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Friday, November 18, 2011

Gotta Question for the Nerd Girl??

By Marla

I’ve been thinking it would be fun to have an old-fashioned Q&A here at Perfume Smellin’ Things. You know I love to learn. You know I love perfume! So if you’d like to leave a comment with a question you’d like the fragrant Nerd Girl to answer, this is your chance. I’ll choose some of your most provocative, compelling, and difficult questions about perfumery, research them, and answer them here in a future article. Any questions about history, aromachemicals, botanicals, production techniques, perfumers, whatever, I promise I’ll do my best to get you an answer! So what do you wanna know??

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23 Comments:

Anonymous Gnosmic said...

I'd like a list of notes that aren't notes -- meaning things listed as notes that aren't distillable/capture-able as aromachemicals. I've been told, for example, that lilac, lotus, lily of the vally, and daphne notes are merely "impressions" of those flowers, because their actual scents can't be captured. What are the others for which that's true?

12:41 AM EST  
Blogger Kyra said...

Following up on Gnosmic's idea- what is usually used in these reconstructions? I've found very little information on hawthorne notes, for example.

1:59 AM EST  
Anonymous annemariec said...

I'd like to know if ANY animal ingredients, apart from ambergris (which does no harm to the whale when harvested), are still used in perfumery today. I suspect the answer is no, because such ingredients are banned, or in such small supply as to be not viable for mainstream perfumery.

However, I wonder if in some countries there is a bit of a black market in things like civet and castoreum, for supply to small-scale local perfumeries?

I guess this is not really a question, just something I would like some reassurance on! Thanks.

3:22 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gnosmic and Kyra,
Your idea will make a great future article. I'm on it already!
Best,
Marla

6:01 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

annemariec,
Another good idea, I'm on this one as well (sadly, cruelty-full animal ingredients are still in use in Asia).
-Marla

6:03 AM EST  
Blogger spring_pansy said...

Hi Marla,
Assuming this hasn't been answered over and over, I'd like to know more about sandalwood. Since the lovely Mysore variety is now endangered/restricted, what exactly are the options for perfumers who want to use that note and which are the best quality or most desired (whether synthetic or not)? For example, what does Chanel use for BdI now? What might less high quality scents use? Thanks.
Debby

9:49 AM EST  
Blogger Marko said...

My question is less technical and more "trivia-based" I guess - but I've always wanted to know what songs mention perfume in the lyrics (either the actual name of a perfume, or mention the word "perfume" or "cologne" in the lyrics).

I can only think of 2 (Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" and the Flirts "Jukebox" - and surprisingly the fragrance mentioned in both songs is apparently "cheap"...)

Thanks!

10:30 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

spring_pansy,
Good question! There are many natural and synthetic substitutes for the iconic Mysore sandalwood. I'll get to work on outlining some of the more ubiquitous ones.
-Marla

10:41 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marko,
Wow, I am so out of it when it comes to pop music that I haven't got a clue! I could go back to some medieval French chansons, but that's probably not too interesting to you!
-Marla

10:43 AM EST  
Blogger ginamused said...

Marko, I've thought of one: The Cars You're Just What I Needed. "It's not the perfume that you wear, it's not the ribbons in your hair"

1:54 PM EST  
Blogger ginamused said...

Marla, I have a question. I have a sample of Amouage Jubilation 25 that smells so delightfully of snuffed-out candle that it drove me mad with longing. I purchased a 100 ml of the same, and find that note greatly diminished. both sample and bottle are from reputable, though different sellers. What is that snuffed-out candle smell, and where has it gone, and where could I find some more? Thank you.

2:06 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ginamused,
Well, I'll research the candle smell, but I suspect it's an aldehyde, since many are in the "fatty-waxy" category of smells. That plus some smokey notes like birch tar would sure do it. As far as sample vs. full bottle, this issue comes up all the time, you're not the only one who has had that problem. I suspect it's different batches, or even different concentrations? Also, the pace of IFRA bans/restrictions is so fast, you can have a sample that's the original formula, and by the time you buy the bottle, it's been reformulated to confirm to IFRA regs! Yeeks!
-Marla

2:13 PM EST  
Blogger Faylene said...

My Q is about notes, too. Recently on another blog, someone posted that she is annoyed that so many Western perfumes use the word "Oud" in their names when, due to their prices points, it's obvious that they don't contain any real oud, which is extremely expensive. I looked up the particular perfume that started the discussion and saw that "agarwood" is one of its notes. However, I'm under the impression that "notes" are not the same as "ingredients", not only in cases where the notes can't be derived from a natural source, as per Gnosmic's Q, but also in cases where it can be. So, if something is called, for example, "Fabulous Rose" and rose is listed as a note, should we assume that one of the ingredients is derived from living roses and be annoyed if the "rose note" comes from a synthetic source?

2:18 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faylene,
You've hit on one of the top 3 Issues With Perfume that we perfumistas have. A "note" rarely corresponds to an ingredient these days. More likely, it's an "accord", a collection of aromachemicals that approximates or suggests the note. For a silly example, what on earth did they put in the accord they labeled "molten woods"?? I mean, do I really want to smell like charcoal, or a forest fire with magma???
-Marla

5:07 PM EST  
Blogger Faylene said...

Marla,
I totally agree about "molten woods" and "winter air" nor do I expect that "cupcake accord" is made from real cupcakes. ;-) But I'm confused when it comes to notes that actually occur in nature: perhaps I'm missing the boat here but if I purchase "Fabulous Rose", I have no expectations regarding the actual ingredients UNLESS it is specifically advertised as containing "genuine exotic rose oil from New Guinea" or some such.

FWIW, I'd love to hear what the other top 2 issues are!

9:18 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faylene,
Hey, how about "molten cupcake accord"?? Seriously, real rose absolute/otto, or any floral absolutes or CO2s, are only rarely used now. I would find a natural perfumer, or mixed media indie perfumer who uses mostly naturals (Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Andy Tauer,there are many now), as then, the notes you see on the list mostly correspond to actual botanicals in the perfume. Mainstream perfumes are now almost totally synthetic, with a few exceptions here and there.
The number 1 perfumista issue would have to be reformulations, I think. The second would have to be the skyrocketing costs that aren't tied to ingredients' price increases, just "luxury branding".
-Marla

6:34 AM EST  
Blogger Faylene said...

Marla,
You've confirmed my point: all-natural or mostly-natural perfumery has its own particular standards but I don't expect those standards to apply to perfumery in general. That's why I was confused by the complaint about Western fragrances with "Oud" in their names not containing real oud, as opposed to an oud/agarwood note.

I haven't sniffed enough vintage fragrances myself to have been disappointed in reformulations but I've certainly read plenty of complaints both in Turin/Sanchez and on the blogs; it will be interesting to see how this issue will play out over the next few years. As for price, it's frustrating; it's no wonder there's such an active secondary market!

10:23 AM EST  
Blogger Hannah said...

First I love your blog! But I would like to know which perfume you like the most? And would you please take a look at my blog www.pinkblossom28.blogspot.com

2:57 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hannah,
Thanks for the compliment. My favorite perfume, that one that I'd take to the proverbial desert island, has been, and always will be, vintage Mitsouko.
-Marla

3:03 PM EST  
Blogger marielon said...

Love your blog, and here is a question I have tried to research with no success. Who was the nose who designed the Nikki de Ste Phaille fragrance back in the 80's? I read somewhere that a woman perfumer assisted with the design but have not been able to find the name. Thanks! Mary

4:13 PM EST  
Anonymous Nina Z said...

Marko, I noticed these lyrics recently from Over the Rhine:

(Don't be bothered, no.)
Don't be bothered by the fears.
I'll try to bottle them like my mothers perfume.
She wore it only on Sunday,
kept it safe in her room in a chest with a key.
We found it anyway.

6:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear marielon,
I have searched for this, too. Full disclosure, I am the owner of at least a liter of Niki de St. Phalle, and am a big fan of hers. I have no answer! But I will (again) ask the Swiss makers of this gorgeous chypre' who was the nose that worked with Niki, and if I get an answer, you know I will report it here post haste. Niki was deeply involved with the perfume at every level, that much I can say.
-Marla

6:58 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What beautiful lyrics, Nina Z, thank you,
Marla

6:59 PM EST  

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