tijon

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Perfumery Material: Hedione (Luminous/Transparent Jasmine)

 Smelling hedione, I'm struck by its beautiful, limpid and luminous character which resembles the beautiful citrusy floral note of a magnolia blossom blossoming under sunny skies.
Hedione or methyl dihydrojasmonate is an aromachemical (patented as Hedione by aroma-producing company Firmenich) that is often used in composition in substitution for jasmine absolute, but also for the sake of its own fresh-citrusy and green tonality.

Hedione lacks the clotted cream density of natural jasmine, recalling much more the living vine in the warmth of summer mornings and for that reason it is considered a beautiful material that offers quite a bit in the production of fine perfumes.

Perfumer Lyn Harris, nose of the brand Miller Harris and also the independent nose behind many well-known creations not credited to her name, calls it “transparent jasmine” and attributes to it the capacity to give fizz to citrus notes much “like champagne”. (See? it’s not only aldehydes which do that!)

According to Christian Chapuis of Firmenich SA, Edouard Demole discovered methyl jasmonate in 1957, accomplished a synthesis of Hedione (from the Greek word ηδονή/hedone, meaning agreeable and pleasant) in 1958, synthesized methyl jasmonate in 1959, placed both materials under intellectual protection in 1960, and published these discoveries in 1962. "This simple timeline belies a more complex history of chemistry and creation".
First used in the classic men’s cologne Eau Sauvage, composed by Edmond Roudnitska in 1966, hedione had been isolated from jasmine absolute and went on to revolutionize men’s scents with the inclusion of a green floral note. Eau Sauvage was so successful that many women went on to adopt it as their own personal fragrance leading the house of Dior to the subsequent introduction of Diorella in 1972, composed by the same legendary nose, blending the green floral with hints of peach, honeysuckle, rose and cyclamen in addition to the herbal citrusy notes of the masculine counterpart, all anchored by a base of cool vetiver, patchouli and oakmoss, lending a mysterious, aloof and twilit air to women who went for it.

Ten years after its introduction to perfumery, in 1976, it was the turn of Jean Claude Ellena to coax hedione in a composition that exploited its fresh and lively character to great aplomb in the production of First by jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels (the name derived from the fact that it was their first fragrant offering, but also the first scent to come out of a jeweler too ~subsequently many followed in its tracks with notable success). In it, Ellena used 10 times the concentration of hedione used in Eau Sauvage, married to natural jasmine as well as rose de mai (rosa centifollia, which is also a "crystalline" variety), narcissus, orris, ylang ylang and a hint of carnation with the flying trapeze of aldehydes on top and the plush of vetiver, amber and vanilla at the bottom which accounted for a luminous and luxurious floral.

Hedione also makes a memorable appearance in many other perfumes, such as the classic Chamade by Guerlain (introduced in 1969), Chanel no.19 (1970) and Must by Cartier (1981) and in many of the modern airy fragrances such as CKone, Blush by Marc Jacobs, the shared scent Paco by Paco Rabanne or ~surprisingly~ in the bombastic Angel by Thierry Mugler, in which it is used as a fresh top note along with helional! Perhaps if you want to feel it used in spades smell L'Eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake: the aquatic/ozonic notes cannot hide its radiance.
Its uses are legion, especially since it acts as a supreme smoothener of the rest of the ingredients. In Terre d'Hermes, perfumer Jean Claude Ellena uses lots of it to bring out the softer side of hesperidic bergamot and to fan out the woodier aspects.

High-cis Hedione is an isomer which gives a jasmine tea profile (not surprisingly, as the component naturally occurs in tea), more diffusive and less floral and thus useful in masculine blends, but it costs more than regular hedione and poses problems of stability in acidic environments. Some of the Bulgari "tea" scents, such as Bulgari Eau au Thé Rouge and Bulgari Eau au Thé Blanc are good reference points if you want to smell this in action.
Despite hedione's unlikeness to natural jasmine absolute and essential oil (which are much lusher, narcotic and indolic), perfumers have used it to supreme results in the history of fine fragrance of the last 40 years, occassionaly using it up to 35% concentrations, although it's more usual to be featured in ratios of 2-15%.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Perfumery Materials, The Jasmine Series

pic of jasmine via Gracemagazine. Bottle of First via zensoaps.com

7 comments:

  1. Whoa. This is the first time I have seen such a clear through line among perfumes I file in the "like" folder--especially such strong "likes," from Eau Sauvage and Diorella to First, over to No. 19, over again to Chamade, and then to the Bulgari teas.

    And here I thought I had trouble with jasmine. Methinks perhaps the lean to the green, rather than the heavy hit on indoles or the cream?

    Thanks for another useful and interesting entry to your notes series. They are indeed hitting the right, erm, "notes." :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks S, I appreciate your saying so.

    There is a very interesting examination of lineage which can be conducted among several next of kin fragrances; sometimes it has to do with a material that links them (usually a novel material at the time), othertimes an idea of constructing the notes giving a particular effect etc. It's always interesting to see whether apparently different scents share commonalities which make them simpatico to us. Well...it is to us, at least :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've tried and I've tried and I just don't seem to be able to 'enjoy' Hedione. And for me, it NEVER seems to work as a jasmine substitute. There's just something... something screechingly milky about it that I just can't get past.

    Thanks for the post, though. I always enjoy reading your 'single note' pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  4. D,

    late again, sorry. :-(
    I think hedione by itself can be good and it can be great in a blend, but so often it's used in cheap, shrill florals that aim to please people who don't really enjoy perfume, so...no wonder. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Loved this article!!!

    I came here because I can't really smell Hedione!!! I'm studying to become a natural perfumer but I've been experimenting the use of some synthetics... and I got some Hedione do play with but, to me, it is so so sooo light that I almost can't smell it!!! In fact, if I smell other oils first, especially synthetics, I almost have to stuck the bottle inside my nose to get a smell as thin as air!!!

    Do you know if some people are (almost) anosmic to it?!?! Because I can smell Jasmine oil from far away... and a drop changes everything but Hedione seems to only smooth my compositions... otherwise, it doesn't seem to add any other particular note to them!!!

    Is my nose "broken"?!?

    Hahaha

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Loved this article!!!

    I came here because I can't really smell Hedione!!! I'm studying to become a natural perfumer but I've been experimenting the use of some synthetics... and I got some Hedione do play with but, to me, it is so so sooo light that I almost can't smell it!!! In fact, if I smell other oils first, especially synthetics, I almost have to stuck the bottle inside my nose to get a smell as thin as air!!!

    Do you know if some people are (almost) anosmic to it?!?! Because I can smell Jasmine oil from far away... and a drop changes everything but Hedione seems to only smooth my compositions... otherwise, it doesn't seem to add any other particular note to them!!!

    Is my nose "broken"?!?

    Hahaha

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gui,

    your nose is certainly not broken! It's a very thin, fresh smell, no relation to jasmine absolute for sure. It's just so pliable that it gets used a lot, that's all... :-)

    ReplyDelete

Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu below the text box (Anonymous is fine if you don't want the other options) and hit Publish! And you're set!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin