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Scents of summer

By Kerrie Rhodes and Emma Carmichael

What goes into launching a fragrance? What’s hot this season? How do you decide on the perfect summer scent? We have all the answers in our fragrance guide, MiNDFOOD reports.

When cosmetics company Estée Lauder created its latest fragrance, Sensuous, it needed to make a splash on the global beauty scene. For a premium cosmetics company, no ordinary advertising campaign would do. So the company turned to not one but four of the world’s most admired women to promote the scent.

The result is a print and video advertising campaign that transcends cultures, appealing to audiences throughout the world and featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Carolyn Murphy, Hilary Rhoda and Elizabeth Hurley.

“Each of our models represents a different side of sensuality,” says Aerin Lauder, senior vice president and creative director of Estée Lauder. “Hilary conveys youth while Carolyn’s classic look communicates elegance. Gwyneth brings an emotional range to sensuality and Elizabeth portrays confidence.”

Cosmetics giant Lancôme had similar ideas when it recently launched Magnifique. Set in the Petit Palais in Paris, Lancôme’s Magnifique commercial was directed by renowned fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh as a “short film” complete with its own glamorous movie star, Anne Hathaway. “The campaign was very different from anything I’ve done before,” says Hathaway. “It didn’t feel like it was just 
a campaign film.”

Like so many things in today’s advertising-saturated society, launching a fragrance requires an innate understanding of audience wants and needs. For example, Lancôme draws upon Parisian chic glamour while Estée Lauder points to understated elegance – both deliberate approaches that have personal appeal for customers.


While the look and feel of an advertisement is important, the true measure of success for a fragrance launch comes back to one thing: the appeal of its scent. Michael Edwards, internationally respected author of the annual scent bible, Fragrances of the World, says customers are looking for something unique, particularly now that the warmer months are here. “The spring/summer fragrances of 2008 are mining the classics,” Edwards says. “For example, Chanel No˚5 Eau Première is the classic Chanel No˚5 re-interpreted beautifully. The new Chloe perfume is a rosy, classic twist on the original.”

As Edwards says, this season, perfumers are looking back as well as forwards to create fresh and exciting scents. They are following the rule of “old is new again”.


This year, prepare yourself for a challenge. It seems winter isn’t ready to relinquish its hold just yet – on the beauty industry, at least. Woody notes, usually reserved for winter fragrances and more masculine scents, are being re-invented and added to the lighter and more feminine perfumes favoured in the spring and summer months.

“We’ve cocooned ourselves in winter; we’re tired of heavy foods and being cold and we’re looking for something fresh and different,” Edwards says. “Perfumes featuring woody notes with slight oriental twists are key to the season, for example Ralph Lauren’s Notorious and Estée Lauder’s Sensuous. However, these woody notes are not heavy, like the woody winter fragrances. They sing on the skin. They are sheer, with strong floral influences.

“Shiseido’s Feminite du Bois from 1992, with its fruity, cedar, woody notes, is clearly influential in providing inspiration for perfumers,” Edwards adds. Created by Pierre Bourdon and Christopher Sheldrake, Feminite du Bois was a trendsetter in the early ’90s. With its distinctive use of cedar wood, it paved the way for a new era of woody oriental-themed fragrances for women. The archetype of this genre, however, was Chanel’s Bois des Iles, created almost 65 years earlier in 1926 by legendary “nose” Ernest Beaux.


Now the hard question: when you’re standing at the fragrance counter and you’re faced with so many perfume choices, how do you decide on the 
perfect summer scent?

“Three is the maximum number of fragrances you should try at once. Any more and your nose is likely to become confused,” Edwards advises. “Apply the first fragrance to one wrist and wait a few minutes. Apply the second to the other wrist, and a third fragrance to the inside of your elbow.”

Putting a perfume where it really belongs – on your skin – is the only way to tell if you’ll really love it when you get it home. “When you sniff an open bottle, your nose inhales the sharp alcohol and the volatile top notes,” Edwards says. 
“A fragrance needs your skin to come alive. It blooms as it reacts with the warmth of your body to create a fragrance that is unique to you.”


Take a look at your current fragrance collection for clues to which new perfumes you may like. It’s all about family connections, as Edwards explains: “When you classify the fragrances you have worn, you’ll probably find that they fall mostly into just two or three fragrance families. Once you know the families you especially like, it will be easy to find other fragrances that fall into the same family.”

The four major fragrance groups are floral, oriental, woody and fresh. Within these groups can be found distinct families, such as woody orientals, soft florals, mossy woods and citrus. These relationships are all made clear in the Fragrance Wheel developed by Edwards. It’s an industry essential, along with his annual Fragrances of the World.


To wear your fragrance well, you should apply perfume wherever you want to be kissed, according to the famous advice of Coco Chanel. The less romantic but more practical advice is to apply fragrance to the warm skin of the pulse points – inside the wrists, the hollow of the neck, and below, not behind, the ear lobes – because heat helps diffuse and magnify the aromas.

“Build up layers of scent on your skin by using different forms of the same fragrance: perfumed soap, bath oil, body lotion, dusting powder and eau de toilette. Each reinforces the impact to quadruple the life of your favourite scent,” Edwards says. “Layering your fragrance is the 
secret to a long-lasting scent.”


Once you have your new fragrance, store it correctly to ensure it lasts. Firstly, keep your fragrance in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat. “Extreme heat or cold will upset the delicate balance of the oils, changing their scent,” cautions Edwards.

The longer you own an opened bottle of perfume, the less intense its scent will be, says Edwards. “Once a bottle of fragrance has been opened, it should be used because all fragrance deteriorates with time,” he says. “Use floral scents in about a year-and-a-half and light, citrus-based perfumes in as little as six months.

“If you prefer one fragrance in winter and another in summer, you’ll extend their life between seasons if you store 
the perfume bottle in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator.”


To wear your fragrance well, you should apply perfume wherever you want to be kissed, according to the famous words of Coco Chanel. The less romantic, but more practical advice, is to apply fragrance to the warm skin of pulse points – for example, inside the wrists, the hollow of the neck, and below, not behind, the ear lobes – ecause heat helps diffuse and magnify the aromas, says Edwards.

“Build up layers of scent on the skin by using different forms of the same fragrance: perfumed soap, bath oil or gel, body lotion or cream, dusting powder, and eau de toilette. Each reinforces the impact of the other to quadruple the life of your favourite scent,” Edwards says. “Layering your fragrance is the secret to 
a long-lasting scent.”



Often full-bodied, oriental fragrances are associated with sensual scents, including opulent flowers, sweet vanilla and musk. Ralph Lauren’s new release Notorious is a classic oriental scent with notes of blackcurrant, chocolate cosmos flower and patchouli musk.


Typically warm, dry and, until recently, masculine, woody fragrances often feature patchouli, vetyver, sandalwood and cedar. With the introduction of Sensuous, Estée Lauder has transformed the usually masculine “woody amber” theme into something that is feminine and sophisticated. Sensuous has a warm heart of molten woods and amber, reinforced by base notes of sandalwood, black pepper and juicy mandarin pulp.


Varying from sweet to subtle, floral remains the most popular fragrance, and can be combined with any other fragrance family. Deemed the most romantic of all fragrances, florals range from a single floral note to heady mixed bouquets of numerous flowers, including rose, gardenia, peony, jasmine, magnolia, tuberose and honeysuckle.


The three categories of citrus, green and water form the heart of fresh fragrances. From the zest of lemon, mandarin and grapefruit to the sharp scent of freshly cut grass and violet leaves, or the coolness of oceanic notes, fresh fragrances are light and invigorating, perfect to be worn during the day.

For more information on fragrance families, go to


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