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3 Steps to Composing a Perfume

Have you ever wondered what makes up a perfume? How is it created? How do Perfumers around the world invent scents that are instantly appealing or equally unattractive depending on the person? What is perfume composition?

Just like a painting, a sculpture or an inspiring song, perfume is a matter of personal taste. When I was younger, owning a designer fragrance was the equivalence of witnessing a sunset while lazily lounging on the beach on a desert island, feet deep in the sand. I did not know how Poison de Dior was born, but I have to have it and was always ready to bathe in its smoldering scent. That kind of creation can only derive from a very delicate and abstract art. An assortment of scents put together in perfect harmony to create a perfume that is not only memorable but also evocative of a specific memory.

“Perfume is a matter of personal taste. It is an abstract art that combine different scents in a perfect harmony to create a memorable perfume.”

Coming up with an idea

The perfect perfume is almost always born from an idea, a feeling inspired by nature. The perfume created from this idea usually contains between 30 and several hundreds ingredients. It often takes years to perfect this art. It takes years to learn the different scents, to learn how these scents affect one another when combined, and to learn how to let each scent shine and not overpower the other. All this creative process can take years to master.

One of the most important jobs of a Perfumer is to transpose for instance, the idea of the odor of a rose garden, the memory of a river bed flowing in the middle of the forest or of an inspiring song, into a #perfume.

Associating olfactory images with visual images

Once the idea of, say torrential rain pounding on dirt is there, it's time to associate olfactory images with visual images. In the book Scent Trail by Celia Lyttelton, she describes how creating her bespoke scent helped take her on an olfactory odyssey that was cathartic and healing. Creating her personal scent from her multiple years of travel as being part of her personality was key. She thought her pyramid formula could include neroli citrus, citron petit grain and zambac jasmine as top notes. She included middle notes of mimosa, damask rose, iris and nutmeg. Then she blended them with equally rich odors like vetivert aromatic, frankincense, myrrh and ambergris.

These scents are then blended together to create the essence of the perfume. The initial impression of a perfume should be fresh and vigorous, suggesting the presence of fruits, flowers and herbs. Those scents should arouse our sense of smell and memory.

Resting the piece of art

Once all the different scents are put together, it is time to leave the newly created perfume alone so it can rest and mature, just like wine. Perfecting a perfume can take years. According to Lyttelton, the process of extracting a flower's scent, for example, to make top notes in a perfume, can be very elaborate and time consuming. It usually takes about 220lbs (100kg) of petals to extract just 1l (34oz) of essential oil.

Needless to say the art of creating the perfect perfume is a personal journey that requires perseverance, patience and loads of luck. But once the desired scent is obtain, it is like the ultimate elation resulting in awe or wonder.

Ref: Lyttelton, Celia, The Scent Trail, New American Library, A Division of Penguin Group, 2007

Photography by ZanouNelie

1 komentář

06. 8. 2020

Perfumery is an art, just like painting or music. It takes many trials to get to the masterpiece.

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