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Notes No. 2: Exploring Perfumery's Raw Materials

  • Fumerie Parfumerie 3584 Southeast Division Street Portland, OR, 97202 United States (map)

The creation of fragrances has always been shrouded in mystery. Over the years, fantastic stories have been painted of rare ingredients and precious essences, painstakingly gathered by hand and expertly transformed into oils in large copper stills. This romantic view of the perfume industry reflects a world that has long since disappeared and yet perfume houses perpetuate this idyllic worldview leading to an increasing disconnect between customer expectations and reality.

Frankincense Image:


The truth is that the fragrance industry is a massive, complex and global machine. The birth of modern perfumery dates back to the late 1800s, the direct result of the isolation and discovery of aromatic materials that we refer to as synthetics. In fact, nearly every major development in fragrance can be traced back to the discovery of a new aroma molecule. These synthetics provided structure and shape (the bones) while naturals were used to provide depth and life to a scent (the flesh). The importance of these components has been understood by perfumers for over a century with Ernest Beaux, one of the greatest perfumers and the creator of Chanel's Nº 5 and Cuir de Russie, remarking that, "The future of perfumery is in the hands of chemists."

Join us as we peel back the curtain and take a peek behind the scenes. In the second event in our NOTES series, we will continue to examine the raw materials used in perfumery. This event will take place Tuesday, July 19 at 6:00 pm and focus on resins and balsams. Local perfume enthusiast Nicole Amzallag-Divine will join us again as our guide through the history and applications of these ancient resins. Participants will have a chance to try these aroma molecules in their isolated form and to sample compositions that make use of these materials.

To sign up for this event, please fill out the form below. Space is limited and we expect this event to fill up quickly. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Header Image: Tolu balsam via