April 12, 2014

The emperor of scent by Chandler Burr

The emperor of scent by Chandler Burr

A story of perfume, obsession and the last mystery of the senses

[This book is about Luca Turin who created the perfume guide]

There are seven different stimuli (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami(richness), and astringent). However, humans are thought to respond to ten thousand or so distinguishable molecular smells.

When you experience a famous work of smell - Chanel NO; 5, Shalimar, Charlie, CK One, Opium - though a number of them have actually been designed by the same perfumer, you can never identify their creator. There is no ‘signature’ in perfumes. Approximately $20 bn is generated every year by industrially manufactured smells and virtually all these smells are made by only seven companies/big boys: International Flavors & Fragrances (US), Givaudan Roure (Swiss), Quest International (UK), Firmenich (Swiss), Haarmann & Reimer(Germany), Dragoo (Germany) and Takasago *Japan).

The big boys have two kinds of perfumers: The functional perfumers work with the J&J, P&G to scent Tide detergent and Palmolive soap and peach-vanilla candles and the fabric softeners that smell of million mythical spring times in distant countries we have never known. The other is actual perfume label companies. These corporate employees create smell track of our everyday lives, which we barely notice and for which we pay billions of dollars. The big boys won’t tell you who they work for and their names never appear on any of these products. All the golden liquid scents sold by Giorgio Armanis and Vera Wangs et al, they are made by these big boys. These haute perfumes, carefully anonymous and discretely faceless, are the ones who actually craft the fragrant elixirs in little jeweled five ounce bottles shipped into boxes that are sold under the names Gaultier and Wang in the department store's glass cases.

Each of the big boys spends millions every year to create thousands and thousands of molecules, synthesize hundreds, test dozens, and get may be one onto the shelves. In the end, the very very rare molecule that smelled strong, was cheap to make, had tested biologically safe and even environmentally sounds, was patentable and had a useful odor - that one becomes’ new product in the big boys commercial catalog. A single decent smell molecule that hit all the right marks could bring money flooring in.

Ambergris is the whale equivalent of fur ball, all the undigested crap they have in their stomachs. The whale eats indigestible stuff, and every once in a while it belches a pack of it backup. It is mostly oily stuff so it floats and ambergris isn’t considered any good unless it is floated around on the ocean for ten years or so. It starts out white and the sun creates the odorant properties by photochemistry, which means that it is become rancid, the molecules are breaking up, and you get an incredibly complex olfactory result.

[Wikipedia: It takes years for ambergris to form. Christopher Kemp, the author of Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris, says, “It is only produced by sperm whales, and only by an estimated one percent of them. Once expelled by a whale, it must float for years, then it must make landfall, avoid being broken into pieces by rough seas, and someone must find it.[full citation needed] In other words, the odds of finding ambergris are extremely small.”

Ambergris occurs as a biliary secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale and can be found floating upon the sea, or lying on the coast. It is also sometimes found in the abdomens of whales. Because the beaks of giant squids have been found embedded within lumps of ambergris, scientists have theorized that the substance is produced by the whale's gastrointestinal tract to ease the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have eaten. The sperm whale usually vomits these, but if one travels further down the gut, it will be covered in ambergris]
[Dioressence uses ambergris - the link below describes how Luca created this scent for Christian Dior

In the spring of 1998, Luca Turin was invited, finally to an actual scientific smell conference and they wanted him to present his theory of Vibration. The conference was organized by the TIFR. The invitation is also sent to Eric Moyers, a world famous smell scientist. Apart from meeting Moyers that excited Turin, but what excites him most is his post conference trip: he is going to make a pilgrimage to the Bombay Muslims, among the most famous makers of perfume raw materials in the world. He is going to find the oudh (the natural one).

The hands of the perfumer are tied by the economics of perfume raw materials. Thousands of ingredients, thousands of different prices. the prices of raw materials in perfumery can vary by a factor of ten thousand. Stuff like Lso E Super (woody lemony) costs at $5 per kilo, but then iris-root butter from Florence costs $50,000 per kilo. Like the best Turkish rose extract Oudh wood from India in that stratospheric league. It costs around $55,000 per kilo. It is the wood of a certain Indian tree that has been eaten by a fungus. You carve out the rotten wood that has taken smell of the fungus and extract the fragrance. There is only one supplier to the West. It’s a drop-dead smell, very complex, honey, fresh, tobacco, spices, amber, cream.

There are still some houses who by philosophy stick almost entirely to naturals. Annick Goutal is one. Petite Cherie, a lovely super-pear, contains one molecule that Goutal chose from pears.

George Bernard Shaw was asked, what was the one question he would pose to God. He said, “why have You given us sparse evidence of Your existence?”

As per Turin, smokers are best smellers. The carbon monoxide in the cigarettes totally blocks the enzyme cytochrome P450, the enzyme in the nost that breaks things down. Block this enzyme with smoke, and you don’t break down smell molecules, so they hang out in the nost longer than normal and you smell better.

During the conference Turin talked to Richard Doty from PA/USA. Doty said, “you may have noticed, that if you breathe through your nose, you tend to breathe through only one side of it for a while, then for a while through the other. This is the nasal cycle and it is due to erectile tissue in your nose. When you smell info on the right side, you send to the left side of the brain and vice versa and you find a statistically significant increase in verbal scores when you breathe through the left side of your nose.

The Bombay Muslim vendor who gave natural Oudh:

Quraysh Aziz Attarwallam Aqua Aroma, 47 Bhajipala Street, Near Crawford Market, Mumbai 400 003, India, Tel: 91-22-344-3432, mail@AquaAoma.com

Luca Turin’s vibration theory: The Vibration theory of smell proposes that a molecule's smell character is due to its vibrational frequency in the infrared range. The theory is an extension to the more widely accepted shape theory of olfaction, which proposes that a molecule's smell character is solely due to its shape and electrostatic charge.


April 11, 2014

Perfumes by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

Perfumes by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
The guide

[Luca is a connoisseur in perfume field and he is the first person decoded perfumes in readable  format! This book lists almost all the famous perfumes and his ratings. I am only listing the top-notch ones (Masterpiece)

what are eau de toilette, eau de perfum and parfum?
Pure perfume is dissolved in a solution of 98% alcohol and 2% water, the preferred solvent. Different concentration of perfume oil are sold under different names: eau de toilette (EdT) is around 10% perfume oil, eau de perfum (EdP) somewhere around 15-18% and parfum (also known as extrait) 25 % and higher. parfume de toilette is generally the same as eau de perfum, body sprays and eaux de cologne are usually lighter than eau de toilette

If you don’t care about the packaging but love fragrance, get plain glass pump atomizers which you can buy easily online. They don’t spill and they protect the fragrance from air and give a measured dose

Do fragrances change according to the wearer’s chemistry?
For a long time, LT (Luca Turin) believed the answer to be absolutely no, yet perfumers do test fragrances on various people’s skins as they develop them, so the variation must make some difference. Esp. individual skins seem to affect the top notes, but after a half hour or so, when the fragrance heat emerges, these minor differences seem to disappear.

31 Rue Cambon *Chanel) - Floral ambery
In the press pack for 31 Rue Cambon, Chanel boasts of having composed a chypre fragrance without the sine qua non: oakmoss, a resin extracted from a lacy lichen that looks something like fristee and grows mainly on oak trees in eastern Europe

100% Love (S-Perfume) Chocolate Rose
In case anyone still wondered, given the stellar record of great perfume impresarios like Vera Strubi (Angel), and Chantal Roos (Opium), niche firms have demonstrated beyond doubt how important art direction is to getting a perfume right.

L!Air du Desert Marocain (Tauer Perfumes) - Incense oriental

The sweet smell of amber, the foundation of the classic perfume oriental, has long been weighed down with vanilla and sandalwood, decorated with mulling spices, bolstered with musk, made come-hither ready for its close-up.

Ambre Sultan (Serge Lutens) Herbal Amber
(This is not masterpiece, but just recommended)
The fragrant resin blend known as amber, found in MIddle Eastern perfume shops and hippie stores all over. What distinguishes Ambre Sultan is a high rose of fantastic dried-herb smells which give it in the top, a dusty, salty, outdoor air, before the more familiar vanillic balsam plot takes over.

Amouage Gold (Amouage) huge floral
The firm was started by senior member of Omani royal family to restore the tri-millennial tradition of perfume in Oman. This perfume is about texture rather than structure, a hundred flying carpets of scent overlapping each other. It’s as if Joy had eloped with Scheherazade for a thousand and one nights of illicit fun.

Angel (Thierry Mugler) Fruity patchouli

Apre`s L'Ondee (Guerlain) heavenly heliotrope
One of the twenty greatest perfumes of all time.

Aromatics Elixir (Clinique) woody floral

Azuree (Estee Lauder) citrus leather

Azzaro Homme (Azzaro) anisic lavender

Badgley Mischka (Badgley Mischka) gorgeous fruity

Bandit(Robert Piguet) bitter chypre

Beyond Paradise (Estee Lauder) symphonic floral
Beyond Paradise for Men (Estee Lauder) green woody

Black (Bulgari) hot rubber

Bois de Violette (Serge Lutens) woody oriental

Bois des Iles (Chanel) sandalwood oriental

Calandre (Paco Rabanne) aldehydic floral

Calyx (Prescriptives) guava rose

Ca Sent Beau (Kenzo) tangerine fougere

Chamade (Guerlain) powdery floral

Chinatown (Bond no:9) gourmand chypre

Cool water (Davidoff) aromatic fougere

Cristalle (Chanel) citrus chypre

Cuir de Russie (Chanel) leather luxury

Derby (Guerlain) smoky wood

Diorella (Dior) woody citrus

Dune (Dior) fresh oriental

Dzing (L’Artisan Parfumeur) vanilla cardboard

Eau de Guerlain (Guerlain) citrus verbena

Eau Sauvage (Dior) citrus floral

Enlevement au Serail (Parfums MDCI) peach jasmine

Envy (Gucci) green floral

Le Feu d'issey (Issey Miyake) milky rose

Fracas ( Robert Piguet) butter tuberose

Givenchy III (Givenchy) green chypre

Green Flannel (Geoffrey Beene) sweet green

Habit Rouge (Guerlain ) sweet dust

L’Heure Bleue (Guerlain) dessert air

Insense (Givenchy) masculine floral

Invasion Barbare (Parfums MDCI) spicy woody

Iris Silver Mist (Serge Lutens)  iris root

Jicky (Guerlain) lavender vanilla (oldest famous perfume)
Joy parfum (Jean Patou) symphonic floral

Knowing (Estee Lauder) mossy rose

Kouros (YSL) musky fougere

Lavender (Caldey Island) perfect lavender

Lolita Lempicka (Lolita Lempicka) herbal Angel

Loulou (Cacharel) jasmine oriental

Missoni (Missoni) kaleidoscopic floral

Mitsouko (Guerlain) reference chypre

MoslBuddJewChristHinDao(Elternhaus) woody floral

La Myrrhe (Serge Lutens) resinous aldehydic

Naheme (Guerlain) virtual rose

New York (Parfums de Nicolai) orange amber

No: 5 eau de toilette (Chanel) peachy floral

No: 5 parfum (Chanel) powdery floral

Odalisque (Parfums de Nicolai) fresh chypre

Opium (YSL) spice king

Ormonde Man (Ormonde Jayne) green woody

Ormonde Woman (Ormonde Jayne) forest chypre

Osmanthe Yunnan (Hermes) milky tea

Patchouli 24 (Le Labo) strange leather

Pleasures (Estee Lauder) snowy floral

Poison (Dior) huge tuberose

Pour Monsieur (Chanel) masculine chypre

Pour un Homme (Caron) lavender vanilla

Private Collection (Estee Lauder) floral chypre

Promesse de L’Aube (parfums MDCI) peach rose

Rive Gauche (YSL) reference rose

Rusg (Gucci) lactonic chypre

Samsara (Guerlain) sandalwood jasmine

Sarrasins (Serge Lutens) leather floral

Scent (Theo Fennell) saffron musk

Secretion Magnifiques (Etat Libre d’orange) nautical floral

S-eX(S-Perfume) space leather

Sex appeal for men (Jovan) herbal oriental (not a masterpiece, but recommended)

Shalimar (Guerlain) reference oriental (one of the most famous perfumes)

Le Temps d'une fete (Parfums de Nicolai) green narcissus

Timbuktu (L”Artisan Parfumeur) woody smoky

Tocade (Rochas) rose vanilla

Tommy Girl (Tommy Hilfiger) tea floral

Le Troisieme Homme (Caron) jasmini fougere

Vanilla (L'Artisan Parfumeur) candyfloss vanilla

Vol de Nuit (Guerlain) woody oriental

White Linen (Estee Lauder)  aldehydic floral

Yatagan (Caron) woody oriental

Yohji Homme (Yohji Yamamoto) licorice fougere

Best feminine perfumes:
Apres L'Ondee
Bois de Violette
L’Heure Bleue
Rive Gauche

Best masculine perfumes
Azzaro pour Homme
Beyond Paradise Men
Cool water
Eau de Guerlain
Habit Rouge
New York
Ormonde Men
Pour Monsieur

Best floral perfumes:
Amouage Gold
Beyond Paradise
Osmanthe Yunnan
Private collection Tuberose Gardenia
Promesse de l’Aube
Rive Gauche

Best orientals perfumes:
Ambre Sultan
L’Heure Bleue
La Myrrhe
Patchouli 24
Vol de Nuit

Best loud fragrances:
Badgley Mischka
Carnal Flower
Lolita Lempicka

best quite fragrances
Apres L’Ondee
Bois d'Encens
Comme des Garcons 3
Lavender (Caldey island)
Lime Basil & Mandarin
Osmanthe Yunnan

Best chypres perfumes:
31 Rue Cambon
Aromatics Elixir
Givenchy III
Jubilation 25
Pour Monsieur