Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley is one flower whose wonderfully delicate aroma cannot be extracted and so must be recreated by the perfumer. While nothing can quite replicate the real thing, molecular anaylsis (using Headspace technology) and a range of synthetics designed to do exactly that means it is still a valid term, shorthand for a note with rose, lemon, grassy green and white floral aspects.
Anyone who has drunk Turkish coffee will know of cardamom’s ability to nonchalantly bat aside other strong flavours; innocent looking little pods of potency. Used with a judicious hand however it adds a highly unique resinous-citrusy note.
Bearing no relation to black pepper, pink peppercorns are actually the dried berries of a shrub. While some pepperiness is still there the oil has a markedly different smell to black pepper with a distinctly sharp, fruity note.
Smelling black pepper oil for the first time is like seeing someone you’ve known for ages in a different (rather more attractive) light. Gone is the sneeze inducing harshness, in its place a smell that is warm, sophisticated and masculine.
from Turkey and Bulgaria
Rosa damascena petals are steam distilled to produce one of the most recognizable and widely used oils in perfumery – although one that is quite different to the original scent prior to distillation. Heady and sweet, almost like a field of roses have been turned into a single bottle of rose liqueur.
A different genus to its grandiflorum counterpart, with tighter, bud like flowers that open only at night and are used to make jasmine tea. The darkly coloured absolute is less honeyed and more earthy than regular jasmine, with a hint of orange flower.
from Italy, France and Morocco
Precious iris concrete is made from the root (not the flowers) of the iris germanica and iris pallida plants. Extremely labour intensive, each root has to be dried for 5 years during which time oxidation develops an aroma that is powdery grey and beautiful to the point of sadness.
An essential oil in every sense of the word for any fragrance needing an ozonic, bracing, green note. It is also one of the most long lasting ingredients in the perfume palette.
Vetiver (a grass whose roots are dried and aged before being distilled) has a distinctive peppery woody note that is easily recognisable and very attractive, whether used judiciously or as a main component.
Musks are colourless, synthetic and contrary to what some people will lead you to believe, will not mysteriously attract members of the opposite sex. Nevertheless they are pretty miraculous; giants of the molecule world (about the limit to how large a molecule we can detect) they are very handy for adding staying power and feel to a fragrance.
For CRUSHING BLOOM, extensive trialing was undertaken to find a musk blend that gave a seductive, silk like feel on dry down which also complimented the fragrance’s floral notes. Three of the noblest musks were chosen: ambrettolide, exaltenone and muscenone. For MAGNOLIA HEIGHTS, despite starting with a different blend originally, we reverted back to same three after blind trialling, albeit in different ratios.