You may have noticed the disappearance of lavender soliflores. In fact you may have noticed the disappearance of lavender essential oil from perfumes and soaps and other such products with some vague fake floralcy substituted for lavender. Why has this happened?
The explanation may be related to the findings in 2006 of Derek Henley and Edward Reiter of the National Institute of Environmental Health and Science concerning the strange cases of five young boys and “idiopathic prepubertal gynecomastia”. Translated into the demotic, these five boys had begun to sprout breasts when using otc tea tree and lavender oil containing soaps and shampoos. The effect went away when the boys changed products.
Last week I went to Sniffapalooza, and among all the other things and people you could see there, I met the in house perfumer of Jean Patou, Thomas Fontaine. Under ordinary circumstances this wouldn’t happen because in my zig- zagging about New Jersey, head perfumers don’t turn up all that often, but at the time, on the cosmetics floor of Bergdorf’s, I got a moment to speak to him and he was very interesting, perhaps particularly to me, as I love the history of perfumes, and not just the novelties.
He’s a busy man these days since he works for the parent company of Jean Patou Designer Perfumes, and they own more than one older brand. Jean Louis Scherrer is also on the roster. Thomas Fontaine has the task of keeping up the older formulas, and in the age of restrictions, this is no easy thing. You never know when IFRA will put out an APB on desperate scent villains such as jasmine. If you are responsible for keeping up Joy’s appearances, this sort of interdiction could constitute the coup de grâce for the old classic. Continue reading →
Last in this series about Christmas smells comes cinnamon.
Perhaps it should not be carrying the heavy train of all the preceding seasonal scents, but it is an integral part of most Christmas atmospheres, on a par with gingerbread. Cinnamon brings up the rear of this solstice procession naturally.
Cinnamon in scents is a warm and welcome note, but there is no getting around the fact that it is apt to smell like a candle or a room freshener. Cinnamon has become one of those things we spray from a can before a Christmas party. We tend not to take it seriously or wear it seriously in perfume, and there’s a good reason for that too – namely, the strength of the note. It can absolutely dominate a formula so that no other ingredient can get an olfactory word in edgewise. Continue reading →
You know the sad story of the lost scent, as tragic as Gilbert’s famous song: The Lost Chord. You knew the smell, you loved the smell, and suddenly, the perfume’s out of production. Moreover, when you try to track down the missing bottle, you discover that many other users have beaten you to the punch, hoarding bottles heartlessly, so that you are left with nothing but your memories.
Take as an example the case of Moment Supreme (although you can substitute dozens of perfumes for this one loss). Moment was extremely popular for a very long time, well into the late decades of the 20th century (see Rangtang’s Bet and this review by Olfacta), but was discontinued by the house after they were purchased by Proctor and Gamble.