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Scent Sleuth: When is a Rose Not a Rose?

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: February 11, 2008, from the February 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
Back to the February issue.

Pinpointing what makes a fragrance appealing to an individual is elusive, and lifestyle and broader trends impact preferences and influence fragrance trends. The wafting beauty of floral specialty notes harkens a return to romance and the beauty of the earth, and many new launches are capturing the twists on specialty florals created by new captives and aromatics that are feeding this scent trend. These captives and aromatics are no longer just the singular entity of the flower, and isolated and odor-imparting sections of the flower are recreated to provide a fresh and new lift to floral notes. Can it be that we crave scents that trigger
a connection to nature?

Florals provide that connection along with other specific and deeply seeded messages.

Throughout history, roses have sent messages of elegance and beauty. They have tantalized and seduced, exuded a sense of luxury and lifted our senses as they perfume bath water and provide visual beauty and color. So, it is natural that the rose is a mainstay ingredient of perfumery. The trick is to find new ways to capture the many facets of the scent of roses. There are many olfactive parts to the rose, depending on the nuances given from its growing region, and each imparts a different characteristic. Smell the difference, for example, between the Rose d’Mai from France, a Turkish rose, a Moroccan rose, a Bulgarian rose, the mandarin rose, tea roses—and on and on. Some of the most expensive fragrances in the world built their stories around the richness of Bulgarian rose and jasmine—including Joy and Bal a Versaille. Perfumers are now challenged to tweak our olfactory memories of a time and place of beauty and simplicity.

Sophia Grojssman, one of IFF’s most noted perfumers, remembers the fields of flowers, narcissus and violets particularly, of her youth in Russia. She created many of today’s top fragrances, and her newest—100% Love, launched at Barneys New York—is heavy with roses and other florals but adds a twist of interesting food notes.