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Jaime B's Blog

Same Fragrance, Different Notes?

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This is my first repost from the old blogs:

Sometimes, when my curiosity is aroused, I look up the notes that make up the basic blend of a scent. Sometimes, I check more than one source. Usually, when I do this I find very similar things listed in both sources. Sometimes, however, I find lists so different that I wonder if they are really for the same fragrance.

This happened recently when I was trying to find out the basic structure of Chopard's men's EdT Casran. I looked first in the Basenotes Directory and I found these notes:

Top Notes: Rum, Bergamot, Cardamom, Coriander;
Middle Notes: Chocolate, Dry Ambered Cherries, Dates, Prune;
Base Note Sandalwood, Benzoin, Amber, Vanilla.

Then I checked Osmoz.com, and I found these:

Top note: Lemon, Lavender, Nutmeg, Birch leaves;
Middle note: Tarragon, Geranium, Rose, Anise;
Base note: Cedarwood, Sandal, Vanilla, Amber.

I tried the Chopard website to see if it would be a tie-breaker, but they list only Chopard pour Homme, their newest men's scent, in the masculine line. Casran, popular as it is, is no longer there.

So, what do I make of the different lists I see? Well, if we look at them closely, we see that the base notes aren't all that different: amber and vanilla, and a small disagreement about woods; both list sandalwood, while one has cedar and the other benzoin. So far, this is just about the sort of variation you might see if both descriptions were substantially the same.

When we look at the top notes, we see some agreement about citrus and spice, although not exactly the same notes: one list has bergamot, cardamom, and coriander; the other lemon and nutmeg. Somewhat divergent, but still not all that much. Maybe we are still talking about the same fragrance, only as it might smell to different noses. The other top notes are harder to reconcile: rum in one list versus lavender and birch leaves in the other. Rum begins to suggest something of a gourmand fragrance (borne out in the description of the middle notes, as we will see); lavender and birch leaves are making us think that we might be seeing a fougère-type fragrance.

Now, in the middle notes, the two descriptions veer sharply away from each other. One continues to follow rum into the gourmand path: chocolate, dry ambered cherries, dates, and prune. The other, still tending toward a fougère, cites tarragon, geranium, rose, and anise; this might be a variant on fougère, but now with a green, rather herbal-floral accent. I find myself wondering if tarragon and geraniums together could suggest gourmand notes centering around dried fruits, and I think, "Not likely."

Then I think, the middle notes (and some of the others, too, maybe) are possibly aldehydes. These could strike different noses rather differently, especially in a complex blend such as the other notes seem to sketch out. To some people, this might be a woody gourmand scent, to others a woody, possibly slightly fruity, fougère. If that's the case, the fruity aspect didn't come out much to the fougère-theory people; but then aldehydes often do mimic fruity notes as well as floral ones.

What a wonderful and mysterious business this art of scent is! I keep thinking, and I say to myself that if I were marketing this as a modern fragrance (which it would seem to be if it features aldehydes), I would go for the gourmand interpretation. If I had been able to see the original ad copy for this, I might find that kind of spin applied to Casran. Alas, I don't have that, or even an official account from the Chopard website.

I'm left to think that the Osmoz version of the notes might be a theoretical reconstruction of a more-or-less traditional fougère with some embellishments, sniffed by a more traditionalist nose.

I wonder if anybody out there has any other ideas on this, or any opinions about which of the two descriptions is closer to the mark.

Any feedback, those noses out there who have some Casran to sniff out?

Updated 2nd March 2008 at 12:50 AM by JaimeB

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The Art of Perfumery

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