Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2011

I spent this Tuesday evening in one of my favorite places in the entire world, auction house Bukowskis in Berzelii Park, Stockholm. To my great pleasure and surprise – scents – were one of the main topics this evening.

Fantastic Bukowski furniture expert Björn Extergren explained how the scents in furniture objects not only bring history closer but also help in a very tangible way to define authenticity. He explained this with the help of a Swedish rococo chair, describing how the removal of color layers exposed new textures and scents…and times. Much like an archeological excavation. You can imagine, I was quite captured by this moment. I remember, from my years doing guided tours in the palaces and old parts of Stockholm, this longing to find the alive part of things from our ”before” and making it accessible for others to experience. Because it is always there. In fact, being in the presence of great architecture and art from centuries back, at some point you realize that you are actually the only transient thing.

Björn’s words about the life in what we sometimes perceive as static moved me. Also because it is a beautiful thing to watch someone in action doing what they are most passionate about. As Björn explained how they removed the color layers to find the original green and how the rose fragrance first appeared from the top of the chair, and then as they proceeded the less pleasant smells emerged. This gets to me. That a smell incapsulated under centuries of paint suddenly hits the nose of a young man from another time. It gives me existential goose-bumps in my soul. And makes me wonder, what scent will I leave in my things for my grandchildren?

This topic makes me think of the French perfume company Histoires de Parfums. Their Library of Scents is a sixteen volume collection of fragrances inspired by famous people who influenced their generation and named after their date of birth.

A thing that I appreciate about the web site is the list of fragrances group by olfactory category, and that you can order a selection of samples.

History, or lets rather say time in general, and scent is an intricate fascinating topic. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. For Swedish readers, I also recommend this text by Swedish historian and writer Peter Englund.

Sleep well.

To some of you this is just too basic. Well, then good for you, have a nice cup of tea and join me tomorrow for new in-depth adventures. For most people though, I think these abbreviations seem obvious but are not. Or perhaps you just don’t think about why one of your fragrances is so much stronger than another, you just notice that it is. It was like that for me for a long time, so I think – let’s just go through it.

You might feel that one of your fragrances is stronger than another. That is probably true. Perhaps you have not noticed that one of them is an Eau de Parfum and the other Eau de Toilette. But that does not have to be the reason.
Different perfume makers simply put different amounts of oils into fragrances. The difference is small, but noticeable. So, actually an EdT from one perfumery can be stronger than an EdP from another.

But these are the basics.

Perfume oil is always diluted with a solvent (ethanol or water/ethanol), so that it does not cause an allergic reaction. The abbreviations tell you the strength of a fragrance, based on the concentration of the perfume oil/aromatics used in it.

Guideline taken from Wikipedia:
Perfume: 15-40% aromatic compounds
Eau de Parfum & Parfum de Toilette: 10-20% aromatic compounds
Eau de Toilette: 5-15% aromatic compounds
Eau de Cologne: 3-8% aromatic compounds
Aftershave: 1-3% aromatic compounds

With this in mind, go examine your fragrance collection and see if it makes sense. And also make sure that when you buy fragrances, you do know what it is you’re selecting as this will affect your experience.

Några av er har full koll på det här redan. Ni kan ta en kopp te och komma tillbaka imorgon för nya märkligheter. Jag tror att det är rätt många ändå som tycker att de borde veta vad parfymförkortningarna står för och därför liksom aldrig kollar upp det. Eller så tänker man inte på varför en doft på hyllan är starkare än en annan. Så, vi tar det rakt av en gång för alla.

Du kanske känner att en av dina dofter är starkare än en annan. Det kan vara så att en av dem är en Eau de Parfum och den andra en Eau de Toilette. Men det behöver inte vara orsaken. Olika parfymhus har också olika mängd parfymolja i sina dofter. Skillnaden är liten, men märkbar. Så, en EdT från ett parfymmärke kan vara vara starkare än en EdP från ett annan.

Men så här fungerar det i grunden. Parfymolja späds alltid med antingen etanol eller vatten/ etanol), för att inte orsaka en allergisk reaktion. Förkortningarna står för styrkan i en doft, baserat på den koncentration av parfymolja som används i den.

Med detta i åtanke, se till att du vet vad du köper när du hittar en ny doft eftersom styrkan kan påverka både din upplevelse och hur du använder din doft. Och kolla i parfymhyllan om inte förkortningarna förklarar en hel del.

The 1920’s were a decade that had great impact on perfumes and perfume use. In fact, this decade produced some of the most important perfumes of the entire century. One significant trend was that fashion designers started to sell perfumes under their clothing brands, the most legendary one (and quite revolutionary at the time) of course being Chanel No 5, released by Chanel in 1921. Even the bottle was a bold zeitgeist statement with a bottle design far from the ornamentation associated with feminine things. It was simple, bold and unquestionable. 

Bottle designs and the visuals around the fragrances were extremely important and often flirted with contemporary life style. There was the mascerade theme… Masque Rouge, for example, was introduced in a modern bottle, and a box with a red mask. “Mascarades” by Cherigan came in a black bottle with a golden face under a rain of gold dust and gilded triangles. Baccarat were extremely popular for bottles because of their superior quality crystal.

One of the reasons for doing a post on the 1920’s, I admit, is the occasion to indulge in…

Shalimar. A fragrance that, for me, just basically sums it all up. All of it. Shalimar was created by Jacques (I feel this name keeps reappearing in my perfume-life) Guerlain in the early 1921 but it was in 1925 that it had its breakthrough, at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris where it was an instant success. The fragrance is named after the Garden of Shalimar in Lahore, built by emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz. (Also the woman that Taj Mahal was built for…). Shalimar means the ‘Abode of Love’ in Sanskrit. The sweet vanilla creation mesmerized its first discoverers. Oh…how I wish I could have been there. Can you imagine? Being one of the first women to put Shalimar on your skin? The 1925 bottle was designed by Raymond Guerlain and made by Baccarat.


Shalimar had a bit of a comeback in the 1980’s. It was relaunched in a new bottle in 1985 to commemorate the 60th anniversary. This was followed by the addition of Shalimar Light in 2004 which was replaced by Eau de Shalimar in 2008. Shalimar is currently made as Shalimar Extract, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and as a Fleur de Shalimar Edition. Shalimar contains bergamot (top), lemon, jasmine (heart), rose (heart), iris (heart), opopanax (heart), tonka bean (base), and vanilla (base). It is an oriental perfume, which is also according to what was fashionable at that time – an era seduced by its own interest and fascination for things exotic.

Other famous fragrances from these years are Arpège, created by Jeanne Lanvin for her daugter’s 30th birthday and of course Jean Patous Joy. Joy was created with the intent to send a message to the heavy cynical Great Depression-attitude that Patou described as dominating society. He asked Henri Almeras to create something using Bulgarian rose and jasmine from Grasse. The result that Almeras presented to Patou was sensational, but Almeras was worried that the ingredients were too expensive for the fragrance to have success on the market. Joy became the most expensive perfume in the world, and a huge success. It is also the perfume supposedly worn by Josephine Baker.

Laboratorio Olfattivo. (That sound you heard was my heart going *boom* *boom*). Yes, of course you can get these elsewhere. But you can also get them in Amsterdam, at Louis Maximilian, a new store in Haarlemmerdijk where you can get nice soft sweaters, men’s bracelets, Prada jewellery and Marvis. And in Amsterdam you can also get and do an infinite lot of other different really nice Amsterdamish things. And visit this store that seems very nice.

Louis Maximilian also have a really nice blog where you can read a little bit about about Laboratorio Olfattivo. Nice things just somehow always find eachother. Just like people, and scents.

You can read a lot about Laboratorio Olfattivo (yes, same sound) here.

Laboratorio Olfattivo. (That sound you heard was my heart going *boom* *boom*). Yes, of course you can get these elsewhere. But you can also get them in Amsterdam, at Louis Maximilian, a new store in Haarlemmerdijk where you can get nice soft sweaters, men’s bracelets, Prada jewellery and Marvis. And in Amsterdam you can also get and do an infinite lot of other different really nice Amsterdamish things. And visit this store that seems very nice.

Louis Maximilian also have a really nice blog where you can read a little bit about about Laboratorio Olfattivo. Nice things just somehow always find eachother. Just like people, and scents.

You can read a lot about Laboratorio Olfattivo (yes, same sound) here.

Laboratorio Olfattivo. (That sound you heard was my heart going *boom* *boom*). Yes, of course you can get these elsewhere. But you can also get them in Amsterdam, at Louis Maximilian, a new store in Haarlemmerdijk where you can get nice soft sweaters, men’s bracelets, Prada jewellery and Marvis. And in Amsterdam you can also get and do an infinite lot of other different really nice Amsterdamish things. And visit this store that seems very nice.

Louis Maximilian also have a really nice blog where you can read a little bit about about Laboratorio Olfattivo. Nice things just somehow always find eachother. Just like people, and scents.

You can read a lot about Laboratorio Olfattivo (yes, same sound) here.

Laboratorio Olfattivo. (That sound you heard was my heart going *boom* *boom*). Yes, of course you can get these elsewhere. But you can also get them in Amsterdam, at Louis Maximilian, a new store in Haarlemmerdijk where you can get nice soft sweaters, men’s bracelets, Prada jewellery and Marvis. And in Amsterdam you can also get and do an infinite lot of other different really nice Amsterdamish things. And visit this store that seems very nice.

Louis Maximilian also have a really nice blog where you can read a little bit about about Laboratorio Olfattivo. Nice things just somehow always find eachother. Just like people, and scents.

You can read a lot about Laboratorio Olfattivo (yes, same sound) here.