Fragrance Fundamentals

Fragrance Fundamentals

The olfactive experience is one that continues to confound people of all professions. It was there from the beginning and continues to evolve as we do. From birth and far out into the future, our sense of smell will place us on a map. Like a thumbprint, it formulates the individuality of our relation to the human experience.

Fragrance is a journey. The olfactive experience is one that continues to confound people of all professions and pleasure-seeking opportunists. It was there from the beginning and continues to evolve as we do. From birth and far out into the future, our sense of smell will place us on a map. Like a thumbprint, it formulates the individuality of our relation to the human experience. Two people might agree that a rose smells like a rose, or that something is to the effect, bright and sparkling – but do those things mean the same to each person? 


Our reliance on our histories makes scent a necessary tool in distinguishing food from artifact, comfort from calamity, or pleasure from pain. Sometimes we are tasked with remembering the smell of something unpleasant. This becomes another tool for discovering that which we love. Smells are difficult to talk about as we compare them to the catalogs of our memories and the vocabulary available to us. The olfactive is experienced in the subliminal understanding that all things are fleeting; beauty fades and things change. What once was a fresh and budding flower will become an indolic air of dust and pollen, fresh leather dries out, and grasses toast to hay. 


It might be more important to think of fragrance as a cycle. We often hear about the “layers of perfume,” an olfactory pyramid of Top Notes, Heart Notes, and Base Notes. This breakdown can help us to visualize the fragility of certain ingredients and the endurance of others. Just like in life, a spray of perfume is met with a first impression but the longer we sit with it, we start to witness a much bigger narrative at play. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of something lasting forever. It’s human to want our favorite moments to perdure until we are satisfied – a good perfume included. The cycle of a fragrance is a story to be revealed over time, and that is the joy of perfume; but often, we are left smelling ourselves and wondering just how long it will last. 

 

Lucky for us the clues to our answer are right under our noses. Most often we will see the concentration – or strength of a fragrance listed on a bottle. We might be asking ourselves what the difference is between an “Eau de Toilette” and an “Eau de Parfum”. Sometimes the word “Cologne” gets thrown into the mix and that is also relevant to understanding just what to expect out of a fragrance. 


A fragrance is a blend of pure oils (distillates, essential oils, concretes, absolutes, and aroma chemicals) with a carrier: usually a dilution of alcohol and water, sometimes oil. So you might be asking yourself isn’t more perfume oil more of a good thing? Not necessarily. We’ll break it down.


There are several classifications of perfume concentrations starting with the strongest being Pure Parfum, followed by an Extrait de Parfum which is a dilution of 15-40% of the fragrance in alcohol; an Eau de Parfum has around 15-20%; an Eau de Toilette 3-15%, and Eau de Cologne 2-4%. Each is formulated with a purpose in mind. Pure Parfum is not common and is often very expensive and unpalatable. Take for example Jasmine, which in higher concentrations can smell dusty, animalic, and perhaps even fruity – when what we call to mind is often creamy and soft. A fully imagined perfume in this way is a balance of restraint, allowing each note to come to the stage of the wearer’s skin and perform at its best a complete story with dips and turns and subtle surprises. If each note performed at its fullest potential we might never come to understand the spectrum of their attraction. 


Extrait de Parfums tend to smell the most intense and diffusive, often with the longest-lasting wear, but they sacrifice the nuances of more delicate notes in favor of the heaviest. Following is our favorite category, Eau de Parfums. They capitalize on the fullest expression of notes allowing for a complete orchestral evolution from the softest delicate openings to the end-of-day dry-down that lingers intoxicatingly on skin. Invented in the 1980s as the new formula of expression the Eau de Parfum is both adept to vintage and contemporary styles. An Eau de Toilette is not far off and historically has been the hook that captivates the passerby’s first whiff – perhaps because it is concerned mostly with the airy, crisp, and effervescent notes. They are less likely to focus on depth. Notes such as smoke, earth, and leather would fall apart and are less the point of this style. This in turn makes them more affordable as they don’t have to focus on the expense of rare materials. Lastly Eau de Colognes and their companions of after Shaves and Eau Fraîches are rather uncommon, partly due to their delicate nature. Their origins speak to the essence of cleanliness and the relatively simple uses of their application. The Eau de Cologne can be traced back to the 1700s with an original formulation of neroli, bergamot, and orange blossom. Refreshing to date, they are made as an uplifting and fleeting elixir; a whisper of scent gone as quickly as it was applied.  


As confusing as the French labels that define our fragrances are the misnomers of American misunderstanding. A Unique phenomenon to the United States “Perfume” and “Cologne” have falsely been assigned the gender roles of a mainly commercial market. A reclamation of tradition and an inspiration to bring forth new creations has taught us that there’s more to a scent than the “purity” or amount of an ingredient, it takes finesse and balance to bring out the best parts of a story. Quality drives every note in one of our bottles and every note plays to the character of one’s skin. Fragrance is a journey, not a destination, see where it can take you.  

"Smells are difficult to talk about as we compare them to the catalogs of our memories and the vocabulary available to us. The olfactive is experienced in the subliminal understanding that all things are fleeting; beauty fades and things change.  What once was a fresh and budding flower will become an indolic air of dust and pollen, fresh leather dries out, and grasses toast to hay." —Ezra Lemus

 

EAU DE PARFUM BY MAISON D'ETTO

 

Rotano Eau de Parfum ( ℮ 60 ml / 2 fl. oz. ) or ( ℮ 2.5 ml / 0.8 fl. oz. )

Karat EG Eau de Parfum

Durban Jane Eau de Parfum

Macanudo Eau de Parfum

Canaan Eau de Parfum

Noisette Eau de Parfum

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