Creating a perfume is based on various chemical and creative process. Behind every great fragrance there is a real artistic reflexion. Clearly, a perfume can be considerate as an authentic olfactory master-piece.
It’s with personal taste, expertise and originality than the perfumer is making a fragrance, based on particular notes, which all takes a specific place in the olfactory pyramid.
We’re talking about base, middle/heart and top notes, constituting a perfume base once mixed.
Top notes are the most volatile. They are the ones you smell first when you open a flask or spray a bit of perfume. Most of the time, they are fresh, light, as well as bergamot fruit smell, green tea or cardamome ginger.
Heart notes takes a little more of time to climb to the nose, generally a few minutes or hours. They are the one which really define the character of the perfume, its direction… its is a woody fragrance ? or floral ? or oriental ?
Base notes are the foundation of the perfume. They are the ones you can smell on your clothes or skins at the end of the day for example. They are heavier, more intense and heady, as oud, patchouli, musks or sandalwood…
Those notes forming a perfumed base are naturals or synthetics.
There are several techniques for extracting odors from natural raw materials, the most common of which are distillation, extraction, expression and enfleurage (hot and cold).
Distillation is frequently used in perfumery. The idea is to create fragrant water vapor from plants. We process after to decantation, separating the water and the different smelling components called « absolute ».
Extraction is an infusion of vegetal materials in water and solvent. When the solvent evaporates, there is a kind of « paste » left, that we can use diluted with alcohol to turn it into a fragrance.
Expression is a technic mostly used for fruit peels. We must squeeze them, decant them and filter the raw material to recover the odorous components that interest us in it.
Enfleurage is a technic used since Antiquity. The process is based on the utilisation of a fat element which can absorb naturally the smells. Flowers which are in contact with that fat are replaced whenever they lose their natural smell… until the fat element is saturated in scents. Enfleurage can last until 3 months, and 1kg or fat can absorb up to 3kg of perfume from flowers. However, this technic is not adapted to fragile flowers. We only use the hot enfleurage for the ones which can support it and we use cold enfleurage (still nowadays in Grasse) for very sensible flowers.
When it’s very complicated or impossible to extract some notes from its natural, perfumers use the alternative of synthetics, which complete the notes we already know very well.
After that, the « pure » is diluted with less or more alcohol, depending on the type of perfume we want to obtain (perfume, cologne, eau de parfum… eau de toilette…)
The perfume needs after to macerate for an average of 15 days ; a crucial step to create a perfume and give it power. During that time, notes are melting well, taking position each, according to the others, to obtain the most harmonious fragrance ever.