Monday, August 23, 2010

How are Chanel Perfumes Composed?

The order in which all Chanel perfume formulae are made, according to head perfumer Jacques Polge in this little interview of course, since usually perfume is composed the other way around, a propos the launch of the latest Bleu de Chanel for men, are:

1. Fresh top notes (think of traditional citrus and herbal scents like mint)
2. Fruity notes
3. Spicy notes
4. Jasmine notes
5. Rose notes
6. White flowers notes (tuberose, orange blossom absolute etc)
7. Woody notes
8. Amber notes
9. Musks

Corresponds pretty much to the volatility charts for specific ingredients hereby grouped into the larger "families" above. Interesting, no?

Please note I followed the order and context of meaning from the French; I found the English subtitles occasionally confused what was (meant to be) simple clarification on some points...I have to say Jacques did repeat twice "spicy notes" though, before and after jasmine. I'm sure it was merely a lapse of the tongue.


  1. Hey I love Chanel Perfumes...Nice blog.Try stopping at mine

  2. He did repeat 'notes épicées', but the subtitles were spot on. He didn't say that much, anyway, did he? Hardly earth-shattering revelations.

  3. Thanks Rakhshanda! I will be checking yours, so many beauty products that I am obviously missing on. And do women don't make up on Ramazan? Didn't know.

  4. Bela,

    hi there! Hope London weather has improved, not so cold as last forthnight?

    The confusing part I thought was when he said he starts with "les notes fraiches, les notes de tete" and obviously from the context and his tone we understand that "head notes" (notes de tete) is meant as a parenthesis and not a continuum: as if he means that the fresh notes (notes fraiches) ARE in fact his top notes (which happens to be true). While in the English subtitles it says "I start with the fresh notes, THEN head notes" so one might question: "but aren't head notes the very first one smells? So they couldn't be following the fresh notes?" You see...

    Yes, overall the subtitles were very good and of course no major revelations, I just don't think its' in the industry to do that. However the blog isn't only written for those of us who are more "seasoned" (and curried, LOL, j/k) and industry professionals monitoring reception of frags by the buying public, but also for "simple" people with an interest in perfume who don't know the jargon well and who stumble through Google (and those are in the thousands, so I can't ignore them). It's more helpful to them if the titles are general in scope and the info is corresponding to that. There's the more esoteric stuff all right.
    At any rate, it's a cute interview, so worth bringing here and totally commercial in tone IMHO, as they put the perfume commercial French actor interview the perfumer, like he was even giving a flying fig how things are composed...but you know...they thought it looked cute. And it kinda does! :-)

  5. Anonymous17:35

    Hello, I just tink J.Polge does not look even convinced by what he is saying. He even looks embarrassed. He knows well this new fragrance is boring for such a house. So is this marketing film... I feel sorry for what Chanel let him do.

  6. Rappleyea23:07

    Hmmm.... interesting. I just wish he had ended after #8. Why does musk have to be so ubiquitous? Bleh!

  7. A,

    well, counting on the lukewarm bordering to negative reception of the fragrance itself so far from people who are "into" fragrances (I won't go into how well it will sell; it very well might, this is a different discussion), I assume Polge wasn't too happy to be taken into that path in the first place! So I agree.

    He's definitely capable of more evolved and more uncompromising fragrances and he knows his stuff like there's no tomorrow, so I think he's just doing his job here and plays along with what the headquarters now consider a good move from a marketing view: give some emphasis to the perfumer, blah blah blah...There were photographs of him and Sheldrake in major papers/mags sniffing herbs and spices (mind you, some herbs and spices which I believe were not actually entering the composition of any of what was being discussed in the articles! LOL) for marketing purposes, so this is definitely well orchastrates, not a spontaneous thing.

    From a certain standpoint, nevertheless, it might do some good: Some kid might actually watch this interview because they dig the actor or the juice on the market and then say "hey, what other things has this man made?" and then a whole lot of other stuff, memorable and innovative stuff this time, might open up Sesame-like. Don't you think? :-)

  8. D,

    oh, I think (might be wrong) that he didn't mean that musk is in everything by Chanel, just that this is the order in which he composes. So assuming something in the range has been conceived to contain musks as a note, those are the last ones to be put in there.
    At least this is how I understand it.

    "Musks" as a family are rather ubiquitous. But they're much more sophisticated than the drugstore stuff these days, which I undestand is why many people have an aversion to them. Have you tried No.18? Or Musk Nomade?

  9. Clarification, because upon rereading my comment above I might be coming across as confusing:

    I meant, the drugstore "musk" stuff is what makes several people believe they hate musks as a whole, while some more sophisticated varieties/musky ingredients might be in other fragrances which they do happen to like.

  10. Anonymous16:11

    I really wish a young kid will show some curiosity on O.P. after such a passionnate and clear interview... and discover let's say Sycmore. Am not sure I am as optimistic as you. But let's just hope for O.P. and for this kid.
    thanks for your interesting blog


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