Lexicon

Learn about our raw materials which participate in the elaboration of the masterpieces of our collection.

Raw materials are commonly referred to as ingredients. A raw material is the substance a perfumer uses to build a perfume formula. Learn more about some of our key materials here:

A

Aldehydes

It is said that the now famous super aldehydic top of Chanel 5 was actually an error made by Ernest Beaux’s’ assistant, who by mistake doubled the amount in one of the trials. Aldehydes are organic compounds found in a variety of things here on earth, you’ve smelt them when ripping open a mandarin for example. Aldehydes have to be used with care by the perfumer but if done correctly it can bring diffusion, lightness and magic to a fragrance.

Want to smell something similar? Eat a mandarin.

Prominent in this fragrance: Nuit Noir

Amber

Very often confused with Ambergris, even though they have nothing to do with one another. Amber is an accord trying to imitate the luscious feel, colour and depth of the fossilized tree resin used in jewelry around the world. It’s a combination of dark balsamic materials such as cistus, patchouli, vanilla and myrrh. The scent is mysterious and oriental.

Want to smell something similar? Smell a very dark rum.

Prominent in this fragrance: Ambre

Ambergris

Perhaps the most famous of all raw materials used in perfumery.

The famous whale vomit (even though we don’t really know if it’s from that end or the other). The main diet of the Sperm Whale is the giant squid, which have sharp beaks on their tentacles (think parrots beak). The squid beaks are indigestible causing great irritation for the Whales intestine, a problem the whale solves by incasing it in ambergris and then passing it. A very rare material today and absolutely irreplaceable but perfumers today do their best to imitate the scent with a myriad of molecules and other naturals. The real things smells like a sweetened version of a translucent sea. Absolute perfection.

Want to smell something similar? Go to the sea.

Prominent in this fragrance: Dōjima

Ambroxan

Used to imitate Ambergris. Extremely popular and smelt in almost everything these days.

Want to smell something similar? Smell a new book.

Prominent in this fragrance: Dōjima

Ambrette Seeds

Also known as muskmallow, giving a hint on its scent. A fantastic fixative with a “white noise” type of effect in fragrances. The scent of musk found in this material comes from a molecule called 17-oxacycloheptadec-6-en-1-one, very structurally similar to another one called ambrettolide. Beautiful floral diffusion and power.

Want to smell something similar? Bury your face in a cashmere scarf.

Prominent in this fragrance: Semper Augustus

B

Bergamot

Loved by tea drinkers around the world. An unusual citrus fruit with an incredibly sour taste and an almost pine like scent of its peel.

Fantastic for connecting top notes with woodier base and heart notes.

Want to smell something similar? Smell a cup of earl grey tea.

Prominent in this fragrance: Bohea Boheme

Want to smell something similar? Eat a mandarin

Prominent in this fragrance: Nuit Noir

Benzoin

Benzoin essential oil or resinoid is captured from the resin of gum Benjamin trees (native to Sumatra, Thailand and Java) and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It has a wonderfully complex scent reminiscent of vanilla with hints of dark cherries and chocolate.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some nice bourbon.

Prominent in this fragrance: Four Thieves

Baie Rose Co2 extract

The incredibly uplifting aroma of pink pepper corns. The co2 technique of extracting the oil is fantastic since it is done at a much lower temperature and therefor leaves the scent unaltered.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some freshly cracked pink pepper corns.

Prominent in this fragrance: Myrrh Casati

C

Cashmeran

Some perfumers see this IFF base/heart note molecule as a woody note and some see it as a purely musky note. One could argue that it’s both. A very complex odor with hints of saffron.

Want to smell something similar? Smell a recently washed warm towel.

Prominent in this fragrance: Musc

Castoreum

Originally from beaver. Most perfumers use reconstitutions today though, more ethically correct. Leathery and dark.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some shoe polish.

Prominent in this fragrance: Cuir

Cardamom

Like an eucalyptus tree had a child with a pine tree. A fresh invigorating scent. Cardamom exists as a regular oil, an absolute and a co2 extraction. They all have different effects in formulation.

A truly versatile material.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some recently crushed cardamom seeds.

Prominent in this fragrance: Bohea Boheme

F

Frankincense

One of the oldest materials used in perfumery. The ancient Egyptians loved this in their perfumery blends. It’s the dried sap of trees in the Boswellia genus, particularly Boswellia sacra. The odor is peppery, mineral and stony cool.

Want to smell something similar? Go to a catholic church.

Prominent in this fragrance: Myrrh Casati

Fixative

Fixative is an old term for any natural substance that will hold and ‘fix’ and that helps a fragrance last longer on the skin. Alcohol-based scents are the most fleeting, so a substance (like musk) is required to “anchor” the scent.

G

Geranium

A popular flowering plant commonly known as the cransebills, with over 400 varieties. The essential oil is distilled from the leaves and stems. Cultivated in Egypt, China, Madagascar and the Reunion Islands. The odor profile is floral aromatic rose, minty, leafy green.

The Egyptian quality is more fruity, the Chinese is more Minty and the Reunion quality is somewhere in between, perfection.

Want to smell something similar? Pay the flower store a visit.

Prominent in this fragrance: Vermilion Wood

H

Hedione

An aroma chemical with a strong bond to our company since it was first used by Edmond Roudnitska in Eau Sauvage by Dior in 1965.

Today it’s one of the worlds most used raw materials. It smells of jasmin and is used to give to diffusion and add an airy quality to almost anything, well anything actually.

Want to smell something similar? Find some jasmin.

Prominent in this fragrance: Tubereuse

Heliotropin

Synthetic molecule with a powdery and almond smell that imitates the scent of the heliotrope tree. There is also natural heliotropin extracted from Sassafras, an incredible material.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some Maraschino cherries.

Prominent in this fragrance: Musc

I

Iso E Super

The smell of Iso E Super is very often loved by people because of its comforting softness, it’s one of those scents you simply can’t hate. That’s also why it’s slightly overused in fragrances today. There are some best-selling fragrance which contain up towards 70% of this material. The scent is transparent woody towards cedar.

Want to smell something similar? Heat some cedar balls from the wardrobe in your hands.

Prominent in this fragrance: None

Iris (Orris)

A very expensive material due to the time it takes to produce and the low yield. It’s the roots that are used in perfumery and not the flower, The roots of the iris flower are actually rhizomes and specifically called orris when being from the iris species. The rhizomes are underground for three years, then you harvest and and let the aroma molecules develop for a minimum of two years during a drying process, then it’s time to distill. Approximately one acre yields 2 tons of orris rhizomes, which creates 4kg of orris concrete which makes 1 kg of orris absolute. The odor is powdery floral, rich with hints of chocolate and watery cucumber facets. Absolutely impossible to replace.

Want to smell something similar? Grate a carrot and smell.

Prominent in this fragrance: Dōjima

J

Jasmine

A flowering plant from the olive family with small white star shaped flowers. Cultivated in India, Morocco and France the flowers are processed to produce an absolute. The French quality being the most expensive. Just like in wine terroir plays a huge role in the final scent and the conditions are perfect in Grasse. One acre yields 5 tons of flowers. Each ton of flowers produces 2.5 kg of concrete. The scent is creamy white, speckled with green and with apricot like hints on an animalic backdrop. One of the most sensual scents there is.

Want to smell something similar? Find some jasmine.

Prominent in this fragrance: Sainte Blanche

L

Labdanum

Very often used in Amber accords. The material itself comes from the shrub Cistus ladanifer, a species of rock rose. There’s a whole array of different fragrance materials that can be made from Cistus ladanifer depending on which extraction technique that is used. Labdanum is perhaps the most used because of its attractive warm amber like scent.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some floor polish.

Prominent in this fragrance: Ambre

Leather

Unfortunately, there isn’t a leather oil a perfumer can use so it’s up to the perfumer to recreate the scent. This is usually done with materials such as labdanum, safranal, castoreum (reconstitution) and smokier materials like birch tar or cade. Softer suede notes can be achived by adding a powdery orris element to the mix.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some leather gloves.

Prominent in this fragrance: Cuir

Lily of the Valley (Muguet)

Sometimes also called Muguet. A mute flower that always is recreated synthetically. Much more difficult today than it was a few years ago, new regulations regarding many of the Muguet smelling raw materials have made it trickier to capture the watery translucent green scent of the flower, not impossible of course but certainly a bigger challenge.

Want to smell something similar? Spend some time in France on May 1st and give your loved ones a bouquet of Muguet as a symbol of good luck and love.

Prominent in this fragrance: Carnation

M

Musk

All musk in perfumery is synthetic today. 100 years ago musk referred to an animal raw material that came from the musk deer. It’s a shy, reclusive deer with long fangs that is native to the Taiga forest. Thankfully we leave them in peace nowadays and stick with the lab made versions. Musk can be very cheap like the ones used in washing powders or very expensive. It’s a fantastic fixative and extremely long lasting.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some washing powder.

Prominent in this fragrance: Musc

N

Narcissus Absolute

A floral masterpiece. The aroma exudes warm, heady floral goodness with dark spiced fruit cake entwined with a splash of milky green foliage. This is followed by delicate floral notes infused with soft cotton, honey, nuts and overripe peaches. Very small production is the central regions of France.

Want to smell something similar? Bake a carrot cake and eat it while smelling white lilies.

Prominent in this fragrance: Four Thieves

Neroli

Neroli is the essential oil of the flowers from the bitter orange tree, it’s darker more animal like cousin the orange blossom absolute is made from the same flower but with solvent extraction instead of hydro distillation as in nerolis case.

Want to smell something similar? Go to a North African store and find some orange flower water.

Prominent in this fragrance: Musc

Want to smell something similar? Bake a carrot cake and eat it while smelling white lilies.

Prominent in this fragrance: Four Thieves

O

Oud (Oudh)

Oud comes from the wood of a tall evergreen tree of the genus Aquilaria agallocha. The incredible aroma of Oud oil is the result of a natural response by the Aquilaria tree to heal itself of wounds.

When the trunk or branches of an Aquilaria tree get punctured or damaged, parasitic molds naturally enter the wood through the exposed wound first through the bark and then into the heartwood.

The tree responds to this by producing a dark gloopy mass which eventually will become oud. The smell is incredibly complex but can perhaps best be explained as smelling of blue cheese and motor oil.

The scent profile is dark, rich, opaque, animalic and woody. One of our planets most incredible materials.

Want to smell something similar? Buy some oud wood chips and burn at home

Prominent in this fragrance: Oud Osmanthus

P

Patchouli

Thankfully no longer seen as the “scent of the hippies”. Originating in India, it is a bushy herb of the mint family, reaching around 2.5 ft in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers. The scent profile has a woody, dry, earthy with hints of chocolate. Just like wine it improves with age and some production companies therefor age their own.

Want to smell something similar? Go outside when it rains.

Prominent in this fragrance: Café Simien

R

Rose

Rose is a woody flowering shrub. There are two types of roses used in perfumery, Damascena and Centifolia. (The famous May Rose being Centifolia.) Turkish and Bulgarian rose are the most widely used and both are from the species Damascena. The effect of terroir is once again very important when it comes to roses, having a huge effect on how the rose smells. The perfect climate of Grasse therefor produces the most beautiful rose absolute of all. The odor profile is spiced, wine-like, honeyed, and slightly earthy qualities.

Want to smell something similar? Go to a flower store.

Prominent in this fragrance: Rose Concrete

 

S

Sandalwood

Famous for its great tenacity and dreamy smell. Belonging to the genus Santalum, there are over 15 different sandalwood species found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands. Several species produce a highly aromatic wood that retains its fragrance for decades. The odor profile is milky, creamy, with a soothing woody note.

Want to smell something similar? Smell some saw dust.

Prominent in this fragrance: Santal Nabataea

 

V

Vetiver

Widely known and used since Antiquity, vetiver is a perennial plant originating in southern India, whose name is derived from the Tamil word vettiveru. The people of India were the first to recognize vetiver’s aromatic and medicinal properties, ancient Sanskrit texts talk about their use around the year 1,000 BCE.

The scent profile is smoky and has a humid earthiness, with green, woody, dry, fruity and spicy notes.

Want to smell something similar? Toast some hazelnuts in the oven.

Prominent in this fragrance: Vetyver

 

Vanilla

The orchid of flavor as it is known. The Vanilla bean, with its wonderful aromatic leathery aroma, is the most widely used gourmand note in modern perfumery. It is the second most expensive spice in the world, next to saffron, therefor much of the vanilla notes in perfumery are made with the cheaper synthetic vanilla notes, Vanillin or Ethyl Vanillin. Nothing can compare with the complexity of the real thing though.

Want to smell something similar? Buy some real vanilla beans and heat them in a little milk.

Prominent in this fragrance: Vanille