standards, and to always check your new sample against them.

    As to whether suppliers take more care over larger orders is a moot point. It is a worry that when buying gramme or even kilo samples there is so little information provided. All I can suggest is that you develop a good relationship with your suppliers, and ask for whatever you want to know.
    Last edited by David Ruskin; 31st March 2017 at 04:56 PM.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Quality of materials available to the general public VS materials used by major perfume houses

    The elephant in the room.

    David and Serg have a point here. Much of my frustration now comes from not finding certain materials at good quality (that I assess with my nose, with the help of previous industry experience). For someone with no training or experience, it quickly becomes a matter of money down the drain. Those companies can charge so much for a few grams of diluted, contaminated, stale or simply poor quality aroma chemicals and naturals and I don't think it's fair to the beginners or enthusiasts.

    I agree with keeping standards, it's a must-do for gradually building a better quality inventory. I'd also suggest getting samples of a material from multiple sources first and comparing them to each other might reveal off-notes and diffusion/tenacity problems BUT you need to somehow make sure the batch of the sample you like is the one you buy.

    Maybe if there was more competition between these websites, they would look into offering better quality materials.




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