Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Saying it with flowers: Why floral fragrances are still the choice of many

Flower power: The jasmine flower is one of the many ingredients in Chanel No. 5.

Flower power: The jasmine flower is one of the many ingredients in Chanel No. 5.

Floral fragrances are still the best-selling scents worldwide.

Flowers have long been synonymous with the world of fragrance and it would be hard to imagine a scent being constructed without any floral element.

Fragrance trends, much like fashion, change like the seasons, only to revisit in different forms and facets.

According to, the trend for 2013/2014 looks more to oud and woody scents while floral fragrances rank fourth.

Based on its research on international fine fragrances, fashion and design, Seven Scent’s trend report indicates that 2014/25 will see the return of the rose, coupled with intense notes of saffron and oud. (

Nonetheless, florals remain hugely popular, and regardless whether they move up or down the fragrance chart, they are still the best-selling perfumes in the market.

Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet.
Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet.

Classic French floral perfumes were often strong and heady, intoxicating even. Today’s perfumers, however, look to new ways of creating scents, relying on technological advancement and modern methods to come up with amazing new compositions.

Thanks to the availability of raw materials and synthetic content, some are even able to come up with floral notes which are imagined, for example, Givenchy’s powdery Dahlia Noir that’s centred on a flower that doesn’t exist.

Chanel was ahead of its time in 1921 as it went against fragrance trends of that period. Most scents then concentrated on one particular flower, such as the rose, jasmine or lilac (this sort of scent was called soliflore in French), but Chanel No. 5 had a composition with 80 ingredients and none that were particularly distinguishable. Perfumer Ernest Beaux created Chanel No. 5 imbued with jasmine, rose, sandalwood and vanilla, without any dominant note.

The iconic scent was revisited in 1986 when No. 5 Eau de Parfum by Chanel was created by the famous Chanel perfumer Jacques Polge, who retained the key flowers of may rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang, with subtle updates. He then came up with Eau Première in 2007 which softened the essence of the original No. 5.

Chanel No. 5 remains the world’s most famous and best-selling perfume to this day.

Jacques Polge,
Jacques Polge, ‘the Nose’ of Chanel sniffing a paper blotter tabs (mouillettes) to test a fragrance. ‘There isn’t one right note that makes a fragrance but a blend of notes that complement each other so well,’ he says. – Chanel

Floral fragrances continue to be the mainstay of the House of Chanel, but it has since evolved to also include other fragrance families and innovative facets. For example, Chance eau Tendre, consisting of iris, cedar wood, amber, hyacinth, and grapefruit-quince, has a fruity edge, whereas Coco Mademoiselle, which has sicilian orange, bergamot, rose, patchouli, vetiver and vanilla, leans towards the oriental family.

Polge was quoted as saying: “There isn’t one right note that makes a fragrance but a blend of notes that complement each other so well and that is what makes Coco Mademoiselle one of the top-selling fragrances of Chanel.”

Trudi Loren, senior vice president of Corporate Fragrance Development Worldwide for The Estée Lauder Companies’ Aramis and Designer Fragrances, says that fruity floral fragrances are still very popular worldwide as they are easy to understand and more universally liked.

“Fortunately, we are now seeing a larger variety of fragrance in the market with wood notes, chypre construction, and orientals playing a larger role as individual cultures and regions are being catered.”

A good example is DKNY’s popular Be Delicious and Fresh Blossom as both fragrances feature transparent floral fragrances at their base. Both are neither too dark, heavy nor too obtrusive, which work well both culturally and with the climate. Be Delicious also has a sparkling fruity character that resonates with the Asian consumer.

“The green apple is not too sticky sweet, but offers a more effervescent top note, supported by lily of the valley and rose petals so the overall feel is fresh and young, and on trend with the bottle and packaging. In Fresh Blossom, the apple blossoms and rose petals create the sensation of pink and springtime freshness which is very crisp and youthful. The people who wear these fragrances are youthful in spirit (we don’t like to equate it to a specific chronological age), have a casual freshness and are modern in their approach to life,” says Loren.

Coach Signature Fragrance.
Coach Signature Fragrance.

Explaining further, Loren says in Coach’s Signature fragrance, for example, mimosa plays an integral role in providing texture and volume to the floral bouquet without being too heady and heavy.

“Mimosa is a tricky ingredient in perfumery. In nature, it is beautiful, ethereal, a burst of sunlight in the winter months when it blooms; however, the raw material itself has to be combined in such a way that it doesn’t become too opaque and powdery,” she adds.

Christian Dior Parfums used similar key flowers like Chanel, yet came up with totally different fragrances with unique nuances that have since come to be associated with Dior.

Its very first fragrance, Miss Dior, made its debut in 1947, and it boasted a garden of flowers composing gardenia, jasmine, rose, neroli, narcissus, iris, carnation and lily of the valley. But it also had a careful balance of citrus and woody notes, and became known as the world’s first green chypre scent.

Some of Dior’s best-selling and well-known fragrances such as J’Adore, Poison, Dior Addict were strongly influenced by its floral notes. However, updated versions such as Hypnotic Poison and the newer Dior Addict offered a blend of vanilla, notes of balms and resins such as tonka bean, coumarin or opopanax, which gave the fragrances a more oriental spin.

At the heart of Miss Dior is the ethereal Peony.
At the heart of Miss Dior is the ethereal Peony.

“At Dior, flowers reign supreme,” Dior’s perfumer François Demachy once said. He gave an example.

“Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet upholds this credo. Its elegant composition is an invitation to a delicate springtime bouquet that reveals the softly swathed sensuality of tender notes.

“Subtle, delicate and floral, Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet is a singular signature that radiates around a peony accord. A harmonious composition that softly exalts Sicilian mandarin essence and rose essence on a velvety cushion white musk base. It is a silky, sculpted perfume. Not a frontal invitation, but a halo, like an aura. It is a ‘cocoon’ fragrance that possesses the extreme elegance of softness.”

These days, soft floral scents with airy notes, as well as fresh and fruity floral fragrances, sell the best, especially in Asia. But traditional floral scents with rich, heavy notes have their loyal fanbase and continue to enjoy a strong market presence worldwide.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , floral , Chanel , Dior , perfume


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