Learn more about the raw materials of perfumery! From aquatic leaves to lemony rhizomes to spicy and smoky flowers – we’ll tell you all about our star ingredients.
Boix & Écorces, Feuilles, Fleurs, Fruits,
Résines, Graines et Racines
Wood & bark
Trees imply wood, wood implies masculine, masculine implies virile – except in perfumery. Depending on their essence, trees produce oils with radically different scent profiles: between a creamy sandalwood, a fruity cypress and a smoky cade…there’s a whole new world.
The leather note in perfumery is quite recent as it refers to the smell of the boots worb by Russian soldiers whose leather was proofed with birch tar. Leather usually has two facets, an animalic one made with castoreum or certain woods such as Atlas Cedarwood; and a smoky one created with pyrogenic essences such as cade, styrax or birch tar. Some synthetic materials such as IBQ or Suederal can amp up its texture, but we used Black Oud instead, known for its naturally… leathery smell.
Oud is the fragrant resin produced by certain trees of the Aquilaria genus to protect themselves against the spread of a fungus named Philiaphora Parasitica. Used in India and the Arabian Peninsula since ancient times, oud appears in the Bible as a funeral perfume while in China, this "eagle wood" is still used in traditional medicine to activate the circulation of qi. Now threatened by overexploitation, its cultivation, sale and use are rigorously controlled. The oud we use has a CITES certificate, guaranteeing that its production and sale do not harm the conservation of biodiversity and is based on the sustainable use of wild species.
Native to Southern India, sandalwood is a tree whose main varieties in perfumery now come from Australia, New Caledonia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Known as the "King of the Woods", sandalwood plays an important role in Hindu rituals where it is used for burials, temple construction and incense sticks. Alpha-Santalol, one of its main molecules, is responsible for the therapeutic virtues attributed to it in traditional Chinese, Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine, while Beta Santalol, a milky molecule reminiscent of madeleines and amaretto, has made it useful in perfumes. It is a Sandalwood Album from Australia that gives our Santal its slightly creamy facet.
Most leaves used in perfumery are dried before distillation, enriching them with herbal, aromatic or coumarin facets. Patchouli is the exception, with its naturally damp and woody note that sometimes reveals minty, camphoraceous or even aquatic inflections.
Mate is the traditional beverage of the Tupi-Guarani Indians made from the leaves of the ilex paraguariensis tree. Called mate by the conquistadors, from the Quechua name of the calabash used to prepare it (mati), mate has been known in Central America for thousands of years. Used for its purifying and energising properties but also by shamans for divination rituals, mate was severely condemned by the Church in the 17th century, which did not curb its use. Its arrival in perfumery is quite recent and classifies it in the herbaceous notes alongside hay and tea, which is why we’ve lifted it with a touch of aquatic mint and a green fig accord.
Patchouli is a plant from Indonesia whose leaves, when distilled, yield an essence with a woody, damp, earthy, even camphoraceous and cocoa-like odour. Its scent arrived in Europe via trunks filled with shawls from India; patchouli having insecticidal properties, it would be wrapped around precious fabrics to protect them from moths. It fell into disuse before the second half of the 20th century but was brought back to the forefront by American hippies for its supposed aphrodisiac properties. It is one of the most important raw materials in perfumery, since it allows to structure a composition, to bring complexity or depth. Our Patchouli brings out all its facets with the help of cashmeran and a rare and regressive cocoa extract.
While some flowers don’t emit any scent (we’re talking about you, orchids) there are few perfumes without flowers. Whether it’s a matter of turning them into absolutes, essences, concretes, CO2 extracts or enfleurages, flowers are let use for our greatest pleasure and we didn’t need more to make them into treasures.
Osmanthus is the flower of a shrub that mainly comes from China where it holds a strong symbolic and cultural value. In addition to the teas and liqueurs it flavours, several legends mention the presence of an osmanthus several metres high in front of the doors of the Moon Palace. That’s why it is celebrated during the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival. Once solvent-extracted, the flower yields an absolute with deep peach, leather and “stone fruit pit water” nuances. Ours brings out its juiciest and fruitiest facets in an excessively velvety composition.
Cultivated for almost 5000 years, the Rose is the most mythical of flowers. Cultivated for almost 5000 years, it became the attribute of the goddesses Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite, Venus and Lakshmi, each time being a symbol of femininity, beauty and eternal love. It is an essential ingredient in perfumery, but it is also rare because it takes about 4 tons of petals to obtain 1 kilo of essence – she’s not the Queen of Flowers for nothing. The Turkish rose absolute we used in our Rose adds its sickly waxy and honeyed facet to an otherwise dewy bouquet.
Saffron is the pistil of the Crocus Sativus. Cultivated in Persia for more than 3500 years for its vibrant colour and its leathery, herbaceous fragrance, Saffron has spread around the Mediterranean and travelled as far as the courts of Europe, China and the Indian sub-continent where it always had a very strong symbolic value. Assimilated to gold and eternal life by the Greeks, to the flame of knowledge by the Hindus and the Buddhists, this "red gold" gives our Safran its affirmed character and an impression of supple and elegant leather.
Originally from Mexico, the tuberose is nowadays mainly cultivated in India where it is woven into bridal necklaces. Brought into Europe in the 16th century, its heady, narcotic scent earned it a sulphurous reputation, to the point where young women of the court were forbidden to stroll in gardens at dusk, as the power of these "narcotic flowers" could lure them into temptation. Without it, our Tubéreuse would surely not be so carnal, so lustful...
Surprise! Most fruits in perfumery are not natural, their water content being too high to yield anything other than a jam after hours of distillation, but that was without counting citrus fruits, whose essence is contained in the zest. And vanilla (which is also a fruit, we swear).
Vanilla has a long history... Revered by the Totonac, an Amerindian people, as a sign of invincible love, its name comes from a deformation of the Latin vagina (we don’t need to translate that) by means of vaina as the conquistadors who brought it back to Europe thought it resembled the “sheath” of a sword… which has nothing to do, of course, with the supposed aphrodisiac virtues vanilla was said to have. If its smell is more reminiscent of beige and custard than of 17th century romps, it is because the vanilla we know in aromas and perfumes is in fact vanillin, its main odorant compound. For our Vanille, we opted for a Bourbon vanilla absolute, with woody and smoky undertones more faithful to the smell of the "sheath".
Yuzu is a citrus resulting from the hybridisation of an ichang papeda lemon and a bitter mandarin. Although it is now a staple condiment on gourmet tables, it has been used for nearly 1300 years and was imported into Japan, now its leading producer, during the Tang dynasty (618-907). In perfumery, yuzu brings a distinctive bitterness to the top notes without losing its pulpiness, a particularity enhanced by a bouquet of aldehydes and green citrus in our Yuzu.
Gums and resins are plant secretions obtained by incising the trunk of a tree or shrub, the best-known being Myrrh, Benzoin and Frankincense. In perfumery, they are often used as resinoids, more rarely as absolutes, frequently as essences and recently as CO2 extracts.
Olibanum is the resin obtained from the incision of trees of the Boswellia genus, present from the south of the Arabian Peninsula to Kenya and India. Of all these, the Sacra variety, endemic to the Sultanate of Oman, is historically the most renowned, both for its mineral, lemony and minty fragrance and for its therapeutic virtues. It is this resin that spurred the creation of the Incense Routes. It has also been used for millennia in Vedic, Sumerian, Egyptian, Roman, Hebrew and Christian religious rituals. It is therefore not by chance that our "totem perfume" is called Sacra.
Opoponax like olibanum and myrrh, is a resin, extracted from a certain species of shrubs of the Commiphora genus, growing from the Middle-East to East Africa. Its scent is balsamic, round, sweet and is often used to build amber accords. Coupled with olibanum, its toffeed facet gives our Opoponax its characteristically gourmand and sparkling opening.
While most roots and rhizomes produce extracts with a (rather unsurprisingly) damp and earthy smell, some, such as the fresh musky Angelica or the warm and lemony Ginger, go off the beaten track...
The iris is a plant that is very common in the northern hemisphere. Formerly grown in in the vineyards of Florence, it is now cultivated in Central Europe and Morocco. Its flowers are fair but unscented so it is from their rhizomes that the famous “orris butter” is extracted. It can take from 6 to 12 years of ageing for them to develop their characteristic metallic, floral or chocolate scent, which is what makes the iris so valuable in perfumery and turns our Iris into a creamy, cosmetic and powdery composition.
For our Gingembre, we chose a CO2 Extract of Blue Ginger endemic to Madagascar thus called because of the colour it takes on when oxidising in the open air. After distillation of its rhizome, we obtain a zesty, lemony and slightly rosy essence. With more than 400 active ingredients, the curative, digestive and aphrodisiac properties of ginger have been proven for centuries: a genuine "universal medicine".
Vetiver is a plant that grows in large green clumps and whose roots can reach up to three metres deep. Depending on whether it is grown in Insulinde, Reunion or Haiti, vetiver will produce radically different essences, with a woody-dry or woody-smoky profile and with facets ranging from peanut to mint or even grapefruit. In India and South East Asia, it is customary to weave it into shutters and regularly spray with water to cool the atmosphere during the hot season. It aptly contrasts the fougère aspect of our Vétiver, stretching it into a dry-woody, smoky base.
What do Amber, Celery, Carrot, Parsley, Coriander and Fenugreek have in common? Their seeds are used in perfumery. Little-known treasures with a resounding impact.
Native to Asia, the Insulinde and the Pacific ambrette is a plant related to the hibiscus whose leaves contain fragrant seeds. Its use is very old, as it is mentioned in treaties of Ayurvedic medicine where it was incorporated into remedies for all sorts of ailments while some South American indigenous tribes substituted it for coffee. In the 18th century, its musky smell was used to powder and scent gloves and wigs. It is that very scent that gives our Ambrette its lift and sheen.
Native to the region of Abar in India, cardamom is a reed-like plant whose green or black capsules protect camphoraceous and aromatic scented seeds. Introduced into Europe by Alexander the Great who brought it back from his conquest, the "Queen of Spices" quickly found its place in royal gastronomy. It is mentioned in apothecaries’ accounts of the House of Savoy, dating from the 14th century. In perfumery, cardamom brings a characteristic vibration to the top notes; an explosion of freshness that shivers on the skin. Sniff our Cardamom to get the gist of it.