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Sustainable Scents

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: August 26, 2008, from the September 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Labbé describes the tagette oil that is passed around as fruity, apricotlike, with some hints of rum. But it’s the China-derived osmanthus that she likes most. “I love the new osmanthus,” she says. “It’s unbelievable; it’s very different from the osmanthus we had before. Usually we have leathery notes. Here, it’s more fruity.” Toulemonde points out that, “Osmanthus is not extracted from the fresh flower. The flowers are left in salted water for two to five months. The flower is fermented.”

Next comes the violet leaf absolute, whose distillation was previously described. During the smelling, Gavarry describes it as very powerful. Finally, blotters of basil verbena are passed around, smelling very lemony.

Labbé and Gavarry discuss Armani Code, formulated by IFF perfumers Carlos Benaim, Olivier Polge and Dominique Ropion. The mandarin oil making the rounds has been decolorized through molecular distillation. Gavarry explains that mandarin oil is usually quite dark orange. In this iteration, he finds the oil fresher, cleaner, and more airy and sparkling as a result of the processing. It is also less fruity. Labbé finds it more concentrated. The jasmine absolute sambac follows spicy cardamom oil, and Gavarry declares it slightly greener and more animalic than typical jasmine. Meanwhile, Labbé points out the flower’s traditional use in weddings and other ceremonies in India; the sambac variety comes from a larger bush than other varieties, sporting more but smaller flowers. Its scent holds the other notes together.

Finally, the smelling session concludes with a lively gourmand scent—Cacharel Liberté. The fragrance—constructed by IFF perfumers Domitille Bertier and Olivier Polge—is built around the regional French sweet favorite, Chamonix a l’orange, which Labbé describes as “very addictive.” The fragrance’s bitter orange and patchouli heart was achieved through specific fractions, which resulted in a patchouli with a less rooty, camphoraceous character than is typical—less “dirty.” Labbé explains that Liberté’s orange scent includes both its freshness and candylike aspects. “It’s a new way to work around with a chic kind of patchouli,” she says.

“Sometimes,” she continues, “we are very surprised with a new ingredient we have known for years—it smells different because the extraction [technique] is different. The possibilities are virtually endless.”