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The Perfumer as the Artist
What does it take to make a great perfume?
I once read that in order to make a great perfume, it takes four to five hundred ingredients and one perfumer. The statement classified the ingredients as notes.
So What Is A Note When It Comes To Perfume?
Well in short, itís a word borrowed from the music industry that indicates the characteristic odor of a single material.
In perfumery there are more than 2000 notes to choose from. Examples: light, sparkling, citrus notes would refer to oils like lemon and grapefruit.
Scents like frankincense and balsam give you fragrant woodsy notes. Some notes can be truly offensive, to some people, cassis or black currant can smell like cat urine.
Some notes are quite expensive. Orris, which comes from the rhizome of an Iris, is the most expensive natural material, weighing in at $40,000 plus a pound. Guess what? It smells like burnt candle wax, go figure.
There approximately 20 rose notes to consider. Do you want French rose, Turkish rose, Moroccan rose, Bulgarian rose or a combination of them?
When you think of the music industry every song was composed by someone, in the perfume industry, the Perfumer is the composer.
A perfume has three parts, the top or head note, which vanishes from your skin in minutes. A middle or heart note made of heavier scents that last for hours and helps in setting the theme of your fragrance. Then thereís the bottom note or the dry down. It gives depth and like a resonating chord in music, it can persist for a day or two on your skin.
Synthetics and Perfume
Did you know that at one time the world of perfumery was done with all natural oils? No longer the case because of the expense of ingredients. But before 1890 all perfumes were totally natural.
They were more of floral water, which carried the natural essence and literal representation of the flowers.
Enter the world of synthetics. Synthetics enabled the replication of scents from flowers like lilac and lily of the valley, that canít be captured any other way. Synthetics also give the perfumer the freedom from the whims of the weather and politics.
Synthetics give the perfumer the freedom of creating a scent from a flower that is considered too rare to be picked or from products like musk that would involve killing wild animals.
Itís often said that naturals give a perfume its richness and roundness, while synthetics represent the strength and backbone of a given scent.
The perfumer creates this symphony of scents, conducts its music and distributes the beauty if its aroma to those who would appreciate it.
Life Never Smelled So Sweet
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