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Perfume 101 with Jenny Mann

Jenny Mann, the manager and “nose” of The Fragrance Shop, gives The Spring Magazine a rundown on perfume basics.

From “The H&R Book of Perfume,” published in 1984, there are three classic fragrance categories for women’s perfumes: Floral, Oriental, Chypre.

Floral: Compound of flower scents. “Miss Dior” by Christian Dior is a floral perfume, with two kinds of rose, sandalwood and patchouli.  

Oriental: Base of musk and typically using vanilla as an ingredient. Rich and seductive. “Shalimar,” 1925, by Guerlain is the classic Oriental perfume and includes musk, vanilla, incense, jasmine, mandarin orange, iris, rose, among other ingredients.

Chypre: Chypre is French for Cyprus and this fragrance family draws inspiration from the Mediterranean island. Built on bergamot, oakmoss and labdanum and meant to evoke the goddess, this category was started in 1917 with the perfume “Chypre” by Coty.

For men, the fragrance categories are: Fougere, Oriental, Chypre, and Citrus. Fougere is the French word for “fern,” and perfumes in this family have a woody, mossy scent with sweet top notes. “Boss” by Hugo Boss is a prime example.

What the nose detects from five perfumes:

Jicky: This iconic perfume was created by Guerlain in 1889, the year the Eiffel Tower was completed. It is one of the first perfumes made with synthetic ingredients. “A classic by Guerlain that has been discontinued. A woody powdery fragrance in the Oriental-amber family,” said Mann.

Jo Malone Oud & Bergamot: Launched in 2010 by Estee Lauder in the Jo Malone brand. “Oud is a heavier base note, I think,” Mann said. Oud is a dark and sweet scent that has become pervasive in the perfume industry. It is made from the agarwood of Southeast Asian trees — that is, heartwood a tree grows to fight off an infected wound. Mann said Jo Malone’s take is a good oud fragrance. “The bergamot softens. It’s a Chypre. It’s a good summer fragrance.”

Dolce & Gabbana Feminine: A still popular perfume that was launched in 1999. “I think D&G has been one of the more successful designers that have gone into perfumes. This is softer, lighter than the classic D&G perfume.”

White Tea: The most popular special blend oil in the store by far. Soft, sweet, light. “White Tea is a good neutralizer if you’re trying to make a scent.”

Relaxing by Shiseido: A 1997 creation that has become surprisingly popular in the store in recent years. Trends among customers come in waves, and Relaxing has been in demand. “It’s our biggest seller internationally,” Mann said.

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