Monthly Archives: September 2010

Design of Fragrance families

Elizabeth, Hilary, Lisa from Nordstrom Fine Fragrance Dept.

Nordstrom Fragrance Experts Elizabeth, Hilary, Lisa

A lesson in choosing a signature fragrance from Nordstroms Fine Fragrance department (Hillsdale Mall, San Mateo, CA location) was an idyllic way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The team of Elizabeth, Lisa and Hilary, generously shared their time and knowledge permitting us to sample over 30 different fragrances.

To avoid nose overload, perfumes were sprayed onto thin cards and presented by their “family” or origin. The families we sampled included floral, wood, fresh and oriental. Families are identified by the way the perfume is manufactured, for example florals are made from the petals of flowers or by the ingredients used, for example. orientals will include jasmine, amber and sweet vanilla layered with citrus, green or fruits to create a mysterious and sensual scent.

Perfume has always been important in the history of mankind. Used by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Chinese and mentioned in the Bible it has been used to seduce, to mask unpleasant odors and for other industrial purposes. France has always been a world authority. The industry began in the 16th century town of Grasse in the Southern region of Provence. Grasse had been a center for leather and tanning and was famous for glove production since the 13th century. When fashions changed in favor of scented gloves Grasse provided them.

Floral Perfumes

Chanel No.5 comes from the Floral family and is the best-selling perfume in the world. Its principal ingredients are rose du mai, jasmine, and a synthetic musk. Chanel bought their own farm in Grasse to guarantee production of the 20 tons of jasmine and 50 tons of rose du mai it produces annually. New in the floral market is Balenciagas’, “Paris” and “Poppy” by Coach, the hand bag makers – both welcome additions to the oldest family of perfumes.

Oriental Perfumes

The Oriental family of fragrances, often preferred by Europeans for their sensual smell, typically contains jasmine, amber and vanilla. My two favorites were “Angel” by Thhierry Mughler which is very popular with 20 somethings and “Couture” by Badgley Mischka, a very grown up, sexy perfume for evening time.

Fresh Perfumes

The “Fresh” family, preferred by Americans for their “just stepped out of the shower” feel, have a clean and crisp smell with herbal or citrus notes blended with aquatic and fresh elements. New from Chanel is Cristalle Eau Verte. This  is not what your mother wore, but it is probably what her middle aged daughter will wear.  It is as strikingly modern update on the 1921 block buster No. 5.

Woody Perfumes

The Woody family of perfumes contain rich notes like cedar, pine and sandalwood. Often containing a hint of patchouli, they have an earthy adventurous scent. Possibly my least favorite family of fragrances, an example would be Ralph Lauren’s “Romance”.

The team of Hilary, Lisa and Elizabeth were not only generous with their time and knowledge, but also with gifts and samples to take home and try. The team will be offering another review of fragrances in the fall so if you are local and interested, drop by the fine fragrance center at Nordstroms, San Mateo, Hillsdale Mall and ask for an invitation to their next fragrance event. Tell them Sally sent you.