Sunday, February 25, 2007

Santal de Mysore

Chaya who comment her often sent me some samples of wonderful perfumes and Santal de Mysore was one of them. Thank you Chaya! When I first smelled this perfume I was in love.

Serge Lutens (see photo left) launched this perfume in 2001. Serge lutens, served as the image creator of shiseido for 20 years, he released his first perfume for Shiseido in 1981: the now legendary Nombre Noir. He also launched his own "Serge Lutens" line of perfumes under the exclusive Le Palais Royale de Shiseido

This perfume is based on the scent of sandalwood, no surprise when you know its name, it has a warm, thick, creamy, woodsy fragrance. The sandalwood in this fragrance is a deep warm sandal sweetened with a caramel note that could be coming from Fenugreek although it's not listed in the ingredients. The top is sweet but has also spicy notes like the note of Cumin and an almost curry like note. This perfume is so soft and warm, not in a timid way but a full warm soft thick perfume, it's like the feeling of soft velvet. It isn't linear though because of the spices that are used in this fragrance. The fragrance plays a game on your skin, one time it will give you a warm caramel note and another time a sandal note, a spicy note or even a green note comes forwarded once in a while.

It's interesting to know that sandal wood is a very precious material. Realizing its value, the Sultan of Mysore(India) declared it a royal tree in 1792. No individual may own a sandalwood tree. Even if the tree grows on private land it is owned by the government. However, an individual is entitled to receive seventy five percent of its value as a bonus for growing and protecting the trees. It is against the law in India to cut down a sandalwood tree until it has reached a mature age of at least 30 years old. The best sandal wood oil is produced from trees that have matured and are in the age group of 50-60 years, yet because of such high demands sandalwood has become an endangered species.

Christopher Sheldrake (here on the photo together with Jacques Polge, Sheldrake is the one on the left) created this perfume for Serge Lutens. Christopher Sheldrake originally from Australia is a perfumer for more than 30 years and created almost every perfume for Serge Lutens. He also created Feminitè du Bois for Shiseido a perfume that I really adore, I will talk about this one later. Sheldrake is now the deputy perfumer at Chanel, where he works with Jacques Polge, the head perfumer of the house.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Accords in perfumes

In perfumery we talk about accords like in music you use the term chords. A chord in music is made from different tones but together they sound like a single tone or note because they have a harmony.

It's the same in perfumery; an accord is made of different notes that blend together so well that it's like you smell a single note, the notes that are used lose their individual identity and create a completely new, unified odor impression.

You could also compare it with painting, when you blend the two colors yellow and blue you will not create a yellow/blue color but a complete new color: green. You can't identify the yellow and blue anymore. The same it is with an accord in perfume, these single notes are so well balanced together that you can't identify them anymore together they created a complete new note.

When we say that a perfume has a strong accord we mean that it is build upon notes that harmonise together and smell complete, they 'work' together. The perfume has character and the notes are there for a reason it doesn't smell confusing it's like the perfume couldn't be made on another way.

Accords have mostly just a couple of notes, like 5 or 7 notes but they could have also much more. These notes are combined together in a way that the result smells complete, this accord is the skeleton of the perfume the perfume is based and build around this accord. Than the perfumer starts to add notes in real tiny amounts to complete the perfume, maybe to enhance some notes or to tone down some notes. This process takes a lot of time and patience of the creator.

There are many types of accords like Chypre, Fougere etc Here are some of them:

Ambre accord
Has beside ambernotes also vanilla, cinnamonlike,
spicy, dry fruitlike aspects. Together with balsamic
notes like: Benzoin, Tolu and Labdanum.

Ambrein accord
Bergamot, Vanilla or Vannilin, Coumarine and Civet
makes the Ambrein accord, together with balsamic
notes like Benzoin, Opopanax, Tolu, Labdanum. Mostly
combined with wood and rose notes.
Typical perfumes made of the ambrein accord are
Shalimar, Must de Cartier and Obsession

Chypre has a harmony between the freshness of bergamot and the
intense fragrance of oak moss. Mostly combined with roses and
jasmine. The base contains beside the oak moss also patchouli,
cedar and labdanum. Chypre was the name of a perfume made by
coty in 1917. It does not exist anymore but many chypre perfumes
are inspired by it.

An example of a Chypre formula:

Bergamot 15
Sandalwood 8
Vetiver 6
oakmoss 5
Rose 6
Jasmin 5
Gamma Methyl Ionone 3
Patchouli 5
Musk ketone 3
Clary sage 2
Neroli 2

Fougere is a type of perfume that has lavender,
patchouli, oak moss and the fragrance of hay from
coumarine, Tonka bean or Hay absolute. In French Fougere means fern.
In 1882 Houbigant made Fougere Royal. The Fougeres
are related to that perfume. Fougere based perfumes
are mostly men perfumes.

Mellis accord
The Mellis accord has Benzyl salicylate,
Eugenol combined with Patchouli, Hydroxycitronellal,
spices, woodnotes and Coumarine together with balsamic notes.
Typical Mellis perfumes are Youth Dew, Opium and Coco Chanel.

There are many more accords and sometimes two or more accords are blended together. Perfumers use these accords that already been found by other perfumers to create complete new accords by adding new or unexpected materials to these accords. Also new accords are still discovered.

Below an example how different notes can create a whole new note where you don't smell the single notes anymore.

Just take these notes, combine them (only in the right proportions)and ...... scroll down to the bottom and see the result



Fresh grass


Ripe apples


Cotton candy



Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pink lotus

This painting perfectly shows how pink lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) possesses an amazing ability to flourish in a variety of environments ranging from clear ponds to muddy marshes. How can the flowers be so pure and delicate above the waters while its roots are in the mud. It's mystical, like a symbol, that something good can come after darkness. And it's true lotus symbolizes purity, beauty, majesty, grace, fertility, wealth, richness, knowledge and serenity Lotus is a sacred flower for Hindus and Buddhists.

Lotus is also one of the principal archetypal symbols used in yantras. Generally centered on the axis with its petals unfolding towards the circumference, it is the appropriate image to illustrate the unfolding of power of the divine essence. Lotus is a strong plant I found something real interesting, on March 30, 1951, lotus seeds of more than 2ooo years old were found in a muddy stratum under the Kemigawa Social Farm of Tokyo University. These seeds blossomed the next year, on July 18, 1952, and became known as the "oldest flower on earth." This lotus plant was called the "Ohga Lotus". How amazing that these seeds were able to grow again after 2000 years. You can read the article here.

Called a 'lotus', the depictions of the floral symbol of Upper Egypt is actually known as a Nymphaea caerulea which is actually known today to be a (blue)water lily. This flower, along with the papyrus flower, was shown throughout Egypt in tombs and temples to symbolize the union of Upper and Lower Egypt. The perfume of this flower was not only pleasing to the Egyptians, but they saw it as healing as well. Scenes show women holding the water lily and people being offered the flower at parties, smelling its divine fragrance. Some people today believe that the Egyptians used this plant as a narcotic both for its healing qualities and as a recreational drug when soaked in wine, though this is a hotly debated topic.

I just love to see this lovely flower and I had to find out how the absolute made of this flower would smell like. It's a very expensive absolute it cost around 6000 dollar a kilo. The first impression of this absolute wasn't what I expected, the smell wasn't flowery it was more earthy and peppery after I diluted at a 5% the scent was more pleasant it became more flowery with still the earthy scent in the background, I can detect a herbal scent as well. Lotus absolute doesn't smell like any other flower absolute I ever smelled before, it has an unique smell. I like to combine pink lotus with tuberose and jasmine especially jasmine sambac. It's also real nice with oak moss and a tiny bit of aldehyde C12 mna but this aldehyde overwhelms the composition real easy. I'm always curious about the aroma components of a flower so I googled and found an interesting article that speaks about the head space analysis of lotus.
The living flower contained the following components with the percentage written behind it:
Sabine 6%
para Dimethoxy benzene 18%
4-Terpineol 3%
alpha Terpineol 9%
cis Jasmone 0.1%
C15 Hydrocarbons 20.1%
However the picked flower contained the following components with the percentage:
sabine 12%
para Dimethoxy benzene 8%
4-Terpineol 1.5%
alpha Terpineol 1%
cis Jasmone 0%
C15 Hydrocarbons 30%
This shows that alpha terpineol which possesses a very floral odor decreases drastically from 9% in the living to 1% in the picked lotus blossom. Similarly, the character-donating component, para dimethoxy benzene, decreases markedly from 18% in the living lotus to 8% after picking. The cis jasmone disappeared totally. So maybe it would help to add some of these components to the absolute. If you are interested to read the article you can read it here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Today I spent my day on sniffing all kinds of wonderful perfumes. Chaya who comment here often was so kind to sent me some real wonderful samples of perfume. I will review some of them later. I also sniffed the perfumes we swap on my Perfumemaking group at Yahoo. We let other members smell our own creations to get feedback about them, this is real fun to do, but also difficult, the feedback is supposed to be a helpful feedback not only a description of the perfume. It would be funny to see how many different feedbacks we will receive, because a personal preference has also much to do with it.

You can smell if a perfume is well constructed but taste is something else, I think that what we like to smell could have much to do with our scent memory and our character. I also think that it's important to know why we like to wear perfume, some of us would like to be noticed others would like to wear a more subtle perfume. I wear perfumes for different reasons but the most important reason is that it has to make me feel good.