Perfumery 101

Tonight I embarked on what I hope will be the beginning of a great adventure in the world of fragrance. I have been flirting with the idea of working in this field--I've taken two casual perfume workshops to date. Tonight I took it to the next level, committing (both mentally and financially) to a five-part series titled "An Intensive Study of Raw Materials of Perfumery". Led by Grasse Institute of Perfumery educated Anne McClain (also founder of MCMC Fragances), we set up shop in a beautiful and quaint studio in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. On the agenda this evening was a basic overview of the composition of a perfume (which, I discovered, includes the top notes--the smell you detect at the first spray of a fragrance, which usually 'burns off' within the hour; the heart or mid notes--the scent that starts to peak through the top note, and lingers for a couple of hours; and the base note--the longest lingering scent you are left with hours into wearing a fragrance).

The second part of the workshop involved familiarizing our olfactory senses with citrus and spicy scents. I found myself particularly drawn to the cool, refreshing aroma of bergamot--most commonly used in Earl Grey tea as well as cardamom--often found in Masala Chai. Curiously, these two scents are both key ingredients to teas that could be considered the national beverage for countries they come from (Earl Grey from England and Masala Chai from India). I'm not sure if it's the cold weather or fond memories of travels to these two countries shaping my desires, but one thing is for sure, I can't get enough of these smooth, unexpectedly delightful scents!

Another interesting citrus we explored was dihydromercenaol. This synthetically derived composition is the powerhouse ingredient used to give those middle-school era men's colognes (Cool Water, Aqua Di Gio) their aquatic, soapy punch. Emily-- you'd definitely appreciate this one...Miyake Pour Homme smelling strip carried in wallet from 1995-97. At first I was surprised it was classified as a citrus, given its powdery, almost floral notes. But, after letting it develop, and smelling it alongside grapefruit oil, I am coming around to its home in the citrus family.

Next week we explore Fruity, Floral and Green. Stay tuned for the update!