Fragrance Family Friday: Woody

As part of our continuing series exploring the differing Fragrance Families – the ways that scents are classified – today we’re getting up close and personal with Woody…

Many fragrances contain wood in some aspect, but what exactly designates a fragrance as ‘Woody’?

The clue, quite simply, is in the name – although some of these fragrances do smell like they’re closely related to the chypre family. It’s true: they share some characteristics, but generally without the floral flourishes of the chypres.

Perfumers have so a fabulous palette of woody elements to weave into their creations:  sandalwood, cedar, agarwood (a.k.a. oud), guiaiacwood, as well as patchouli and vetiver.  (These last two aren’t woods:  they’re roots and leaves, respectively – but you’d never guess, from their intensely earthy, woody character.)

Woody fragrances can be given a spin by adding spices/fruity notes, or herbs – so if you like woods (or you’re simply interested in learning what they smell like), do explore the other members of this family, too.

In the meantime, why not try some samples of this Fragrance Family at home? We can’t think of a better introduction than to plunge into the exotic delights of Fragrance Du Bois

Fragrance Du Bois Oud Noir Intense

FAMILY: WOODY
TOP NOTES: bergamot, cardamom
HEART NOTES: rose, jasmine
BASE NOTES: sandalwood, saffron, patchouli, vanilla, musk, amber, 100% organic oudh oil

A perfect marriage of bergamot and cardamom blends smoothly into floral, woody notes of rose, jasmine, amber, sandalwood, vanilla and musk, stimulating the senses with its complexity, while the oudh base adds to its strength and depth.

Fragrance Du Bois Sahraa Oud

FAMILY: WOODY
TOP NOTES: grapefruit
HEART NOTES: rose absolute, geranium, jasmine, patchouli
BASE NOTES: black pepper, sandalwood, saffron, vanilla, amber, 100% organic oudh oil

Sahraa Our immediately invokes the mystery and majesty of the desert, and has been crafted for the sophisticated palates of both Middle Eastern connoisseurs and aficionados of fine perfumes. Beautiful floral top and heart notes of grapefruit, rose absolute, geranium and jasmine, create a symphony that blends softly into base notes of patchouli, sandalwood, saffron, vanilla, amber and oudh.

Fragrance Du Bois are, quite unashamedly, so oudh-obsessed. And are we surprised? Derived from the dark resinous wood of the Aquilaria tree, oudh (often spelled ‘oud’) is an utterly fascinating material – a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, in the wild. Which explains why the material is so precious – and, sought-after. And not all oudh, it transpires, is harvested with the focus on sustainability that Fragrance Du Bois are renowned for.

In fact, so Fragrance Du Bois tell us: ‘Due to illegal logging, wild resources have been severely depleted. So, since 2004, all species of the Aquilaria tree have been protected under CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species].’

Created by some of the best noses in the world, each fragrance expresses true mastery of this unique ‘liquid gold’ (as oudh oil is known). You’ll fall in love, we guarantee it – even you oudh naysayers!

Be transported to exotic fragrant lands, happy in the knowledge that Fragrance Du Bois is also looking after caring for the environment, planting a tree for every full size fragrance purchased.

If your appetiete for Woody fragrances has been whetted, you can try a Fragrance Du Bois Discovery Set including these two we’ve reviewed above, along with three other of their fabulous creations, exploring the other fragrance families through oudh, for only £20!

Fragrance Family Friday: Fougère

As part of our continuing feature, Fragrance Family Friday, today we’re burrowing knee-deep in shady ferns for Fougère

For anyone who’s wondering, you say it ‘foo-jair’ (with the ‘j’ a little soft – almost ‘foo-shair’…) – we thought we’d start with that, because not only can some of the fragrance families be a bit confusing, even pronouncing them can get the better of us at times!

Now that’s out the way, let’s go deep into the shady undergrowth of this fabulous – and still-evolving – fragrance category.

Although there are many modern variations cropping up, a fougère will invariably feature lavender, geranium, vetiver, bergamot, oakmoss and coumarin in the blend. Fougère Royale as the first of them, from Houbigant in 1882. Fougère takes its name from the French for ‘fern’ – and to understand what these ferny, green fragrances smell like, here is an absolute classic, now thankfully revived in a heart-warming way, by Milano Centro

Milano Centro HIM was showcased first at the Beauty International show at Olympia in June 1989, by business partners and interior designers Dean Tatum and the late Matthew Bright. Inspired by ‘the classic sophistication of all things Italian’, they launched with just one fragrance – Milano Cento HIM – a fabulous evocation of a fougère that smells like a cool, shady walk through a forest.

What does it smell like? Imagine citrus luminescence sparkling in the tops notes with bergamot and peititgrain, giving way to a herbaceously dappled breeze of rosemary, lavender and basil. As it warms, you’re swathed in the musky warmth of smooth sandalwood and suavely sprinkled spicy notes of clove, cinnamon and amber atop a darkly glimmering patchouli base.

When Milano Cento – the perfect, drop-dead sexy man smell – later disappeared from the shelves (as many fragrances do, alas…) it could have been a mere scent memory, if it wasn’t for Dean Tatum’s wife Valissa and son, Jasper. They had the idea to recreate a single bottle for Dean’s 50th birthday: the ultimate journey back in time. As any perfume world insider knows, however: it’s not that simple. ‘Trying to find someone to produce for us, in the small quantities we were after, was quite a challenge. It was only after we called a few stockists, who said they remembered the brand and asked when it was coming back, that we had the idea to relaunch it.’

We’re so glad they did. This is a fougère fragrance that smells classic in a timeless way, rather than simply reminiscent of the era it originates from – it’s grown-up, insouciant, perfect for any occasion.

Want to try it for yourself? Find Milano Centro HIM in our Explorer Men’s Discovery Box – along with SIXTEEN other fragrances to explore!

The Explorer Men’s Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrance Family Friday: Oriental

As part of our ongoing feature – Fragrance Family Friday – today we focus on: Oriental. What fragrances are found in this category, and which should you try? (Find a link below, too, for the perfect set to help you explore this category at home…)

With their spices, musks, incense and resins, the Orientals are rooted in perfume’s own history, using many of the same ingredients today that were first enjoyed in the orient – India and Arabia – at the dawn of fragrance creation.

Ingredients like heliotrope, sandalwood, coumarin, orris, vanilla and gum resins are classically used within an Oriental fragrance structure – though these can be tweaked, for men, women (and fragrances designed to be ‘shared’).

Seductive, voluptuous and with a va-va-voom, Orientals tend to feel ‘grown-up’ – and many have a warm, heavy, diffusive richness that’s more suited to after-dark wearing.  They linger sensually on the skin:  they’re heavy on the base notes, which tend to last longer. However, there is a new ‘mini-family’ of fresher Orientals, with a lighter touch, and a more ‘daytime’ feel.

Many of the original fragrance families have additions and cross-overs of sub-categoreies, so none of them are set in stone, and you’ll find much discussion in books and online, on eactly which fragrances should be in which families. Nobody seems to absolutely agree! So we’ll focus instead on some fragrances you might like to try under the umbrella heading of ‘Oriental’…

Memoize London are a niche house that excel at crafting exquisite scents – Orientals being a particular passion of theirs – celebrating ‘the importance of creating a harmonious balance between fragrance and emotion’. The discovery set has been curated to explore the Seven Deadly Sins, with orientals being the perfect family to explore the sultry, addictive theme, hence why five of the eight fragrances are Oriental in nature!

 

TRISTISIA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: red roses, jasmine
HEART NOTES: vanilla
BASE NOTES: oudh, patchouli, civet, amber

A wonderful Oriental blend with rich red rose and white jasmine top notes beautifully balanced with creamy vanilla heart wrapped in warm base notes of oudh, patchouli, civet and amber.

 

 

Avaritia:

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: orange , bergamot, armoise, Geranium
HEART NOTES: jasmine, cedarwood
BASE NOTES: patchouli, musk, amberwood, sandalwood

Moreish woods with unsparing jasmine will leave you craving for more. An Oriental blend of amber and patchouli, with sweet musk, interlaced with vanilla and spices, and a top note of citrus and herbs.

 

 

ERA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: saffron
HEART NOTES: iris, ylang ylang, jasmine
BASE NOTES: myrrh, amber, oudh, leather

A sophisticated and rich Oriental fragrance that reveals a saffron top note that mingles with a beautiful iris, ylang ylang and jasmine heart. Exotic, warm base notes myrrh, amber, oud and leather create the depth in the blend.

 

 

SUPERBIA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: rose, ylang ylang, orchid
HEART NOTES: cedarwood, sandalwood, saffron
BASE NOTES: oudh, leather, amber, musk, patchouli

A luxurious fragrance opening with floral top notes of rose, ylang ylang and orchid infused by fine woods resting on a bed of rich oudh wood, leather, amber, musk and patchouli notes.

 

 

BLACK AVARITIA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: grapefruit, honey
HEART NOTES: ambrette, cistus labdanum, incense, Kashmir fusion, oudh, violet
BASE NOTES: amber, cedarwood, musk, powder, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver

A woody Oriental fragrance leading with top notes of grapefruit and honey. A luxurious heart of ambrette, cistus, incense fusion, kashmir fusion, oud and violet, rests on a base of sandalwood, cedarwood, amber, musk, vanilla and vetiver.

 

There’s much to explore in this sumptuous set and we know you’re going to adore it as much as we do. Apart from the five oriental fragrances we’ve highlighted as a must-try, here; there are a three fragrances to explore, included in the set: Luxuria, a beautiful floral fragrance, opening with waves of juicy cassis and raspberry; Gula, a complex floral weaving jasmine and galbanum with sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla and black musk; and Invidia, a floriental (sub-section of orientals) marrying white tuberose, orchid and ylang ylang with undertones of woodiness and tobacco.

So prepare to have your senses tantalised by these opulent orientals and their equally fabulous floral and floriental friends – and be one of the first to discover this new fragrance house…

 

Memoize London Discovery Set £57 – find it here

Fragrance Family Friday: FLORAL

As part of our on-going Fragrance Family Friday series, today we’re taking a sniff at Floral.

Floral is the most universally popular of all families (with lots of ‘relations’ within the family). Of all the families, it’s probably the one you’ll most easily recognise at first sniff, from its bouquet of cut flowers – conjuring up June weddings, garden parties, spring blossoms…

Floral fragrances tend to be garlanded with notes like jasmine, peony, gardenia, tuberose, lily of the valley, magnolia, mimosa and so on.

Interestingly, two of the most famous (and most-loved) floral notes – jasmine and rose – have traditionally been found at the heart of almost every fragrance creation: they’re the perfume world’s foundation stones. In true florals, those notes are played up – but shimmering beneath the surface of other families, rose and jasmine are often there, too, holding the creation together, even when you can’t spot them.

It’s fascinating to note that many’unisex’, gneder fluid or ‘gender free’ fragrances – even those deliberately targeted at men, are now using more floral notes in their compositions. And really, it’s only Western fragrance tastes that have so severely divided the genders in fragrance for the last few decades. Around the world, many men happily drench themselves in luscious florals – rose being a particular favourite in the Middle East, and jasmine and orange blossom hugely popular in the warmer areas of Europe.

Florals aren’t just the sum of their parts – they can be warmed with a touch of spice or given the juiciness of fruits – and there are quite a few ‘sub-families’ in the floral family. (And the ‘Floriental’ family is a close cousin, too.) If you like a fragrance in any of these families, you can get great pleasure exploring its relations…

For a throughly modern – definitely no fuddy-duddy – take on floral notes, you must check out the British niche house of Tom Daxon.

A rising star British fragrance name,– championing grown up scents inspired by the ingredients themselves – Tom Daxon grew up around fragrance; his mother – creative director for a leading fragrance and cosmetics name for over 30 years – ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff.’ So it was no surprise that by his mid-twenties, this perfume prodigy had already launched his own signature fragrance collection – which we invite you to explore.

Each shareable fragrance is meticulously created with perfumer Jacques Chabert (who, during his career, has spent time working on scents for Chanel and Guerlain).

When Tom Daxon set out to create his own fragrance house – at the age of just 27, in 2013 – he was primarily inspired by the ingredients themselves. Elsewhere in the perfume world, cost doesn’t always allow for the use of the most precious materials. But as Tom proudly asserts, ‘At Tom Daxon we simply want to make best fragrances possible. Cost and time are never considered.’

The five incredible scents featured in the Discovery Collection One are:

Iridium – the fragrance equivalent of charcoal-coloured cashmere. All the powdery sophistication from the precious iris concrète, but with a strong silvery spine

Salvia Sclarea – takes the clary sage plant as its inspiration, from its soft green scent right down to its velvety leaves

Magnolia Heights – magnolia flower oil’s delicate, green, fruity facets are enhanced by gardenia and jasmine sambac, while ylang ylang and cedarwood recreate its cream-like petals.

Cologne Absolute – the essence of Cologne is that it should be universal – a trusted staple for anyone who simply wishes to smell good.

Crushing Bloom – a rose fragrance with darkness and weight. Green, spicy top notes partner a floral heart of rose, jasmine sambac and iris. Its base will cocoon skin with the finest musks.

This Discovery Collection features five x 4.5ml sprays (see below for details), allowing you to discover, explore and enjoy the exciting Tom Daxon range  – and to smell just how modern Florals can be – at your own pace.

Tom Daxon Collection One Discovery Set £45 for 5 x 4.5ml eau de parfum

Fragrance Family Friday: what is ‘Fresh’?

The perfume universe is divided into ‘families’. but what does this terminolgy actually mean to someone searching for a new fragrance to wear? We know it can be baffling to work out, so are here to help guide you with a new feature decoding and exploring the main fragrance families, and choosing an example we think your nose should get to know…

What are fragrance families?
Technically, ‘fragrance families’ are a classification system the perfume industry has used for years, to place individual perfumes into olfactory ‘groups’, based on their dominant characteristics. It’s part of the language of scent.

A true family, of course, has lots of members – and so it is with fragrance. Most of the eight main fragrance families will have some variations on their theme, particularly these days, as increasing numbers of fragrance houses describe their scents as ‘fresh woody floriental’ and suchlike, which is rather confusing for everyone! Here. we’ll try to break down the characters of the main families so you can discover which you’re most drawn to.

Will I only suit fragrances from one family?
Not necessarily – but it all depends on personal taste, the time of year, your mood and even what you’ve eaten recently (spicy food can mask the more subtle notes and alter how others smell on your skin for up to two weeks, for example).

In reality, very few of us have a completely jumbled wardrobe of scents from lots of different families: often without even realising, we tend to fall for one main family time and again. Just as you might open your wardrobe and find that a certain colour dominates. Instinctively, we prefer scents from some fragrance families and dislike others – although we may tend towards one particular family for colder weather, another for sunny times (or moods).

What is ‘fresh’?
Uplifting, zesty, cooling: most eau de Colognes fall into this family. They feature a whoosh of notes like lemon, bergamot, orange, grapefruit, mandarin. (These notes are also slightly randomly referred to as being ‘hesperidic’ – after the Hesperides, the nymphs from Greek mythology!)

Fresh fragrances usually smell clean, and often come in the eau de toilette and Cologne versions, though now we’re finding longer-lasting eau de parfum fragrances evoking that zingy Cologne style. These are the best of both worlds, because many citrus-based scents disappear more quickly on the skin – the oils are the lightest in perfumery so evaporate more rapidly, particularly if you have dry skin. Stronger concentrations (like Aventus Cologne – see below) allow the freshness to give you jolt of energising enjoyment for several hours – hurrah!

Ideal for splashing, and generally more suited to summer, some conjure up a sea breeze, while others smell like bottled sunshine. Many people find fresh fragrances give them a ‘lift’ – a bit of a perfumed kick up the proverbial when you’re feeling drained or in need of a quick hit of happiness.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at a brand new fresh fragrance we feel exudes the very best of this family’s characteristics…

Aventus Cologne
FAMILY: FREsh
TOP NOTES: ginger, mandarin, pink peppercorn
HEART NOTES: patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver
BASE NOTES: styrax, birch, musk, tonka bean

How does it smell?
Lusciously juicy mandarin fizzes with a rasp of freshly grated ginger, a gentle spicy heat enhanced by the addition of pounded pink peppercorns. Just as your nose is getting used to the sunshine warmed top notes, a supremely smooth patchouli swathes creamy sandalwood and cooling vetiver for an interplay of textures and temperatures that continues to intrigue. Finally, the resinous base pulses in a throb of almond-like tonka beans amidst soft drifts of smoky musk that demands to be nuzzled…

The original Aventus is a best-selling fragrance around the world, and most particularly known for the iconic pineapple top note. Wanting to create a more summery alternative, instead of just weakening the strength and turning it into an eau de toilette, perfumer Olivier Creed – sixth generation master perfumer for the house – crafted a luminous, utterly radiant fragrance that feels like a younger (more tanned) sibling of the original. It’s uplifting and vibrant, but still carries itself confidently for hours of perfumed pleasure!

Try a sample of Aventus Cologne
You can try a sample of the just-launched Aventus Cologne at home – it’s one of an incredible SEVENTEEN fragrances we put together in The Explorer Discovery Box of more masculine-styled scents for you to wear and explore your feelings for. Will you fall for this fresh example…?

The Explorer Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

PS: Don’t forget to order for Father’s Day on June 16th – our last posting day is the 11th to make sure it arrives in time!

By Suzy Nightingale