Perfume cache woods french fragrance best perfumes

Confessions of a perfume addict | Into the woods | 2015 fragrance trends

Sexy and glamorous. Red carpet ready. Did someone say 'rescue fantasy'?

If you go down to the woods today … you’ll probably go tomorrow as well. Skelly Susan quizzes fragrance oracle Michael Edwards on this year’s perfume trends and why we keep buying the same scent.

New on the Excess All Areas perfume shelf this week is Etat Libre d’Orange’s Tom of Finland and Memo’s eau de parfum Luxor Oud, picked up recently in Barcelona’s Perfumery Regia. Both are competing for affection with long-time accomplice Sycomore, from the Chanel Les Exclusifs collection.

Sycomore, released in 2008, is a collaboration between legendary perfumer Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake who were looking to recreate a 1930s formula of Sycomore by Ernest Beaux, Chanel’s original in-house perfumer. It has Haitian vetiver at the heart of a bundle that also evokes cypress, juniper, pink pepper and burning wood.

Luxor Oud was released in 2012, its alchemy courtesy of Aliénor Massenet, who has created around 16 (pretty much all) the offerings from the niche Parisian brand. Conjure up wood, rose, tangerine, patchouli, tonka beans and the agarwood that gives it its title.

Then we come to Tom of Finland. Reading up on my perfume choices, I can only deduce that somewhere along perfume purchasing path I have turned into a boy. These three new juices are deemed to be masculine and unisex. For Tom, according to the Etat Libre d’Orange notes: “Fantasy clings to him like his leather jacket, with suede, musk, and ambergris in the base notes. His belt is fastened with an accord of pepper and spicy-fresh saffron, tangled with a blond suede sensuality on a vanilla bed of tonka bean and iris. This is a man who wants to play, to love, to die and be reborn, again and again.”

So, rescue fantasy with death wish.

perfume chanel etat libre dOrange memo woody scents

Juice of the day: Tom of Finland by Etat Libre d’Orange; Luxor Oud by Memo; Sycomore by Chanel Les Exclusifs. Photo Susan Skelly


But upon consultation with Michael Edward’s Fragrances of the World bible I realize that, far from exploring new frontiers, I am a pretty much a creature of habit. The escape into a deep burning forest isn’t anything new. There is form.

Spinning the fragrance wheel

Edwards is currently working on the 2016 edition of Fragrances of the World which will categorises 8,000 scents (the data base contains more than 19,000).

His famous Fragrance Wheel is used by perfume buyers and sellers all over the world to see where their favourite perfumes sit and which others might have similar appeal. It has four key groups: floral, oriental, wood and fresh, and 14 families within those.

So following an audit, the juice on my shelf looks like this:

Luxor Oud, Memo (woody oriental); Tom of Finland, Etat Libre d’Orange (dry woods); Sycomore, Chanel (woods); Bois Blonds, Atelier Cologne (woods); Féminité du Bois, Serge Lutens (woods); Mitsouko, Guerlain (mossy woods); Calèche, Hermes (mossy woods); Coco Noir, Chanel (woody oriental); Black, Bulgari (dry woods); Bois d’Ascèse, Naomi Goodsir (dry woods); Kelly Calèche, Hermes (dry woods); Sublime Balkiss, The Different Company (mossy woods); L’Agent, Agent Provocateur (crisp floral orientals); Jasmin Noir, Bulgari (woods); and 31 Rue Cambon, Chanel Les Exclusifs (mossy woods).

At a perfume workshop a few years ago Edwards explained that it was quite normal to move from the fruity florals of your teens and 20s (where most of the celebrity fragrances sit) to something more mysterious and woody or oriental in your thirties and beyond, when you no longer needed to follow the pack. A kind of scented freedom ride.

So on call for remembrance of things past: Fracas, Robert Piguet (floral); Baghari, Robert Piguet (oriental floral); Iris Silver Mist, Serge Lutens (soft floral); Chanel No 5 (floral); 24 Faubourg, Hermès (floral), Coco, Chanel (floral); Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine, Grandiflora (floral).

With stocks running low, then, it seemed like time to check in with the British-born perfume oracle (he splits his time between Australia, New York and Paris) for new ways to swap cash for olfactory comment.


Michael Edwards was invited to curate Sydney’s iconic David Jones Spring Flower Show windows in 2012, based on his Fragrance Wheel categories.

Shooting the breeze with Michael Edwards

What are you, personally, loving this year?

The white flower/patchouli accord of Miu Miu, the subtle elegance of Alaïa, the in-your-face exuberance of I Am Juicy Couture. Among the new artisanal fragrances, The Different Company’s I Miss Violet, Atelier Cologne’s Jasmin Angelique, and Cuir d’Ange by Hermessence all intrigue me.

What could the world have lived without?

Any more pretty, pleasant, forgettable fruity florals.

What perfumes have been the game-changers?

This year?  It’s too early to judge, but Alaïa has promise.

Who are the most celebrated “noses” in 2015?

I’ll sidestep that one because whoever I don’t cite will be offended.

The biggest losses to the art of fragrance over the years?

The severe restrictions on the use of so many beautiful materials, mostly, according to  serious scientific evidence, unjustified.

Trends you’re noticing?

The floral woods (Miu Miu and Alaïa); collections (Prada Infusions, Olfactory and Essentials); and the continuing fascination with ouds.

Is the celebrity perfume still riding high?

Anecdotal comments put down the category but, surprisingly, the number of new celebrity fragrances was up last year: 70 in 2014 compared to 59 in 2013 and 67 in 2012.

Why do we often stop liking a scent we have worn for years?

If it’s in fact a fragrance that one has worn for many years, there’s a strong probability that the new restrictions might have forced a formula change. If that is not the reason, the reality is that over time, our sensitivity to the entire experience diminishes. Although the perfume may not have changed, long familiarity makes a fragrance boring. The solution: give yourself a break and stop using the scent for a season. A further thought: one’s tastes can change with age!

Can a fruity floral girl become a wood nymph?

Yes, it’s one of the pleasures of growing older.

Related articles Paris Perfumeries

Your turn: If there were one perfume left in the world, you’d want it to be….?








Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab.

'Confessions of a perfume addict | Into the woods | 2015 fragrance trends' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © Susan Skelly 2020.