The most fascinating aspect of perfumery is the building blocks – the familiar (and often unfamiliar) materials that come together to create something entirely new. For me, I am endlessly beguiled by the way in which a singular material can, not only be so versatile in its use, but also add nuances to a fragrance that are so far removed from the material when experienced in isolation. One could call this magic, but it’s not, it’s chemistry, and perfumery is a fusion between art and science, where the latter is used to convey meaning and emotion from the medium of smell.
For me it’s always been the synthetics that hold more interest than the naturals. Without synthetic materials (incl. isolates, captives and aroma chemicals) modern perfumery would smell a heck of a lot different. We just wouldn’t have the perfumes that we’ve had for the last 100 years or so – what we’d have is inconsistent naturals that, due to their own density and complexity, often lead to an opaque soup when blended together. Synthetics give the space and definition to these materials allowing them to compliment, contrast and extend each other. They pull the naturals apart and bring new dimensions into play.
One of my favourite synthetic materials is Ambroxan. OK, so it’s not a fancy material, nor is it a particularly expensive one. It doesn’t take 3,000 years to mature under moonlight on an exotic island. No, it doesn’t have to be expressed from the anal glands of unicorns (perfumery has always had a weird fascination with the contents of animal butts, tell me I’m wrong) by golden-locked virgins in the dead of night. But it is an incredibly useful and popular material, and it finds way into many modern fragrances in both prominent, and stealthy ways. I see it as a bit of a ninja – it swoops in quietly, bringing dimension and space to dense compositions allowing them to expand, giving them tremendous lift but also a fascinating mineral facet. To put it simply, Ambroxan is ‘the nuts’.
Show us your #Smellfie!
To celebrate National Fragrance Day today, The Perfume Society is encouraging perfume lovers across the land to share a selfie with a fragrance – something that they call a ‘smellfie’. Now in its fourth year, the idea of the smellfie is simple: one takes a snap of themselves with a fragrance, whether that be a favourite or simply the scent one happens to be wearing, and share it on social media. Easy, right? Other than the fact that we all adore a selfie, there’s also further incentive to share your smellfie in the form of a competition. To enter, you just need to do the following:
I’ve become a bit obsessed with working out. 12 months ago I worked out once approximately every, well, 12 months. Now I’m on a regular cycle of six workouts a week. The transformation in my physical and mental health has been tremendously positive and I generally feel much better about how I look, and how I feel, despite the fact that I still have a long way to go to meet my goals. So every week I run 5K twice (not bad for someone who previously despised running), do two days of weights, one day of core strength and on my sixth day, a mixture of all of these things dependent on my mood. I may ache pretty much all of the time but I feel fantastic for it.
Since I’ve been going to the gym regularly I’ve turned my life into one of routines. I have routines for working out, for eating, for the clothes I wear (basically EVERYTHING is Superdry, I don’t know why, I must like the colour orange) and for the scented things I use. So, in this article I want to briefly take you though the contents of my gym bag to show you some of the scented (and non-scented) things I swear by. There are things for the skin and for the shower, and of course there’s scent too, because I’m The Candy Perfume Boy and I kind of have a thing for fragrance… Anyway, into the gym bag we go!
I’ve got wood on the brain, Dear Reader.
Now, before you judge me with your smutty little minds, I am of course referring to wood fragrances and not any other form of wood, metaphorical or otherwise. I’m not sure what may have led you to think of anything else – certainly not the somewhat tongue in cheek title of this post, that’s for sure! Anyway, the truth is that I’ve never really got wood before, as in, I’ve never really enjoyed wood fragrances that much (again, minds out of the gutter please, people). They’ve always felt too subtle or too plain for my exuberant tastes, so for the most part I’ve ignored them or passed them off as lovely, but not for me. That however, has changed very recently.
Over the last few months I’ve started to find wood fragrances a little bit sexy. I’m attracted to them and they are just the kind of thing I find myself wanting to smell on a man. But it’s actually more than that, they’ve also become the type of thing I want to wear when I’m feeling mighty fine, or when I want to feel mighty fine. So in this post I’m going to showcase some beautiful wood fragrances that are more than just a little bit sexy – in fact, they’re all very sexy in their own individual ways. So, please put on some Barry White and close the curtains because things are going to get a little bit hot and steamy up in here as we investigate seven wood fragrances with some serious bom-chicka-wah-wah factor.
We often talk about ‘notes’ or materials in fragrances and how they come together to create a multi-faceted composition. But these materials are incredibly nuanced themselves and each one brings not one, not two, but a multitude of different things to a fragrance, meaning that there is always a lot to learn when one goes back to the source materials. I always think that the best way to understand a perfume material is to break it down into facets and that’s exactly what these olfactory deconstruction pieces are for – to dissect each material into little parts so we can really understand what makes it tick, and what makes it smell so good.
Perfume is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each fragrance is made up of specifically shaped pieces that lock together. Perfumers match up the pieces, locking them together facet-to-facet, tessellating each nuance to either enhance or contrast them, or in some cases, to create something entirely new. The great thing is that, unlike jigsaw puzzles, where there is one way of piecing things together, perfumery is open-ended and the perfumer can tie things together in whichever way they see fit. This means that the picture at the end can be whatever they dream up. There are endless possibilities and to me, that’s pretty damn exciting.
We’re officially in quarter four of 2017 and what a year it has been. By my count there has been at least 20 million fragrance launches this year, but I do have a tendency to exaggerate. In truth it has felt like a particularly busy year, with lots of behemoth launches from equally gigantic brands. I also think it has been a phenomenally good year for perfume and I’ve fallen in love with more than a handful of wonderful fragrances already. But this post is not a retrospective of the year – you can have that at the annual Candies (my fragrance awards) in December, no this is something a little bit different.
As we’re heading towards the end of this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap of the big perfume trends we’ve seen this year. I’ve certainly noticed a handful of key themes over the last 12 months and it’s kind of fascinating to look back at them at this point in the year. So in this post you will find four trends that have populated the perfume landscape in 2017. These are just my thoughts however, and I’d be more than happy to hear about any trends you’ve identified too!