Fragrance Concentrations

Perfumes are mixtures of perfumed oils (or ‘jus’) and alcohol. Depending on the proportions of oils and alcohol, the fragrance will have different strengths, which may affect the time it remains on the skin.

Parfum or Perfume (also referred to as Extract or Extrait de Parfum) has the highest concentration of scented oils, usually making up 15-30% of a fragrance and contains few volatile materials. This makes parfum the most expensive and the most long-lasting on the skin compared to the other concentrations, with around 50% remaining on the skin after 24 hours. The low proportion of volatile oils also makes parfum the softest of all fragrance concentrations.

Eau de Parfum contains a lower concentration of ‘jus’ (about 8-15%) than parfum. Its strength is between that of parfum and of eau de toilette, so it will last shorter than parfum and longer than an eau de toilette. As it contains a greater proportion of top notes than a parfum, it tends to be more refreshing.

Eau de Toilette has less strength than an eau de parfum with a concentration of perfumed ingredients of around 4-8% and generally lasts for 2-3 hours on the skin.

Eau de Cologne lacks base notes and is rich in volatile ingredients such as  citrus (also known as hesperidic) oils. The perfumed oils only comprise 2-5% of the fragrance and can be expected to last for only 2 hours. Eau fraîche is similar to eau de cologne in terms of strength and its light and refreshing scent.

 

 

References:

The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove (2010), p. 80-81

The Perfume Bible by Josephine Fairley and Lorna McKay (2014), p. p. 20-23

Perfume: The Art & Craft of Fragrance by Karen Gilbert (2013), p. 93

Quintessentially Perfume published by Quintessentially Publishing Ltd. (2010), p. 53 & 55

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Joy by Jean Patou (1930)

Joy by Jean Patou was created by Jean Patou’s perfumer, Henri Alméras. It was first launched in 1930 as ‘the costliest perfume in the world’. Patou was looking to create an extravagant perfume; he instructed Alméras to “double the amount of ‘jus'” despite the fact that his perfumer had told him that it was too expensive to produce the fragrance commercially.

 

Vintage Ad for Joy (Source: Vintage Ad Browser)

This luxurious floral fragrance has a higher concentration of raw materials than many other fragrances and contains the precious essences of 10,600 jasmine flowers and 28 dozens of Rose de Mai in every 30 milliliters of perfume. Aldehydes, greens, peach, and calyx make up the top notes and the heart of jasmine and rose is accompanied by ylang ylang, orris, orchid and lily of the valley. The base notes consist of sandalwood, musk and civet.

Joy Parfum Bottle (Source: David Jones)

Louis Süe had an architectural perspective, following the Golden Ratio when designing the bottle. A black and red flaconette was designed later in 1932 by Jean Patou, who took inspiration from an antique jade snuff bottle. Both glass bottles are finished with lustre and a gold cord tied around its neck.

Though no longer the costliest of perfumes in the world today, it continues to be a refined and luxurious fragrance.

 

 

Joy Flaconette (Source: Jean Patou)

 

References:

Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances by Michael Edwards (1996), p. 69-73

The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove (2010), p. 110

The Perfume Bible by Josephine Fairley and Lorna McKay (2014), p. 128

Vintage Perfumes by Jan Moran (2015)

Scent & Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume by Barbara Herman (2013)

Fragrance Classification

Fragrances are classified into families or olfactory groups according to their dominant characteristics. There is no fixed classification system because not all fragrances would fit into a particular category and not everyone completely agrees about the families. Here are some of the main fragrance families.

 

 

Floral Family

Most feminine fragrances belong to this family, which is the largest, most popular and widely diverse of the fragrance families. Floral notes, usually rose and jasmine, are added to the heart of the majority of fragrances as an accord. The floral family has several subdivisions including

  • Single-note floral also known as a soliflore, evokes the scent of a single flower.
  • Aldehydic floral, which contains aldehydes that give a sparkling or shimmering effect to a floral scent.
  • Green floral that contains notes that add freshness to the fragrance.
  • Spicy floral, which attribute their spiciness to the addition of notes such as pink pepper and clove.

Examples of floral fragrances are Paris by YSL, Joy by Jean Patou and L’Eau D’Issey by Issey Miyake.

 

 

Oriental Family

Oriental fragrances are rich, warm, voluptuous and sensual. Some of the classic ingredients used in orientals are vanilla, coumarin, heliotrope, orris, gum resins and heliotrope. Subdivisions of this family include

  • Floral oriental or floriental, which consist of oriental notes sweetened by floral notes.
  • Woody oriental, which enhance the warmth of the fragrance.

L’heure Bleue by Guerlain is a famous example of a floriental. Other oriental perfumes are Shalimar by Guerlain and Coco by Chanel.

 

 

Chypré Family

Chypré is French for Cyprus and is the name of the family of fragrances that are based on a mossy-woody accord of bergamot, labdanum, oak moss and patchouli. This family was named after François Coty’s Chypré de Coty. It was the first modern chypré to be created; this perfume had a dominant note of jasmine and was lighter and more wearable than previous chypré fragrances. Fruity, floral and fresh green notes may be incorporated into these perfumes. Ysatis by Givenchy is an example of a floral chypré. Two other popular Chypré fragrances are Mitsouko by Guerlain and Miss Dior by Dior.

 

 

Fougère Family

The fougère family is quite similar to the chypré family; like the chypré family, the name fougère originates from Fougère Royal  by Houbigant, which translates to royal fern from French. This perfume was based on an accord that was meant to reflect the scent of ferns. The classic constituents of the fougère structure include oakmoss, coumarin, lavender, geranium and bergamot. Fragrances in the fougère family include Jicky by Guerlain and Penhaligon’s English Fern.

 

 

Gourmand Family

Gourmand fragrances are usually warm and are characterized by “edible” confectionary notes such as vanilla, toffee, chocolate and caramel. This family is rather new, with Thierry Mugler’s Angel being the first outstanding, successful fragrance from this family. Since then, gourmand notes and fragrances have gained massive popularity. Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka and Candy by Prada are two other fragrances from this family.

 

 

References:

The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove (2010), p. 72-74

The Perfume Bible by Josephine Fairley and Lorna McKay (2014), p. 8-13

Perfume: The Art & Craft of Fragrance by Karen Gilbert (2013), p. 36-63

Diorissimo by Dior (1956)

Ad for Diorissimo in 1956 (Source: Fashioned by Love)


Diorissimo encapsulates the scent of Christian Dior’s lucky flower, the lily of the valley. Dior commissioned Edmond Roudnitska to create the perfume that was launched in 1956, two years after Dior’s Lily of the Valley line was presented.

 

Original Diorissimo Bottle (Source: The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove)

 

 

By developing a lily of the valley accord, which is blended with ylang ylang and rose, and base notes of jasmine and sandalwood, Roudnitska produced this soliflore. He made a remarkable achievement in creating the perfume without using oil from the lily of the valley, as it could not be extracted from nature.

 

Only sixty bottles of Diorissimo, originally designed and produced by Baccarat, were produced for the launch. A bouquet of gold-plated bronze flowers stoppered each hand-cut crystal bottle, which were completed with Dior’s signature pearls. Presently, a different perfume bottle is used, which is an homage to the Dior oval medallion. The bottle is completed with a hemispherical stopper and its neck is wrapped with silver threads by hand.

 

Current Bottle for Diorissimo Extract de Parfum (Source: Dior)

 

 

References:

Diorissimo Extrait de Parfum, Dior website accessed July 12th 2017 (https://www.dior.com/beauty/en_int/fragrance-beauty/fragrance/exceptional-perfumes/les-extraits/pr-lesextraits-y0864150-extrait-de-parfum.html)

Dior: The Perfumes, Text by Chandler Burr (2014), p. 90-94

The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove (2010), p. 137

Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances by Michael Edwards (1996), p. 111-114