If You Struggle with Perfume Classics

“This blog can occasionally get breathless about perfume classics, and if you start me on Après l’Ondée, you’d think that you haven’t lived until smelling this Guerlain perfume from 1906. There is nothing wrong with admiring classics and sharing one’s enthusiasm about them, but I would like to provide some balance to the veneration of perfumes made before most of us were born. There is a fine line between acquiring a taste for new combinations of materials or unfamiliar notes and forcing yourself to like a perfume just because it has a pedigree.


First of all, not all fragrances made decades ago were great, so just because perfume is old, there is no guarantee that it’s special. There used to be just as many copycats, slapdash affairs, and lots of crass (and sexist) marketing in the past, so romanticizing the era misses the point. Even Jacques Guerlain created numerous failures before coming up with gems like Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue. Similarly misplaced is the idea that liking classics is an instant mark of sophistication. I can’t think of less sophisticated perfumes than Dana Tabu, Schiaparelli Shocking or Estée Lauder Youth Dew. They’re loud, brash and impudent, and that’s their very point. Great perfumes to be sure, but refined they are not.
Second, many classics have been tweaked over the years. I covered more of this topic in My Perfume Was Reformulated! What to Do?, so here I will just note a few points that relate to classics. In some cases, the alterations were made because the ingredients have changed. For instance, as fat based enfleurage was superseded by more efficient techniques, the scent of jasmine essence became brighter and more nuanced. Even tiny differences like these have significant consequences for the perfume formula; human noses are extremely precise and recognize the slightest deviations. Changes in ingredient processing made reformulations necessary, but now we have a double whammy of cost increases and ingredient regulations. The result is that pretty much everything on the market older than 2-3 years has been altered. Some reformulations are excellent, others less so, but if you smell No 5 today and believe that it’s the same perfume Coco Chanel selected in 1921, you’re mistaken. (For the record, I love the current version of No 5).
To put it roughly, to smell Diorissimo, Caron Narcisse Noir, Miss Dior and Yves Saint Laurent Opium in their current versions is like seeing Monet’s Water Lilies interpreted by another artist. Not quite the same experience, although the new interpretation might be special. In the same vein, the aforementioned are now interesting perfumes on their own terms, but they don’t resemble the original versions. I don’t wish to encourage vintage snobbery, however. We just need to keep the classics in perspective and recognize that they change with time, sometimes not for the better.

Perfume-Ecusson mais-oui

This brings me to another point. Perfume is the product of its era, created for a specific audience and following contemporary fashions. Truly timeless fragrances, even among classics, are few, and one may not enjoy the aesthetic that was prevalent during the 30s, 40s, or 70s. I’d rather bathe myself in Lancôme La Vie est Belle than wear Jean Patou Joy. I recognize it as an iconic perfume, but when I put it on, I feel like I’m trailing my great-grandmother’s coat with a fur pelt collar, tail and whiskers intact–it was fashionable back in the 30s, she told me. Some vintages are too retro for my taste, both in clothes and perfumes. I’m a product of my own time too, for better or worse.
The different aesthetic may be the reason to delve into classics, and there is a phase when you adjust to the different effects, heavier doses of floral absolutes, mosses or animalic notes. If you’ve never smelled an old school chypre in its inky moss and tangy leather glory, you’re in for a shock (or a treat). But when you read reams of text on the beauty of Mitsouko or No 19 and finally sample them, the shock might be not the perfumes themselves but the realization that you don’t like them.


When I was new to fragrance and didn’t yet know my tastes, this was never a pleasant feeling. Is there something wrong with my nose? Are my samples off? How can a fragrance described as the most expensive floral on earth smell like water left over from a wilted bouquet?
There was nothing wrong with my nose or the perfume. It was simply a lack of chemistry. If you find yourself in a similar position, chalk it up to your own unique tastes. Some of these fragrances were created to be polarizing, and the perfumers working on them were deliberate about touching a nerve. As Germaine Cellier once remarked on Robert Piguet Bandit, “I didn’t make it to be likable.” At another point in time you might smell Bandit and appreciate its dramatic leather, but today it might merely smell aggressive and harsh.
A perfume hobby is flexible enough to include all sorts of approaches and can be anything from a search to find a signature scent to a PhD dissertation level of geekiness. The beauty of this pursuit is that whatever form it takes, it’s rewarding. You smell aromatic things, you think, you delight in something so intangible, so fleeting and yet so poignant. Approaching perfume classics is not too different. Enjoy them for what they are–fragrances that influenced perfume history and gave different eras their unique scents–but also remember that you have your own world to perfume, and not all classics may fit its spirit. »
Which perfume classics do you struggle with?
What fragrances have you tried hard to like only to discover that they don’t touch you?


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A La Rencontre des Cueilleurs de Jasmin de Grasse

Reportage TF1- Le 13 heures du 15 septembre 2015
« Savoir-Faire Régional : A La Rencontre Des Cueilleurs De Jasmin De Grasse »
« Le journal de 13h vous emmène à la rencontre des cueilleurs de jasmin de Grasse, sur la Côte d’Azur. Ancestrale et délicate, la récolte bat son plein ces jours-ci. »

bc jeahm


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Sharing Is The Best Way To Improve Sustainability, Says Groupe Rocher

« The best way for the cosmetics industry to improve sustainability is to share their practices and metrics and ensure they are considering the most relevant data, according to French firm Groupe Rocher.
In an exclusive interview with CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com Marie Marache, CSR Engineer, Groupe Rocher, says that better engages people and that there are still some big challenges to overcome.
“Sharing is the best way to improve. Benchmarking KPIs followed and measured by others is the challenging and helps company question their practices,” she tells us. “Sharing your best practices helps engage your communities towards your brand.”

In practice

At Groupe Rocher, responsible for beauty brand Yves Rocher, Marie explains that it has been measuring, gathering, and aggregating Group level data since 2007, and that for sustainability reporting’s purposes, the Group has a web-based tool gathering data around the world in more than 35 countries.
“This is an on-going process,” she explains. “We are now setting 2020 targets for every strategic issue at Brand and Business level, with associated KPIs.”
“Some KPI’s are hand-crafted, some are elaborated, and it depends on the issue. For example, The Yves Rocher Brand is currently setting a 2020 target for global plastic Packaging reduction since 2010.”

Standing out

Marie also adds that key sustainability metrics should not only be water or energy consumption, but must be specific to each company instead, according to the materiality issues and strategy they are pursuing.
“Each company should consider relevant data considering their industry and stakeholders. This is how it stands out, by actually expressing itself on relevant issues,” says Marache.
Marache says that it is important for companies to measure their environmental footprints in order to stay compliant and competitive; but also adds that it is also important to improve sustainability performance, engage stakeholders, and safeguard the companies’ reputation.
Despite this there are still big challenges facing the cosmetics industry and these will continue changing in the coming years.
“[The] main challenges are climate change & biodiversity issues, increased demography especially in cities. This will reshuffle business practices within the next decades,” adds Marache.
Marie will be discussing ‘Sustainability in Practice’ at the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris on October 21-23. »

Article by Andrew McDougall

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Bioplastiques- Création en France d’une Unité de Production à Base de Coproduits de Betterave

« L’entreprise italienne Bio-On et la coopérative sucrière Cristal Union annoncent, dans un communiqué commun du 14 septembre, la création en France du premier établissement au monde affecté à la production de bioplastiques PHA (polyhydroxyalcanoates), issus des coproduits de la betterave à sucre.

Il produira dans un premier temps 5.000 tonnes par an, avec la possibilité de monter à 10.000 tonnes par an.
« Cet établissement, qui nécessitera un investissement de 70 millions d’euros et qui sera implanté sur un des sites de Cristal Union, sera l’installation de production de biopolymères la plus évoluée du monde », assurent les deux entreprises qui ont signé un accord le 20 juillet dernier.
« Nous investissons dans l’acquisition de la licence d’exploitation de cette nouvelle technologie réalisée par Bio-On, car ce bioplastique totalement naturel constitue, à tous les égards, un débouché qui pourra contribuer à l’expansion de l’industrie sucrière française, en adoptant une approche moderne, écocompatible et écodurable », souligne Alain Commissaire, directeur général. »


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Colombia Turns to the Cosmetics Industry to Help Diversify the Economy

« Too much focus on energy and commodities has left the Colombian economy vulnerable to global economic cycles. But with a renewed emphasis on diversification, the country’s cosmetics and personal care sector is in the spotlight.
Programa de Transformación Productiva (PTP) is the government body charged with re-energizing the country’s cosmetics industry, together with 15 other sectors that are being supported with tax breaks, regulatory expertise and assistance to help expand businesses.
“A part of the Ministry of Commerce and Tourism, it’s an alliance with the private sector and when it comes to cosmetics, we find out what are the problems that the country’s businesses need to resolve,” said César Peñaloza, general manager Programa de Transformación Productiva.

“Once we have established that problem, we then help refer them to the specific area within the government that can help them and take the next step to building their business.”

Assisting with regulation, marketing and investment

Regulation is one area that has proved a stumbling block for many Colombian cosmetic and personal care companies, particularly those wanting to expand their business scope beyond the country, both within the Latin American region and also into North America and Europe.
“We look towards changing and modifying regulations that hamper the industry or cause them unnecessary problems. We work with whatever ministry the regulation might concern to adapt or amend the regulation accordingly to fit the needs of the industry,” Peñaloza explained.
On top of regulation the other principle goals for the PTP are to help companies with infrastructure issues, ensuring the companies are run in a sustainable manner and also providing the financial resources necessary to expand, Peñaloza went on to explain.

Big multinationals to small domestic players

The companies the body works with including anything from big multinationals to small domestic players, and include both finished goods players as well as providers of raw materials and ingredients, as well as contract manufacturers.
Currently production for the cosmetic and personal care industry is still spread throughout the country, with the principle manufacturing hubs being the Bogota, Antioquia and Valle del Cauca regions, which respectively hold 22%, 18% and 18% of the total manufacturing.
But the focus for the future of the country’s cosmetics industry is simple.
“In the productivity program we have a business plan for each segment. For the cosmetics sector the goal is that by 2032 we have to be recognized as a producer and exporter of cosmetics made from natural ingredients,” said Peñaloza.
“Most of our work is based on this specific premise, to promote the manufacturers of natural ingredients and manufactured products. And in particular we are working very hard with suppliers of natural ingredient to grow those businesses, in answer to what the global industry is looking for.”
Peñaloza also stressed that the body is working with packaging companies in an effort to support the entire supply chain and ensure that the needs of expanding ingredients and finished goods companies can be made.
In the second part of this interview, which will be published tomorrow, Peñaloza explains how the PTP has given specific Colombian cosmetics the ‘hot house’ treatment in an effort to grow their businesses, both domestically and internationally. »

Article by Simon Pitman

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Personal Care Products Council Applauds US Congress for TPA Legislation

« The Personal Care Products Council applauds U.S. Congress for passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which will help facilitate global beauty trade.
“We now look forward to continued progress and finalization of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership Agreement (T-TIP) – these agreements will provide new opportunities for enhancing the global beauty trade. The TPP Agreement is the first trade agreement that will include specific regulatory coherence provisions for cosmetics and personal care products, » said Francine LaMoriello, executive vice president, global strategies for the Personal Care Products Council. « These commitments will help American cosmetics and personal care products companies deal with technical regulatory trade barriers that impede our industry’s ability to provide safe, innovative products in a timely fashion to consumers around the world.  »
LaMoriello continued: “We believe trade agreements such as TPP and T-TIP will contribute to significant export growth for the U.S. cosmetics and personal care sector, especially by small and medium sized companies. As a dynamic sector of our nation’s economy, our industry is a leader in exports and heavily depends on trade—in 2013, exports exceeded $11 billion. In addition to global companies, our industry also is comprised of small and medium-sized companies, and such free trade agreements as TPP and TTIP will offer new opportunities for these companies to expand their global reach while creating more jobs in the United States.”
The TPA bill comes as the two of the most ambitious trade negotiations in the nation’s history, the TPP and the T-TIP, are underway to further tear down trade barriers to American goods and services. According to data from the World Bank, together these two trade agreements would further open markets encompassing nearly 1.3 billion customers and approximately 60 percent of global gross domestic product.
TPA expired in 2007 and is needed for the United States to successfully conclude these negotiations. »


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Computational Cuisine: Digital Breakthroughs in Sensory Design

« Can computing reinvent food? It already has.

IBM’s Cognitive Cooking project scanned millions of recipes, chemical compositions and taste profiles of ingredients, extracted the information and analyzed the connections among recipes, ingredients and psychophysical aspects of flavor perception.

Cognitive Cooking has so far yielded a food truck featuring Chef Watson’s own recipes, an app and a book.
During Flavorcon 2015, IBM Fellow and Research Lead Krishna Ratakonda will discuss the role of big data in boosting creativity, while offering examples of Chef Watson’s innovations and commercial applications in the flavor and fragrance industry.
Presented by Perfumer & Flavorist magazine, Flavorcon 2015 (www.flavorcon.com) includes a tabletop exhibition in addition to in-depth conference sessions from leading industry experts. The conference is uniquely tailored for professionals involved in the development of flavors and food & beverage products. Registration is now open. »

Dates: November 15–17, 2015
Location: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey


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