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Fragrance Memories Past and Present

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: September 4, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Besides, one cannot expect that consumers would wear these original formulas, as they would be far too heavy for modern tastes, but finding comparable notes using modern materials can recall a classic and create a new winner on the shelf. Cosmetic & Fragrance Creations worked with a client who sought to emulate Secret de Venus, the predecessor to Youth Dew. But when presented with the original, it was not at all what he had conjured in his memory bank, so work had to be done using modern raw materials to create something more commercially acceptable.

As previously noted, today’s perfumer is challenged to learn the chemistry and interactions of a myriad of fragrance materials along with issues raised by increased safety concerns, regulations of fragrance materials, and environmental and sustainability concerns. This reality coupled with an increased interest in naturals has fostered the creation of new and different methods for extracting scents—as well as new partnerships with growers globally toward production of new raw material sources.

Today, for example, the natural and nature-inspired floral palette has expanded incrementally with head space technology. International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. was among the first to introduce such technologies with its Living Flower Technology—which captures the essence of exotic plants and flowers, and uses modern synthesis to duplicate the odoriferous molecules in the plant to create unusual scents. With this synthesis, a new world to the naturals opened and complemented other efforts, such as Givaudan’s partnerships toward growing sandalwood and exploring opportunities to create new growing regions.

And these advances may also lead to and/or foster other trends. Nectaryl, for example, is a new material produced from orange terpenes during the distillation of orange oil. The biodegradable specialty product is widely used in flavors, and is the type of material that plays a role in the gourmand trend—leveraging the close tie between flavors and fragrances. Fruit and food notes have recently been used to create interest and a “newness” to scents. According to Carrubba Inc., perfumers have developed a closer relationship with the flavorist, thus expanding the perfumery palette to create a myriad of flavor type fragrances—evident in the plethora of bath and body products driven by creative gourmand notes in a fragrance base. The momentum seems to have begun in the candle market, then made a big splash in bath and body before finely becoming integral in the palette of today’s fine fragrance designer.

Modern perfumery is an evolving art that has become increasingly scientific and interactive as the global market demands. The changing palette has expanded and continues to expand due to trends, the replacement/duplication of natural raw materials and new extraction processes. “The science of perfumery has advanced because the properties of perfumery materials are better understood,” says Ed Burke, perfumer, Carrubba Inc. And the fragrance world has taken giant leaps to open up infinite availability for new aromatic materials. Though this challenges the perfumer to become proficient in learning the chemistry and interaction of new materials, the noses are orchestrating the final formulation that push the boundaries of finished scent, gain the hearts of consumers and become today’s classics.