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Sniffing Out Scent Clues to New Classics

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: April 6, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

An expedition to the fragrance counter is always a challenge. It is hard to avoid being stalked in the department store by the myriad of sales girls showing you the latest intro or the best valued gift set at Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. The fragrance blotters provided at the counters have become a very savvy way to spray the testers to allow you to try the latest fragrance before saturating your skin. Samples are always at a premium, so one of the best ways to seek out scents is offered by Sephora. A very sophisticated computer screen allows you to do your research first, and then the fragrance finder allows you to view the best sellers and to tailor your selections according to your tastes.

Sephora’s “Women’s Fragrance Finder” categorizes fragrances by the predominance of notes—floral notes, oriental notes, woody notes and fresh notes (both green and citrus)—and even the variety of sub-categories and crossovers such as woody oriental, mossy woods and floral oriental, citrus fruity and green. Finding fragrances can be subjective, but searching for a fragrance using a tool such as this illuminates trends.

And what about the notes themselves? The notes of fragrance ingredients can often be compared with the notes of music. There are infinite combinations, but what new notes in launches are emerging to make a new fragrance classic? What does make a classic? It must have a memory factor, a signature and a marketing theme with an artsy package to tie in the theme.

The New Floral—The New Classic?

In 2009, the floral family dominated—more than half of the launches in 2009 were florals. Lola by March Jacobs added a bright grapefruit top note and piquant pink peppercorn to its full-bodied peony rose geranium. Lola, created by Givaudan perfumer Calice Becker, is a very classically feminine scent true to the Marc Jacobs style and laden with musk, tonka bean and vanilla—giving it long life on skin and skin aura.

The appropriately named Very Hollywood by Michael Kors is another heady tuberose floral that entered the market with a big splash. The fragrance almost feels retro in its full-bodied Turkish rose, lush tuberose gardenia, ylang-ylang and orange flower components. In name and scent, it connotes the feeling of a sexy Hollywood star. And before the most recent floral launches, Victor Rolf’s Flower Bomb had already made a big commotion at the counters with its heavy full-bodied rosy floral, befitting its name and certainly a very romantic evening perfume.