How do you rate the sillage of the perfume you’re wearing now?
Don’t know what that means? Run through the list below and sharpen
your perfume vocab (:
A perfume is more than the sum total of its parts. An accord is a combination of two or more different materials that create a novel effect that smells very different from the materials experienced on their own. The personality of a fragrance is determined by its basic accord.
A general term that usually refers to metallic and starchy notes. Many modern fragrances do not contain aldehydes in such large doses because they are perceived to be old-fashioned, but a trace presence can give a beautiful sparkling effect.
Amber and Ambergris:
Some ambers are balsamic and sweets are dry and woody and yet others, especially the materials in the ambergris family, are animalic and marine.
A general term describing scents of animalic origin such as some types of musk (musk deer), civet (civet weasel) and castoreum (beaver). Today the animalic materials have been replaced by synthetics, and the term animalic can apply more widely. Some plants also have animalic characters. Costus oil distilled from the roots of Saussuria costus smells like dirty hair and mutton grease. Cumin oil obtained from the dried seeds of the cumin plant is warm and sweaty.
Green camphorous notes present in herbs like lavender, rosemary and sage.
Unctuous, sweet, heavy scent that calls to mind sticky sap. If you associate balsamic and balsamic vinegar, you are spot on—true wooden cask aged balsamic vinegar has the characteristic sweet, thick and dark character of the balsamic notes in perfumery.
The defining idea of a fragrance. Calvin Klein Obsession has a lot of character, Burberry Body hardly any.
Sharp, cooling scent associated with camphor, a material made synthetically or derived from natural sources like camphor laurel. Camphorous notes are present in many herbal oils such as eucalyptus and lavender as well as in patchouli.
A fragrance family based on the interplay of citrus, floral, mossy and ambery notes. Chypre fragrances were used as far back as the Roman Empire period, and an oakmoss based powder called chypre was also fashionable at the time of Marie-Antoinette.
Some perfumes feel cool because of their association with freshness and marine vistas, while others have an actual cooling sensation thanks to materials like mint or patchouli.
Some perfumes smell creamy thanks to the large doses of vanillic, musky and milky notes.
An impression of thickness, heft and richness. A French term for it is “gras,” fat, and it is a trait that you often find in classical fragrances. This quality is often imparted by natural raw materials, especially floral essences. Jean Patou Joy is a quintessentially rich perfume, since it contains large proportions of rose and jasmine.
A jargon term meaning that a fragrance has a floral element or a floral character. Sometimes it means an abstract floral sensation that does not refer to any one flower in particular. This can be a radiant, bright effect.
An edible, dessert reminiscent fragrance. Vanilla, caramel, toasted almonds, cotton candy, chocolate, and marshmallows are the most recognizable gourmand notes.
Herbal vs Grassy:
Herbal refers to the camphorous, green, dry aroma of herbs like lavender and rosemary, while grassy is green and sharp like the scent of a freshly mowed lawn or crushed leaves.
A moth-ball like scent present in large doses in jasmine, orange blossom and tuberose. Indole is sometimes described as fecal, but while it is present in products of decay, it does not have the sweet, rotten scent. In low concentrations, it smells pleasantly floral.
A note recalling the tangy and animalic quality of fine leather. It can be smoky and dry like birch tar based leather.
A fragrance that doesn’t differ dramatically in its development. Its top notes show little variation from the bottom notes, so you experience right away its character. Linear doesn’t mean dull or uninteresting. It is simply a different type of fragrance experience.
There are many different types of musk, and every fragrance contains at least one of them. Some musks smell metallic and earthy, others are sweet and creamy. White musks, for instance, have a freshly ironed linen impression. Luminous musks, radiant musks, solar musks and other exotic musks that crop up in fragrance descriptions usually fall into the modern white musk category.
A fragrance family that uses rich notes of vanilla, balsams, sandalwood, patchouli and musk to create a heady, sensual aura.
Soft, waxy sensation evoking the feel of flower petals. It is a very common jargon term, especially since many feminine fragrances today need to have this feeling.
A general term that suggest an idea of opulence, heft, or a strong presence.
The trail left by a perfume in the wake of its wearer. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue and Calvin Klein Euphoria are fragrances with a strong sillage, while Guerlain Tonka Impériale stays close to the skin. Light fragrances can also have a tremendous sillage. Such examples include Dior Eau Sauvage.
If you’ve ever tried making your own soap, you might be familiar with the scent that rises up as you mix oils or fats with an alkaline solution. However, commercial soap is usually scented to cover up this residual sharp odor, and when we speak of soapy, we mean the scents associated with the common soap perfumes. It is a vague term because soap smells very differently depending on where you grew up. However, when soapy is used to describe a perfume in North America, it usually means that a perfume is either aldehydic, fatty and waxy, has a strong white, laundry-type musk or an orange blossom note.
Can refer either to vanilla or to vanilla redolent materials: benzoin, tolu balsam, vanillin, etc.
A very general term that encompasses the jasmine-family florals (jasmine-like in terms of scent night blooming flowers like jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, gardenia, frangipani, etc. It is a term I personally find very confusing, because it does not describe anything in particular. Roses and lilacs can be white as well.
Evoking the dry, resin-like scent of pencil shavings. Some materials can smell woody even though they are not woods: the grassy plant patchouli smells dry, pungent, earthy and woody; Cashmeran is a type of musk with a strong woody-ambery nuance. Sandalwood, on the other hand, does not smell classically woody. It is a creamy scent reminiscent of dried rose petals and fresh milk.
A citrusy, fizzy and astringent sensation reminiscent of grated citrus peel.
Credit to http://boisdejasmin.com/2012/02/speaking-perfume-a-z-of-common-fragrance-descriptions.html