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Perfume in Fashion History

Addict's Choice: Perfume Power

Perfume in Fashion History

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This article is by courtesy of journalist Sandra Symons


Addict's Choice: Perfume Power

Perfume Addiction Article

This article is courtesy of SANDRA SYMONS, a journalist and lecturer in Sydney, Australia.

MitsoukoDiorissimoChanel No5Shalimar


Addict's Choice: Perfume Power

Reprinted Article courtesy of SANDRA SYMONS ©

Each year, new fragrances are launched in a flurry of glamorous and expensive marketing hyperbole.  Many women embrace these seductive new fragrances, but there are those who are addicted to one fragrance and make it their signature.


Do you have a favourite perfume, one that you always wear with sensual pleasure, one that seems to be a fragrant extension of yourself, one perfume that elicits approving comments from others?

If so, join the ranks of Madonna, who always wears Youth Dew, Jerry Hall (Opium), Cathérine Deneuve (L'Heure Bleue), Princess Di (Diorissimo), Marilyn Monroe (who always wore Chanel No 5), Jackie O (Joy) and Audrey Hepburn (L'Interdit).

Studies in the field of sensory physiology and emotional psychology suggest a close relationship between particular emotional profiles and fragrance preferences.  They show that women who wear fragrance usually return to their personal fragrance preferences.

In many cases, women with particular personality characteristics - such as being extroverted and sociable, or quiet and reserved, or even tempered, or volatile and unpredictable - can be matched to particular fragrance categories.

The international fragrance compounding house, Haarman and Reimer, has done much research on the psychological impact of fragrance.  Given that the sense of smell is the one that depends most upon a connection with other senses, it is not surprising that our choice of fragrance is very often determined by our psychological and emotional needs.

Perfume, like the colours and clothes we wear, gives us a chance to identify and emphasise our moods and feelings as well as project something of the moods and feelings we desire. 

While each of us is a constantly evolving being who experiences different moods at different times in differing intensities, we maintain a constant inner emotional core which may be expressed in many creative ways.

Generalisations notwithstanding, here are some personality types and the fragrances they are attracted to, according to psychologists who have studied fragrance and its influence:

* Active women with an optimistic approach to life are attracted to fresh, spring-like floral notes such as hyacinth, lily of the valley and freesia;

* Young, or young-at-heart women, who are reserved and enjoy solitude and tranquillity tend to prefer oriental fragrances with a heavy sweetness;

* Women who have an extroverted, impulsive and spontaneous nature and thrive on activity and change like fresh floral fragrances with notes of pineapple, raspberry, blackcurrant and peach;

* Women who like the security of an ordered life yet are emotional ambivalent prefer floral oriental perfumes that combine earthy and sweet notes;

* Mature worldly women gravitate to perfumes with powdery flowery notes combined with balsamic intrigue; and

* Emotionally stable, extroverted women are typically attracted to chypre fragrances that combine oak moss with, say, bergamot freshness.

Do you see yourself in any of these categories?  Let's look at it another way - think of the fragrances that you prefer, do they fit a particular fragrance category? Does that fragrance category match up to any of the brief personality profiles described previously?

Over the years, my favourite fragrances have included Coty's Imprevu (when I left school), Balenciaga's Quadrille and Grès' Cabochard (when I was in my first job), Rochas' Femme (when I married) and Guerlain's Mitsouko (which I now wear all the time).  Recently, I was given a bottle of Ulric de Varens' Varensia and find it appealing.

All these fragrances belong to the chypre category, that is they have notes of oakmoss, woods and citrus, resin, cedar and tobacco.  Do I fit the emotional profile that is bracketed with chypre fragrances?  Well, I do regard myself as emotionally stable and extroverted!

Haarman and Reimer has another way of categorising fragrance and personality.  It offers seven basic categories of fragrance type and matches them to mood tendencies. 

Here they are:

* Aldehydic-Floral Notes

(projecting a fragrance mood that is classical, elegant and cultured). Women who like fragrances with these characteristics have a personal style which is elegant and exclusive, free from the whims of fashion. Culture plays a special role in their lives.
Rich floral aldehydes include Arpège and Je Reviens; those with crisp or fresh notes include Safari and Rive Gauche.


* Floriental Notes

(romantic, dreamy and idealistic). The women who wear these fragrances are sensitive and refuse to view life from a sober, rational standpoint. They are controlled by their feelings, moods and emotions. Classic floral orientals include L'Heure Bleue, Spellbound, Sublime.


* Oriental Notes (introspective, sensitive, reflective). Women who favour oriental fragrances understand themselves. They reject superficiality and have intense relationships. They value inner tranquillity and harmony and are happy in their own company. Classic orientals include Donna Karan, Shalimar.


* Powdery-Aldehydic Notes

(independent, unconventional and unfettered). The women who prefer these qualities in a fragrance demand a free and unattached life shaped by themselves. They are artistic and highly individualistic. They seek to live by their own ideas and convictions. Classic soft flower powdery aldehydes include Chanel No 5 and L'Interdit.


* Fruity-Floral Notes

(carefree, playful, cheerful).  Women who choose fruity-floral fragrances love a free and spontaneous life and enjoy it to the fullest.  They are curious and open about everything new and thrive on change.  Classic or rich citrus floral fragrances include Eau de Guerlain and Ô de Lancôme.


*Fresh-Green Floral Notes

(dynamic, active, extroverted).  Women who wear such fragrances are willing to accept certain risks and make a strong commitment in exchange for interesting and varied work.  They like to play an active role in events and show great initiative.  Classic and rich green fragrances include Aliage and Private Collection.


* Chypre

(professional, pragmatic, self-assured).  The women who wear chypre fragrances take charge of their lives.  They solve problems in a practical, uncomplicated way.  They accept responsibility and project self-assurance and strength of will.  Classic chypres include Femme, Knowing, Mitsouko, Paloma Picasso.

There is an eighth Indefinable Fragrance Category projecting a fragrance mood that is down-to earth, well-balanced and harmonious.  Women whose fragrance category cannot be easily defined may be described as natural and uncomplicated.  They are realistic and dependable and promote a sense of security in those around them. They are perceived as warm and compassionate.  They reject the whims of fashion.

Let's go back to several of the celebrity women mentioned earlier, take a quick look at their fragrance preference and speculate if the matches seem right.

French actor Cathérine Deneuve wears Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue, a classic floral oriental with a heart of Bulgarian rose and jasmine and base notes of musk and vanilla.  Rose offers a romantic elegance, jasmine an intoxicating, powerful energy.  Musk conjures up sensuality and warmth and vanilla adds a tenacious, deep sweetness.  Do you think that Deneuve seems to fit the suggested profile of a romantic, idealistic dreamer, a sensitive woman shaped by her feelings and emotions?

Princess Di's fragrance favourite was Diorissimo, a fresh floral with a heart of white flower notes of opulent jasmine and volatile lily of the valley and a base of warm boronia and subtle rosewood.  According to the fragrance profile, this suits a carefree and playful woman who loves spontaneity and wants to live by the motto 'you only live once'.

Audrey Hepburn's favourite, which was created specially for her by Hubert Givenchy, was L'Interdit, a classic soft floral with heart notes of jasmine and rose and soul notes of amber and incense.  Given these key ingredients, the fragrance suggests a profile that is intoxicating and captivating, sweet and precious, warm and alluring. Aldehydic floral notes suit a woman who is classical, elegant and cultured.

According to Hans Otto Schmitt, of Haarman and Reimer, 17 per cent of women habitually use just one fragrance.  The company's research indicates that many of these women fall into the introverted/introspective personality.

"Their fragrance indicates, and reinforces, their inclination to withdraw and feel warm and comfortable in their own space," he says. "They are more interested in keeping the world at bay than inviting the world to enter their space.

"Most of the fragrances chosen by these woman are warm orientals and chypres, fragrances like Opium, Vanilla Fields, Casimir, Shalimar and Tabu. Most of these fragrances are base-oriented (that is, the base notes are more powerful and lingering than the top notes).

"Key ingredients in these fragrances are typically vanilla, musk and sandalwood which, like incense (olibanum) actually have a chemical reaction on the brain that induces something like mild euphoria," he says.

In aromatherapy terms, certain essential oils have a powerful effect on our emotional states.  For example, vanilla unleashes deeply felt emotions and provokes hidden sensuality; sandalwood is warm and seductive; patchouli is earthy, profound and forceful; smoky, musky myrrh implies strength and courage; jasmine provokes erotic thoughts; benzoin penetrates the emotional shield; ylang ylang stimulates the senses; and bergamot is persuasive and enlivens one's sex life.

Not surprisingly, there are many women who favour a single fragrance because they believe it expresses something important about their personality, says Michael Edwards, author of Perfume Legends. "The fragrance becomes the woman's 'signature'.  You usually find that a woman who has a signature fragrance feels very comfortable with the fragrance."

The fragrances that women choose as a 'signature' typically pack a psychological wallop.  Indeed, they are emotional dynamite in a bottle, with every whiff, capable of conveying a myriad messages and moods.

End of copyright article by Sandra Symons ©


Page Added 10 Sept 2005

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