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Friday, June 15, 2012

Searching for Scent in Paris

Chanel No. 5 was launched ninety years ago and today it is still the top selling perfume in the world. To what does it owe its longevity? Aldehydes! Aldehydes are organic compounds present in many natural materials (including roses), that also can be synthesized artificially.  In 1921, while working on the creation of a perfume for Coco Chanel, the great nose Ernest Beaux was the first to use the synthetic component to intensify the fragrance now known as Chanel No. 5.

And so began a class I took this week taught by Theresa de Belder entitled "Searching for Scent in Paris - a Workshop about Perfume."

What a revelation! And what better place than Paris? We learned about trends in perfume history, the four major fragrance families as defined by Michael Edwards, and lots of answers to a perfume FAQ.  We also sampled representative perfumes from each of the major families; both old classics such as Chanel No. 5, and newer modern fragrances being created by independent "noses" and perfume boutiques. Creating a perfume is a unique marriage of art and science, with abundant comparisons to wine making.

It's still intimidating to walk into a perfume boutique - there are so many different scents and so many unique formulas - but now I am determined to branch out from the old classics. . .