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Notes No. 4: Exploring Perfumery's Raw Materials

The art of perfumery has long been shrouded in mystery. We have all heard the fantastic stories about the painstaking collection of rare ingredients and precious essences from the farthest corners of the world. In films and documentaries, we have witnessed the slow and miraculous transformation of these essences into oils as workers tend to large copper stills in rustic labs deep in the bucolic French countryside. 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.


The truth is that the modern fragrance industry is sophisticated, complex and cosmopolitan. The birth of modern perfume industry dates back to the late 1800s, the direct result of the isolation and discovery of a class of aromatic materials that we now refer to as synthetics. The history of the fragrance industry is inexorably tied to developments in fragrance chemistry with each new discovery driving the engine of progress. Synthetics provide structure and shape to fragrances while naturals provide the depth and texture. The importance of these components has been understood by perfumers for over a century with Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel Nº 5, remarking that, "The future of perfumery is in the hands of chemists."

In order to fully understand the fragrances we love, we must understand the materials that make their existence possible. Our NOTES series focuses on the raw materials used in perfumery. Join us on the evening of Thursday, April 27 for the fourth event in our NOTES series as we explore flowers in a group led by Nicole Amzallag-Divine.

Ask someone to name a perfume ingredient and odds are they'll reply with the name of a flower. The fact is, perfumery and flowers are inextricably linked in our collective conciousness—images of workers collecting flowers in the bucolic French countryside or copper stills full of rose petals are an integral part of the imagery of the perfume industry—and for good reason. The cultivation of jasmine and rose in Grasse's unique microclimate gave birth to a whole industry.

To sign up for this event, please fill out the form below. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Earlier Event: March 23
Perfume & Sexism
Later Event: May 25
The Icons of Perfumery